Game Boy, sweet Game Boy. Now here is a topic I can excel at. I am quite familiar, having spent the past two years thinking of nothing else. I’ve quite literally learned about them inside and out.
With the introduction of the Game Boy Color in 1998 bringing us glorious color palettes and eliminating the need for the contrast wheel from the original black and white models… players felt like they were living in the future!
I remember upgrading from an atomic purple Game Boy Pocket to an atomic purple Game Boy Color. (Thanks Grandma!) And of course, a big part of the excitement of a console upgrade is feeling like there is a whole new world of games now available to you.
Many of us still remember asking our parents to take us to the mall or Toys R Us to browse the game tower. Then spending the next 30 minutes trying to decide which game would be the one we would beg them to buy us.
And this was pre-emulation days, people. You probably only had a handful of games. So these choices were crucial to the next couple months of your existence! Life-changing decisions.
There was no “digital”. No “downloading”. You went to the store, you bought a game in the box, you removed the plastic wrap, you read the manual… owning a game meant something special.
I am thankful I was lucky enough to have that experience. It was magic. You never forget the sensory details of it all.
*okay, okay.. that’s enough reminiscing*
So which games were successfully petitioned for the most? Here are the 10 best selling Game Boy Color games of all time.
10. Wario Land 3
This was Wario’s third solo outing, and his second in full color.
The first entry in the series really had something special about it. But, to me, the second game didn’t feel like it had the same heart.
So to return to form in the third release, Wario Land really started hitting a stride.
Our familiar cantankerous anti-hero, who many have come to love, is back smashing and bashing his way around a new world.
It’s the familiar game play from the series. And in cases like this, we want the formula that made us fall in love with games of the genre.
The release was met with overwhelming positive reviews. Gamespot putting it aptly with “Wario Land 3 is a game that fires on all cylinders.” And that is exactly how I feel about the game. Wario Land 3 is where it all just came together in a perfect package.
Just a super solid platforming game that you should absolutely pick up, if you were not one of the 2.2 million people who already did.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
I’m disappointed in you, world. How is this game so low on the list?!
I was one of the 2.22 million people who picked this game up back in 1998. But, admittedly, I probably didn’t spend very much time actually playing the game at that time. And only truly gave it the attention it deserved recently.
But I made a point to sit down and play it in its entirety while living in Japan in 2020. And needless to say, it was an experience I will never forget.
If you didn’t try it then, try it now. No really… just play it.
A truly magical experience in gaming. And unique, even for a Zelda game.
Nintendo even deemed it worthy of a full remake for the Switch in 2019, which is currently holding the #19 spot of best selling Switch games (it has got some pretty stiff competition, so that’s still a pretty good spot to hold).
Easily on our best Zelda games of all time list, as well as my own top ten of all time.
Not to be missed.
8. Dragon Warrior Monsters
A first in the “Monsters” spinoff series from the Dragon Quest family of games, Dragon Warrior Monsters tells the story of two characters from Dragon Quest VI when they were children.
The gameplay is quite similar to Pokémon, though the Dragon Warrior Monsters games had a much more in depth monster breeding system that added to its popularity.
With 2.35 million units sold, Dragon Warrior Monsters had remakes released for the Nintendo 3ds, Playstation and mobile phones!
7. Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories
This was the first Yu-Gi-Oh! video game to be released outside of Japan, and 2.4 million players were eager for their opportunity to finally check out the series. It was also the first in the series to see multiple language translations, having versions in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! games are trading card based battle games based on the popular manga and anime series. The game follows many of the same rules as the popular table top games. The game contains 800 cards and 9800 “construction cards”, a new feature to the series.
Making full use of the color palettes of the Game Boy Color console, this game has some very impressive graphics… doing the popular manga justice.
6. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters 4: Battle of Great Duelists
In contrast to our previous game, “Battle of Great Duelists” was a Japan only release.
That didn’t stop 2.5 million players from picking it up.
Released in three separate versions, each making use of a different selection from the 900 total cards. These releases also removed the previous “Card construction” feature. The starting Deck Volume was changed from 400 to 1600.
Following the Pokémon formula of multi-version releases, Konami obviously knew what they were doing here.
5. Pokémon Trading Card Game
The official video game adaptation of the tabletop trading card game.
Developed by Hudson Soft and Creatures (not Game Freak), Pokémon Trading Card Game features cards from the first three sets of the original trading card game and cards exclusive to the video game version… 226 cards in total.
This Pokémon release shared many familiar elements from the original RPG video game series. Critics gave it decent scores, though it was mostly considered to be a lesser alternative to the real trading card game or the original RPG games that Pokémon had to offer. But 3.72 million fans traded their cash for the release, and history has seemed to look at the release more positively.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons / Oracle of Ages
“Oracle of Seasons” and “Oracle of Ages” was a series of games in The Legend of Zelda franchise developed by Flagship, a game company funded by Capcom, Nintendo AND Sega.
This represents the first time Nintendo released the reigns and allowed a third party to develop a game for the popular series.
Originally charged with the task of a remake of the original The Legend of Zelda game, Flagship quickly skipped over this todo and began working on an entirely new addition to the series.
Planned as three games, Flagship eventually transformed it into a set of two, where the stories eventually merge into one with the completion of both games.
Sharing story and game mechanics features, “Oracle of Ages” had its focus on puzzles, and “Oracle of Seasons” more on action.
Everything about these games felt unique and well polished. The graphics, the story, the music, the density of content.
“Oracle of Seasons” and “Oracle of Ages” were praised, both by critics and the 3.96 million players who picked it up.
IGN saying they were “the best games ever made for the Game Boy Color”.
They would certainly score very high on our personal list of favorite games, and I am happy to see them fall so high on this list of best selling Game Boy Color games… they deserve it.
3. Super Mario Bros. Deluxe
FINALLY. We can play the original Super Mario Bros. on the go!
With the original NES release having sold over 40 million units, it was made VERY clear to Nintendo that the fans needed this one for the Game Boy. Over 5 million players picked it up, in fact.
The 1999 Game Boy Color remake had all the features of the original, while adding content from the Japan only Super Mario Bros. 2. It also included a few minor visual upgrades. And players could now play as Luigi with his unique physics (reduced friction, higher jumping).
This was not simply a port, which Nintendo could have easily done. Super Mario Bros. Deluxe was simply that… Deluxe. No shortcuts here. And we are glad to see it on our list of best selling GBC games.
2. Pokémon Pinball
What a clever idea: you got a Pokéball? How about you throw it in a pinball machine and use it to collect points AND Pokémon. Well over 5 million consumers agreed.
Criticized by some reviewers for not having enough traditional pinball features, the game still holds generally positive reviews. Sometimes sales numbers and opinions of the game are not in align. Where this game had its shortcomings, it surely made up for in sales and in the follow up Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire.
Pokémon Pinball was also one of the few games released on the Game Boy console to feature a built in rumble feature, making it a highly sought out game to this day. And the game surely holds an important part in Game Boy history.
1. Pokémon Gold / Silver / Crystal
Widely considered some of the best Pokemon games ever created. And sales surely reflect that with 23.73 million units sold! Think about that… that is almost 5x the previous game on this list!
Gold and Silver introduced 100 new species of monsters to collect and an entirely new region to explore. Gen 2 Pokémon also introduced an internal clock in the game cartridge, which kept track of time and day of the week for use in the game. They were also the first in the series to introduce a breeding system.
Gold and Silver were released in 1999 (in Japan), and Crystal being an enhanced version to be released one year later. For the tenth anniversary of Gold and Silver, remakes were also released for the Nintendo DS.
Pokémon is clearly the king of sales… being the number one best selling franchise of all time, and hitting most #1 spots on sales lists. So it is no surprise to see it on the top of our best selling Game Boy Color games of all time. And we are happy to have it.
Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.