We love Nintendo and their wacky peripherals so today we’re taking a look at all of the Game Boy e-Reader Games.
For the uninitiated, the Nintendo Game Boy e-Reader is a card reader that plugged into the Game Boy Advance and allowed players to access additional content within their games or experience entire games with a few swipes of e-Reader cards.
The e-Reader worked by scanning physical cards with lines of code printed on them. Games were often split across a series of cards and each card would need to be scanned in order for the game or bonus to be unlocked.
After initially launching in Japan at the end of 2001, the e-Reader struggled to make any meaningful impact and was quietly discontinued in early 2004. During its short life Nintendo produced multiple cards for the e-Reader with beloved franchises such as Mario and Pokémon popularising the technology.
The Nintendo e-Reader was ahead of its time in some ways. Scanning physical objects for in-game rewards and bonuses experienced a flurry of developer support in the 2010s with games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity seeing moderate success before the trend faded once more.
Of course, pioneers as they are, Nintendo ultimately moved away from the e-Reader but later found success with Amiibos, that serve a similar function with new Amiibos still releasing in 2023 and beyond.
The ongoing success of Amiibos owes a debt of gratitude to Nintendo’s ill-fated e-Reader so here, for posterity, is a list of all the Game Boy e-Reader Games.
Table of Contents
GO, Poliwrath! (2001)
Go, Poliwrath! is a basic game where players mash the ‘A’ and ‘B’ buttons of the Game Boy Advance to compete in a Pokémon swimming competition.
Air Hockey-e (2002)
This card unlocked a game of air-hockey complete with those distinctive ‘dink, dink, dink’ noises that fills the every good bowling alley arcade.
Animal Crossing-e (2002)
The Animal Crossing-e cards didn’t provide any Game Boy e-Reader games but instead unlocked new items within the main Animal Crossing game. Once scanned with the e-Reader, players could pick up their new items from the in-game Post Office.
Balloon Fight-e (2002)
Scanning all five Balloon Fight cards unlocked the excellent NES classic that sees players taking to the air and popping the balloons of their opponents.
A simple yet fun take on one of America’s greatest sports with colourful graphics that scored a homerun in North America and Japan when it originally launched for the NES back in December 1983.
Berry Tree (2002)
This button matching game saw players collecting berries in the Kanto region. Gamers needed to scan four Pokémon cards (Nidoqueen, Gilgar, Growlithe and Ursaring) to unlock this simple fruit-harvesting sim.
Ditto Leapfrog (2002)
This wholesome and addictive game sees players controlling the Pokémon, Ditto. A Kingler Pokémon tosses fish into the air and players must position Ditto under each one as they fall, bouncing them off Ditto’s head into the nearby river. If it sounds silly and fun, it is!
Domo-Kun no Fushigi Terebi (2002)
Everybody’s favourite brown fuzzy monster (sorry Chewbacca) starred in his own series of mini-games in this Game Boy e-Reader game that was exclusive to Japan.
Donkey Kong-e (2002)
This is one of the Game Boy e-Reader games that needs no introduction. This NES classic is iconic and beloved by gamers worldwide. Donkey Kong is still a blast to play and is rightful considered one of the best 2D platform games of all time.
Donkey Kong Jr.-e (2002)
Another NES classic that appeared on the Game Boy e-Reader. Donkey Kong Jr. sees the titular ape causing more hassle for Mario in this 1982 follow up to the original.
Dream Eater (2002)
Another of the Pokémon mini-games that launched on the e-Reader. Dream Eater has a sinister premise that sees players taking control of a Drowzee and attempting to put a Primeape to sleep so they can devour its dreams. Sounds like the stuff of nightmares if you ask me!
E3 2002 Promo Pack (2002)
This pack of cards was distributed at E3 back in 2002 to promote the Game Boy e-Reader. Each pack contained a card for the Game & Watch game Manhole-e along with two Pokémon trading cards.
What makes the E3 2002 Promo Pack so special though is the Kirby card. This card was produced in an exceptionally limited number and was used to award prizes to attendees at the event. Players could scan the cards to see an animation where Kirby would reveal if the user had won a prize.
Three different versions of the Kirby card were produced but only ten cards with the top prize were made. Winning cards were destroyed once the prize had been claimed meaning that only one or two Kirby cards remain in the world. The card is perhaps made even more sought after now that E3 is gone for good.
1984’s Excitebike joined the roster of Game Boy e-reader games in 2002 and included all the exciting off-road biking action NES players adored.
Ice Climber-e (2002)
The NES version of Ice Climber was one of the first games to appear in card form for the Game Boy e-Reader.
Imakuni? no Ball (2002)
The first of two Game & Watch titles that appeared on the Game Boy e-Reader.
Imakuni? no Ball is a remake of the basic juggling game ‘Ball’ with the addition of Pokémon promotional character Imakuni? as the player avatar.
The second Game & Watch title is Manhole-e. Gameplay is straightforward with players helping NPCs cross the two roads by building makeshift bridges with manhole covers.
Mario Bros.-e (2002)
The original Mario Bros. was one of the highlights of the early Game Boy e-reader games. Of course, the famous duo would become gaming royalty and are still starring in incredible games in 2023 such as Mario Bros. Wonder and Super Mario RPG.
Night Flight (2002)
Another Pokémon mini-game, Night Flight required the Zubat and Golbat trading cards to unlock.
Players controlled Zubat as they navigated levels populated by invisible Koffing Pokémon. Gamers could utilise Zubat’s sonar abilities to locate the Koffings and avoid them while collecting fruit.
Pinball-e was yet another classic NES title that appeared on the Game Boy e-Reader. Simple and addictive, players could spend hours playing Pinball in the quest for the high score.
Pika Pop (2002)
Pokémon mascot Pikachu wasn’t going to miss their chance to participate in the e-Reader fun. This cute game saw the lighting-mouse fixing speakers using their electrical powers.
Pokémon-e: Expedition (2002)
Pokémon-e: Expedition provided a new Pokémon experience to owners of Fire Red and the Game Boy e-Reader.
Sneak and Snatch (2002)
Like the other Pokémon games on this list, Sneak and Snatch required users to scan Pokémon cards to access the game. All of the cards needed to play Sneak and Snatch can be found in the Pokémon Aquapolis set.
Imagine pong but in real-life, with humans in white shorts and bouncy yellow balls instead of pixels…
Now imagine a NES game based on that and you’ve got yourself Tennis-e for the Game Boy e-Reader.
Urban Champion-e (2002)
Urban Champion was an NES brawler that saw players fighting in the streets and winning battles by shoving enemies into open manholes. How we never saw a crossover title between Urban Champion and Manhole-e is beyond me!
Clu Clu Land-e (2003)
This cute puzzler tasked players with picking up treasures while avoiding attacks from enemies. The NES original introduced players to Bubbles the fish back in 1984.
Donkey Kong 3-e (2003)
Nintendo gave Mario the day off in the third Donkey Kong game. Instead of our beloved plumber, players took control of Stanley the Bugman as he went up against the barrel-hurling menace.
The third of Nintendo’s NES sports games after Baseball and Tennis, Golf delivers a basic rendition of whacking a ball as far as you can with a thin metal rod.
Fun fact: the game wouldn’t load if the player wore jeans and an uncollared shirt.
Hamtaro Card-e (2003)
This series of cards based on the Hamtaro franchise debuted in Japan in 2003. The cards came in three varieties with ‘Information Cards’ that included questions about certain characters and trivia. The ‘At Home – Laura and Hamtaro’ cards acted like fortune-tellers delivering prophecies to players.
Lastly, there are ‘Minigame Cards’ that do exactly what the name suggests and scanning a series of these cards would unlock minigames including one based on ‘whack-a-mole’.
F-Zero: GP Legend (2003)
These Japanese exclusive cards unlocked additional content within F-Zero: GP Legends including new courses, challenges and playable characters.
Kirby Slide/Kirby Puzzle (2003)
This basic puzzle game features the pink puffball, Kirby, challenges players to rearrange tile puzzles to complete pictures.
As this is a digital title played on the Game Boy it was impossible to bust the tiles out of the puzzle then forcibly rearrange them in the correct order like we used to as children.
Mario Party-e (2003)
Mario Party-e shipped with 64 cards when it launched back in February 2003 and is full of minigames that fans of Mario Party will love.
Mega Man Battle Network (2003)
The fourth entry in the Mega Man Battle Network series was the first to offer support for Nintendo’s Game Boy e-Reader. Players who scanned these cards into their game could access perks and bonuses that couldn’t be unlocked by other methods.
Pokémon Battle-e for Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (2003)
Scanning the Pokémon Battle-e cards while playing Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire or Pokémon Colosseum would unlock items such as additional consumable berries or even entirely new trainers to battle.
Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire (2003)
The Japan only cards didn’t provide any new gameplay to Pokémon Pinball players however they did unlock new difficulty levels and even change the likelihood of encountering certain Pokémon.
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3-e (2003)
It’s a bit of a mouthful but Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3-e is the GBA remake of one of Mario’s greatest adventures.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong (2004)
Mario continues to challenge Donkey Kong in this cute puzzle game. Don’t sweat if you don’t have a Game Boy e-Reader though as a remake of Mario vs. Donkey Kong is arriving in 2024 on the Nintendo Switch.
Mega Man Zero 3 (2004)
Another game with e-Reader functionality limited to Japan. Mega Man Zero 3 was one of the Game Boy e-reader games that added new items, areas and even graphical tweaks to the original experience.
Pikmin 2-e (2004)
Pikmin 2-e featured three minigames based in the Pikmin universe. The Japan only titles included ‘Hikkonuki Pikmin’ that saw protagonist Olimar collecting Pikmin in a grid based game.
The other two games, ‘Tekuteku Pikmin’ and ‘Tsunagete Pikmin’ tasked players with guiding Pikmin through various mazes.
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Theo first fell in love with gaming when he sped through Green Hill Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog back in 1991. Theo has previously provided reviews, news coverage and articles for The Games Cabin and enjoyed producing comedic Let’s Plays on his own personal YouTube channels.
A huge Kingdom Hearts and Metal Gear fan, Theo enjoys deep gameplay mechanics and complex storylines. A completionist by nature, Theo has earned over 140 platinum trophies including top digital trinkets for Stardew Valley, The Witness, Bloodborne and a plethora of GTA games.
Outside of gaming, Theo can often be found riding his motorbike, headbanging at gigs or out in the countryside exploring nature and marvelling at the ‘realistic graphics’.