The original Game Boy, first released all the way back in 1989, pioneered the handheld gaming market. Sure, little novelties like the Game & Watch existed before it, but the Game Boy was truly the first “portable console”, allowing gamers to build up a collection of games that they could swap out at-will. A lot of now classic series and gaming conventions first saw the light of day on the Game Boy, and here are the best of the best of them.
We may as well start off with the most ubiquitous Game Boy game out there. The Russian-developed endless puzzler actually came bundled with the Game Boy for its US launch, and proved to be a hopelessly addictive time waster. It was also the very first Game Boy game to make use of the link cable, allowing two players to play competitively against one another.
Super Mario Land
Super Mario Land was Nintendo’s attempt to bring Mario, its biggest home console property, to its new handheld hotness. It was probably the best launch title to come with the system, and despite some frustrating technical limitations (you couldn’t save!) it was a fairly faithful recreation of Mario on the small screen. Fun fact: this is where Princess Peach’s often neglected relation Daisy made her debut.
The direct sequel to the NES’s Metroid divided fans of the series quite a bit. Some applauded Nintendo’s descision to continue the series on a hand held, while others thought the Game Boy’s incredibly simplistic graphics held the game back, and were not satisfied until Super Metroid launched on the SNES.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Link’s Awakening began its life as a mere port of the SNES’s A Link to the Past, developed after-hours by random Nintendo staffers. Some of the higher ups eventually caught wind of it, and it was turned into a full-blown Zelda sequel. Most notably, it is one of the few Zelda games not to take place in the land of Hyrule, and does not feature Princess Zelda or the Triforce.
Wario Land, despite having the subtitle Super Mario Land 3, plays nothing like a Mario platformer. It introduced us to the Mario series anti-hero, Wario, who is on a greedy quest to gather as much treasure as possible in order to get a cooler castle than Princess Daisy. Why is playing the bad guy always so fun?
Kirby’s Dream Land
Before Kirby was pink, he was that odd tinge of Game Boy green that we all know and love. Kirby’s Dream Land was the little pink ball’s video gaming debut, and was created by Nintendo as a kind of “junior platformer” aimed at younger kids, with lots of cutsey characters and a much more forgiving learning curve.
Donkey Kong Land
Donkey Kong Land is easily one of the most techincally impressive titles on this list. A pseduo port of the SNES’s Donkey Kong Country, Land takes our heroes Donkey and Diddy Kong on another journey to get back all their bananas. While the plot and levels are slightly different to its SNES counterpart, the art style and gameplay are recreated flawlessly.
Pokemon Red And Blue
Oh come on, you didn’t really think Pokemon wouldn’t be on this list, did you? As we talked about last week in our Pokemon 20th Anniversary Feature, the Game Boy was the birthplace of this billion-dollar franchise. Despite coming out late in the Game Boy’s life, Pokemon was immensely popular, and pioneered the use of the link cable for trading – a core feature of the game.
Did we miss any, or are these the best Game Boy games of all time? Be sure to let us know in the comments!