The best games for the Gameboy Advance SP
March 9, 2006 6:58 AM   Subscribe

What are the best Gameboy games you've played?

I have a Gameboy Advance SP and I would like to expand my game collection. I'd love recommendations for the most fun and/or engaging games you've played on the Gameboy.

It doesn't have to be a specific style or genre of game. Heck, it doesn't even have to be made for the GBA - I'm willing to seek out old school used Gameboy games if the game is worth tracking down. It just has to be really fun and playable on the GBA SP.

Just for reference, games I own that I really love:
Super Mario World 2
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Brothers 3
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town

posted by aebaxter to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:00 AM on March 9, 2006

I really enjoyed the Advance Wars games. So addictive. Crush your cartoon enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their cartoon women.
posted by Hlewagast at 7:07 AM on March 9, 2006

Try Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga. It can be a bit draggy at the beginning, but I quite enjoyed it. It's not unlike Minish Cap in that it has action elements as well as RPG elements. And since you clearly enjoyed other Mario games, it seems like a no brainer.

Here's a review.
posted by bcwinters at 7:13 AM on March 9, 2006

Metroid Zero-Mission - I never played the original Metroid, and this is a remake of it. I absolutely loved it.

Castlevania, Aria of Sorrow - More Metroid-like retro gaming awesomeness

Wario Ware - Utterly entertaining and captivating, for me anyway

Pokemon Sapphire/Ruby - Laugh if you like, but they're very well-done RPGs.
posted by agropyron at 7:18 AM on March 9, 2006

Second Advance Wars 1+2 and Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga.

Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis is a very good strategy RPG.
posted by Prospero at 7:19 AM on March 9, 2006

Don't forget Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, my favorite GBA game.
posted by Bryan Behrenshausen at 7:30 AM on March 9, 2006

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is my favorite (strategy) RPG for GBA, but the Fire Emblem Series is also excellent.

If you have any liking for puzzle games whatsoever, you owe it to yourself to pick up the Dr. Mario/Puzzle League. Puzzle League is the most recent iteration of Tetris Attack (also known as Panel de Pon in Japan), the absolute finest puzzle game ever made.
posted by Eldritch at 7:32 AM on March 9, 2006

These are all excellent titles:

Ninja 5-0
Gunstar Super Heroes
Drill Dozer
Medal of Honor: Infiltrator
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

These require a bit more time investment:

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Rebelstar Tactical Command
Advance Wars 1 & 2
Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga
posted by lotsofno at 7:33 AM on March 9, 2006

For the original GB, I recommend Gargoyle's Quest as an underrated experience.

For the GBC, Wario Land 3.

For the GBA, you really do need both WarioWare Mini MicroGames and WarioWare Twisted.
posted by blueshammer at 7:34 AM on March 9, 2006

I second Tetris, but find the original. Tetris Worlds (I think -- the GBA version) is fundamentally broken. Amazing they could break Tetris, but they did. I also loved -- LOVED -- Zelda: Minish Cap. I've never played through an entire Zelda before (well not since the first one) but that one was really great.
posted by The Bellman at 7:35 AM on March 9, 2006

You seem to like platformers (which are my personal favorite), so here are the ones that got me through many a long line at the bank:

Metroid Fusion in addition to the previously mentioned Metroid: Zero Mission. You may find yourself lingering on these games longer than you should, but that's a good thing sometimes.

Warioland 4 is a great platformer. You can't really die, you have to put yourself in harm's way to achieve your goals. Can't reach a high ledge? Get stung by a bee, have an allergic reaction that blows you up like a balloon and float your way to the top. The fact that you can get distracted without having a goomba run into you until you die makes for nice portability.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a wonderful little platformer/puzzler with TONS of quick-and-dirty levels. Perfect for on-the-go play.

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is my personal favorite in the Zelda series and it translates beautifully to the GBA. It also includes the Four Swords, one of (if not the) best multiplayer experiences for the GBA, so if you've got someone else to play with, enjoy.

If you can, seek out the Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons games for the Gameboy Color. Sure, they may stick out of your GBA a little more than you'd like, but they're great Zelda games worth your time.

I heartily second Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and add to that Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. You really can't get enough Castlevania (although it's inability to save anywhere is annoying).

Advance Wars 1 + 2 might be the best games you'll play on the system. They're really hard to put down.

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga is quite good.

Pokemon: Sapphire & Ruby are actually good games and you'll find yourself questioning your existence as you actually find yourself in a state where you must, at all costs, catch them all.

If Advance Wars isn't your favorite GBA game, Wario Ware certainly will be. Wonderfully unique and very addicting. I can now say with certainty that I will never miss my nose when picking it again.

Of course, you could always refer to lists of the top GBA games if you'd like.

Enjoy your timewasting and when you get a DS, I've got more recommendations.
posted by unsupervised at 7:47 AM on March 9, 2006

Wario Ware Inc. Mega Micro Games (not not not the DS version)
Scrabble (GBA European release--the American GB one is too slow)
Pocket Music
Legend of the River King
Gunstar Super Heroes
Car Battler Joe
posted by box at 7:50 AM on March 9, 2006

Operation C.

Actually, Operation C is one of the only GameBoy games I actually like.
posted by majick at 8:08 AM on March 9, 2006

You know about ROM cards you can buy for the Gameboy eh? a 512megabit card and loader can be had for $80, it will hold about 15 games and just about every gameboy game is available for download. You can reload them as much as you want.
posted by furtive at 8:40 AM on March 9, 2006

the ROM cards are great. I have an EZ-Flash II - works like a charm even on my DS. The best part about them is that you can load NES, original GB and GBC roms on them as well.
posted by hypocritical ross at 9:16 AM on March 9, 2006

Final Fantasy IV Advance. It's Final Fantasy II from the SNES, but a little more faithful to the original Japanese version. New translations and actions. It's supposed to be more difficult, as well, but I haven't noticed that.
posted by stavrogin at 9:18 AM on March 9, 2006

I second basically everything mentioned up to this point, especially the Metroids and Castlevanias. Although, take note that for the Castlevania GBA entries, Circle of the Moon is definitely the hardest, Harmony of Dissonance the easiest, and Aria of Sorrow right in the middle.

Might I also recommend:
Zooo - puzzle game in the vein of Bejeweled, but with more modes, and which does not end the game when you run out of moves.
Fire Emblem - Like Advance Wars but with great RPG elements. Also, a decent story to boot.
Golden Sun - A classic console-style RPG throwback to games like Final Fantasy III on the SNES and so on.
Final Fantasy 1 & 2 - Dawn of Souls - speaking of classic Final Fantasy, these remakes are great for on-the-go peoples; you can jump in and out of the game basically anywhere, quicksaving wherever you like. Story's a little thin in the first one but the fighting is fun.
Kirby & the Amazing Mirror - a huge, terribly fun Kirby game that actually requires an in-game map for its bigness. Quite possibly the finest Kirby game ever created.

Lastly, it may be helpful to check out Metacritic's index of GBA reviews, organized by score. I won't say I agree with the scores of some games but it covers a lot of the titles we've mentioned here already, and more.

Oh! Yes! On preview - another vote for a flash ROM card. Mine's an X-Rom 512, and the NES Emulation alone is so worth it.
posted by Monster_Zero at 9:20 AM on March 9, 2006

If you go the ROM route, make sure you pick up Final Fantasy Adventure for the original gameboy. The GBA remake, Sword of Mana, sucked by comparison.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:21 AM on March 9, 2006

For the original Gameboy, a title that was often overlooked is Survival Kids, it's the twice-removed precursor to Lost in Blue, only far better due to its simplicity, and the fact that you don't have to babysit some stupid girl who hangs out in a cave all day.

You can pick it up extremely cheaply on Ebay, or even more cheaply via the internet if you have no moral qualms over rom-loading. (You might want to try-before-you but, though, it's a niche game).

I also second Gargoyle's Quest, hands-down my fave original Gameboy Game.

For the GBA, it seems all the best ones have been mentioned already, but I'll second these:

For Strategy: Advance Wars 1 & 2, and Fire Emblem
For RPG: Any Final Fantasy Remake, Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga (Has an excellent non-traditional battle system, more like a minigame)
For Action Adventure: Easy, any Metroid, Zelda, or Castlevania (Harmony of Dissonance plays a bit faster than the others), Ninja Five-0, Drill Dozer (These last two are more linear titles)
For Fun: The Warioware titles. I strongly reccomend Warioware: Twisted, the control system is unlike anything you've played before.
For Multiplayer: Zelda Link to the Past/Four Swords, Mario Kart Super Circuit, or Adcanve Wars
posted by Durhey at 10:02 AM on March 9, 2006

I add my voice to those advocating the Castlevania series for the GBA. The wonderful thing is that two of the best, Harmony of Dissonance and Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow are now out on one cartridge! Can't beat that!
posted by jeditanuki at 10:12 AM on March 9, 2006

Tetris, Tetris, and then some more Tetris. Also Jurrasic Park, Link's Awakening, and the first Mario.
posted by Orange Goblin at 10:13 AM on March 9, 2006

Definitely Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and if you're in to traditional RPGs then the Final Fantasy re-releases are great.
posted by Who_Am_I at 10:21 AM on March 9, 2006

imo, knights of lodis is waay the heck better than ffta.
mario & luigi superstar saga also good.
posted by juv3nal at 10:50 AM on March 9, 2006

You're in luck because two really great GBA games came out recently.

Tales of Phantasia is a port of an old-school RPG that came out on the SNES with a slightly different battle system than that of something like Final Fantasy. When the characters encounter an enemy, instead of the turn-based battle, it goes into a side-scrolling view where you can control the main character and his attack (like a slash or a kick) and command the rest of your party to support, heal, go on the defense, etc.

Drill Dozer is a hidden gem that sadly was released with little or no fanfare. It's a side-scrolling platformer where you control a character on a drilling car thing. It's a little like the old Marios on SNES, but with a bit of innovation because you use the shoulder buttons to active the drills and switch gears.

I'm surprised you have Super Mario World 2 and Super Mario Advance 4, but not Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3. It's a port of the SNES game called Yoshi's Island, but the GBA version has lots of extra features, I hear. I haven't played the GBA version yet, but the SNES counterpart is my favorite Mario game of all time. Instead of playing the Italian plumber, you play a bunch of Yoshis who must transport baby Mario to safety in each map.
posted by nakedsushi at 12:06 PM on March 9, 2006

Mario Golf
posted by Mossy at 2:11 PM on March 9, 2006

I'll give another recommendation for the Pokemon series. I haven't picked up the latest ones, but Sapphire and Ruby are very good; those are the versions that were especially made for the Advance.

The older Pokemon games, like the Red/Blue/Yellow and Gold/Silver/Crystal ones are also good, and they take place in slightly different settings. They will, as someone else said, stick out of the end of the SP.

I'm not just plugging Pokemon for the sake of plugging it; you said you liked Zelda and Harvest Moon, and Pokemon does have the aspect of "walking around and talking to random people in town"; it also has the added bonus of being Very Very Cute.
posted by Electric Elf at 2:18 PM on March 9, 2006

Kirby's Dreamland.
posted by cellphone at 3:59 PM on March 9, 2006

Just a note: Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green are GBA ports of the original Red/Blue/Yellow, updated with some new areas. Those might be a better fit if you want the older Pokemon games, plus they won't stick out of your GBA so annoyingly.

Also, to second nakedsushi's suggestion, Yoshi's Island for the GBA is fun and adorable, like any good Mario game should be.

Otherwise, this post has pretty much hit every GBA game I own, so I say "yea" to all of it.
posted by Errant at 4:02 PM on March 9, 2006

Another voice for Advance Wars. I haven't spent that kind of time with a game since I was a kid. Last winter, after getting up at 6 AM, being bumped from two flights, finally arriving at midnight, finding myself snowed in and needing to find a hotel, I still stayed up until 4 in the morning playing Advance Wars. And it kinda made me feel okay about the whole ordeal.
posted by team lowkey at 5:28 PM on March 9, 2006

Yeah, yeah, Mario Golf (and a bunch of other games already mentioned). Also: any Bomberman game; Ultimate Card Games; Ultimate Brain Games; Super Monkey Ball Jr.
posted by box at 6:27 PM on March 9, 2006

Wario Ware, Tetris, and Mario Golf.
posted by anildash at 3:51 AM on March 10, 2006

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