It may not have lasted as long as the behemoth that is the original GameBoy, but the GameBoy Advance was still an impressive handheld console. It finally gave players of games that could actually be seen in dark and handheld games a whole new polished visual style.
The GameBoy Advance also housed several gems that rivaled games on the Nintendo GameCube. For anyone looking to go back and revisit the Nintendo GameBoy or experience the console for the first time, there are plenty of must-have titles to check out.
From developer Game Freak comes a game where a woman named Jill is part of a drill gang called the Red Dozers. Jill takes on gangsters in her titular Drill Dozer in a fun adventure that shows it’s more than just a side game of the Pokemon developers.
Drilling bulldozer mixes action elements with environmental puzzles, forcing the player to use Jill’s Drill Dozer with some thought. With Dozer upgrades, intuitive gameplay, and a familiar yet fresh story, there’s a lot to enjoy here that might surprise players.
Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is a prequel that doesn’t get enough attention. Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island is the portable port that is, in many ways, the definitive port, allowing everyone to experience the adorable adventure of Yoshi and Baby Mario on the go.
From the coloring book art style to the unique gameplay that led Yoshi to get his own spin-off game series, at first, Yoshi’s Island seems childish, but the levels quickly become more difficult and can test any player’s patience.
At a time when the metroid the games adopted a first-person shooter style, Metroid Fusion was the franchise’s return to the 2D platforming style it started with. In it, Samus traverses a massive map in a Metroidvania-style adventure, earning upgrades, and defeating alien threats.
In the long line of metroid Games, Metroid Fusion is considered one of the best, thanks to the injection of horror elements, including real scares and more gruesome enemy designs. There were even new unlockable abilities for Samus and all of those things led to a universally acclaimed addition to the series.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue Rescue Team
While the main series of Pokemon games follow the same formula for almost all new games, spin-offs experiment with new ideas and playstyles. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue Rescue Team focuses on the Pokémon themselves and how they interact with the world without trainers.
It’s a unique perspective that puts more emphasis on dialogue and characters rather than just collecting cute monsters. Pokémon characters all have unique personalities and traits, which combined with turn-based RPG combat led to a wonderful spin-off that got its own series.
Kirby and the Incredible Mirror
Of all of Nintendo’s many franchises, Kirby is one that doesn’t get enough attention given how experimental games are getting. One game is in the classic sidescroller style then another will mix puzzles and physics-based platformers.
Adopting a Metroidvania game style, Kirby and the Incredible Mirror Kirby is split into four different single-player AI-controlled clones. This is where co-op can improve things, with other players controlling one of the other Kirbys for a fun adventure that keeps the series fresh.
Earth Wario 4
Although not the best entry in the series, Earth Wario 4 is yet another solid title in Wario’s underrated game series. Exploration takes a step back for a more linear experience, but it still features Wario fighting his way through enemies and collecting gold coins.
Or Earth Wario 4 really shines with its quirky visuals and humor that help the series stand out from other Mario titles. It also features some of the smoothest sprite animations and gameplay that remains addictive, leading to a sequel that still shines on the GameBoy Advance.
Pokémon: Emerald / Ruby / Sapphire
This one really needs no introduction, with Pokemon now an iconic RPG franchise. The third generation of Pokemon featured Treecko, Mudkip and Torchic starters and it’s standard Pokemon Deal: A new trainer begins his journey through a region to defeat the gym leaders.
It might be standard, but as always Game Freak puts 100% effort into the game introducing a plethora of visually stunning new Pokemon. The turn-based combat is simplistic but effective in keeping the player engaged and the pixel art is still some of the best in the franchise.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Much like with the above Super Mario Advance 3, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is essentially just a port of Final Fantasy Tactics. However, it is arguably superior as it features the same addictive gameplay and the portable version keeps the player consumed for even longer.
Set in the world of Ivalice, the same world as Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics is considered one of the best turn-based tactics games for a reason. It sounds simple, but the amount of strategy involved can lead to a challenging experience that tests the player while keeping them hooked, determined to beat them.
Mario & Luigi: The Superstar Saga
Seemingly coming out of nowhere, the mario and louis RPG spin-off games ended up being surprise gems that spawned a long-running franchise. The new characters of Mario & Luigi: The Superstar Saga expanded the Mario universe in the best possible way and introduced some of Nintendo’s best examples of humor.
Even the RPG gameplay is addictive and matches the way Mario brothers play in their regular games. Any Nintendo fan should check out this experimental title and if they enjoy it, there’s a long line of sequels that only enhance the formula, especially with Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Recognized as one of the most underrated entries in The Legend of Zelda series, The Minish beanie returns to the style of A link to the past while blending in the visual style of The awakening of the wind. The result is a beautiful pixel art style that helps make this version of Hyrule one of the best.
A big factor in what makes this Hyrule so visually stunning is the titular Minish Cap’s added mechanism, which allows Link to shrink down to the size of an insect. Things like bookshelves and a grassy courtyard suddenly turn into massive dungeons to explore. Combined with the classic gameplay of The Legend of Zelda series, The Minish beanie turns out to be the definitive GameBoy Advance title.
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