After it had been around for a while, the Game Boy got a much-needed boost thanks to a little game called Pokémon. Nintendo’s long-running handheld game suddenly had a new lease on life. In the West, the Game Boy Color came out just a few weeks after the game came out, and many of us caught our first Pocket Monsters on that system.
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After nine years, Game Boy Color finally gave handheld Nintendo gamers the proper upgrade they’d been waiting for. The original DMG-001 had already been updated in the form of the Game Boy Pocket.
People who bought the GBC at the same time as the Game Boy Color did so in a variety of bright colours. It was also backwards compatible with the games from the Game Boy. If you had a monochrome console, you could play many dual “black cart” games. The more attractive “clear cartridges” let you see the inside of the board. Before the Game Boy Advance came out in 2001, the GBC had a great library of games. Compared to its predecessor, three years is a short time. But we love this beautiful system and its impressive, often-forgotten library.
We’ve already made lists of the 50 best games for every Nintendo console, and this one for the best games for the Game Boy Color is the last one to go live. Thank you all for adding to this list and all the other ones.
It’s important to remember, though, that just like the other rankings, this one isn’t set in stone. The list will keep changing based on how users rate games in the Nintendo Life database. If you didn’t get a chance to vote, you can still do so right now by scrolling down and rating the games, or using the search bar below to find a game that isn’t there. Games must get at least 10 reviews to be eligible. Once that threshold is met (and if it scores well enough), it will show up below.
Ready to look? Check out the 50 best Game Boy Color games of all time as we show you around!
Legend of the River King 2 (GBC)
Legend of the River King 2 is a great fishing-themed game with a lot of heart. It’s a great game that you can play on your phone or tablet. With bugs, flowers, and diving as well as the line-casting central hook from the last game, there’s a lot to do. The story has a lot of replay value for anglers, too. There are two different ways to get through the story. Fishing fans and RPG fans will both have a great time, but those who come for the atmosphere will get the most out of the game. The soundtrack, setting, and sense of scale all work together to make one of the most charming depictions of summer on an 8-bit cartridge.
After all these years.
Resident Evil Gaiden (GBC)
Before Resident Evil Revelations, Resident Evil Gaiden tried to make the survival horror more manageable for Nintendo’s small handheld. It also took the series on an ocean voyage well before Resident Evil Revelations even came out. When Capcom and M4 tried to make a straight port of Resident Evil, they went with this top-down game instead. It abstracts the zombie fight with first-person elements and a sliding bar from any number of Golf games.
REG is a good game that tries to bring some of the series’ tension to a small device, but its low-tech take on the series’ survival horror makes it feel less scary. Leon S. Kennedy and Barry Burton are both back.
Mega Man Xtreme 2 (GBC)
If you played the first game, it was very different. Mega Man Xtreme 2 is a huge improvement over it. It looks great, plays very well, has a smooth and varied experience, and draws from four Mega Man X games. This is a lot closer to the portable X experience that fans were looking for back in 2001. The screen size, some minor control issues, and a few unresolved issues from the first game add up to a little bit of a drag, but it’s still a fun experience.
Blaster Master: Enemy Below (GBC)
In Blaster Master: Enemy Below, a mix of old and new elements gives the game enough new twists to make it a worthy sequel to the first game. Many of the same audio and visual elements have been kept pretty much the same, but the new bosses and open setting give fans a whole new way to enjoy the game. This great Game Boy Color game is a good reason to start playing the Blaster Master series for the first time. If you haven’t played the NES version of the game, you don’t have a lot of excuses.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
The first Legend of Zelda game, Link’s Awakening, was a strange change from the games before it. It didn’t have Hyrule, the Triforce, or even Zelda herself, but the Game Boy title was still a big hit when it came out in 1993. DX: The game was released in 1998, when Nintendo was trying to get more people to buy the Game Boy Color.
The DX edition of Link’s Awakening added fully coloured graphics, unique enemies, a unique dungeon, and color-based puzzles to the game. This is not to be confused with the WWE alliance of Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Photos could be taken and printed out with the Game Boy Printer, which could print out a dozen. That’s what made the game even better. It was re-released on the Nintendo 3DS for its virtual console more than a decade after it was first made.
2019, however, would see a full remake of the game for the Nintendo Switch, which would have a beautiful retro-modern art style.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons
Zelda mania was still running wild in the early 2000s, and hot off the release of the genre-defining Ocarina of Time and its underrated follow-up Majora’s Mask, came this quirky adventure on the Game Boy Color. Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons took an unusual approach to the Zelda formula, with each one focusing on a specific theme and gameplay ideas. Oracle of Seasons was Zelda with the action dialed up to 11, while Oracle of Ages focused more on the trademark puzzles of the franchise.
Either game was brilliant in action and animated with quirky pixel perfection on the Game Boy Color, but owning both would reveal some real magic under the Nintendo hood. Using a password system, both games could communicate with each other and help create a more complete experience. Finish the one game, and you’d get a password which could be used on the partner title to drastically change the journey and replace the Veran and Onox boss fight with a classic showdown against Ganon.
There hasn’t been another Zelda adventure like the Oracle games, but this pair of colorful siblings gave the Game Boy Color a terrific send-off just as the Game Boy Advance was preparing to hit the market.
With Mario Golf, you could play golf on the go without having to pay membership fees or risk having your access revoked if you weren’t properly dressed. The Game Boy Color was able to show off its abilities with its eye-catching colours, pick-up-and-play mentality, and a lot of extras stored in the cart memory. Mario Golf was the best handheld golf game at the time. Whether you were trying to hit a hole-in-one or make a precise putt, it was the best game at the time. Having the ability to connect to the N64 made it even better. It could compete with more well-known games back then.