There’s no denying that the best GBA games continue to be titles to keep an eye out for. Sure, Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions now feature a selection of Game Boy Advance titles, but there’s something special about holding the actual handheld.
What Nintendo accomplished with the Game Boy and Game Boy Color was only improved upon with the GBA. While the hardware improved, so did the games from Nintendo and other publishers, which provided some incredible experiences.
So, if you want a diverse selection of games, the GBA is unquestionably at the top of the list.
Whether you’re enjoying updates to legacy franchises like The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and Metroid Fusion or delving into historic RPGs like Golden Sun, Sapphire & Pokemon Ruby, this thing has something for everyone, even after all these years.
Let’s check them out!
The History Of Game Boy Advance
Although technology evolves at a rapid pace, memories remain. Gaming is an excellent example; regardless of how many releases we see annually, the first explored games on Game Boy Advance will have a special place in our hearts.
The Game Boy Advance debuted in 2001 as the world’s first 32-bit handheld with the pinnacle of sprite art. With gorgeous visuals and inventive games, it advanced handheld gaming beyond what the original Game Boy could provide; it was a handheld Super Nintendo.
It offered a hardware setup that suggested it had remarkable possibilities. Still, looking at the games that turned the system charming. The Game Boy Advance also featured many titles that broke records left and right. Pokémon titles Ruby and Sapphire became the highest-selling games on the console, selling over 16 million units, with the FireRed and LeafGreen remakes selling a whopping 12 million units with the internet hype couldn’t reach the massive heights.
The GBA thrived as long as it did, not because it could provide the next great thing in gaming since it served as a living time capsule for gamers who had grown up with the games of yesteryear. It was a current handheld system with new releases that incorporated game styles from the past. It was a system that saw the ports of every significant franchise before it.
While other systems experimented with 3D and polygons, the GBA stuck to 2D and sprites. In many respects, the handheld proved that everything big gaming magazines said was dead in the industry was alive and active. They had a place. And they’d rather remind you why you started playing games first rather than fade away!
Why are the Best GBA Games Still Popular in the Era of Cutting-edge Gaming Platforms?
While the Game Boy Advance may appear rough around the edges by today’s standards, it was an industry leader at the time, hailed for its processing power and portability.
In the early 2000s, smartphones weren’t all that smart, and the novelty of having a library of games at your fingertips at all times had yet to wear off. Without social media delivering constant dopamine hits, gaming was the most popular leisure when traveling, at school, and in waiting rooms worldwide.
But how is GBA still popular in this generation of gaming platforms?
➡️ It’s Very Affordable
Unlike many old consoles, the Game Boy Advance is still competitively priced. A fully modded one will cost around $200, whereas a conventional, used GBA or GBA SP will cost far under $100. The Game Boy Advance is a good choice to test a classic system without breaking the bank.
➡️ It’s the Ultimate Portable RPG System
If you enjoy RPGs, you owe it to yourself to have a GBA. Not only can you play a variety of Pokemon games, but you can also play Golden Sun, Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, the Mega Man Battle Network series, and many other titles.
➡️ It’s the Final Fantasy Machine
If you enjoy vintage Final Fantasy games, a Game Boy Advance is the system for you. It not only contains the best version of the first two games, Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls, but it also features Final Fantasy III, IV, V, and VI, all in a single box. If you’re looking for a decent story on the go, try one of these classics.
➡️ It’s Stylish and Portable
The Nintendo Switch is a more powerful machine but also bigger. The Game Boy Advance fits in your pocket and has far more style with the right modifications than the Nintendo Switch. Let’s face it: bringing out the Game Boy Advance on your daily commute is bound to spark a conversation.
➡️ It has Rare and Collectible Versions
The GBA also features many rare and collectible versions, each with a distinct style based on numerous game franchises, such as Pokémon and Mario. Anyone looking for a nostalgic fix is rarely more than a few mouse clicks away from finding it. With its backward compatibility, enhanced aesthetics, and gold library, it’s easy to figure out why this console is considered as much of a vintage jewel today as it was in 2001.
When the Game Boy Advance hit the market in the early 2000s, Nintendo’s blueprint for handheld success was a simple but proven formula. By combining an astounding amount of mobile power into a visually appealing frame and then seasoning it with a steady supply of great games, the ultimate result was certain to be a fan favorite.
More than 1,500 games were released on the system in total, but if you could only choose 12 for your personal Nintendo handheld Hall of Fame, the titles listed below would be worth consideration.
Metroid Fusion — or ‘Metroid 4’ as it’s referred to in the opening — bears more than a passing similarity to its SNES forefathers, which is perhaps its worst flaw. Though it’s a good game in its own right, it didn’t do much to set itself out from other Metroids and felt much more linear than its enormous predecessor.
It was released simultaneously as Metroid Prime for the GameCube, propelling the franchise ahead at a breakneck rate. Still, this is a fantastic 2D debut, and the linearity is likely better suited to a portable Metroid game than a home console entry. If you liked Metroid Dread, you should check out this GBA predecessor.
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: November 17, 2002
The Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap
After toying with Ocarinas & wind-changing device batons, Link’s next big thing involves a communicating hat named Ezlo that may reduce his size and enable him to explore the land of the Minish: bug-sized residents that need Link’s assistance.
The Legend Of Zelda: Minish Cap was a traditional Zelda adventure, combining action and riddles as Link combed the area for power items that could aid him in his fight against iconic adversaries. It also looked great on the Game Boy Advance, with the brilliant colors and charming visual design that marked the Wind Waker era and would continue with several entries on the Nintendo DS.
Release Date: January 10, 2005
Although the series’ roots date back to the Famicom age, Nintendo’s portable device seems like its original home. The small troops and vehicles make Intelligent Systems’s game appear charming, but they are just a fun front for some highly intricate levels that will require a true tactical genius to conquer.
Fortunately, the job is made much easier by various commanders full of personality and unique powers to master. The sequel (Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising) was released in 2003 & continues the tale of the previous game & it is just as good, including eight more commanders, new powers, a brand-new Neotank, and a slew of other gameplay upgrades.
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: September 10, 2001
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames!
Few games achieve the ludicrous heights of stupidity that this collection of toilet mini-games does.
Wario Ware Inc.’s brilliance stems from its sheer accessibility and simple control system – you’re usually given a single-word instruction and then a few seconds to complete the required absurd task, which varies from juggling a set of tiles while riding a unicycle to sniffing a bogey back into a girl’s nose.
Over 200 games are divided across nine themed levels, including one dedicated to famous Nintendo franchises, and the entire package is kept together by a very abstract art style that raises Nintendo’s game to even higher heights of weirdness.
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: March 21, 2003
Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow
Castlevania was at its best on the Game Boy Advance, as that age of handheld gaming gave birth to a trio of excellent titles. Aria of Sorrow tops everything for combining Castlevania gameplay principles with a fantastic soundtrack, a plethora of weapons, and the brilliant Tactical Soul system that transformed heroine Soma Cruz into a force to be reckoned with. From beginning to end, Soma’s adventure through Dracula’s castle is the classic Castlevania of its time.
Release Date: May 6, 2003
Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga
The GBA certainly isn’t lacking in RPGs, but few can compete with this wonderfully hilarious adventure. While the incredibly amusing tale will keep you interested, the perfectly developed battle systems make AlphaDream’s adventure so enjoyable to play. Anyone who has played Mario’s previous RPGs will know the battle pattern, although Luigi’s presence brilliantly augments clashes.
This brotherly affection extends throughout the game, and the pair has a series of special techniques that will help them explore the BeanBean Kingdom on their quest to rescue Princess Peach.
Release Date: November 17, 2003
Astro Boy: Omega Factor
Treasure and Hitmakers’ fantastically wild collaboration is a love letter to Osamu Tezuka’s iconic manga series and an overview of his whole library of work.
At its heart, Omega Factor is a beat-’em-up, but it takes delight in sending out as much damage as possible so you can quickly fill up Astro Boy’s EX gauge and pancake your opponents with special attacks.
It’s a fantastic game, made even better by technically huge boss battles, a surprisingly good storyline, and light platform and shooting sections emphasizing Treasure’s technical prowess.
Release Date: December 18, 2003
Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
Intelligent Systems’ tactical RPG series has grown into the most popular in the modern era, but the early entries deserve credit for laying the groundwork. Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade was the seventh chapter and the first to be released globally, telling the narrative of three young lords who become entangled in a continent-wide conspiracy.
Fire Emblem has always been known for its epic sword-and-sorcery fantasy storyline. The Blazing Blade is no exception, featuring a likable main cast and an intriguing use of political intrigue inside a traditional high-fantasy framework. Its “permadeath” feature heightened the tension in the plot by constantly threatening the player with the loss of crucial characters.
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: November 3, 2003
Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire
While Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen are fantastic Pokemon games in their own right, we’ve spent even more time with this RPG trio. Many Pokemon fans were unhappy with Game Freak’s decision not to bring in your previous Pokemon (which meant you couldn’t catch them all for the first time).
Still, with a new engine and no need to rely on previous games, the series could move in new directions, like adding dramatic new double battles and granting new Innate Abilities and Natures that further defined the awesome critters you were desperate to gather.
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo The Pokémon Company
Release Date: November 21, 2002
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Leveling up your clan, collecting the strongest weaponry, and out-thinking the adversary leads to an endlessly entertaining battle in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, with enough variances in location, laws, and opponent skills to keep things from becoming too repetitive.
Even while battling an OP clan, bouts remain fun. It can be difficult to locate what you’re searching for amid the numerous menu screens, but Final Fantasy Tactics Advance will keep you entertained and delighted for a long time if you know where to look.
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: September 8, 2003
Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World
It was a pure platforming pleasure when a customized version of Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World made its way onto the Game Boy Advance.
The ever-likable Luigi was seamless, the aesthetics were improved for a better impression on the portable platform, gameplay sourcing was improved over the original game, and stages now included extra collectibles in the form of Dragon Coins to find. It may have added little to the original game, but that’s because Nintendo couldn’t do much more to improve on an all-time masterpiece.
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Developer: Nintendo R&D2
Release Date: February 9, 2002
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is an advanced gaming marvel that has withstood magnificently for more than 2 decades after it heel-flipped onto the Game Boy Advance. Vicarious Visions condensed Neversoft’s addicting attitude into an isometric package of slick flips, instrumental versions of the iconic soundtrack, and amazing graphics that never stopped a beat.
Some concessions were clear, but at its core, this version of Birdman’s escapades had all the charm and attitude it required to compete on home consoles with its bigger brothers.
Developer: Neversoft Entertainment
Release Date: September 20, 2000
The Game Boy Advance, released in 2001, was considered a major leap over its progenitor, the Game Boy Color, which many people saw as a modest improvement over the 1989 monochrome Game Boy.
With 81.51 million units sold globally, the GBA fell short of its predecessor’s 118.69 million sales yet completely outsold all competitors. You’ll discover above a selection of the best GBA games, but they are not displayed in any particular order; what we’re presenting here is a bountiful helping of must-play software you’ll want to check out!
You might also want to check out our recommendations for the best retro games, if you’re adamant on exploring gaming of a bygone era!