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The Nintendo Game Boy was the second console I ever owned. I remember saving up for it and my Sister lending me enough money to bridge the gap. It came with Mega Man 2 and the original Super Mario Land. I spent countless hours on it, especially on long trips where my Dad would drive us to the coast for our holidays. I still enjoy a lot of the games now and thought I’d put together this list of my Top 7 games to start your Game Boy collection.
I tried to stick to just 5, I really did, but as one is obviously essential and another is from the same franchise, I had to accommodate for that.
The rules I’ve set myself are that the games need to be for the original Game Boy, which means I won’t be including Game Boy Advance or Game Boy Color titles in this list. I’ll be saving them for another video at a later date.
I’ve also made the very difficult decision of not including the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening in this list, as the “DX” version will be featured in my Game Boy colour recommendations. It would have been my number 1 choice for sure, so give that a try if you are limited to just playing original Game Boy games.
At number 7 we start with possibly the most predictable entry. If you own a Game Boy you NEED to own Tetris. It’s as simple as that. It’s almost as essential as owning batteries or a power supply. This game contributed to the huge number of sales for the console and is a timeless classic. A fantastically addictive and portable puzzle game that I guess needed no introduction.
6) Metroid II: Return of Samus
Metroid II: Return of Samus wasn’t an easy game to list here as it’s not quite as accessible and simple to just “pick up and play” as the other titles. However, this eerie and atmospheric adventure has you exploring a planet in search of Metroids to destroy as a sequel to the original and predecessor to the Super Nintendo classic. That’s right, this isn’t a simplified port or experimental side mission. It’s an exclusive full game which is part of the plot as a continuation of the story.
Metroid II is in stark contrast to many other games on the system, especially in this list, as it is more of a darker, mature experience, requiring patience, but ultimately very rewarding.
5) Donkey Kong
At first I assumed Donkey Kong would just be a simple port of the classic arcade game, and for the first four levels it kind of is. What blew my mind with this version is that after you beat those, the game opens up into a huge puzzle platformer with over 90 additional levels.
There’s a great amount of variety in the stages, where you must continue to avoid traps and enemies, but collect keys, solve puzzles and somersault your way to victory! There’s also some fun battle stages and this looks great if you own a Super Game Boy cartridge for your Super Nintendo.
4) Kirby’s Dreamland
At number 4 we have Kirby’s Dreamland where this pink little creature made his debut. He actually appears as white on the game cover and box art because of a misunderstanding between Nintendo of America and Japan, and oddly I had absolutely no idea he was meant to be pink until Super Smash Bros. came out on the Nintendo 64.
Anyway… this little adventure platformer is short and sweet. The music is fantastic, Kirby of course is adorable and full of character, and whilst he doesn’t have power to copy his enemies’ powers in this first outing, there’s enough foundations and familiarity here for fans of the newer games to still get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
3) Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins
At number 3 we have Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins. This game was a huge improvement over the original Super Mario Land and is easily one of my favourite games on the system.
As you’d expect, Super Mario Land 2 is full of memorable music and levels. The game features a world map where you can choose to play stages in any order and introduces Wario for the first time as the main villain. There’s also a carrot power-up item that gives Mario little rabbit ears, that I haven’t seen in any other game since.
Definitely pick this game up if you own a Game Boy as it is equally as essential as Tetris in my opinion.
2) Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
At number 2 we have Wario Land which is actually listed as Super Mario Land 3. Some may see that as breaking the rules a little by having two games from the same franchise in this list, but personally I consider this to be okay as the gameplay and pacing feels considerably different, plus this spawned off a whole new Wario Land series which I absolutely love.
As Wario you get to shoulder-barge, stomp and throw your enemies. There’s a few different hats that grant special abilities and hidden treasure in certain levels which you’ll want to find to give you the best ending. The idea here is to get Wario a new castle which is bigger and better than before and it’s quite fun playing as the bad guy.
The levels don’t feel quite as varied as Mario Land 2, nor is the music as memorable, but this is a much bigger game, with better graphics, a good sense of humour and a worthy addition to anyone’s Game Boy collection.
1) Pokémon Red / Blue / Yellow
Okay so this choice was predictable, huh? Pokémon Red and Blue is where it all started and I invested hours into these games and managed to acquire all 151 thanks to my friend Tom who traded me a Mew.
Whilst the Pokémon series has evolved over the years, for me nothing quite beats the first generation in terms of the characters, creatures and story. I absolutely love the original Pokémon and was amazed at how big an adventure could fit on such a small cartridge on a handheld console.
If you’d like to experience it a little more like the animated series then definitely go with the Yellow version as you get to start with Pikachu and fight Jessie and James from Team Rocket. There are a few other little enhancements as well, but if you want the choice of Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle, be sure to try out the Red or Blue version.
For those interested, I started with Red.
What Are Your Favourite Game Boy Games?
So that was my list of the top 7 games I recommend for anyone starting their original Game Boy collection. I do hope to cover the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance in the future.
What did you think of this list? What are your favourite games on the system? Let me know in the comments below!