Tomorrow marks the 30th Anniversary of the Nintendo Game Boy. The companies little gray brick may not seem like much by today’s standards, but back in 1989, it was a revolutionary console that broke the handheld market wide open. Despite some competition from Sega and Atari, Nintendo was able to stay ahead of their competitors as the Game Boy went onto dominate all of the 1990’s into the early 2000’s. It was so successful that it became the highest selling portable console up until one of it’s successors, the Nintendo DS, dethroned it years later.
Sure we had the Game and Watch first in the late 1970’s, but until the Game Boy came along and turned the video game world upside down we didn’t really pay any mind to portable gaming. The Game Boy was also progenitor of what would eventually be known as the mobile gaming market, which shows just how ahead of the time it was. Today, the majority of high gross income games are all from mobile players, and all of them can thank Nintendo for their ingenuity and simple advertising back in 1989. We’ve come a long way since then, but now we can look back and let pure nostalgia wash over all of us as we enjoy the gray brick that stole hours, months, and years of our lives, as well as millions of AA batteries.
But a system is nothing without its games, and the Game Boy boasted some excellent ones to say the least. Here we’ll look at our top 5 games that were featured on the original Game Boy, as well as it’s upgrade, the Game Boy Color. Lets get started!
5. Kirby’s Dreamland 2
Kirby’s Dreamland 2 released during a weird period. The Game Boy had already been out for over six years, and the world was high on Nintendo’s home console at the time, the Super Nintendo. However, just like the Game Boy, we found out that Kirby would be around for a long time as his second outing on the handheld turned out to be one of his best. A sequel to the first Dreamland, all of the mechanics of the first game are present here, but what makes this one better is the fact that everything was updated exponentially as well as Kirby’s Copy ability finally becoming a long term staple in the franchise. When looking for an excellent Kirby game to start with, their nothing wrong with Dreamland 2.
4. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Yet another sequel, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins built upon everything that it’s predecessor created, and then some. With wackier boss battles, and even crazier level designs, the game was something of an enigma, as most Mario titles at this point kept things simple and linear to some extent. 6 Golden Coins threw that out the window as the developers decided to make an almost original title for the handheld, and its stands out among its peers. However, the biggest thing to come out this game was the debut of Wario, who would go onto have his own successful series and become part of the ever expanding Nintendo family.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening DX
Riding off of the success of it’s console counterpart A Link to the Past, Links Awakening was just what the Game Boy needed, a fully fleshed out adventure game to keep the players on their toes. While it doesn’t have nearly as much content as the SNES title, this iteration of The Legend of Zelda kept everything that the series was known for intact. Complete with dungeons, hidden treasure, and challenging boss battles, Links Awakening was arguably the first time that hardcore gamers took the Game Boy seriously. This was only magnified once the second version for the updated console, the Game Boy Color, released a few of years later. DX added full color to the game, as well as an additional dungeon with its own set of enemies and puzzles. Without a doubt, the best adventure game on the system.
You can’t mention the Game Boy and not immediately think of Tetris. Originally bundled with the system in 1989, Tetris has since become the most popular puzzle-genre game of all time, launching its own media franchise in the process. While it may have been released for numerous smaller PC style consoles in the mid 1980’s, it wasn’t until it launched on the Game Boy that it became the mega sensation that it is now. Even today people still bust out the gray box to go for a round or two of Tetris, which only shows just how addictive the game style is. The series has changed its look and has even tried its hand in Battle Royale recently, but the core gameplay has never been altered. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s popularity is still relevant to this day, as it holds the distinction of having the highest amount of units shipped/sold of all time.
1. Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow
So what would be better than Tetris? Well how about the game that single-handedly launched Nintendo’s most profitable franchise in history? Pokemon was the runaway success that no one saw coming, and it all started on the Game Boy, more appropriately the Game Boy Color. With a simple RPG mechanic and an even simpler item management system, Pokemon was initially geared towards kids with the one phrase that still rings in our ears “Gotta Catch Em All.” Turns out, everyone wanted to catch em all as both versions, Red and Blue, sold so fast that stores needed more inventory almost immediately. These two, later joined by the Pikachu themed Yellow, would go on to define a generation, and despite numerous additions and spin offs, many still look back to these three as the absolute best Pokemon games in the franchise. Pokemon is easily the most memorable part of playing the Game Boy/Color, and that’s why it’s our number 1.