With the Game Boy turning 25 I’ve been looking through my old games and through nothing else but boredom, here’s my five favourite (classic) Game Boy titles…
5. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (Nintendo R&D1, 1994)
As close to platform perfection as the Game Boy ever got. Despite being a very easy game that never quite finds its direction, it packs the tiny screen with as much personality as anything else Nintendo has ever put out. Wario was simply born to be a star.
4. The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Nintendo EAD, 1993)
"A proper Legend Of Zelda couldn’t be done on a handheld!" Said the naysayers. How wrong they were. A Zelda like no other before it, the limitations of the Game Boy made Nintendo EAD put more emphasis on character and story seeing as the game world couldn’t be the vast land of Hyrule like in the A Link To the Past, staples that have become the most important of the series. From waking up in a strange bed to watching the Wind Fish fly away as you cling on to debris in the ocean this is a wonderful game you’ll never forget.
3. Metroid II: Return Of Samus (Nintendo R&D1, 1991)
It’s easy to dismiss Metroid II as a failed sequel, or at least a game that’s aged so poorly it’s beyond recommendation. And I’d agree that by today’s standards, with its identical-labyrinthine corridors and complete lack of a map, this is indeed a hard game to praise. Even in 1991 it was a test of Nintendo fandom to complete. Yet despite all these setbacks and criticisms, the inherent awesomeness of the story (and how it affected the entire series) makes this undoubtedly one of the most important Game Boy games of all time, if not quite one of the best.
2. Tetris (Bullet-Proof Software, 1989)
A title some have called the perfect game, Tetris and its seven simple shapes are the epitome of the design philosophy “easy to learn, hard to master.” All you had to do was place those shapes in a certain order to complete a line and then clear it, like you were building a puzzle from scratch, but every puzzle felt different. It was understandable to any new player, and addicted people to such an extent it invaded their lives.
1. Pokémon Red, Blue and Green (Game Freak, 1996)
What can be said about Pokémon that hasn’t been said already? It long ago expanded well beyond the realm of games and has become a way of life for many, with products spanning seemingly every type of merchandise and spin-off imaginable. But when Game Freak first decided to create a monster-capturing game that was inspired by a childhood bug-collecting hobby of one of the developers, it just wanted to make a good RPG, and it succeeded beyond its wildest dreams.
Pokémon’s “catch ‘em all” mentality kept players mesmerized as they tried to accumulate all 151 of the adorable creatures. At the time the Game Boy had gone from slightly low-tech to positively ancient compared to what was on home consoles, but Pokémon’s strengths as an RPG made it ideal for the handheld. Players could take the hunt wherever they needed to and the ability to trade with friends further deepened the surprisingly complex title. Pokémon almost single-handedly doubled the Game Boy’s lifespan, keeping the system relevant and in the hands of gamers long after all its challengers were collecting dust.