The best Game Boy Advance games can take us back in time. From the days of hooking up your worm light in the back of the car at night to carrying your Game Boy Advance SP wherever you want. The best GBA games are special not just because of their quality but also as a testament to how good the Game Boy Advance system is.
Launching in 2001, the Nintendo handheld system was an instant hit. Then, in 2003, the Game Boy Advance SP was launched. It became a handheld gaming icon with a compact clamshell design and various colors. Finally, in 2005, Nintendo added a backlit screen, and we were in heaven. This was now officially one of the best gaming consoles of all time.
But what’s a system without games? So we’re recapping the 25 best Game Boy Advance games that helped define a handheld console generation. These titles are listed in no particular order.
The first new Metroid game since 1994’s Super Metroid.
Developed by Nintendo’s R&D1 team and released in 2002, the same year as Metroid Prime, Metroid Fusion helped put the franchise back on the map.
Presented with a traditional 2D side-scrolling presentation akin to prior entries, Fusion has the look and feel of older Metroid titles. The gameplay and story are updated for a more modern age of gaming, resulting in an incredible experience worthy of the lofty expectations from fans.
Metroid: Zero Mission
Our list of the best Game Boy Advance games moves from one Metroid title to another.
Metroid: Zero Mission is the remake and retelling of the original Metroid game for the NES. It turns out that giving the franchise original a worthy glow-up is a great way to make one of the best GBA games of all time.
With the release of Game Boy Advance on Nintendo Switch Online, here’s to hoping fans can get a chance to replay this classic game.
The first Fire Emblem to release outside of Japan is actually the seventh game in the series. The tactical RPG was an instant hit and has led to the continued release of Fire Emblem games today.
Its character development, storytelling, and challenge helped elevate it over similar titles such as Advance Wars. Fire Emblem found a way to keep you invested, even when the game’s difficulty was at its most challenging. As a result, it won over many lifelong fans who would then go on to enjoy the next game in the series.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
The Sacred Stones is next on our list of best Game Boy Advance games, releasing a year after Fire Emblem.
Sacred Stones is a bigger and better version of Fire Emblem or The Blazing Blade as it’s known in Japan. Subsequent releases would do more to add to the gameplay and franchise features. Sacred Stones instead focuses on refinement and polish. The result is one of the best GBA games you can still play today.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
The Super Mario Bros. franchise features some of the best games you can play. In addition, Mario and company often enjoy some side leisure when they’re not busy platforming. Some of those games include RPG spin-offs, such as Alpha Dream’s Mario & Luigi series.
At the time of release in 2003, Mario RPG games were still new. We’ve only seen Super Mario RPG for the Super Nintendo and Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64. Superstar Saga helped put the Mario RPG “franchise” on the map.
Mario & Luigi would be a bonafide tentpole franchise for Nintendo in the coming years, thanks to incredible writing, a wonderful sense of style, and fantastic humor.
Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green
The remake of the original Pokémon titles are also some of the best GBA games you can play.
With vibrant colors and a revamped presentation, there are no more limitations from the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color hardware. As a result, the world of Kanto comes to life in the best possible way.
While the series has moved to the 3D space, many are clamoring for Pokémon to return to 2D. Fire Red and Leaf Green’s visual aesthetic is why.
The premiere version of the third generation of Pokémon games, Emerald, is the definitive way to play.
As you’d expect from the follow-up release to Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, Emerald expands upon the story featured in the Hoenn region. There are new Pokémon to discover, areas to explore, and new features waiting for you.
The Battle Frontier adds an impressive amount of endgame content to an already meaty game.
One of the best Game Boy Advance games is also one of the best looking.
Golden Sun takes the gameplay of the best Super Nintendo RPGs into the Nintendo handheld. The specialty Battle and Djinn systems help this original RPG stand out amongst the countless ports on the GBA.
Golden Sun: The Lost Ages
On the one hand, Golden Sun: The Last Ages mostly plays it safe as a sequel. But, on the other hand, why deviate from one of the best GBA games?
A key addition is more challenging puzzles. The rest focuses on the refinement that helps establish Golden Sun as one of the best new RPGs of the 2000s.
Now if we could only get another sequel…
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Co-Developed by Nintendo and Capcom, The Minish Cap is one of the most beloved Zelda games ever and an easy addition to our list of the best GBA games.
While on the shorter side, Minish Cap does well to bring traditional Legend of Zelda gameplay forward. In addition, it offers a new spin on the series while staying true to its roots. Everything else, from the art style to the musical score, is the icing on the cake.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
An all-time classic and one of the best Nintendo games ever, the Super Nintendo’s Link to the Past is re-released for Game Boy Advance.
Not only does the Link to the Past port properly honor the game’s heritage, but the Four Swords multiplayer experience is a surprising hit. It brings a multiplayer element to the franchise that works wonders and adds replayability.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Many Mario Kart fans sleep on the quality of Super Circuit. It’s one of the best-looking Game Boy Advance games, bringing the track design of Super Mario Kart to a new generation of hardware.
While the 3D Mario Kart games have proven superior, that doesn’t mean Super Circuit is a pushover. With the game now available on Nintendo Switch Online, it’s worth checking out.
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
The best Castlevania game is a shoo-in for our list of best GBA games.
Aria of Sorrow maintains the foundation of the best Castlevania games with the added benefit of Konami taking risks. The simplicity of the gameplay couples well with the new Tactical Soul system. If you play one Castlevania game in your life, make it Aria of Sorrow.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
What’s that? Do you want more Castlevania action after being blown away by Aria of Sorrow?
Circle of the Moon adds depth and longevity to the equation without compromising quality. It’s a longer Castlevania adventure but one that remains engaging throughout.
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames!
Nintendo gave Wario a facelift with the introduction of WarioWare. No longer was it about Wario Land. Instead, Wario and friends were about delivering fast-paced, absurdist mini-games at a rapid-fire pace.
The first entry is 2003’s Mega Microgames! Its recent introduction to Nintendo Switch Online proves it aged like a fine glass of wine. The mini-games are as hectic and enjoyable as ever.
A year later, Nintendo upped the ante with WarioWare: Twisted! The game features a motion sensor for your Game Boy Advance, which lets you spin around your handheld. This is the game’s main selling point, but it comes off less as a gimmick and more as a legitimate feature.
In typical WarioWare fashion, the mini-games are plentiful and addictive. There’s a reason why people still look fondly at these games, and WarioWare: Twisted! is a big reason why.
The beauty of Advance Wars is that it combines the depth and strategy of a tactical war game with a charming and accessible aesthetic.
Intelligent Systems was able to deliver a well-tuned experience in terms of difficulty. As a result, battles aren’t too challenging while also not being complete pushovers. The result is a deep, engaging, and addicting experience that helped launch the franchise to new heights.
Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
With the success of Advance Wars, a sequel shouldn’t have been surprising. While Black Hole Rising shares much in common with its predecessor, having more of the same isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
One key difference with Black Hole Rising is that missions now play out in a non-linear fashion. While this is, disappointingly, the only real difference between Black Hole Rising and its predecessor, it’s still a strong enough game to warrant a spot on our list of best Game Boy Advance games.
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the greatest games of all time. The NES classic features some of the best platforming the series offers. The Game Boy Advance remake is a shoo-in for our list of the best GBA games.
New additions to the game include a multiplayer mode, voice acting from Charles Martinet, and e-Reader support. Combined with the improved presentation, this is how you treat one of the best games in your library. Super Mario Advance 4 is a must-own for any Game Boy Advance owner, and its inclusion in Nintendo Switch Online is a dream come true.
Final Fantasy VI Advance
One of the best Final Fantasy games of all time, Final Fantasy VI is a gift on the Game Boy Advance. It introduces the Active Battle System to the franchise and gives its narrative and story more importance.
While subsequent Final Fantasy titles have done well to progress the series and the RPG genre, you can point back to the release of Final Fantasy IV as the launching point. Many gameplay and systems we take for granted now were revolutionary ideas at the time of Final Fantasy IV’s release.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Turn-based strategy fans were able to get in some good eating on the Game Boy Advance. It’s not just about Advance Wars or Fire Emblem; Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a spin-off from the Final Fantasy Tactics series.
Its most impressive feat is its ability to live up to its expectations and legacy. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance combines the bright and colorful sprite visual style with the deep and engrossing tactical gameplay of the best Square Enix strategy games.
While the game has some frustrating moments that don’t work, it’s still worth a playthrough every now and then. It’s also one of the better modern Sonic the Hedgehog games, spurring two sequels on the GBA.
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
While it doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the F-Zero on Super Nintendo, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity is still a great futuristic racer. The high-octane fast-paced gameplay translates well to the Game Boy Advance.
It proves you don’t always need innovation to justify a game’s existence. Sometimes all you need is exciting gameplay, which F-Zero always offers.
Kirby & the Amazing Mirror
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror is one such example. It combines the simplicity of Kirby’s gameplay with the perfect amount of challenge. As you’d expect from a Kirby game, the boss battles are the icing on the cake. Amazing Mirror demands more respect.
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
Unfortunately, the Harvest Moon franchise has fallen off as of late. Despite the popularity of games like Stardew Valley, the franchise seems unable to recapture its magic.
Friends of Mineral Town represents not just one of the better Harvest Moon games but also one of the best GBA games. It delivers and expands beyond the foundation of past Harvest Moon titles with new features that gives the game a surprising amount of depth.
That does it for our list of the best Game Boy Advance games! What did we leave out? What would you have done differently? Keep the conversation going in the comments below, and let us know.