The Game Boy changed how games were played forever. You would not have games playable on your mobile phone today if it weren’t for the Game Boy. It has influenced the design of portable gadgets and handheld software immensely, in addition to having some absolutely banging games in its library.
In this list we’re running through the ten best Game Boy games ever, in no particular order. We’re excluding Game Boy Color exclusives though, as that’s almost a different console entirely. If you’re wondering which Game Boy games are worth revisiting, just look through our list below.
There isn’t a better puzzle game than Tetris on the Game Boy, and there might not be a better puzzle game than Tetris on any console. This is the game that made the Game Boy cross boundaries and generations, decades before the Wii was able to. Everyone loved Tetris then, everyone loves Tetris Now, and it’s still one of the very best puzzle games you can spend your time playing.
This was the original handheld Zelda adventure, and it’s still one of the very best, as proven by the Nintendo Switch remake still being a banger. This top-down journey sees Link shipwrecked on a mysterious island and needing to escape, but the escaping might break down the reality he’s come to know. Proof that the grand Zelda formula could work amazingly on a handheld system.
Super Mario Land 2 almost looked as good as the SNES ‘ Super Mario World, and that’s saying something. This looked and played just like a Mario game should, and was practically a showcase of the Game Boy’s capabilities. Gathering the six Golden Coins and fighting against Wario at the end – his first-ever appearance – was excellent. Easily the best handheld Mario platformer until New Super Mario Bros. launched years later.
The second Pokémon generation is arguably still the very best. Not only did it introduce a new region and 100 more Pokémon, it also allowed you to revisit the Kanto of Red & Blue two years later, where people have matured and moved on. Koga was promoted from gym leader to Elite Four, your rival moved into the Vermilion gym, and more. This generational sequel hasn’t been done since, and that’s part of what makes this one the best.
You know about Harvest Moon by now, right? It’s socializing and busywork rolled into an engaging gameplay loop that’ll keep you coming back to play just one more day. Feed your animals, sow your crops, and create a thriving farm for everyone to enjoy. That’s the goal, but getting there is going to be a lot of hard work.
Another Pokémon game, yes, but a completely different take on what Pokémon is. This game cart included a rumble feature and buzzed away while you were pinging Pokéballs across the screen. You could travel to different environments, in a manner of speaking, which would allow you to catch different Pokémon. Again, by flicking your balls across the screen. This is the most unique way to fill up your Pokédex, and one of the best Pokémon spin-offs.
The original Donkey Kong arcade game was a revelation at the time, and this Game Boy version is no simple port. You can consider this either a proper sequel or a definitive version, take your pick. Donkey Kong on Game Boy has dozens of levels, perfect jump physics, and a steep challenge. If you like Donkey Kongyou’ll love it on Game Boy.
Kirby’s Dream Land is the OG Kirby game, and a Game Boy classic. This adorably simple platformer has Kirby moving from left to right, all while inhaling enemies, spitting them out, and floating for as long as he wants. If you want to float straight to the end of the game, you can do that. This game was made so anybody could jump in and play, and it’s still great fun.
Donkey Kong Land isn’t like Donkey Kong from earlier. These are unique handheld platformers that take after the SNES ‘ Donkey Kong Country series. There are three of these bite-size DKL games, and the third is our personal fave. You’ll be playing as the huge Kiddy Kong and Dixie Kong while racing Donkey and Diddy to find the Lost World. Great fun.
This might be the weakest game in the Metroid series, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best games on Game Boy. Exploring a new mysterious planet and fighting the alien creatures inside is a great experience, so good in fact they remade it for the Nintendo 3DS with Metroid: Samus Returns. The original is still unlike anything else on Game Boy though, and worth revisiting if you still have one of the chunky handhelds lying around.
Written by Dave Aubrey on behalf of GLHF.