You’ve likely seen the rumours by now that Game Boy / Game Boy Color games could arrive in Nintendo Switch Online relatively soon; if you haven’t heard, where have you been? If accurate, it’s certainly a logical next step to the service, opening up a fresh platform and library of games for Switch owners to enjoy. It’s rather exciting, too, as many will likely experience some of these games for the very first time.
Plenty that browse these pages no doubt have Game Boy favourites that they’d like to revisit on Nintendo’s latest system, and they won’t necessarily be the obvious ones. Yes, Super Mario Land is an interesting portable debut for Mario, and Metroid II: Return of Samus is pretty neat, and there’s some little franchise called Tetris that seems to continually draw in the big bucks. Yet our list has none of those, because it’s a staff list. You can take it as read that we want those, but below you’ll find some smaller, more personal picks (along with a few obvious favourites we just couldn’t resist).
So, sit back and get an insight into quite a few childhoods as we share some of our team’s hopes and dreams for Game Boy / Color on Nintendo Switch Online.
Staff key: Gavin Lane (GL), Kate Gray (KG), PJ O’Reilly (PR), Alex Olney (AO), Ollie Reynolds (OR), Stuart Gipp (SG), Austin Voigt (AV)
I absolutely loved this game back in the day. A Super Mario Land entry with Wario as the main protagonist that switched things up from a gameplay perspective, adding cool hat abilities, more exploration, lots of variety in locations and some cool boss battles. It also took a bit of a leap in the graphical detail department. PR
Mole Mania is one of those gems that seems way too obvious to be called ‘hidden’ if you were smart (or old) enough to play it when it released, but it’s undeniably one of Shigeru Miyamoto’s lesser-known joints, and even though it saw re-release via 3DS Virtual console, it would be fantastic to see the Switch audience given the opportunity to sample its delightful top-down 2D puzzling via NSO. I’ve only got the Japanese GB version (these days a NA or EU copy is a spicy meatball, price-wise), so I’d love the chance to play in English, too. GL
Tomb Raider for the Game Boy Color was — and still is — a surprisingly fun spin-off to the main series. Its gameplay reminded me of the earlier Flashback (which I’d previously owned on the Mega Drive), with side-scrolling action mixed with light puzzle solving. The graphics hold up incredibly well, with reasonably realistic animation and detailed environments, and it’ll last you a small handful of hours. Just don’t expect to come across any memorable tunes, because there isn’t any music at all during gameplay! OR
Solar Striker is a first-party vertical scrolling shmup (a rare beast indeed) and probably my favourite game in the genre. Admittedly, there are members of Team NL that would laugh – if not scoff – at the idea of this simple little space shooter being my favourite shmup ever, but its simplicity is exactly what draws me to it. The pixel-perfect dexterity demanded by more complex examples of the genre are generally too stressful for my tastes. I prefer something a little more sedate, with some kick ass tunes to zone out to. Bullet hell? Nah, for me this is bullet heaven. GL
My greatest wish (that I have previously written about) is for the Harry Potter games, Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets — EA had a great time in the GB era, didn’t they? The HP games on Game Boy are Chrono Trigger-style RPGs that are surprisingly good for movie/book tie-ins. I don’t know how licensing works for old games, but I know I’m not the only one that loved these hidden-ish gems. KG
The recent revamp may have all the fancy graphics and modern bells and whistles, but it can’t knock the original from its very special place in my heart. Link’s Awakening was an astounding adventure to 1993 me, a magical portable version of that same Zelda gameplay, style and depth that had blown us all away in A Link to the Past just a few year earlier. This one must have really been pushing the Game Boy to its limits. PR
Resident Evil Gaiden is undoubtedly the black sheep of the family, meeting mediocre reception when it launched back in 2001 thanks to its deviation from the established formula. For me though, I was already knee deep in the franchise at this point, and the idea of playing a new entry on the go with Leon Kennedy and Barry Burton as its protagonists was just too tempting! The gameplay hasn’t aged well, and the game is not considered ‘canon’ in the larger narrative, but if you’re looking to experience all Resident Evil has to offer, then it’s well worth a look. OR
It’s this writer’s view that Game Boy was at its best when titles opted to work with the system’s limitations rather than push them to their, well, limit. Bill & Ted joins the likes of the original Super Mario Land and Sunsoft’s Batman in presenting a pared-down but exceptionally playable game, this one being a take on the ZX Spectrum classic Manic Miner. Collect every item on the screen then leave through the phone booth. Slick, speedy movement and spot-on controls make this a treat. Most triumphant! Obviously. SG
Hear me out… this is the 7th best-selling GBC game in Japan, and it’s beloved because it was one of the first of its kind — a puzzle-based adventure game about language barriers, with some of the most charming sound effects and graphics of its time. Also… for anyone doubting its awesomeness, it was produced by none other than Miyamoto and Iwata themselves. Enough said. AV
I was recently introduced to a game I’d known very little about in the past by none other than our very own Jon Cartwright, and that game is Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru, or as Masahiro Sakurai called it, ‘The Frog for Whom the Bell Tolls’. It’s a sort of precursor to Link’s Awakening in many ways, and if you hadn’t guessed from the title, it never made its way outside of Japan. Fan translations exist, but I’ve been trying my hand at the original cartridge, and I must say I’ve been having a roaring time despite not knowing a thing that anyone’s said.
It would naturally require some translation efforts to release it to the English market, but it’s a very tasty little game that really deserves it. If it’s good enough to appear as an Assist Trophy in Smash, it’s good enough to be on NSO in my books. AO
While many laud games like Pokémon Red, Yellow and Blue, I personally will always have a soft spot in my heart for generation II – Gold, Silver and Crystal. They had TWO WHOLE HECKIN’ REGIONS TO EXPLORE IN ONE GBC CARTRIDGE. Not to mention, they introduced night/day cycles, breeding, shiny Pokémon… But why Crystal? Aside from that wonderful sparkly blue cartridge, you can PLAY AS A FEMALE CHARACTER. As a young girl this was the first time I had seen myself in a game, and not just been forced to play as a boy. Amazing. AV
Isometric adventure overlords Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond are best-known for microcomputer classic Head Over Heels, but they should really be lauded for this masterpiece, an enormous, expansive yet episodic exploration of action-puzzling in the classic style, but updated for then-modern palates. Never anything less than fascinating, Monster Max is a top-tier game from Rare that almost nobody talks about but has vastly more to offer than its nondescript title may suggest. SG
Absolutely one of the very best Mega Man games of all time, this one features some really tight level design that does away with a lot of frustration that sometimes threatened to suck the life out of Mega Man games of this era. It also had cracking music and just an overall vibe that the team behind it were laser-focused on producing something really great! PR
There you have it, some interesting games from the ol’ Game Boy. We’ll likely add to this list as inspiration strikes in the future, but in the meantime share your most hoped-for GB(C) games in the comments!