We all loved the GBA and it’s three revisions. The father, the original GBA. Is about the perfect size with it’s only downside being lack of any light in front of or in the back of the screen. The adult son, GBA SP and the two versions of it AGS-001 and AGS-101. The later having an awesome back-lit screen and the former not so awesome front-lit one. Lets not forget the hip teen, the beautiful GB Micro.
That being said the game boy advance has a huge library of games. 2802 GBA games! Consider that it can play 814 original GB games and 469 GB Color games (micro is limited to “only” 2802 GBA games cause it isn’t backwards compatible) the total number of playable games is over 4000! Don’t quote me on this! but! It probably has the biggest library of playable games ever in the portable game console category. So, let’s get to the point.
This Is My List Of The Top 10 GBA games.
As with all lists, it’s highly subjective and probably a little biased. I’m gonna list only the games I played and that I loved. There will be some well known classics on this list but also a few hidden gems or diamonds in the rough.
The rules for this list are simple. No ports or remakes unless it’s a complete overhaul of the original and only one game per franchise.
I know some big names aren’t on this list and I think those games don’t need to be mentioned cause they had enough press over the years. Those big names that are here are the games I believe are essential to their respective series and are almost mandatory for every GBA fan to play and love.
Car Battler Joe
Car battler Joe is a relatively unknown GBA game. It’s a mix of RPG, driving and shooting. There are a lot of customizations you can do on your cars and it would be a lot higher on this list if it wasn’t so damn short!
+Plays very good
-Way too short for a quasi RPG
-Sometimes feels unfinished
This little gem was made by the famous Gamefreaks who gave us the Pokemon games. It looks great, plays great and has a nice rumble feature in the cartridge. It can get a little tedious at times so it’s at number 9.
+Never seen before gameplay
-Sometimes feels repetitive and a little boring
Kingdom Hearts – Chain Of Memories
This direct sequel to the first game in the series came out on a humble GBA and blew all other GBA games away from the technical point of view. It’s beautiful, the story is alright and the combat system is phenomenal. The rinse and repeat feel of the floors keeps it at number 8.
-Sometimes feels like the floors drag on forever
-Story is not that great
Konami Krazy Racers
This launch game was for the GBA in Japan. Konami Krazy Racers is a great Mario Kart clone. It takes a fun premise and improves greatly on it. So much so that I think it’s safe to call it a better game than Mario Kart for the GBA. It features well known and lesser know characters from from Konami franchises such as: Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, Mystical Ninja, Gradius, Parodius and more!
+Awesome menu design
-Very, very short single player appeal
-Not that many individual tracks
The fourth Metroid game had gigantic shoes to fill! Because it’s the first Metroid game after Super Metroid. How did it fair? It filled the shoes to the brim. Gameplay is flawless, narrative is good and it looks great for an early GBA game. The only thing that gets in the way of it being higher on this list is the fact that it’s freakin’ Metroid, we all know it’s awesome.
+Almost perfect gameplay
+Design of enemies and bosses
-The game is more than a little fuzzy on where you need to go more than once
Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
The first Advance Wars brought the series that the Japanese had since the Famicom days to the west. Despite it’s unfortunate release on 9/11 it was a huge success and this sequel was released in the states almost a full year and a half before it was released in Japan. This game takes the first one and improves it on all fields. More powers, more units and all of those units now look a little different for each faction. Pure awesomness, don’t miss this gem.
+More than enough new things to be called a sequel
+Everything about this game is designed perfectly
+Branching path in the campaign
-Difficulty curve is not balanced
Gunstar Super Heroes
It’s debatable if the super known developer of great games across almost all the consoles TREASURE broke their no sequels rule with this game. Even if that’s true, I’m glad that they did. This might be the best looking game on the GBA. They used every sprite trick there is and made a stunning game. The gameplay doesn’t fall behind at all to the graphics. Just beware, this game is not easy.
+Graphics that push the GBA to and over it’s limit
+Seems frantic but a lot of times strategy is needed to win
-Some people might find it too difficult even on normal
-Too damn short
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
This game is usually overlooked by Final Fantasy fans because it’s a S-RPG. That doesn’t do it justice at all. The story is probably the best in a Final Fantasy game ever, quests are fun, job system is deep and well done and the combat requires a lot of brain power. Try it, you WILL like it.
+Complex, deep and fun job system
+Very non-linear for a FF game
-Unforgiving at times
-Repetitive side quests
Castlevania: Harmony Of Dissonance
Let’s me just say this right away. This is probably the second best Castlevania ever. Right after Symphony Of The Night. There, I said it. Only problem with it is that it’s a tad too easy. It looks almost perfectly, plays almost perfectly but it’s missing the great CD quality soundtrack that the GBA (sadly) couldn’t provide us with. What more is there to say, it’s a 2D Castlevania, go play it.
+Easy to learn and play
+Awesome enemy design
-Not that long or replayable
Astro Boy: Omega Factor
Surprise! Another game made by TREASURE, Astro Boy is a great little underdog to top this list. While it might not look as good as Gunstar Super Heroes, Kingdom Hearts or Drill Dozer. It suffers from a very rare slowdown because it’s squeezing so much juice from the GBA’s feeble hardware. The gameplay is where it shines like the brightest star. Mix of a platformer, beat ‘em up and a sidescrolling shooter with some RPG upgrade elements to boot works wonders for this game.
+Graphics and effects
+Multi-genre game that does all of them well
-Hard as nails
-You WILL see slowdowns