The Game Boy turns 30!

Want to feel really old? The Nintendo Game Boy celebrated its 30th Anniversary last Sunday, April 21st! I still remember fondly when I got my eight year old hands on one of those good ol’ bricks. The Game Boy really was something! Despite the fact that SEGA’s Game Gear was much better specs-wise it seemed Nintendo won the race with their handheld system. I can’t remember how many hours I’ve played on my Game Boy, but when we got one with Tetris the whole family was fighting over who could play next. It wasn’t long until my father started beating us with his high scores either. He turned out to be our Tetris champion and I don’t think I ever beat his high score.
So when I saw pics of the Game Boy pop up for its anniversary I started thinking “What are my favourite Game Boy games of all time?” There’s so many to choose from and my wishlist was almost unending (which is the case for nearly all gaming platforms… ). It’s quite hard to actually choose my favourite games, but I ended up with these ten below!
  1. Mario’s Picross
Marios Picros.jpg
A late entry in the Game Boy backlog, but still a fun one, Mario’s Picross came out on 27th of July 1995 and I really loved it. The first puzzles were incredible easy, but as you progressed they steadily got harder. The game was a nice casual puzzling game with increasing difficulty and once you completed the Easy Picross, Kinoko and Star modes you would unlock Time Trial mode, which offered some timed challenges. I really loved this game, because it was easy to just do one puzzle while you were waiting.
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  1. Game & Watch Gallery
Game and Watch Gallery.jpg
Such a fun game! Game & Watch Gallery was the start of an entire series of G&W collections and this one was great. I loved it so much. The playable games were:
If you ever played any of the old Game & Watch games you know that LCD was pretty much the predecessor for the Game Boy. The games always involved getting a high score with the game increasing in speed every so often. It was always fun to try and beat each other’s high scores. Fire was my favourite of this cartridge.
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  1. Donkey Kong Land
Donkey Kong Land.jpg
I already owned a Super Nintendo and I had played Donkey Kong Country on it. Donkey Kong Land came later, but it was still a feat that they made a game likes this work on a Game Boy. Admittedly the game is a lot worse than Donkey Kong Country, but it was still so much fun to play DKL! The pre-rendered images make this probably one of the better looking Game Boy games, although it has to be said that the gameplay always felt a little bit off to me. This is where you could see that the Game Boy was a little underpowered to run a game of this magnitude. Oh and the cartridge was yellow! That was a nice touch!
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  1. Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge
My first Mega Man game! I’ve spent countless hours playing this one and I think I only managed to beat it once. It was really hard, especially the last level. Still I kept trying, essentially what I tried to explain with The Binding of Isaac. I love challenging myself and this game sure was a challenge! The level design and music are something I still love about the Mega Man series in general. And acquiring new weapons that make beating other bosses easier and figuring out who was weak to which weapon was all part of the fun!
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  1. Mystic Quest
Mystic Quest 1.png
I hadn’t heard of Final Fantasy before playing this game. Although it wasn’t officially named so here in Europe, I loved playing Mystic Quest! The story was awesome and the gameplay was very much like Zelda. Top-down real-time action. The bosses were a lot of fun too and in my memory it just took ages to get through the game. Maybe it’s time for a replay sometime soon, to see if it really is that long a game? 🙂
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  1. Super Mario Land 2
Super Mario Land 2.jpg
I was so excited when this game was released! How can you not be when there’s a shark with boxing gloves on the cover art? 😛 Super Mario Land 2 showed just how good Game Boy games could be. It was crammed with beautiful sprites and the soundtrack was sublime. I always loved Mario games featuring a map and this one was so much better than Super Mario Land! Not only because the graphics were somewhere in between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, but also because it wasn’t a linear adventure. You could finish worlds in any order you pleased. And the end boss was Wario! First appearance he ever made, it was great! 🙂
  1. Gargoyle’s Quest
Capcom is still one of my favourite game developers and this game might just have been one of my first from them. It’s a wonderful mix of adventure, side-scrolling platform action and some RPG elements. The soundtrack is also wonderful and really sticks into your head. What I really liked about this game was how hard it was and that you would keep getting new skills so you could progress through the game. It’s definitely one everyone should try sometime, because it’s one of the best Game Boy games I have ever played.
  1. Pokémon Blue
I had all three versions and two Game Boys so I could trade with myself (Forever Alone, I know…) since none of my friends played Pokémon, because it was for kids. I called them a bunch of snobs, because the games have a very deep internal working, but hey, only true geeks see that. 😛 I ended up completing my Pokédex in the Yellow version, but my first choice was Pokémon Blue and Squirtle was my starter back then! Nowadays I always choose the Fire starter Pokémon, because Fire-types are usually a bit rarer in the beginning of the game.
  1. Wario Land (Super Mario Land 3)
This game came as a big surprise, because in Super Mario Land 2 Wario was the villain and now you were actually playing with Wario! The game had you collect loot and the goal of the game was to get rich. Wario is a fun character who bashes enemies with his body check attack and stomps and the fact that he is a bad guy made the game all the more fun. Add to this the catchy tunes and superb level design and you’ve got gold! Just the thing Wario likes 😉
  1. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
My absolute favourite of them all! I was hooked to A Link to the Past and when this game released I was psyched! This is game is so big for a handheld game. I don’t even remember how long it took me to finish it on my first playthrough, but it was a lot. Fond memories of Koholint Island and its quirky inhabitants. The dungeons were fun and challenging and the ending might have felt a little like a cliche, but it was still a pretty damn good story. I was so glad to hear that this game is getting a remake on the Nintendo Switch this year too! It’s going to be a day one buy for me, because of all the nostalgia involved. And it’s Zelda. What’s not to love? 😉
So, that’s it! My Top 10 Game Boy games! What are your favourites? Let me know!
Happy gaming!

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