20 Best Game Boy Color Games of All Time (2024)

By the end of the 90s, the Game Boy was considered an old-timer with a lifespan of nearly a full decade at that point. Sure, it had revolutionized the handheld video game market beginning in 1989, but the console had seemingly reached the full limit of what it could do. Not even the release of a smaller, more compact Game Boy in the form of the Game Boy Pocket could delay the inevitable. Then, after almost a decade in monochrome, color came to the Game Boy with the Game Boy Color.

Launching in October 1998, the Game Boy Color proved to be a ferocious shot in the arm for Nintendo’s ancient portable. Combined with an obscure title called Pokémon, which was just beginning to dominate the cultural landscape in the west by this point, the Game Boy Color was a huge success. The system extended the run of the Game Boy by several years, with developers proving there was still some life left when you added something as simple as some color. Let’s celebrate this memorable chapter in the system’s history with a look at the best Game Boy Color games.

The Best Game Boy Color Games

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20. Mr. Driller

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Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco

With a lineage going back to the iconic Dig Dug series, Mr. Driller presents a simple premise with an ingenious execution and visually pleasing characters. Combining quick thinking with meticulous planning, this puzzle game saw a wide range of console releases in 1999 and 2000. The Game Boy Color edition impressively stood out alongside entries for the PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast.

Without ever getting too frustrating or too easy, Mr. Driller is one of the most enjoyable, engaging puzzle games released to the Game Boy Color. Losing a few hours to this game’s bright graphics and relentless challenge is pretty easy.

19. Crystalis

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Developer: SNK
Publisher: Nintendo

Crystalis was a solid indication that the Game Boy Color had the ability to look and play nearly as well as the NES. That’s an impressive achievement for the little system, although obviously this port of the Nintendo classic Crystalis has some limitations. You’re not likely to notice these limitations however, as you’ll probably be too busy enjoying one of the best RPGs of the 8-bit era.

The top-down style of Crystalis looks great here. The game isn’t perfect in its action RPG execution, but it still presents a comprehensive and ultimately engrossing experience. Crystalis is an easy title in this genre to simply pick up and play.

18. Survival Kids

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Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

Also known as Stranded Kids in the UK, Survival Kids might call to mind overhead action RPGs like The Legend of Zelda. As a young boy stranded on a mysterious island, it becomes your job to not only survive your surroundings but manage the day-to-day challenges of simply keeping yourself alive and functional. It becomes imperative to drink water, eat food, and get some rest. These actions quickly become a critical element of this title’s compelling gameplay.

The use of a clever “Merge” system also helps Survival Kids to stand out as something unique. This is an IP that hasn’t seen much attention in recent years, and that’s really too bad. If Konami is looking to start up some of their franchises again, this one makes a lot of sense.

17. Rayman

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Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft

Before he was upstaged by those wretched Minion-like Rabbids, Rayman as a character had a perfectly respectable run of platformers for the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and even the Atari Jaguar. The Game Boy Color edition of Rayman sticks as closely as possible to the formula established with the first game’s release in 1995. You’ll hunt for power ups, manage tricky platforming situations, and do everything in your power to stop the sinister Mr. Dark for good.

Rayman specifically on the Game Boy Color can be immensely frustrating at times, but with impressive replay value and a general sense of fun that draws you in. Rayman’s GBC outing is not a perfect port, but still very solid given the challenges.

16. Legend of the River King

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Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Natsume

Originally released for the original Game Boy in 1997, the endlessly charming Legend of the River King received a stellar Game Boy Color update just a couple of years later. The last thing you want to do is assume this fishing game, developed by the same company responsible for the Harvest Moon franchise, is simply a fishing game. While that’s obviously a big part of the proceedings, Legend of the River King aspires to offer a deeper experience.

For the most part, Legend of the River King succeeds admirably in this regard. Dealing with monsters, supply challenges, and other factors all create a marvelous game that regrettably comes to an end much too soon.

15. Bionic Commando: Elite Forces

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Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Bionic Commando: Elite Forces doesn’t forget the core concepts of why Bionic Commando was a hit with both arcade and NES fans. Elite Forces keeps the element of presenting players with a substantial challenge by forcing them to use their bionic arm for all their platforming needs but throws in two characters with slightly differing play experiences, some great sniper sequences, and the usual high degree of difficulty the Bionic Commando franchise is known for.

The learning curve behind Bionic Commando: Elite Forces can be a bit much for younger players, but old-school NES fans already know what they’re in for. A truly excellent Bionic Commando release and one of the best Game Boy Color games.

14. Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble

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Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

King Dedede is once again trying to make life difficult for everyone around him, and only Kirby can save the day. There’s nothing groundbreaking in the plot of Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble, but the little pink platforming hero, whose career began on the original Game Boy 8 years prior, is in fantastic form on this Game Boy Color release all the same.

It’s easy to pick up and get the hang of Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble, which has players using tilting and moving their GBC to move Kirby in ball form along the various challenges and stages the game presents. Getting this game completely down is another matter. Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble can be unforgiving in the best way possible.

13. R-Type DX

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Developer: Irem/Bits
Publisher: Nintendo

R-Type DX refers to “Deluxe” and not “D-Generation-X.” That would have been an interesting hybrid of things that were very popular in 1999, the year this game was released. This updated and distinctly improved remake of two original Game Boy games was a case of serious ambition for the relatively much smaller Game Boy Color. What we got was nothing short of fantastic, with a brilliant shooter getting lavish and entertaining treatment on the portable color console.

There’s a shocking amount of depth to be enjoyed with R-Type DX. The game is easily accessible for those who don’t play these sorts of games very often, but the challenge and higher difficulty settings will put even the most dedicated players through their paces.

12. Harvest Moon 2 GBC

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Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Natsume

Harvest Moon was the definitive adorable farming/life simulator until Animal Crossing came along. The series hit some of its best notes in this particular period, with Harvest Moon 2 being arguably the best of the three releases the Game Boy Color received. The series hits a level of refinement here that makes plunking a few hours into Harvest Moon 2 seem like the easiest thing in the world.

While admittedly a little more dated than most, Harvest Moon 2 is still a stellar example of the Game Boy Color being able to offer a life simulation experience surprisingly faithful as often as possible to the SNES original. It’s not without frustration, but Harvest Moon 2 is still cute and compulsory.

11. Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors

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Developer: Banpresto
Publisher: Infogrames

A turn-based card game on the Game Boy Color doesn’t sound very exciting, even if it has a title as immediately attention-grabbing as Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors. While it might be difficult to imagine a Dragon Ball Z game that’s not a fighting title, Legendary Super Warriors surprises you again and again with its fascinating hybrid genres. Not only is the game as visually pleasing as any card game could hope to get, it’s also an absolute blast to play.

Even if you’re not someone who considers themselves a fan of turn-based games, card games, or both of those things, Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors is worth your time. It manages to use its unique mechanics in a way that still feels like Dragon Ball Z, and one of the most underrated video game adaptations of the legendary franchise, too.

10. Donkey Kong Country

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Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo

As impressive as the Game Boy Color was by the year 2000, when Donkey Kong Country for the handheld was released, no one expected the system to flawlessly replicate the 1994 SNES hit. Having said that, there’s a lot to be impressed with here. The game is visually strong given the honest limitations of the GBC, and at least gets close to looking much like it did on the Super Nintendo six years prior.

Donkey Kong Country for the Game Boy Color is also a lot of fun to play. The controls are simplified but responsive, and the game’s wildly swinging pendulum of stroke-inducing difficulty remains more intact than you might think. There’s even some genuinely enjoyable bonus content.

9. Lufia: The Legend Returns

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Developer: Neverland
Publisher: Natsume

Natsume unquestionably had a fantastic run on the Game Boy Color, bringing 8-bit quality JRPGs and other titles like Lufia: The Legend Returns to the system. With a unique battle system and an unexpectedly complex narrative, this would be the third release in the series. It’s largely forgotten today by everyone except the most dedicated and aging JRPG enthusiasts. That’s a shame. Lufia: The Legend Returns is everything you could want from a JRPG on the go.

Lufia: The Legend Returns will throw some extremely challenging dungeons your way. The 3×3 battle formation pattern you work with, featuring nine characters in play at any given time, only heightens this satisfying difficulty.

8. Dragon Warrior III

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Developer: Tose
Publisher: Enix

Dragon Warrior III features relatively stunning graphics and sound, a new dungeon, a new character class, and a bunch of new monsters. To a certain point this JRPG classic, originally released for the NES a full decade earlier, feels and even plays like a completely different game. Even though it’s technically a port of a Super Famicom release, Dragon Warrior III for the Game Boy Color actually manages to add a few more bells and whistles that really help to modernize it.

Anyone who considers themselves to be a big fan of JRPGs should make it a point to play this version in some form or fashion. If you can get your hands on the Game Boy Color version, you’ll be playing an absolute classic.

7. Shantae

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Developer: WayForward
Publisher: Capcom

The Game Boy Color was near the end of the line by 2002 when Shantae was released, as the Game Boy Advance had become the primary focus of Nintendo’s handheld console attention. Yet the system was still putting out some great games 2 years into the new millennium. Shante deserves love just for how beautiful this game still looks after 20+ years.

The sprites for Shantae are still unique and engaging, to say the least, as they honestly don’t look they’ve aged a day. The backgrounds and color are vibrant and magnificent at creating an exciting and memorable world. A platformer with some unique touches, Shantae is still going strong to this day, with a game released as recently as 2019.

6. Wario Land III

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Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

We’re not going to go so far as to call Wario Land III a Metroidvania game. Still, the game does have elements of Metroid backed into its ludicrous character designs and wacky, sarcastic story. Wario can be the most entertaining character in the room, and the depth and varied cleverness of Wario Land III shows us how and why.

Something particularly great about Wario Land III is its inclusion of special abilities, which will have you returning to previously finished levels to look for new paths and treasures. You’re going to have a pretty comprehensive understanding of this game’s map and its challenging level designs before it’s all said and done — and you’re going to want to dive right back in all over again.

5. Mario Golf

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Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Mario Golf was a surprisingly popular game for the Nintendo 64. The Game Boy Color port is no different but manages to utilize the limitations and possibilities of the GBC to create something that’s quite special. Personality abounds in Mario Golf, from the RPG elements, to the excellent graphics and sound, and even considering the cute, fun story.

Mario Golf succeeds as both a game you can pick up and play in just a few minutes, and as a deeper game that will keep you busy for longer than you might think. To combine both of those gameplay approaches in a single title is impressive. Mario Golf even manages to be pretty faithful to the game of golf itself for purists, whereas later entries went a little wild with the concept.

4. Metal Gear Solid

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Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

The fact that Metal Gear Solid, one of the many, many Metal Gear games we’ve been treated to over the years, doesn’t make the top 3 doesn’t mean that it’s only some handheld spin-off. It’s just that the Game Boy Color’s library really was that strong. This was a period in which Nintendo was really showing off what they could do with a handheld system that had a little more power behind it.

In no way is this alternate version of the PlayStation juggernaut, also known as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, a copy of that game exactly, as it’s more like a continuation of the original Metal Gear games. However, there’s still a lot that can be done with gameplay, atmosphere, and even character design, especially on such a small screen. On all those fronts, and for being bold enough to imagine a different continuity in the already wild Metal Gear timeline, Metal Gear Solid is a winner on the Game Boy Color.

3. Super Mario Bros. Deluxe

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Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe promises the legendary NES original with some essential and decidedly pleasing bonus features thrown in for good measure. What players got was a game that offered enough updates to the classic to make it worth the time of new and experienced fans alike. The Mario vs. Boo mode alone is a ton of fun, but there’s also Super Mario Bros. For Super Players, a feature that is basically a remake of The Lost Levels.

You’re getting a pretty definitive piece of Mario history in one considerable package with Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. Besides offering so much playability, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe also features the ability to save your game, which is a lifesaver on Super Players. If you want the definitive version of the classic Mario experience, this may just be it.

2. Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal

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Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo

We might be talking about three games, and while you can certainly play any of these Pokémon games on their own, you won’t be getting the whole experience. Pokémon Gold, Silver, or Crystal feature some of the best creature designs in the franchise, as well as some interesting improvements, such as breeding and real-time clocks, that only add to the experience of traveling the world and catching Pokémon. For some fans, this generation represents the very pinnacle of what these games have to offer.

Whether or not your love of these games goes that far, you can’t deny that Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal are easy to get into. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a fan, you can’t help but get absorbed as you travel across Johto.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons

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Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

“Quirky” was the word of the decade for Zelda fans. In addition to a very good remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the original Game Boy, the Game Boy Color also got two games that create a single, almost breathtaking experience once paired together. Amazingly, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons provided even more entertainment for fans at a time when Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask had cemented the Zelda series as one of the biggest game franchises in the world.

Oracle of Ages and Seasons wasn’t just the same game with some minor differences, as they’re both completely different campaigns with unique dungeons. A unique password system even enabled you to experience both games as a complete playing and narrative experience. It was a bold move that paid off for Nintendo and The Legend of Zelda, and one that deserves more recognition.

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20 Best Game Boy Color Games of All Time (2024)


20 Best Game Boy Color Games of All Time? ›

It is followed by the best-selling Game Boy Color game, Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal, which sold over 29 million units in total. The top five is rounded out by the platform's first Super Mario game, Super Mario Land, which sold over 18 million units worldwide, and Dr. Mario with over 5.34 million units sold.

What was the most popular Game Boy Color? ›

It is followed by the best-selling Game Boy Color game, Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal, which sold over 29 million units in total. The top five is rounded out by the platform's first Super Mario game, Super Mario Land, which sold over 18 million units worldwide, and Dr. Mario with over 5.34 million units sold.

What was the last game for the GBC? ›

The best-selling Game Boy Color exclusive game is Pokémon Crystal. The last Game Boy Color game ever released is the Japanese exclusive Doraemon no Study Boy: Kanji Yomikaki Master, on July 18, 2003. The last game released in North America is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, released on November 15, 2002.

What games are on the GBC? ›

What was the best Game Boy ever? ›

The best Gameboy model is the Gameboy Advance AGB 01. Out of the 118.69 consoles Nintendo Gameboy sold, 81.58 million consoles were the Gameboy Advance. Its popularity is due its form being easy to hold and much more.

What is the rarest Game Boy Color? ›

Kirby Pinball. This is by far the rarest Game Boy edition. It's known as the pink Kirby Pinball edition. It comes with a deep pink shell and features lineart of Kirby on the front.

What is the largest Game Boy ROM? ›

Without additional mapper hardware, the maximum ROM size is 32 KB (256 kbit).

When was GBC discontinued? ›

Game Boy Color
Release dateOctober 21, 1998 November 18, 1998 November 23, 1998 November 27, 1998 December 20, 2000
DiscontinuedSeptember 25, 2003 2003
PredecessorGame Boy Virtual Boy
SuccessorGame Boy Advance
2 more rows
May 28, 2023

Which came first GBA or GBC? ›

The Game Boy Advance (GBA) is a 32-bit handheld game console developed, manufactured and marketed by Nintendo as the successor to the Game Boy Color.

How many original Game Boy games are there? ›

List of games. This is a sortable list of 1046 games released for the Game Boy handheld video game system, excluding any cancelled and unlicensed games.

Why can't the DS play GBC games? ›

The Nintendo DS lacks the special processor that is required to play these games. Because of the age of the processor, and the difficulty in adding that processor to an already highly complicated architecture, the processor was not included in the final design of the DS.

How powerful is the original Gameboy? ›

Technical specifications
SizeApproximately 90 mm (3.5 in) x 148 mm (5.8 in) x 32 mm (1.3 in) (WxHxD)
Framerate59.727500569606 Hz
Power6 V, 0.7 W (4× AA batteries)
Battery lifeApproximately 15 hours of gameplay
CPUCustom 8-bit Sharp LR35902 (based on modified 8080 and Z80) at 4.19 MHz
8 more rows

What Game Boy plays original games? ›

Original Game Boy Games will work on Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP systems. They will not work on the DS, DS Lite, or DSi. Game Boy Color Games will work on Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP systems.

What Game Boy has the best screen? ›

After testing many different model Game Boy systems, I strongly recommend the GBA SP AGS-101: It plays the entire Game Boy library, the screen is amazing and no modifications are necessary for the best performance.

Why was the Game Boy Color so popular? ›

The games could load quickly and play for a long time, making life easy for players. It wasn't flashy, but it was exactly what consumers wanted. On top of all this, the Game Boy's simple and effective design replicated the layout of the tried-and-tested NES controller (already popular for TV play).

What popular game was the first to use RGB colors? ›

Galaxian (1978) was the first game to use RGB colors.

What was the popularity of Game Boy? ›

An estimated 118.69 million units of the Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color, have been sold worldwide, making it the fourth best-selling video game console of all time. It is one of the most recognizable devices from the 1990s, becoming a cultural icon in the years following its release.

What were the original colors of the Game Boy Advance? ›

The Game Boy Advance has been available in numerous colors and limited editions throughout its production. It was initially available in Arctic, Black, Orange (Japan Only), Fuchsia (translucent pink), Glacier (translucent blue), and Indigo.


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