Connect with us
Best Game Boy Advance Games Best Game Boy Advance Games

Games

The Best Game Boy Advance Games

Advertisement

Published

on

The Game Boy Advance is not only one of the greatest handheld systems of all time, but one of the greatest video game consoles of all time. It took everything players loved about the Gameboy Color and brought it to an entirely new level. From its launch to its sad end, the Game Boy Advance brought about game after game of awesomeness. To celebrate the system’s 15th anniversary, I compiled a list of what I believe is its best games. There are a couple of rules, however: first, only one game per series, and second, no games that were ported from another console. So with that said, here are the Top Ten GBA Games.

****

10. Mega Man Zero

What was the best part about Mega Man X? Was it the wall jumping? The upgradable armor? The insanely interesting storyline? No. It was Zero, X’s best friend and rival. Being the leader of a bounty hunting group called the Maverick Hunter’s and having a head of hair straight off the set of a Viking movie, Zero was the definition of cool, especially in the ’90s. Naturally, his popularity gave way to his getting a solo game. Set 100 years after the fifth and final canon Mega Man X game, the game takes place in a world ravaged by a terrible war between humans and Reploids. Zero is awoken by a group of rebels who request his help fighting the now-evil X and bringing peace to the land. The game is extremely hard in parts, with some players even going so far as to call it the hardest in the Mega Man series. As Zero, the player has to slash and blast his way through hordes of enemies on his way to stop the war and save the world. Extremely challenging and equally as fun, Mega Man Zero returns the series to its roots of run-and-gun platforming and high difficulty levels. Not one to be missed.

top-100-rpgs_golden-sun

9. Golden Sun

A perfect re-imagining of the JRPG formula, Golden Sun breathes new life into the genre with interesting twists on the traditional turn-based fighting system, amazing graphics, and challenging but doable gameplay. The player takes control of a band of magic users called ‘Adepts’ who have the duty of protecting the world of Weyward from an evil power known as alchemy. The game is one of only a handful that can truly say that all the challenge it offers is rewarded in full by just pure gameplay; it is that fun. Golden Sun really is a callback to the greats, to the time of Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana.

44506-Harvest_Moon_-_Friends_of_Mineral_Town_(U)(Mode7)-1

8. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town

Ever dream of planting crops, milking cows, chopping down trees, or training a dog to go fetch? How about all four? If so, the Harvest Moon series was made for you. Really though, not many people ever thought farming could translate very well into a videogame, but Harvest Moon went above and beyond. In FoMT, the player takes control of a young man who receives a farm after the previous owner leaves it to him in his will. Throughout the game, the player must tend the fields and the animals, expand their home, find and marry a spouse and eventually raise children. Filled with beautiful imagery and fun mini-games, FoMT never makes the player feel as if they are simulating manual labour, which they technically are. It creates a light and joyful atmosphere that wipes out everything monotonous about running a farm.

mario-luigi-superstar-saga-h1n-net

7. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Superstar Saga is a Mario Bros. RPG in the same bloodline as Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG. In the game, Mario and Luigi must travel to the Beanbean Kingdom to battle the evil Cackletta, who has stolen Princess Peach’s voice. Mixing up the traditional turn-based system, the gameplay involves timed attacks and complicated maneuvers. It’s funny and light-hearted, and just an all-around joy to experience. Not much else to say about this simple but intelligent game except you should play it.

Minish-cap1

6. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

This entry in the Zelda series is basically Ant-Man, but instead of Paul Rudd we have Link, and instead of a high-tech suit we have a hat. A talking hat. The game is bananas. One would think the introduction of a shrinking technique into a Zelda game would be too drastic of a change, too much of a variation from the norm, but Minish Cap defies the odds and makes it work in an unbelievable and completely unique way. When shrunk down to the size of, well, an ant, an entirely new world is presented to the player. Link to the Past had the dark world, Minish Cap has the tiny world, and like almost every other game in the series, it works. There are also the usual dungeon crawling, boss fights, fun weapons, and challenging puzzles we have begun to expect from a Zelda title, and even in those aspects, this game does not disappoint.

45696-Summon_Night_-_Swordcraft_Story_(U)(Independent)-1

5. Summon Night: Swordcraft Story

Although insanely popular in Japan, the Summon Night series never really got a chance to take off in North America, mainly because of its lack of main-series releases. NA only ever got the spin-off titles of the series (Swordcraft Story being the debut of the entire series in the Americas), but not only did this game surprise fans of the series, but it also surprised almost anyone who played it. It’s amazing, and also amazingly underrated and vastly under-appreciated. Having never really been given a chance, Summon Night has faded into obscurity to the point where if one was to bring it up in casual conversations they would receive confused stares and muttered grunts of “what?” The game has the player take control of either a boy or a girl who is the child of Shintetsu, the Craftlord of Iron. After Shintetsu gives up his life to save his family and the world, the remaining Craftlords hold a tournament to choose the next Craftlord of Iron in Shintetsus place. As his child, the player must enter the tournament and claim his father’s role, all while crafting their own weapons, gaining a mystical otherworldly companion, finding and losing relationships, and dealing with an evil conspiracy that could once again bring forth the cataclysmic event that Shintetsu gave his life to prevent. This game should be given a chance on its story alone, let alone its fun graphics and addicting gameplay.

Advance-Wars-Screenshot

4. Advance Wars

Often considered one of, if not the best game of the GBA’s lifespan, Advance Wars is a military strategy game, played in the same style as the Fire Emblem games. Players control and command an entire army, having to organize their units and plan accordingly beforehand to stand a chance of completing each mission. A very basic game that presents a very basic and very fun experience. It represents the Game Boy Advance’s excellent ability to host games with limited graphical capabilities and turning them into something intense and visually stunning.

hqdefault

3. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Crazy-hard, infinitely frustrating, anger-inducing, impossible to put down, awesome fun; these terms describe most of the games in the Castlevania series (except for Simon’s Quest and Castlevania 64, but we don’t talk about them). Aria of Sorrow puts the player in the shoes of Soma Cruz, a student in Japan who possesses the power to absorb the souls of monsters and use their abilities. The reincarnation of Dracula is the central plot point in the game, as Soma uses a variety of weapons, spells, and monster souls to defeat the enemies that would have this happen. AoS is the third Castlevania game for handheld devices and completely flips the series on its head in terms of brightly-coloured graphics and fun, tight controls that allow simple movements in a not so simple game.

45224-Pokemon_Emerald_(U)(TrashMan)-21

2. Pokémon Emerald

The third Pokémon game in the series third generation, Emerald takes place in the Hoenn Region where the player must venture out on their quest to become a Pokémon Master and end the evil plots of Team Magma and Team Aqua, whose individual missions end up intertwining and bringing about an event that could end the entire world. Travelling through the region, catching pokémon, collecting badges, and battling other trainers is basically the plot to every Pokémon game ever made, and Emerald is no different, but there is a reason Nintendo sticks to the same formula time after time. That reason is that it works. Emerald takes said formula and runs with it, doing everything right and creating the perfect Pokémon experience.

fire-emblem-gba-2

1. Fire Emblem

Although a very popular game series in Japan, Fire Emblem was virtually unknown in North America until Super Smash Bros. Melee. When Melee debuted the Fire Emblem characters of Roy and Marth, most gamers were confused and mildly annoyed. Why would Nintendo include characters nobody even heard of before? Well, Nintendo did that as the first step in what turned out to be a very successful and intelligent plan. Using Roy and Marth to get NA players interested, they released Fire Emblem in North America for the Game Boy Advance and completely blew the continent’s collective mind. A medieval warfare strategy game, Fire Emblem added an incredible twist: it gave players consequence to letting unit’s die. If any character besides the main protagonists perishes on the battlefield, then they are gone for good. No extra lives, no revival later in the game; they die, they’re gone. This one element completely changed the handheld strategy genre and took over the gaming world. Fire Emblem is filled with interesting characters who the player begins to develop attachments too, so when one of them does fall in battle, it isn’t just a character leaving the team – it feels like a friend has just left you, a teammate. It is very rare that a game can create that sort of bond with the player, and if you mix it with the top-tier gameplay, you end up with undoubtedly the greatest game in the GBA’s life cycle.

Be sure to also check out:

The Top 50 SNES Games

The 40 Best Nintendo 64 Games

The Best Game Boy Games that Stand the Test of Time

The Best Game Boy Advance Games

35 Best Gamecube Games

The Very Best Wii Games

The 25 Best Wii U Games

The Best Nintendo Switch Games

200 Best Nintendo Games

M. T. McDonald is a wanna-be writer, amateur smart ass, and semi-pro whiskey enthusiast. At the age of four, he was given a Gameboy and made it his lifelong goal to never see sunlight again. He lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with his partner Jenna and Waffles the Cat. He can be reached for any business inquiries or questions about his beard at mtmcdonald.contact@gmail.com. Alternatively, you can hop on over to his blog Wires n' Words at wiresandwords.wordpress.com and listen to his incoherent ramblings about video games and books.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

Game Reviews

‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Published

on

It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

Continue Reading

Games

The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

Published

on

Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

Continue Reading

Games

‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

Published

on

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

Continue Reading

Popular