The Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance were enormous successes for Nintendo, who took a quick and firm hold of the handheld market that is still maintained today, despite some weakening from mobile phone apps.
Despite the lower power when compared to the home systems of the time, all iterations of the Game Boy managed to have some truly incredible classics. For example, Link’s Awakening, the first handheld Zelda, is not only an excellent game, but it’s one of the finest in the entire Zelda franchise.
But with so many games, and so many good ones, it’s easy to lose track of some hidden gems that we remembered playing, but can’t quite put or fingers on what they were called.
So, for our list of 16 Game Boy Games We Remember Playing… But Can’t Remember The Names Of, we’ve dug through the archives of the GB, GBC, and GBA to discover what some of these long-lost childhood favorites may have been. Let’s dive right in and see if we can jog some memories!
16 Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge
Konami “graced” (term used very loosely) the original Game Boy with three Castlevania games, all of which generally following the formula and gameplay of their NES elder brothers and their intentionally clunky platforming, plodding movement, and excellent music being the bullet points of the experiences.
The first game, Castlevania: the Adventure, is what most people remember, particularly for its rope-climbing and giant, rolling eye-balls. Or perhaps the third game, Legends, because it introduced the female progenitor of the Belmont clan, Sonia? But what about the one that was actually good?
The second in the line, Belmont’s Revenge, is the only one of the trio that managed to be a worthy relative to the NES series, and it also happens to be the one that’s often mis-remembered.
Taking everything up a notch from its predecessor, particularly the superb soundtrack (how a Game Boy was capable of producing this incredibly complex score, we’ll never know), Belmont’s Revenge produces a pulse-pounding entry into the lauded Castlevania franchise that trumps its immediate siblings.
15 Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman
Do you remember Wario? You know, that chubby, yellow-shirted evil version of Mario? We all know about his awesome Game Boy games, the Wario Land series, but what about that other one, where he used his infamous bombs? No, not Wario’s Woods, the other one.
Ladies and gentlemen, that game which you’re trying so hard to recall is the one and only Wario Blast, featuring none-other than Hudson’s Bomberman.
Somehow, some way, this bizarre crossover works splendidly. Players can choose either bomb-happy individual, and then they’re thrust into the classic Bomberman grid-based tactical combat that the series is known for.Sure, things aren’t that complicated, but there’s good fun to be had, particularly in multiplayer, or through the enhancements from the Super Game Boy Player on the SNES.
14 Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone
It’s not that no one remembers Harry Potter, or Harry Potter video games, but if you ask them which ones they’ll remember playing on a portable, they’re like to bring up the awful action-platformer for the Game Boy Advance.
There was, however, another game based on the Sorcerer’s Stone for a portable, but it was for the Game Boy Color and, by all accounts, was and remains the superior product.
This was the RPG Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which adhered more to the book in terms of plot, but also had superb RPG systems and battles, giving a great depth to the world both story and gameplay-wise that wasn’t seen in any of its contemporaries.
Better yet, with the setting of an RPG (along with their heavy reliance on text conversations) the player actually felt like they were part of Harry’s Wizarding World. You slowly learned the layout of Hogwarts, where your classes were, and where certain teachers and students would be if you needed them.
Couple that with cool side-activities like Quidditch, and you’ve got an underrated gem that’s overshadowed by inferior family members.
In the style of Dr. Mario or Tetris, blocks fall from the ceiling, but the player, as Mario, is tasked with matching Yoshi eggshells to hatch the little dinos and prevent the four stacks from getting too high. The more monsters you catch between eggshells, the more points (and bigger Yoshi) you’ll get upon it hatching.
Overall, it’s somewhat of an oddity in a series dominated by platforming, but it’s a good brain-teaser, particularly for its twists in the genre, especially for those who like Klax or Puyo Puyo.
12 Balloon Kid
Balloon Fight was one of Nintendo’s most recognizable NES arcade classics. It followed the tale of the Balloon Fighter, who bravely drew a line in the sand against a race of malevolent humanoid birds, who fought against them by using the secret art of balloons to take flight and stomp on their heads, and their balloons, despite the fact that they were birds and shouldn’t need balloons to fly.
The game’s “sequel,” Balloon Kid, landed on the GB and, while generally retaining the gameplay of its predecessor, it significantly shakes up the genre and plot.
Alice’s brother is whisked away by group of balloons à la Up, and she’s forced to give chase through a mix of Balloon Fighter’s flight combat and intricately designed platforming stages, complete with boss battles in a delightful-yet-underrated portable adventure.
11 Mario Tennis
Mention Mario Tennis to someone, and they’ll likely recall the tight gameplay and cool music from the N64 classic. A smaller group might recall that same tight gameplay and cool music, but on an entirely different platform, the Game Boy Color.
Combining the concepts of the N64 title with RPG-like progression, the handheld Mario Tennis introduces the players to either Alex or Nina, and from there-on, they try to rise up in the ranks and eventually crush the plumber himself in sports combat.
Another cool feature of this version of the game was that it could use the Transfer Pak to import your GBC character into the N64 and play with them, and all their skills, in full 3D.
Also, for all those fans who, for some reason, love Waluigi, he makes his one and only GB appearance in the portable version of the game.
10 Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors
Dragon Ball Z has had a shifty reputation in the video game world ever since its debut entries, despite the fact that the series seems tailor-made for the interactive entertainment landscape.
One of the first mainstream DBZ games was the horrific Legacy of Goku. An action-RPG-lite, the game failed to live up to any of the promise of the license, but still managed to succeed and produce two sequels, both of which slightly corrected the course, but not enough.
These are the ones most remembered by portable game players, but there’s a handful that remembers the far superior Game Boy Color entry, Legendary Super Warriors.
Removing all pretenses of an action-RPG, Super Warriors went straight for a tactical RPG focused entirely on strategy, card-collecting and the high-flying battles the series was known for.
Obviously low-budget, with repetitive music and poorly-translated writing, the game’s core concepts were intriguing and deep enough to make you overlook its flaws, as you nailed the perfect hand of cards and tore Nappa to pieces with a well-timed Masenko.
9 Super Robot Taisen
Advance Wars and its sequels were generally the defining force of strategy titles on the Game Boy Advance. Later down the line, the West finally got a taste of Fire Emblem, which is another incredibly solid and hardcore strategy experience. But what about the ones with the giant robots?
Those would be the Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation series. A long-running franchise in Japan, which features the incredible crossovers of the likes of Gundam, Big O, Tekkaman Blade and even Voltron, we were finally given a taste of the games with the two Game Boy Advance entries (that conveniently don’t feature any licensed characters).
This is a tactical series featuring grid-based movement a’la Fire Emblem and Advance Wars, but with an incredibly amount of customization and depth for every pilot, weapon and machine.
Add in outstanding animations for the handheld, a stellar score, and an excellent storyline for both games, and you’ve got a lost classic with tried-and-true gameplay more than worthy of revisiting.
8 Gargoyle's Quest
The GB had no shortage of platformers or side-scrollers, as they were a major fixture on the GB’s elder sibling, the NES. While players have may have fond memories of the beloved-but-crappy Super Mario Land 2, many other games in this genre fell to the wayside, like Gargoyle’s Quest.
Taking place in the world of Ghosts & Goblins, you take on the role of Firebrand, a gargoyle (and future antagonist/protagonist in the SNES hidden gem, Demon’s Crest) in a quest to save the Ghoul Realm.
An amalgam of various gameplay styles (that all somehow work in tandem), Gargoyle’s Quest uses some Metroidvania concepts (such as gaining items that expand one’s abilities, both passively and actively) exploration and random battles mixed with traditional platforming to great effect.
7 Daedalian Opus
Go to any retro video game store, and it’s almost a guarantee you’ll find this peculiar cartridge among the stacks of used GB titles. The cover art is that of some angelic man, with rays of light summoning Tetris-like shapes. Of course, this has very little bearing on the actual content of the game.
When booted up, Daedalian Opus looks like a typical Game Boy platformer, almost like a distant cousin of the underrated Super Mario Land. But upon entering the building, it’s suddenly a puzzle game.
In short, the player’s goal is to assemble pentominos into a specific shape, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle without the actual jigsaw. This seems simple enough at first, but before you know it, your mind is tearing itself apart trying to create the shapes that the game demands.
Weirder yet, the name comes from the mythical Greek figure of Daedalus, who created the infamous labyrinth. Are we supposed to be designing the labyrinth in this game? Or are we escaping multiple labyrinths by creating shapes?
The strange concept, coupled with the bait-and-shift of the cover and the initial gameplay might be the reason why there are so many used copies floating around.
6 Mega Man / Mega Man Xtreme
The Mega Man series (rest in peace) was absolutely legendary on the NES. With its innovative rock-paper-scissors boss battles, weapon stealing, rip-roaring soundtrack and tight platforming, the series became eponymous with “Nintendo hard” and NES action games. When transitioning to the SNES, the Blue Bomber got a new, more mature coat of paint, but brought with him the same gameplay under the moniker of “Mega Man X.”
For more than a handful of folks, however, their experiences with Mega Man were seemingly not in color, nor were they on an NES. Nope, there were three Mega Man games on Game Boy, confusingly titled Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge, Mega Man II, and Mega Man V.
Generally, they all took concepts and enemies from the NES games, but created brand-new experiences for the handhelds that get a little more hate than they deserve, but still end up as serviceable, portable Mega Man games.
Even the X series got two Game Boy Color entries, titled Mega Man Xtreme, that borrowed elements from existing X games, but this time you could take them on the go for added fun.
5 Xtreme Sports
Speaking of “Xtreme things,” there was one title that everyone seemed to have, but no one seems to remember. This was the sports-centric RPG, Xtreme Sports.
An RPG and a sports game crossover may seem like a weird concept, and it is, but somehow this odd little game pulled it off swimmingly. Sort of like Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Duelist Island, athletes are invited to an island getaway for a sports competition, but there is something seedy going on beneath the surface.
You’ll walk around the expansive island, do some investigations, but you’ll mostly challenge other athletes for their medals in point-based competitions, like street luge, skateboarding, surfing and the like.
Oddly enough, there was a Dreamcast version of the game titled Sega Extreme Sports, and while it adds different events, it sadly eliminates the most compelling element of the game, being it’s weird RPG story.
In the early days of the GBA, there was a Tetris-esque tower defense game called Fortress to be found amongst the expected launch titles.
Fortress, while rough around the edges, has an enjoyable concept that actually brings some unique ideas to the table. Pieces fall from the sky like so many other puzzlers, but your goal is to actually stack them together and not eliminate them, creating solid walls in the process to fortify your titular fortress.
Eventually, you’ll outfit the walls with power-ups such as cannons to lay siege to your opponents ever-growing stronghold.
Sadly, a lack of content and depth dooms the game in the long-run, and its captivating gameplay ideas are forced to wither on the vine in this intriguing failure of a launch title.
It’s understandable if you were to hear someone discussing about an amazing RTS on the Game Boy Color, and then treat them with the utmost skepticism. That skepticism would be misplaced, however.
Warlocked is a mind-bogglingly excellent real-time strategy game for, of all devices, the Game Boy Color. It’s a fantasy world where the humans are at war with the beasts, and both factions try to win over the many wizards of the realm to their side. Featuring two lengthy campaigns, and a myriad of secrets and characters, Warlocked is one heck of an experience for a hand-held.
While simplistic compared to something like Starcraft thanks to its limited structures and units, Warlocked still manages to impress with smooth, intuitive controls, engaging gameplay, score and, shockingly, a large amount of speech samples.
2 Game & Watch Gallery
Mr. Game & Watch made his Smash Bros. debut in the lauded Melee, but where did this two-dimensional fellow hail from? Seeing him, some players may have had a dusty memory shake to life, even if briefly, within their minds.
For those of us who grew up with the Game Boy, it’s likely that your first actual exposure to this character was through the Game & Watch Gallery series on the handheld.
Here, you’d play a collection of some of Nintendo’s original Game & Watch games, with remade graphics featuring Mario and his pals.
The game are all simple, high-score affairs, but were charming enough. There was also the option to play the classic versions of the game, which were approximations of the original, LCD handheld units, featuring Mr. Game & Watch in all his glory.
Suddenly, his diving helmet and manhole flipping techniques made much more sense.
1 Dragon Warrior Monsters 2
The Game Boy and its children were the holy vessels for the monstrously popular Pokémon series. This enormous success naturally conjured up some competitors and clones, most of which were comparatively forgettable. Dragon Warrior Monsters did not fall into this abyss.
Despite being overshadowed by Pikachu, the second game in the series delivered a monster-collecting, hardcore RPG experience that the godfather of monster collection games simply did not.
A deep story takes your character across multiple dimensions, including randomized, utterly unique worlds, where you’ll find new monsters to befriend, tame, train and breed.
There’s an intriguing personality system regarding the monsters and their abilities, and the charming art style, scenario and writing is a perfect companion to the in-depth gameplay, which, when combined with every other bullet point, leaves Pokémon in the dust.
Can you think of any other Game Boy games that you used to play but can't remember the names of? Describe them in the comments!