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Game Boy Originals Still Worth Playing

Just a quick list of the great and unique of the early GB library, before it started messing around with fanciful notions like 3D, dual screens, or colors. You know, before it sold out.

Long live the eShop!

List items

  • Like Majora's Mask, it's kind of off-beat and weird for a Zelda game. Highlights include taking the chain chomp for a walk, the epic mountain VGM, the shocking ending reveal, and the most cryptic seashells this side of Demolition Man.

  • Technically a Mana game (the very first one, in fact. Secret of Mana is this game's sequel), but renamed so Westerners would know what to expect. Something also done for those egregious SaGa GB games too. It's an interesting mix of a Zelda game and a regular JRPG, with more than a few bizarre puzzles and story sequences.

  • One of the most sparse-looking Mario games ever, it's still constructed with the same level of care and ability as all its more advanced brethren. If you beat the game twice in one sitting, you even get a level select mode! That's totally worth the effort!

  • Highly imaginative, and easily the rival of any of the NES Marios. I kind of love how the GB Marios play around with their "gaiden" status and throw the oddest shit at you. Otherwise, it's just a competently made Mario game like the first (but better looking, clearly).

  • Wario's first outing, with all the treasure-finding and shoulder charging the series became known for. The first is the only one I've seriously played (besides Wario World).

  • This remake of the original Arcade game starts at its roots and expands ever outward, making it one of the largest, longest, and most varied platform/puzzle games for the system. It certainly beats the hell out of those Krusty's Super Fun House-lite mecha Mario games.

  • Dig the music, dig the arcade reflex-based gameplay, dig the insane loops and ramps that often float in mid-air for some reason. It's the GB game that seems to come up all the time on Giant Bomb.

  • It's pretty basic, but a very fun implementation of a pinball game with benefits. The little side-games are fun and there's potential for some very high scores. It doesn't quite have the staying power of Pokemon Pinball though.

  • Kirby's Break Out clone, like the Pinball game, has enough happening on the periphery to elevate it beyond the usual tedium you get with most Break Out games.

  • A very clever puzzle game, though often frustrating since the bubble has a mind of its own at times. Guide it through the stages while keeping aware of the effects of dozens of different props and obstacles littered around the ghost's home. He will get so pissed at you if you burst that bubble.

  • A fiendishly difficult (and long) isometric puzzler in the style of Solstice and Head-Over-Heels. These used to be everywhere in the days of the C64.

  • Talking of games that hearken back to the C64 platformer mentality, B&TEGBA is a static screen platformer that will incrementally change the rules of the level you're on as you collect items. Ladders and platforms will appear and disappear as you collect all the items on screen, so it requires a certain amount of trial and error. It's more playable than it sounds.

  • An odd little shmup where you control a posse of ancient Japanese heroes as they cross the countryside and take out bad guys. The different team members act like separate weapons on a ship, and it's up to the player to find the best combination to move forward with.

  • Although not exclusive to the GB, puzzle games like Dr Mario are far better suited to the miniaturized format. You lose the three color system, but the white/grey/black works just as effectively. Beat HI-20 for the shock ending!

  • A platformer based on the Ghouls and Ghosts franchise, there's a complexity about the game that almost elevates it to Metroidvania status. It's far more than the basic hard-as-hell Gn'G format. It has sequels but I've never played them.

  • Giant Bomb loves Picross. This is basically where Picross games started (for the Western market, anyway) and contains plenty of Nintendo cameos in the puzzles you need to chip away at with your trusty chisel and hammer.

  • The GB Metroid has you travel everywhere to hunt down and annihilate every last Metroid. It leads directly into Super Metroid, so if you cared about that story at all (what little there is of it), it's worth playing this one too.

  • Another NES puzzle game that works better on a handheld. Match rows of cookies, Rubik's Cube style, to eliminate them.

  • Though easy and short, even for Kirby, the first Dream Land deserves acclaim for being the origin of everyone's favorite pink planet devourer (Galactus is really more of a purple). Thanks to reddjoey for pointing out the careless exclusion.

  • Though being officially retconned by the creator might make this ineligible for a "best of" list, Castlevania Legends is the clear winner of the three original Game Boy Castlevania games. Apparently the gaming world wasn't ready for fierce blonde warriors named Sonia kicking seven bells out of the worst monsters the Netherworld has to offer. Oh wait.