During the 1990’s it seemed like everyone had a Game Boy. Video gaming was this cultural phenomenon that encapsulated everyone with the ability to play games anywhere. I remember Tetris being extremely popular among my cousins and even some of the older generation. I also spent the vast majority of family gatherings playing with my Game Boy Color while sitting on the couch. After going through some of my older gaming electronics I found my red Game Boy Pocket, my green Game Boy Color, and a second green Game Boy Color that my sister used. The portability of the Game Boy made it an instant favorite and is one of the reasons why I adore the Nintendo Switch so much. My favorite games reflect the ability to play the game for short bursts and still feel relatively accomplished and would wind up sinking hundreds of hours of my life.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993)
One of the few Zelda games to feature a jumping mechanic, this game stands out because of the fantastic level design and excellent over world. The game is reminiscent to A Link to the Past in so many ways, but is also more refined. The limitations of the Game Boy forced the developers to make some excellent design decisions when creating this game that allow the game to become more focused and intentional. The pacing of the game plays out extremely well and while the areas are relatively small compared to some other mainline Zelda games, the acquisition of new abilities and key items allows the player to back track between areas which keeps the game fresh. You are constantly discovering new areas and returning to old areas with new abilities. I often begin a play through with the intention of just completing the first dungeon and before I know it I’ve beaten the game. The DX version also added some great colors to the game that really make the visual experience stand out.
Pokémon Red/Blue (1998)
Pokémon was the ultimate social event when it was first released in the late 90’s. The Game Boy game that started it all still remains a classic and one of my favorite games of all time. Again the limitations of the hardware forced the developers to make conscious decisions about what they should include and what would be superfluous. With 150 Pokémon, this game retains some of my favorite designs. Gyrados, Dragonair, Gengar, Kadabra, Aerodactyl, Blastoise, and Ditto remain some of my favorite pocket monsters of all time. Team Rocket is still the best villain from any of the games, and Viridian City contains one of the best twists in gaming. The game play mechanics that the original games introduced was perfect from the moment that it launched. The rock paper scissors strategy of using certain moves to counter opponents remains a mainstay of future games in the series. Every installment in the series harkens back to these masterpieces, and yes I did actually catch them all in Pokémon Red… even Chansey in the Safari Zone!
Pokémon Trading Card Game (2000)
Continuing the trend of Pokémon games from the early 90’s, the trading card game was something that I hold near and dear to my heart. I was an avid collector of the first few sets of the game. Somewhere I have a complete collection of the Base Set, although those cards have not matured as well as Magic: The Gathering. There weren’t many opportunities to actually play the game among my friend group, we mostly traded and collected. Thankfully the game itself was perfectly recreated through the Game Boy version. This game avoided the pitfalls of many of the digital trading card games; the game did not include randomized packs and the game allowed you to create your own deck. Many other collectible card games would later include only preselected decks or completely random card packs. The Pokémon Trading Card Game actually included a story mode and an over world that allowed the player to move around and interact with objects. Through your adventures you would battle increasingly difficult opponents and unlock some legendary creature cards. The progression system mirrored the main line Pokémon games as you battle through eight gym leaders and a final tournament. Creating new decks was immensely fun and rewarding as you had the opportunity to test your deck building powers against a number of different opponents. This game even included a special Meowth promo card! A sequel was eventually released in Japan, but was never seen in North America or Europe.
What was your favorite Game Boy / Game Boy Color game? Do you like Pokémon Red/Blue or Pokémon Gold/Silver better? What about Yellow Version!!
Check back tomorrow for a list of my favorite Game Boy Advance games!
Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks