GBA

Top 10 Game Boy Advance Games

by Neal Ronaghan - June 12, 2011, 9:40 pm PDT
Total comments: 46

The staff mind melded and figured out our collective favorite GBA games.

To celebrate the GBA's 10th birthday, we're going to look fondly back on the system, highlighting our top 10 games.

Much like the Top 30 DS Games feature, each staffer submitted a list of their top 10 games, and then we used a point-based system to figure out the site's top 10.

We hope you enjoy the list, and if you agree or disagree, let us know. Just remember, this isn't a definitive list, as its based on nostalgia-tinged memories of an excellent system.

Talkback

The implication for #10 is that Aria somehow didn't make the list...which would be extremely wierd.

I said when I submitted my 10 that I'd be shocked if more than two of the entries on my list made it. So far I'm 0 for 2.

WrathOfSamus777June 13, 2011

I can already name a large portion of what this list will look like, or should look like:

Golden Sun
Advance Wars
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Mario Golf: Advance Tour
Mario Tennis Power Tour
Metroid Zero Mission
Wario Ware Twisted
Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald
Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga (this game didn't really wow me, but everyone seems to love it)
Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (I've haven't played this one, but it's the exclusive game Zelda game for GBA so it has a strong chance to be on any 'Best Of' list for GBA.

GBA is one of my favorite systems ever.  ;D


I don't believe in voting for games I didn't play just because they're popular. I gave my top ten, all of which are titles I played and loved, including a couple that I'm not sure most people know existed.

ejamerJune 13, 2011

Anyone can check a review aggregation site to see the "top 10" games for a system, but it's more interesting (and meaningful) if this list is built from games that staff members actually played and loved. Hopefully we'll see a couple of lesser known or unappreciated gems on the list along with expected classics.


Oh, and I still think that GBA had a great launch. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is still my favorite entry for the franchise on a portable system; Chu Chu Rocket was great fun with many different play modes, nearly endless puzzles to solves, and killer multiplayer that only required a single cartridge; Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 also managed to brilliantly shrink the score-chasing arcade experience into a tiny package. Throw in F-Zero and Rayman, a Mario port and Earthworm Jim, and there was plenty of great gaming available early on for GBA owners...

Quote from: ejamer

Anyone can check a review aggregation site to see the "top 10" games for a system, but it's more interesting (and meaningful) if this list is built from games that staff members actually played and loved. Hopefully we'll see a couple of lesser known or unappreciated gems on the list along with expected classics.

Before anyone complains about how we left something great off the list (and I'm sure someone will feel that way, based on the reaction to our DS list), this is the attitude you should be approaching this with.

"Top"  :-\

Quote from: Crimm

"Top"  :-\

I'm not interested in making the title for this feature "The Best GBA Games According to Eight Staff Members on NWR"

And yes, more people that submitted their lists seemed to have nostalgia for CotM than AoS. Aria wound up at like #12 or something. As the list stands, the top two are kind of shocking.

Mop it upJune 14, 2011

I haven't played the Castlevania game, but Metroid Fusion is pretty good. Sure, it's a little different than the other 2D games, focusing a bit more on action and less on exploring, but it's a solid title. I should probably try Castlevania sometimes, since a lot of people compare them to Metroid games.

New Age Retro HippieJune 14, 2011

10. WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!
9. Drill Dozer
8. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
7. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
6. WarioWare: Twisted!
5. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
4. Rhythm Tengoku
3. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
2. Advance Wars
1. Mother 3

Hoping for them. I'm 1/2 so far.

KhushrenadaJune 15, 2011

I think I only have 11 Game Boy Advance games total. I can't say it's a system that had many games of interest for me. But I still need to play the Minish Cap. At some point, I have to get that. As of right now, the top game for me is probably Metroid: Zero Mission. The first GBA game I got and nothing else really ever matched the pleasure I had playing that game even on replays. I do have Advance Wars 2 but I've never actually played it yet. I kept meaning to finish the first Advance Wars but never got around to it. Same with Superstar Saga and Pokemon Leafgreen. I've got through maybe 15% of those games and never carried on. GBA also has one of the most boring games I've ever played. DK: King of Swing. One level of that and I'm out like a light. Sadly, that seems to be my memory of the GBA. The games didn't keep me coming back to finish them. The sit in my mind as rather lackluster.

I got my GBA games while the DS brand was taking over and I found the DS games far more interesting so it didn't help that I was judging the GBA games against DS games at the same time. I never got Mario Kart Super Circut because those levels were the most boring to me on Mario Kart DS.

One title I didn't mention was Zelda: A Link to the Past. It was the first time I played that game I loved it. In fact, that is the first Zelda game I ever played. But I don't think any game that was a port from an older system should be considered a defining game of another system. That's why, as much as I like Super Mario 64 DS and the ability to port it around and the extras they added to the game, I never include it on a list of great DS games. But that's a personal opinion thing.

For the record, DK: King of Swing was on my top 10. I loved that game, though not as much as its DS sequel.

ejamerJune 15, 2011

Oh wow... memories of great gaming. GBA games might not have worked for Khushrenada most of the time but his post sent nostalgia flooding back of endless hours spent with Advance Wars, the pure joy of Metroid: Zero Mission (both initial discovery and repeat plays), being surprised at how devious multiplayer Zelda was, and an incredible Mario Kart experience that still holds up well today. (Edit: I aslo liked - not loved - King of Swing. It was a great concept and fun to play, but just didn't have enough lasting power to really be a classic for me.)


So... um... when is the next set of games coming out? I was thinking Top 10, two games at a time, maybe we'd see daily updates? Obviously that's not the case, but when should we be checking back?

The next set was supposed to go up last night, but my internet was out all night. 8,7,6 and 5 will go up today. Sorry!

8,7,6, and 5 are up.

I'm now 1 for 6 (Advance Wars). I haven't played Zero Mission, but I'd like to.

You...I...WHAT? HOW?!?

Mop it upJune 16, 2011

I see a trend so far... RPGs, strategy, and exploration games. Interesting to see a remake place above Metroid Fusion; personally, I give the nod to Fusion for being a much more fresh experience.

I'm sitting at 1 for 8. Unless both of the top two were on my list, my prediction will have been accurate.

ejamerJune 16, 2011

Would you share your personal list once the results are done? It would be interesting to see.


I know a lot of people really like Metroid Fusion, but I felt that like that fell off track somewhere. Too much narration forced on you, too few (and too scripted) interactions with evil Samus, and some of the mandatory moments of exploration felt like a painful add-on instead of a natural part of the game. The garish colors did nothing for me either. In the end I felt terribly disappointed.

Zero Mission was the complete opposite though. Do you have any nostalgic childhood memories where you've conveniently blocked out all of the bad parts of something you loved? Zero Mission feels like the developers started with my most cherished memories of what I wanted the original Metroid to be... and then polished and honed that game into something even better than I could have asked for. Playing it was like receiving a gift I didn't know enough to ask for.

(The only other game that comes to mind with a similar feel is Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. That game is exactly what I imagined the original should have been like.)

Yes, I will post my list once the official list is all up. Actually, given some of Neal's comments, I think it's altogether possible that both of the top two will have been on my list. I'm fairly certain at least one of them is.

randomflashbangJune 16, 2011

Personally my money is on Pinball of the Dead

UltimatePartyBearJune 16, 2011

Ninja 5-0.  Gotta be #1.

With Astro Boy: Omega Factor at #2 (slightly more seriously).

Mop it upJune 16, 2011

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

I'm sitting at 1 for 8. Unless both of the top two were on my list, my prediction will have been accurate.

What in the world have you been playing on the GBA? There are so few worthwhile games that it's hard to imagine there are many that aren't already on this list. I barely own any GBA games and I've played almost every entry so far.

TrueNerdJune 16, 2011

I randomly started playing Minish Cap again earlier this year and man oh man what a game. I know people complained of its relatively short length for a Zelda game when it released and it is only a 15 hour game, but there is not a second of filler in Minish Cap. It is perfectly paced and has a wonderful balance between overworld quests and dungeons. The overworld, while also seemingly less sprawling than most Zeldas, is incredibly dense. The shrinking mechanic is responsible for this. It is also jam packed with gameplay ideas. Most Zelda games only have one gimmick, Minish Cap has loads. And the rarest of rarities, the narrative in Minish Cap isn't complete garbage. It's nothing amazing, but it's a solid little story. Minish Cap runs circles around the DS Zeldas, which are comparatively empty in just about every sense.

The GBA was kind of awesome.

Ryan CannonJune 17, 2011

#2 and #1 will obviously be Pokemon games

PiotyrKevin Buikema, Staff AlumnusJune 17, 2011

My #1 is not on the list, because I failed at sending in a list. :(

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

For the record, DK: King of Swing was on my top 10. I loved that game, though not as much as its DS sequel.

Absolutely. I liked King of Swing as well, but it was more of a proof of concept than anything else. Jungle Climber fully realised it for me.

I really need to track down a copy of Metroid: Zero Mission, just for comparison's sake. I despise the original on NES, but if it's truly a re-imagining of that game rather than the same thing with new graphics, I'm willing to give it another shot.

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

Yes, I will post my list once the official list is all up. Actually, given some of Neal's comments, I think it's altogether possible that both of the top two will have been on my list. I'm fairly certain at least one of them is.

...haven't you seen the list?

KDR_11kJune 18, 2011

Quote from: UltimatePartyBear

Ninja 5-0.  Gotta be #1.

Seriously, that game belongs on the list.

Dancing_RobotJune 18, 2011

You know, I like that warioware got the top spots. I loved the first to death, and, though I never played the second, I heard nothing but good things. Still, it all comes down to opinion and I probably would've voted differently. But hey, love those games. Great list guys.

CalibanJune 19, 2011

There's a few games from this list that I never got the chance to play. The WarioWare games, and the Mario & Luigi game. Once Nintendo releases them for the 3DS through their eShop, I'm sure to get them.

My list of 10 GBA games:

Golden Sun: The Lost Age
Golden Sun
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Metroid: Zero Mission
Metroid Fusion
Kuru Kuru Kururin
Kururin Paradise
Dragon Ball Advanced Adventure

A special mention to Drill Dozer.

Quote from: Crimm

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

Yes, I will post my list once the official list is all up. Actually, given some of Neal's comments, I think it's altogether possible that both of the top two will have been on my list. I'm fairly certain at least one of them is.

...haven't you seen the list?

Neal didn't post it in the email thread, and I suppose I could have looked at the in-progress feature pages, but I didn't think of that until just now.

We've got the honorable mentions page going up soon, but I'll post my list now and you can wait for my write-ups on that to justify my insane picks.


1. Mario Golf: Advance Tour
2. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
3. Rebelstar Tactical Command
4. Advance Wars
5. DK: King of Swing
6. Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen
7. The Tower SP
8. NHL 2002
9. WarioWare Inc.
10. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

UltimatePartyBearJune 19, 2011

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

3. Rebelstar Tactical Command

Really?  It was pretty good, but also pretty flawed.

I'm really, really surprised Drill Dozer isn't on the site's list.

Mop it upJune 19, 2011

I haven't played the GBA WarioWare games, but I have the GCN and Wii versions, and they are quite the good games. I'm curious though, if people placed both titles on their lists, or if different people had a different one on each? I'd think people would have wanted a little more variety on their lists than picking two of the same type of game.

I have to say I'm actually not surprised to see no Pokémon games, as the general consensus seems to be the GBA ones are not as good as Gold/Silver.

It's nice to see that Tales of Phantasia got some love, even if it was just in the honorable mention. I had a lot of fun with that game, not to mention the opening cut scene's voice acting was one of the most hilarious things I've heard in an RPG, intentional or otherwise. INDIGNATION!

TansunnJune 28, 2011

#9 - Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Honorable mention - Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, "A better game than its predecessors on the same handheld"

Does not compute.  How does a game that's better than its predecessors not make the list but one of its predecessors does?

The top top ten was decided by vote. Those write-ups were by one person who voted for the game.

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

The top top ten was decided by vote. Those write-ups were by one person who voted for the game.

This is correct.

The personal issue I have with sequels is that just being better than your predecessor does not automatically earn you a higher slot. A sequel should ALWAYS be at least nominally improved over its predecessor. The problem, quite clearly is, that just doing that is not enough to jump your predecessor. A sequel must be notably better for me to rate it higher...in this entire unwinnable exercise.

KDR_11kJune 28, 2011

What, no Ninja Cop in the honorable mentions either?

ejamerJune 28, 2011

"What, no Ninja Cop in the honorable mentions either?"

Maybe people didn't play it? Ninja Cop (aka: Ninja Five-O) was pretty awesome if you liked tight and challenging old-school gameplay. Of course it was also pretty short and not the prettiest game on the system.

Quote from: TalesOfFan

It's nice to see that Tales of Phantasia got some love, even if it was just in the honorable mention. I had a lot of fun with that game, not to mention the opening cut scene's voice acting was one of the most hilarious things I've heard in an RPG, intentional or otherwise. INDIGNATION!

I enjoyed that I got to include a dig at Namco's ability to produce RPGs at a rate that would bankrupt most studios...oh wait... sorry.

Also, here is the horrible opening in question.

It is really bad.

CericJune 29, 2011

Quote from: Crimm

Quote from: TalesOfFan

It's nice to see that Tales of Phantasia got some love, even if it was just in the honorable mention. I had a lot of fun with that game, not to mention the opening cut scene's voice acting was one of the most hilarious things I've heard in an RPG, intentional or otherwise. INDIGNATION!

I enjoyed that I got to include a dig at Namco's ability to produce RPGs at a rate that would bankrupt most studios...oh wait... sorry.

Also, here is the horrible opening in question.

It is really bad.

Was that a GUY trying to make a GIRL Voice....
Feathered Rocket Birds where Cool.
At least the quote isn't read like in the Japanese one...

SilverQuilavaJune 29, 2011

I'm doing a playthrough of Breath of Fire too! Badass game!

CericJune 29, 2011

Yu-Gi-Oh: Dungeon Dice Monsters.

It makes for an interesting  game.  Especially since its way to expensive and hard to find a game in real life.
Their is a game that I wish didn't have a reset... My wife had nuked my game.

The Tiny RockFebruary 14, 2012

Come on you guys. Both of the Fire Emblem games are way tight.

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