The Best GBA Games | Pocket tactics

by Ana Lopez

Depending on who you ask, the question “what are the best GBA games?” can be one that reveals a lot about a gamer. Big on JRPGS? It’s probably Golden Sun and Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade. More of a Mario fan? Then it’s Superstar Saga and Power Tour tennis. Really, there are just too many options, but that doesn’t mean we won’t try to condense them into one list. That is what we do.

For more long lists of exciting titles, check out our picks for the best Switch adventure games, Switch strategy games, Switch racing games, and free Switch games. Or, if you’re trying to keep things retro, turn back the clock even further with our list of the best Game Boy games.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the best GBA games.

Best GBA games

Just before the Rayquaza encounter in Pokemon Emerald for the best GBA games list

Pokemon Emerald

Let’s face it, any Pokémon game from the GBA era could easily be on this list, but if we have to pick one, it’s always Pokémon Emerald. With bundles of post-game content courtesy of the Battle Frontier, the excitement of finding Johto Pokémon in the expanded safari zone, and the best version of the third generation storyline, there’s a reason why you’ll find Emerald at the top of many of the best Pokémon lists. games will see lists.

Screenshot of Mario teeing off in Mario Golf for the best GBA games list

Mario Golf: Advanced Tour

While other golf games didn’t have the guts to push the GBA to its limits with a 3D title, Mario Golf: Advance Tour pulled on its big pants and offered a near-console quality experience for its time. With an intuitive design that encourages you to keep improving your handicap and four exciting courses to play on, there’s hours of content for those eager to find the fairway in this title,

Screenshot of Wario falling through a portal in Wario Land 4 for the best GBA games list

wario land 4

Wario Land 4 holds a special place in my heart as the game I first played on GBA, but don’t think I’m biased here. Known as one of the wackiest platformers on GBA, Wario’s fourth foray asks the question, “What if Mario played like it was a fever dream trapped in an Egyptian pyramid?”. From the mind-boggling bosses to the charming mini-games, the entire Wario Land 4 experience is one of the most memorable of the GBA era, and well worth catching up on for all retro enthusiasts.

Screenshot of a dungeon from Golden Sun for the best GBA games list

golden sun

Golden Sun was created by brothers Hiroyuki and Shugo Takahashi as a way to combat Sony’s increasing JRPG dominance at the turn of the millennium, which is exactly what it did. Often ranked as the top pick on other best GBA games lists, Golden Sun’s epic tale takes some of the genre’s best tropes and uses them to create a story that’s somehow unlike any other. , with the overarching story of the original game, it’s GBA sequel Golden Sun: The Lost Age and DS successor Golden Sun: Dark Dawn come together to show off a tour de force in game writing and RPG -mechanics.

Screenshot of Sonic running off into a bee in Sonic Advance 2 for Best GBA games list

sonic advance 2

Before Sonic the Hedgehog went into its slump in the mid-1990s, the blue haze was doing gangbusters on GBA thanks to titles like Sonic Advance 2. The middle child of the three Sonic Advance titles is often heralded as the best of the bunch, thanks to its improved speed of the hedgehog itself, as well as improved level design and a few challenging missions to test those who pass through Green Hill Zone with ease.

Screenshot of Samus taking on bad guys for the best GBA games list

Metroid: Zero Mission

Reimagining the starting point of a series can go wrong so many times, but with Metroid: Zero Mission, Nintendo decided to really go to town on bringing the original Metroid experience to life in handheld form. In this version, you can really see what the enemies are supposed to be, and the deep space horror vibes are kicked up a notch thanks to memorable bosses like Mother Brain that look, well, repulsive. Better yet, you can complete this one in one afternoon, so there’s no reason not to have it in your catalog.

Screenshot of Yoshi taking down monkeys on Yoshi's Island for the best GBA games list

Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3

Like Wario Land 4, Yoshi’s Island offers an alternative to classic Mario-style platforming, this time thanks to a number of floating dinosaurs, flying eggs and a very annoyed baby Bowser. Outside of the gameplay, and that gameplay is a lot of fun, Yoshi’s Island is a pastel paradise, with childlike illustrations to build a world that feels unlike anything else in the Mario series, and a must for anyone who wants to experience the joy of it. has not yet experienced.

Screenshot of Sora opening a new door in Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories for the best GBA games list

Kingdom Hearts: chain of memories

There was some trepidation among series fans when Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was announced way back in the early days of the saga, with some fans finding it hard to believe the console experience could translate to handheld. How wrong they were, with Chain of Memories a childhood highlight for many who still love the intricate franchise, thanks to an intelligent reinvention of KH gameplay for the limitations of the GBA, all the beloved characters and just a general vibrancy about it game that every location feels full of fantasy.

Screenshot of two fighters from Street Fighter Turbo for the best GBA games list

Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival

Another SNES port perfectly suited to the GBA, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival takes everything great about the original game, and, well, turbocharges it for a new generation. With the ability to fight on the go thanks to the GBA’s link cable connection, you can use any of the iconic fighters to battle against your friends – though they’ll need a copy of their own – through a variety of game modes and across vibrant stages from around the world.

Screenshot of Link taking on the final boss in the Minish Cap for the best GBA games list

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

The Legend Of Zelda series loves a good gimmick, time travel, travel between worlds, apocalyptic moons hanging over you like a looming omen of doom, things like that. In The Minish Cap, things go all right, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, as Link gains the ability to shrink himself down for another adventure, and this leads to Hyrule as you’ve never seen it before, as through the lens of a magnifying glass. Besides everything being tiny, the Minish Cap also gives Link some new swordsmanship skills, making it one of the strongest top-down Zelda experiences for pure combat.

Screenshot of Mario and Luigi in Superstar Saga for the best GBA games list

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is a game that lives up to its name, sending the pair of plumber brothers on a scale of epic proportions, fighting through with RPG mechanics a la Paper Mario while having lots of laughs. With Nintendo entrusting AlphaDream with its most valuable IP, the developer delivered and then some, creating a blueprint that would carry on successfully right up to 2015’s Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam.

Screenshot of racing with Mario in Mario Kart GBA for the list of best GBA games

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

If Nintendo ever needs a hit for a new console, there’s one title you can bet the developer would be eager to race to release, and that’s Mario Kart. Super Circuit marked the debut of the series on handheld, featuring memorable tracks like Cheep-Cheep Circuit and Ribbon Road combined with the original twenty Super Mario Kart tracks to over forty different locations (if you count battle maps). While the graphics are a bit hard to deal with these days, it’s still worth trying out this title for any Mario or Nintendo historian.

There you have it, our pick for the best GBA games from back in the day. For more modern hits, or if you’re just feeling a little long-winded, check out our picks for the best games like Wordle.

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