EZ Racer's Blog

Posted on Jun 11th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (EZ Racer)
Posted under Game Boy, nintendo, mario, zelda, tetris, game, portable



While not the first portable gaming systems, Nintendo's Game Boy was one of the first to reach massive audiences. It's library consists of hundreds of games, many of which are quick, simplistic but fun experiences designed both around the system's limitations and its purpose of gaming on the go.

So it's interesting that for this Top 20, there were several games that came in as "must owns" as out of 7 voters, four games made every voter's list, and eight made at least five lists.

And yet, the final results also showed the variety of the Game Boy, as only 14 games were on three or more lists.



Participants for this list were:

singlebanana
shaggy
Crabmaster2000
Disposed Hero
EZ Racer
bombatomba
MetalFro

In all, 65 games got some love, including many lesser known titles. You can check out thoughts on all the great games that missed the cut here: http://www.rfgeneration.c...topic=19318.msg272704#new

Also, with these lists, the more the merrier when it comes to participation, so join us for the June list, the Sony Playstation: http://www.rfgeneration.c...m/index.php?topic=19335.0

With most of the lists so far, several games just barely missed the top 20. With the Game Boy, that wasn't the case, but there was one title that was just barely on the outside looking in.


Honorable Mention-

21. Kid Dracula
2 votes (#12, #9)

"Kid Dracula on GB is another one of those wonderful games I never knew existed, and probably wouldn't have played back in the day due to being a teenager.  Bummer, because this game is very good, and despite its "kiddie" look quite challenging.  An easy recommendation."

"A cute little twist on the Castlevania franchise. We didn't get the Famicom port for the NES in the U.S., so it's cool that a version of it made it to a U.S. handheld."


-----The Top 20-----

As with the other lists, Wempster and Disposed Hero have made a great companion video:


20. Gradius: Interstellar Assault (44 pts)



Released- 1992
Genre- Shoot-em up
2 lists (#11, #9)

"The Game Boy isn't known much for shooters, but this original entry by Konami is quite possibly the finest example, at least what made it out of Japan. The graphics and sound are improved over the already solid Nemesis, and with all original levels and designs, it helped to further establish the Gradius series lore."

The best space shmup on the Game Boy. Great music and one of the most graphically impressive games on the system."




18t. Batman: The Video Game (46 pts)



Released- 1990
Genre- Action platformer
2 lists (#10, #9)

"If you can ignore the fact that batman uses a gun through the whole game this is a really fun action platformer with great music."



18t. Heiankyo Alien (46 pts)



Released- 1990
Genre- Action Maze
2 lists (#12, #7)

"I happened upon an advertisement for this game way back in the early 90's and it stuck with me, so much so that when I found it in the twilight days of Funcoland I picked it up.  A fun little arcade maze-style game where you must trap and bury aliens.  Not much to it, but man it keeps me coming back."

"Originally a 1979 arcade game, this version just over a decade later, updates the formula with new graphics and sound, and new mechanics that help it keep its status as the seminal "trap 'em up" game."




17. Nemesis (48 pts)



Released- 1990
Genre- Shoot-em up
2 lists (#18, #3)

"In essence, Gradius for the Game Boy. What stands out to me is how full and textured the graphics look, alongside creative level design, especially considering the Game Boy's limitations."



16. Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (49 pts)



Released- 1991
Genre- Action platformer
2 lists (#5, #13)

"In my opinion, this is a much better game than the NES original in nearly every way, and probably one of the better games on the early handheld, at least in my opinion.  It still retains the feel of the original, (with it's obtuse point life-leveling system) but eliminates deaths due to vertical screen scrolling, add more precision to the platforming, and allows for multiple items purchased in stores.  Oh, and this game has a SAVE, for goodness sakes!  About the only thing it doesn't have is a prettier game manual."

"Better than its console counterpart is pretty much something you can never say about the handheld version. Kid Icarus is an exception to that rule in every way."




15. Pokemon Blue (55 pts)



Released- 1998
Genre- RPG
2 lists (#1, #15)

"The first and only Pokemon game Ive played. I spent many hours playing this and remember trading and battling with my friends. I fell out of the Pokemon craze shortly after, but I still hold the original among the best games Ive ever played."

"An RPG thats shallow in story, but deep in mechanics. Still my personal favorite Pokemon game as they get far too involved in other systems later on for my tastes."




14. Operation C (66 pts)



Released- 1991
Genre- Run n Gun Shooter
3 lists (#16, #11, #5)

"I found this game to have a very strong "Super C" vibe, which is good because I like Super C.  Operation has basically eveything one would look for in a Contra game, and because of this must have been a welcome addition to the GB library upon release.  Fun bosses and great stage design."

"A great Contra game that takes heavy inspiration from both NES titles, particularly Super C."




13. Super Mario Land (75 pts)



Released- 1989
Genre- Platformer
4 lists (#18, #15, #14, #5)

"I disagree with anyone who says that this isn't a true Mario game.  It's a little odd in spots and too short, but I still think it's a lot of fun. I had a better time with this game than SML2 during our playthroughs, so that's why it ranks higher for me."

"Its got some awkward and janky controls, but this was a decent attempt at an early Mario title for the Game Boy."




12. Mega Man V (75 pts)



Released- 1994
Genre- Action Platformer
3 lists (#15, #7, #5)

"Most of the Blue Bomber's handheld games were smaller takes on the NES entries, often consisting of a combination of bosses from previous games. The 5th and final entry is the lone innovator of the bunch, with a unique set of bosses, and new elements added. It still brings the Mega Man formula to the Game Boy with competence and style, but the new robot masters and environments help push this one to the top."

"Mega Man IV and V are not as good as the best Mega Man games on the NES, but they are better than the worst Mega Man games on the NES. Since Mega Man is better than pretty much everything else {these} are really good."




11. Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (88 pts)



Released- 1991
Genre- Action Platformer
3 lists (#8, #6, #5)

"Konami's 1st foray into miniaturizing the Castlevania experience on Game Boy was an admirable attempt, but was fraught with problems, many of which caused the game to be looked at with much disdain. Not so with this sequel, however. Not only did they address most of the criticisms leveled at the original, but this sequel also proves to be a longer game, with a better balance of challenge, and even more impressive graphics and sound."

"The most traditional of the three Castlevania titles on GB, and my favorite of the bunch."

"The best Castlevania game on the Game Boy because it's the most playable.
 And.....it's a Castlevania game. Enuff said."




10. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (101 pts)



Released- 1994
Genre- Platformer
5 lists (#19, #12, #10, #9, #8)

"Rather than continue to iterate on the Super Mario Land formula, Nintendo decided to try something new, and instead, allowed the player to take control of the 2nd game's greedy figure, Wario. By changing up the approach and dynamics, you get an experience that has a mildly familiar feel, but also charts its own course, and offers a very distinct style of game play that went on to be more influential than the series from which it spun out."

"A good friend of mine owned this as a kid, so I remember borrowing this from him and playing it a ton. My favorite of the Super Mario Land games on GB."

"I know we aren't supposed to do multiple franchise in the top list, but this game deserves to be here.  First of all the game has such as different feel than the others, that I agree with certain Youtube personalities that "Super Mario land 3" was tacked on to hopefully boost sales.  But Wario Land is just so crazy and fun, though if you want a good ending you will have to play this game at a near plodding pace as you gather every gold piece you can find."

"Wario's first playable entry in the Super Mario franchise. A fun game that's only real knock is an overly large sprite. Still, lots of fun."




9. Kirby's Dream Land 2 (101 pts)



Released- 1995
Genre- Platformer
4 lists (#13, #10, #6, #5)

"The original Game Boy game was a lot of fun, but when Kirby made his debut on the NES a couple years later, it added new elements that really took it to the next level. When Kirby came back home to the Game Boy, those elements came with him, and elevated the experience above its predecessor to be the definitive handheld take on the character."

"A more fleshed out game than its predecessor results in a more complete feeling Kirby game."

"the addition of animal companions adds some extra depth to the original Kirby formula. Doesnt quite have the same appeal as the original game though and definitely doesnt have quite as strong of a soundtrack."




8. Kirby's Dream Land (107 pts)



Release- 1992
Genre- Platformer
5 lists (#18, #14, #13, #7, #4)

"This was my first experience with the Kirby franchise and the first one I beat. A really cute and fun game that helped boost the title character to Nintendo stardom."

"Kirbys first adventure may not have included his signature ability to copy enemies, but this is still a fun platformer."

"One of the greatest gaming soundtracks of all time. As with most game boy games its short and not overly challenging, but it has so much charm and character that its always a pleasure to play."




7. Final Fantasy Adventure (114 pts)



Release-1991
Genre- Action RPG
4 lists (#18, #7, #3, #2)

"An incredible action/RPG that's really fun and beautiful. A part of the Mana series and not really a Final Fantasy game."

"While I first played this it didn't appeal to me at all, which makes sense because at the time I just wanted another game exactly like my beloved SNES experiences.  Years later I picked up the Sunsoft rerelease used to play on a long flight and I was not disappointed this time.  It's not a huge or deep game in anyway, but for a 1991 Zelda-like experience it is quite fun and still playable."

"A great action-RPG for the system that is in a similar vein to Zelda."




6. Gargoyle's Quest (155 pts)



Release- 1990
Genre- Action Platformer
6 lists (#15, #12, #8, #6, #6, #3)

"Capcom's spin-off game, from the Ghouls 'n Ghosts/Makaimura series, this action adventure title shifts the focus from hero Arthur, to Firebrand, one of the Red Arremers depicted in the original Ghosts 'n Goblins. This prequel combines an overhead world, and light RPG elements, with methodical action platforming, and does so in a package that is quite impressive on the hardware. One of the finest early titles on the handheld."

"A great action/platformer with some really neat RPG elements.  You don't simply go from stage to stage, but visit towns and NPCs along your way. Really cool concept and a very well-done game."

"Yet another game I somehow missed out on, despite knowing of it's existence, as well as the NES and SNES sequels.  But I have finally played it, and I have highly enjoyed playing through Gargoyle's Quest, even more so than Demon's Crest on SNES."

"A fun and unique game that merges action-platforming with RPG elements."

"The perfect length and challenge for a handheld RPG. Not overly long or complicated. And takes the lore of classic Ghosts n Goblins and expands it into new territories. More spin offs should be as bold."




5. Tetris (182 pts)



Release- 1989
Genre- Puzzle
7 lists (#19, #17, #11, #7, #6, #1, #1)

"I remember playing this game for hours on end and my mom even enjoyed playing this.  There was no other choice for my number one given how much time I played this game.  Nintendo did the system right by making this the pack in game."

"Its the iconic puzzle title that everybody has played. Always a fun and addictive game."

"Come on, this is Tetris!  So not the first port I played, but since it is portable and thus playable anywhere (within reason) it belongs in this list.  When the original GB came out I wanted nothing to do with it, with it's weird ghosting green screen and foreign feeling Mario, but Tetris was something I could understand, if not enough to take money away from my "Super Nintendo" fund."

"Who didn't play hours and hours of this game, or have to keep your Game Boy away from your Mom because of it? I know this will be higher on most people's list, but for me, it's worn out its welcome over the years. Still list-worthy though."

"I don't think there was any question this would be #1. Not only is it one of the best selling video games of all time, but as a frequent player of the game, this version in particular, I think I've clocked more hours into Tetris on the Game Boy than any other console or portable game, save for a handful of perpetual mobile games. This is the very definition of an evergreen game. The fact that this pack-in is still held up as a definitive version of the game speaks to its quality, and to the simple joy of playing Tetris."

"Still a great version of Tetris to play. I enjoy a lot of the modern comforts that have been added to the series, but for its time this was one of the best!"




4. Donkey Kong (183 pts)



Released- 1994
Genre- Puzzle platformer
6 lists (#13, #8, #6, #5, #2, #1)

"Long before Resident Evil 2 Remake and Final Fantasy VII Remake were blowing our minds with their reimaginings of great games of the past there was Donkey Kong for the Game Boy. Took a classic and expanded on the solid core into something truly special."

"When Nintendo released a game in 1994, supporting their new Super Game Boy peripheral, sporting simply 'Donkey Kong' as a moniker, many people probably assumed it would just be a slicker, lightly tweaked version of Nintendo's classic arcade game. They were only marginally correct. Instead, Nintendo took the levels from the original game, and fleshed out those ideas, creating an experience that spans 101 levels, and oozes with so much charm, it's hard to argue that this isn't a superior experience to the arcade original in almost every way."

"I've never been a huge fan of the original DK arcade game, but the Game Boy adaptation puts an interesting spin on it by turning it into more of a puzzle-platformer with some inspiration from Super Mario Bros. 2."

"A breath of fresh air in the DK series.  I love the addition of puzzle elements and happy to see these games continued on future handhelds."

"This game starts out like the original Donkey Kong but after that it's a great puzzle game.  I remember after getting through the original levels of the game and getting to the puzzle levels how much I enjoyed this game.  I would definitely seek this out and give it a try."




3. Super Mario Land 2 (191 pts)



Released- 1992
Genre- Platformer
7 lists (#15, #12, #9, #7, #4, #4, #2)

"I remember always wanting this game as a kid, but sadly I never got my hands on it until I was an adult. After finally playing it, I see that its a pretty good Mario game and more faithful to the series than its predecessor. The controls still aren't great, but they're an improvement over its predecessor, and it doesn't really become a problem until the final stage."

"A massive improvement over Super Mario Land. Cool new villain with Wario, neat new power up with the Carrot and some interesting levels and secrets. First solid Mario entry on a handheld."

"So right off the bat I would like to say that the music for Land 1 is better, but if you love Super Mario World and need something portable that is akin to that experience, you can do no better than Super Mario Land 2."

"I've said for years that one of my personal favorite Game Boy games is the original Super Mario Land. While that remains my own pick, I have to objectively give the nod to its sequel for taking nearly everything that was good about the original, and improving upon it, while also taking what were seen as flaws in the original, and eliminating those things. As a game, it's so much bigger, has more personality, and perfectly distills the 'Super Mario Bros. 3' experience down to something that still works in the handheld format."

"Graphically impressive and very similar in gameplay to my favorite Mario title, Super Mario World. The incredible difficulty spike at the end drops it a little down the list for me, but still in my Top 10."




2. Metroid II: Return of Samus (210 pts)



Released- 1991
Genre- Adventure
7 lists (#14, #9, #8, #4, #4, #2, #2)

"Another great game in the Metroid series that really helps to tie the storyline together and set up Super Metroid.  Great concept for a sequel and gamers were fortunate to get this on the handheld. It's no wonder that there has always been a heavy push for a remake."

"Its quite a bit easier and more streamlined than most other Metroid titles, but I think I really appreciated that back when I was a kid. A very solid adventure title for the Game Boy."

"This isnt the best Metroid around, but its still a good entry. Worth playing for fans of the series, but probably not the best one to start with if youre new."

"Up until a few months ago I treated this game with utter contempt.  I knew of it from days of old, but found the linear progression and harsh twanging sound effects intelerable.  This doubled with I played through the 3DS remake in 2017, even though I found the reversable case cover on the Limited Edition quaint (which showed the GB original).  Then one day on a lark I found myself watching a "Famicoffee Stream" of the game by Jeremy Parish and finally gave it a chance.  Glad I did, as it is a unique title on the platform, and while I still don't like the sound or zoomed in look, I have to at least say I did and do enjoy this game."

"Nintendo took a risk with a couple of their franchises, moving them from the home console to the handheld, including Kid Icarus, and this, the 2nd game in the Metroid series. While I have a lot of nostalgia for the former, this game gets the nod for pushing the formula in a bold direction, while still maintaining the feeling of loneliness and isolation that the original was known for. This sequel does a fine job of straddling the line between homage to its predecessor, and improvement in how it approaches the game play."

"This is one of the games that really showed off what the Game Boy could do when it was pushed. Even though it's a fairly early title in the library, it's a wonderful, complete adventure through the catacombs of a foreboding planet, never knowing when you might run into the next evolution of Metroids. My only complaint is that if they're continuing to evolve into bigger, badder threats, why is the larva form, with it's life-draining ability, the most dangerous? I'm probably just thinking about it too much..."




1. Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (262 pts)



Released- 1993
Genre- Adventure
7 lists (#6, #3, #2, #2, #1, #1, #1)

"I think this was the second GB game I ever purchased, and my first thought was, "How did they fit this game into this little cartridge?"  Indeed.  This "little" game exudes charm, from the mystery of the owl to the personality of Ulrira (who offers helpful advice, but only if you call him on a telephone), and in my opinion was one of the first GB games to really make the platform sing.  It does have its flaws (too much menuing, I think), but it would become my personal favorite Zelda game until Wind Waker came along, even though I was unable to finish at the time (until I played the VC DX version on my 2DS)."

"I spent many hours with this game back in the day and have good memories of playing it alongside a friend of mine at the time, and we would often compare notes and help each other along. Revisiting it more recently, the game still holds up great and is one of my favorite entries in the series."

"For me this was the first game that proved that handheld gaming could hold its own against consoles. This game was every bit as good as the Zelda games that had come before it and wasnt a watered down version to suit the platform."

"Played this for the first time a few years ago and I was so impressed by how it pushed the graphics and the gameplay of such a simple handheld. For me, it's just a bit ahead of A Link to the Past, which I know is video game sacrilege."

"For a guy who took more than a couple decades for this series to "click" for me, I have become an unabashed apologist for this particular entry in the series. I didn't "get it" at first, and even when I bought and played the Game Boy Color redux version, it didn't grab me, like I hoped it would. Now that I've played through it 3 times, including once on the Nintendo Switch remake, I can say I'm a true fan. What Nintendo accomplished with this game, both in terms of subtle storytelling, technical achievement, and sheer enjoyment, is hard to quantify."




Final Thoughts

Thanks again to everyone who participated. It was interesting for me to how top heavy the list was, with 4 games being on everyone's top 20, and several more that were on nearly all the lists. I also have to mention that Zelda: Link's Awakening is a must have game for the Game Boy according to RFGen. In a top heavy list, it garnered 262 pts out of a maximum 280, by far the highest percentage for a game on any list we've done so far.

It's been a lot fun putting these lists together, so thanks again to those who participated, and hope to see many more for the Playstation list.


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Comments
 
So happy to see only one Pokemon game on this list.  Not my cup of tea, but I think it's essential on a best of Game Boy list as it best reflects the majority of player opinions.

With that said, this was a fun list to put together and I have a better grasp on which GB titles that I need to put some time into.  Nice work guys!
 
Yay for Heiankyo Alien!  So glad to see this classic on the list.  And, I kinda second that sb says above me.  While my nostalgia drives me to Yellow, it is better that only one is here.  Also, I was a little surprised to see Metroid 2 above SML2.  Not a shocker (as it sits just below), but a surprise anyway.

This was a ton of fun to do, and I found myself playing a lot of new games for the first time.
 
Definitely a few surprises on the list! I was also excited to see that Heiankyo Alien made it, as I felt that one might have been a tad obscure, despite a fair bit of advertising for it in game magazines back in the day. There are definitely a couple games on the list due to nostalgia, versus actual merit (IMO, anyway), but overall, it's a solid representation of good games. I don't think there's a dud in the bunch. Great work, and thanks for compiling this all, EZ Racer!
 
A lot of games on here I definitely need to get around to checking out.

I'm very surprised Pokemon ranked so low on the list though. I would have thought that would have came in top 5
 
@Schlibby: I wonder if that is indicative of the age group that voted.  Hmm.
 
@bombatomba: I'd say you're probably onto something there, but I do know several of the voters are big fans of the series. Maybe it hasn't aged well.

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