The Game Boy Advance (GBA), released in 2001, quickly became a beloved handheld gaming system that offered a vast array of unforgettable gaming experiences. With its compact design and impressive technical capabilities, the GBA brought to life numerous iconic titles, spanning various genres and succesfully carried on the legendary Game Boy name into the 2000s.
From platformers and RPGs to racing and puzzle games, the GBA showcased the talent and creativity of developers who pushed the boundaries of portable gaming. In this article, I take a look at my personal favourites from the GBAs huge library and try my best to whittle things down to the best GBA games that I had the pleasure of experiencing.
It was the day Sega fans thought would never come, the day when a Sonic game arrived on a Nintendo console! But Sonic Advance brings classic Sonic the Hedgehog action to the palm of your hand and speeds its way to be being the first game on our best GBA games list.
With Dr. Eggman causing chaos, Sonic and friends race to save the day. Play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, or Amy, each with unique abilities, and zip through action-packed zones.
Combining typical Sonic game tight controls, fantastic visuals, and of course, supersonic speed platforming, Sonic Advance is a must-play for retro gaming fans seeking a nostalgic thrill.
Super Mario Advance
Relive the plumber’s adventure in Super Mario Advance! This best GBA game not only revives the NES classic, Super Mario Bros. 2 with updated graphics and fresh gameplay elements but also the arcade original Super Mario Bros.
Mario and his friends enter Subcon’s dream world to defeat the evil Wart. Choose from Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Princess Peach, and enjoy the side-scrolling action with challenging levels and quirky enemies.
As you would expect, Super Mario Advance delivers colorful visuals, catchy tunes, and a huge hit of nostalgia, Super Mario Advance is an essential experience, especially for fans of the original Super Mario Bros. 2
Catch ’em all in Pokémon Emerald, one of the finest Pokémon experiences ever to be released!
This enhanced version of Ruby and Sapphire takes players to the tropical Hoenn region, where they collect Gym Badges, foil Team Aqua and Team Magma working towards achieving your ultimate goal of becoming the Pokémon League Champion.
The GBA series of Pokemon games were HUGE and they cannot be underestimated in their influence on 2000s gaming. So be sure to experience these original GBA games, Pokémon Emerald is a great place to start.
Suit up with Samus in Metroid Fusion, a captivating GBA adventure! In this installation of Metroid on the GBA, Samus investigates a viral outbreak on a research station, encountering deadly X Parasites.
After gaining immunity and new powers, she navigates the maze-like station to destroy the parasites and uncover the truth. Metroid Fusion masterfully combines exploration, platforming, and combat in a non-linear structure, with iconic weapons and abilities at your disposal.
Its gripping story, immersive atmosphere, and exceptional level design make it worthy of any best GBA games list, and is a game that has me coming back to it year after year.
Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Four Swords
Discover double the adventure in Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Four Swords! This best GBA game offers both a remastered A Link to the Past and the all-new Four Swords.
Delve into the classic top-down action of A Link to the Past as you save Hyrule and rescue Princess Zelda. Then, team up with friends in Four Swords, solving puzzles and battling enemies in cooperative multiplayer.
With so much gameplay packed into this hugely successful combination of games on a single cartridge, A Link to the Past and Four Swords is the perfect game to accommodate you on any long road trip.
Command and conquer in Advance Wars, an addictive blend of strategy and tactics! Step into the shoes of a tactical genius, leading your army to victory across the battlefield.
Utilising various unit types, capture cities, and manage resources to outsmart the enemy. The turn-based gameplay provides an addictive and deep experience, perfect for strategy enthusiasts.
Advance Wars is a highly deserving contender for a spot on the list of best GBA games with almost unlimited replay value, with two players being able to play against each other with a single Game Boy Advance.
Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
Inhale some fun with one of the best Kirby games, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land!
This game reimagines the original NES game, Kirby’s Adventure, where the pink puffball looks to repair the stolen Star Rod, broken up by Kind Dedede, and save Dream Land. Kirby of course has wonderfully colorful visuals, awesome abilities, and adorable enemies, this platformer combines classic Nintendo action and exploration for a timeless platforming experience.
Kirby’s copy abilities add a unique twist to the gameplay along with up to 4 player multiplayer, making it a must-play for fans of the Kirby series.
Mega Man Zero 3
Blast your way through Mega Man Zero 3, the ultimate robot showdown! The game continues the story of Zero, who battles against the forces of the evil Dr. Weil.
The action-packed platforming and intense boss battles return, along with new weapons and abilities to keep things fresh. The Cyber-elf system also received an overhaul, allowing players to customize and enhance Zero’s abilities, further diversifying gameplay.
With its tight controls, engaging story, and challenging gameplay, Mega Man Zero 3 is a hugely enjoyable action platformer that offers just the right level of challenge.
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
Start your engines for F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, a high-octane futuristic racing experience on the GBA!
Immediately establishing itself as one of the best GBA games, this futuristic racer features blazing speeds, tight turns, and gravity-defying jumps. Choose from various vehicles and pilots, each with unique stats, and compete across challenging tracks.
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity on the GBA offers SNES quality visuals, thrilling gameplay, and an adrenaline-pumping soundtrack, this is a must-have GBA title.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Get ready for some banana-peel tossing chaos with Mario Kart: Super Circuit!
What more can be said about this timeless Game Boy Advance classic that’s not been said already? It’s all the fun of Mario Kart, but in your pocket!
Master drifting and item use to outmaneuver opponents and secure victory. Play in classic single-player mode and multiplayer via link cable, which actually works with up to 4 players running from a single game cartridge, admittedly with some limitations, but what an excellent feature, and a cost-saving one at that!
Mario Kart: Super Circuit is the perfect blend of fun and competition, and looks even better than the SNES original on the GBA!
Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow
Sink your teeth into Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, a gothic adventure for the ages! In this best GBA game, you control Soma Cruz, trapped in Dracula’s castle during a solar eclipse.
Battle nightmarish creatures and uncover the castle’s secrets to escape. The Tactical Soul System lets you absorb the souls of defeated enemies and gain their abilities, adding depth to the already action-packed gameplay.
With a vast array of weapons, armor, and items further enhancing the player’s options in combat and exploration, Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow immortalises itself as one of the best GBA games of all time.
Get ready to face Hell itself in Doom, the iconic first-person shooter on the GBA! As a lone space marine, fight through hordes of demonic creatures to save humanity.
This best GBA game brings the fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping action of the original to a handheld platform, complete with challenging levels and powerful weapons. It was unimaginable in the preceding years before Doom appeared on the GBA that you would be able to play a faithful conversion on a handheld.
A real coup for the Game Boy Advance version of Doom is its multiplayer mode with a link cable, with GBA owners benefitting from eight brand-new deathmatch environments.
Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival
Unleash your inner fighter in Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival, a timeless port of arcade classic, Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
The GBA version brings the legendary fighting action to the handheld, with all 16 iconic characters, special moves, and stages. Master each fighter’s unique abilities and combos, and you can challenge your friends via multiplayer link cable.
The Game Boy Advance effortlessly pulls off this superb conversion with polished gameplay and controls that translate really well to the buttons available on the GBA.
Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival is a knockout choice for fans of Capcoms finest franchise.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Cowabunga! Join Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, an excellent beat-’em-up adventure inspired by both the comic books and the rebooted 2003 animated series.
As one of the best GBA games, take on the Foot Clan and other villains across New York City to save the day. Each turtle of course has their own unique abilities and moves,
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the Game Boy Advance is a throwback to the arcade game of the early 90s, but with a platforming twist, which is completely at home on the GBA.
An excellent TMNT game at a time when often turtles games were not always that great.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Grab your board and shred the streets in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, the ultimate GBA skateboarding experience!
Absolutely iconic on consoles of the time, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 makes the jump to the GBA with impressive isometric visuals and well-animated sprites. Perform epic tricks and combos across various skate parks, and unlock new characters and boards.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 doesn’t miss a beat on the trusty GBA, choose from thirteen Pro Skaters, rock out to the superb soundtrack and pull off the perfect 900.
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
Sow the seeds of adventure in Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, a charming farming simulation on the GBA.
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town includes dozens of different villagers, each with their own distinct personalities and schedules. Additionally, there are six even marriage ‘candidates’ for the player to court, each with their own set of heart events that deepen the relationship.
Tend to your crops, raise livestock, and build relationships with the townsfolk to restore your farm to glory. It’s all very relaxing and the perfect game to play just before bedtime!
Get ready for a whirlwind of wacky fun with WarioWare: Twisted! This best GBA game takes the frantic microgame action to the next level with the game cartridge containing a built-in gyro sensor for motion-controlled gameplay.
Twist, tilt, and shake your way through over 200 zany microgames, each with unique challenges.
The WarioWare games are famous for their innovative controls, quirky humor, and manic gameplay, WarioWare Twisted is certainly no exception! There is never a dull moment with WarioWare: Twisted!
Final Fight One
Punch and kick your way through Metro City in Final Fight One, one of the finest beat ’em ups ever finds itself on the GBA.
Play as Cody, Guy, or Haggar to save Mayor Haggar’s daughter from the Mad Gear Gang. Traverse gritty urban environments, battling waves of enemies and powerful bosses.
This GBA port retains the essence of the original arcade game, featuring its side-scrolling beat ’em up gameplay, all the playable characters as well as a two-player link cable option, so you can take on Mad Gear with a help of a friend.
Game & Watch Gallery 4
With Game & Watch Gallery 4 on the GBA, you essentially are in a paradox, playing then retro games on a now retro gaming device! This captivating compilation includes some of the best of Nintendo’s classic Game & Watch games
Enjoy six iconic Game & Watch titles: Fire, Boxing, Rain Shower, Mario’s Cement Factory, Donkey Kong Jr., and Donkey Kong 3. Each game offers both classic and modern modes, with updated graphics and beloved Mario characters in the modern versions.
The addictive, simple gameplay of the original Game & Watch games remains intact, making Game & Watch Gallery 4 a must-play for retro gaming fans and those eager to explore gaming history with Nintendo looking back at their handheld gaming roots.
Metal Slug Advance
Lock and load for an explosive adventure in Metal Slug Advance, a thrilling run-and-gun experience on the GBA! As one of the best GBA games, join the Peregrine Falcon Squad in their fight against the evil General Morden.
Blast your way through waves of enemies, pilot powerful vehicles, and face off against challenging bosses.
The game retains the series’ trademark humor, detailed visuals, and intense action, making it a must-play for Metal Slug fans who were looking for a near Neo Geo quality Metal Slug game, on a handheld.
The Game Boy Advance boasts an incredible library of titles that have wowed gamers with its SNES quality games (and often outdoing the SNES). From fast-paced platformers like Sonic Advance and classic Nintendo franchises with Super Mario Advance to immersive adventures in Pokémon Emerald and Metroid Fusion, there was no shortage of games to choose from for this best GBA games list.
The GBA was a fantastic next-generation Game Boy handheld, which did the Game Boy name proud with its very capable hardware and giant library of games. This amazing lineup is a testament to the GBA’s enduring legacy as one of the most beloved handheld gaming systems of all time.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of Retro Gaming experience. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).