From casual games, to deep RPGs, to excellent old school side scrollers and even some simple 3D shooters and racers the GBA has an amazing library. I’ve tried to avoid games that have not aged so well such as the 3D racing or shooting games. The list bellow is more of a top 10 games you should play and that are just as fun today as anything the Nintendo DS or PSP have to offer.
10. Metroid Fusion
Yeah it’s a Metroid game. I’m trying to avoid the obvious on this list but damn it, Metroid games are so great. Fusion is no exception. It is difficult to go wrong with a Nintendo IP they make timeless classics that continue to be fun for years after other games become unbearably lame. I’m going to try to keep the Nintendo IP games you might already know and love off the list but I can’t promise anything.
9. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Almost as revered as Nintendo for their games is Square Soft. Final Fantasy Tactic Advance is the worst of the Final Fantasy Tactics series. With the recently released Final Fantasy Tactics game released on both the DS and PSP Tactics Advance may have lost some of it’s luster. It is however an excellent game despite an annoying judge system. The judge system involves a jackass who mediates each fight but only cares that the combatants do not breaks some stupid arbitrary rule. Anything else goes. It’ll be like, no pocket knives! People are hacking at each other with swords calling down Shiva to smite their enemies then the player forgets the stupid no pocketknives rule for a second… My characters spent more time in jail for breaking the stupid rules then they did adventuring. Fortunately every thing else about the game is flawless.
Blizzard was recently touting some big news about a new game coming out and I was pulling for Lost Vikings. The Lost Vikings is a classic SNES game ported to the GBA. It is a puzzle game disguised as a platform game. The player has 3 Vikings which they must control individually in order to navigate maze like trap filled levels in order to get all 3 Vikings to the exit. The game is enjoyable because of it’s perfectly put together levels and silly but likeable characters.
7. Super Bust-A-Move
Super Bust-A-Move is a decent
or Bust-A-Move that originated in the arcades of the 90s. It is a puzzle game where the player shoots colored bubbles to make matching sets. It has many handheld iterations however it is the best version that is available on a current handheld. The DS version has a stylus based control scheme and uses both screens as a play area. The DS version is a totally different creature and does not feel right. Super Bust-A-Move however aces gameplay. port of Puzzle Bobble
6. Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland or Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
I can’t keep the games straight. One of them has friends that can be called and the other does not. Beside Kirby Canvas Curse and the N64 Kirby game Kirby games are fairly interchangeable to me. Kirby games all feel basically the same primarily because Kirby is such a unique character. He is a small pink flying sphere shaped monster which in no way makes him unique as this describes several Pokemon. The uniqueness comes from the variation of gameplay and the way that the player can solve simple puzzles using a large range of abilities. By using a type of suck attack Kirby feasts upon the flesh of his enemies to steal their powers, much like the Wendigo of Algonquian myth. Describing a Kirby game in a paragraph does the games a disservice
5. Gunstar Super Heroes
Gunstar Super Heroes is a sequel to Gunstar Heroes which is one of the best games ever to grace the Sega Genesis. It is not quite as good a game as the original is but is still quite excellent. It is a side scrolling action platform shooter in the vein of Contra that features lots of enemies and large complicated bosses. The original is considerably easier outside of the boss battles and was balanced perfectly for a fun and action packed experience. Gunstar Super Heros mixes gameplay up while retaining the feel and humor of the original. This game is well worth tracking down.
4. Wario Ware, Inc.:Mega Microgame$ or Wario Ware Twisted
I’ve already ranted about Wario Ware. It is still awesome.
3. ChuChu Rocket
ChuChu Rocket is a puzzle action game that was originally released on the Dreamcast. It is one of the proverbial easy to learn but difficult to master games. There are several modes some of which are simple puzzle modes and some that have a very action puzzle feel. The object of the game is to guide robot mice (
Chu being Japanese for mouse) around a board into rockets while avoiding, or feeding monster cats. The mice and cats all move in predictable paths always turning right when hitting a wall or by following corners unless turned by a player placed directional arrow. Each level manages to have it’s own unique feel despite the controls being placing a generally limited set of arrows.
2. Fire Emblem
Fire Emblem is quite similar to Final Fantasy Tactic Advance, it is also very similar to Ogre Battle, Advance Wars, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, Fire Emblem II, and any of several other turn based tactics games. The genre works so perfectly on the GBA so I had to include at least one more on the list. Fire Emblem does not bog the player down with tons of plot and keeps the action as the focus.
1. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
It was this or Mario, or Zelda or some other first party Nintendo game. Seriously the selection of first party games available of the GBA is awesome. The games on the system have a distinct classic feel but still hold up today and will probably hold up for years to come. Played on the AGS-101 they really do shine. You don’t have to play them on the AGS-101 but you should take the time to check them out.
Screen: 9/10 The AGS-101 screen looks really nice with two levels of brightness and decent resolution. There are better systems but this is up there
Sound: 7/10 Has one speaker that sounds decent enough. System has no headphone jack and requires an adaptor to use headphones. I repeat, this is stoopid!
Controls: 8/10 Great controls but a little close together. The controller is classic Nintendo.
Availability: 8/10 Available new online or used at your local Pawnshop.
Price: 7/10 Anywhere between $35 used on Ebay and $160 new.
Library: 10/10 All the Gameboy, Gameboy Color and GBA games are playable. Awesome!
Overall: 9/10 The AGS-101 model of the GBA SP is a great system.