Best Game Boy Color (GBC) games


© Nintendo Life

It was in 1996 in Japan and 1998 in North America (and a year later in Europe) when the aging Game Boy got an unexpected shot in the arm thanks to a little game called Pokémon. Nintendo’s grandfather of handheld gaming suddenly had a new life, but in the west the release of the game was followed just weeks later by the introduction of a new console – the Game Boy Color – and on that wonderful system were many of We Have Our Very First Pocket Monster captured.

A color update of the original DMG-001 – which had previously been redesigned in the smaller form of the Game Boy Pocket – was a long time coming, but after nine years of Game Boy Color in the end gave handheld Nintendo gamers the right upgrade they’d been waiting for.

GBC was appropriately launched in a range of eye-catching colors and was fully backward compatible with the existing Game Boy library. Many dual “black cart” games would work perfectly on the original monochrome console as well, although the sexier color-exclusive games came on clear cartridges that allowed a view of the board inside. The GBC soon built its own great software library before the Game Boy Advance hit the market in 2001. Three years is a relatively short lifespan, especially when compared to its predecessor, but we’re big fans of this great system and its impressive, often-forgotten library.

We’ve previously compiled top 50 rankings for every other Nintendo console based on user ratings submitted by readers, and this list of the best Game Boy Color games of all time will be the last to go live. Thank you all for your contribution to this list and everyone else.

However, remember that just like the others, this ranking is not set in stone. The list will continue to evolve automatically based on user results submitted to the Nintendo Life game database. If you missed the “Vote”, you can do so now by simply scrolling down and rating them, or finding a game that is missing from the search bar at the top of the screen. Games require a minimum of 10 ratings to be eligible, but once this threshold is reached (and if it scores high enough) it will be shown below.

Ready to take a look? Grab a fresh pair of AAs, sit back and relax as we take you on a tour of the 50 best Game Boy Color games of all time.

Driver (GBC)Driver (GBC)

Editor: Interactive GT software /. Developer: Interactive lobster

Release date: May 16, 2000 (United States) /. 2001 (UK / EU)

Driver for Game Boy Color, a handheld version of the PlayStation hit, has been redesigned from top to bottom to match the original GTA games. With satisfying, varied gameplay that worked well even on the more humble hardware, it captured the witty essence of the stylish PS1 original and gave fans the chance to take the game to the streets.

Duke Nukem (GBC)Duke Nukem (GBC)

Editor: Interactive GT software /. Developer: Torus games

Release date: 09/10/1999 (United States) /. 1999 (UK / EU)

This run ‘n’ gun port from 1999 is actually Duke Nukem II Heavily revised for the 8-bit handheld from Torus Games. Though very different from its source, Duke Nukem is still a formidable little action platformer in its own right on Game Boy Color.

Bomberman Max: Red Challenger and Blue Champion (GBC)Bomberman Max: Red Challenger and Blue Champion (GBC)

Editor: Vatical entertainment /. Developer: Hudson Soft

Release date: May 14, 2000 (United States)

Split into two games – you play as Bomberman in Blue Champion and Max in Red Challenger – Bomberman has given Max Hudson’s classic Bomberman gameplay a Pokémon-like twist thanks to the inclusion of Charaboms, top-notch multiplayer, and beautiful presentation. Everyone loves Bomberman, right?

Tomb Raider (GBC)Tomb Raider (GBC)

Editor: THQ /. Developer: Core design

Release date: June 8, 2000 (United States) /. July 8, 2000 (UK / EU)

Lara Croft’s first attempt at the Game Boy Color, Tomb Raider is a side-on-action platform game in which the title-taker of the tombs climbs walls, swings over vine-filled ceilings, and leaps over chasms in search of treasure and the like. It’s a slow adventure but has some impressive animation – overall a decent 8-bit rendition of Croft’s 3D adventures.

Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble (GBC)Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble (GBC)

Editor: Nintendo /. Developer: HAL laboratory

Release date: April 11, 2001 (United States)

Released in Japan in 2000 and North America the following year, this GBC spin-off never made it to the coast of PAL. The cartridge contained a tilt sensor that allows you to control Kirby by rolling him through the levels and guiding him to the target. Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s a fun Kirby oddity and well worth playing if you can track it down.

Make sure you play it in a regular GBC or GBA, however – the accelerometer doesn’t like being held upside down in a GBA SP, and you won’t get very far if you plug it into a Game Boy player, either .

Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors (GBC)Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors (GBC)

Editor: Infograms /. Developer: Banpresto

Release date: November 8, 2002 (United States) /. June 30, 2002 (UK / EU)

Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors, a strategic turn-based card fighter, was launched in 2002 (first briefly in Europe) and brought the series’ colorful characters to GBC in a thoroughly decent card fight.

Rayman (GBC)Rayman (GBC)

Editor: Ubisoft /. Developer: Ubisoft

Release date: March 29, 2000 (United States) /. July 24, 2000 (UK / EU)

Rayman’s Game Boy Color Port has its charms, but also irritations. Stiff controls, a confusing layout and a few annoying glitches spoil an otherwise nice experience. It’s still great fun and offers some incentive to play it through again after you complete it, but it’s a port that sacrificed a lot of content to make the transition to handheld, and that feels rather weak compared to Ubisoft The mascot’s most famous platformer.

Blaster Master: Enemy Below (GBC)Blaster Master: Enemy Below (GBC)

Editor: Sun protection /. Developer: Sun protection

Release date: 09/24/2000 (United States) /. Oct 27, 2000 (UK / EU)

The mix of elements old and new gives Blaster Master: Enemy Below enough new twists to make it a worthy sequel to the amazing original. Sure, many of the same audiovisual elements have been carried over pretty much unchanged, but the new bosses and open setting offer fans a whole new experience. If you’ve never given the Blaster Master series a shot (and Switch owners don’t have much excuses considering the NES original is available with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription), this is a great Game Boy Color title a good reason to get stuck in.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (GBC)Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (GBC)

Editor: Electronic Arts /. Developer: Griptonite games

Release date: 11/16/2001 (United States) /. 11/16/2001 (UK / EU)

Bucking the trend of low quality movie licenses on handheld platforms, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was a wonderfully solid little RPG and, in our opinion, legitimate in the race for the best Harry Potter games – certainly in the top three (not that the series has many ice-cold classics, but still). Its turn-based RPG gameplay fits Harry’s enchanted wizarding world perfectly and remains one of the best interpretations of the source material in video game form. Flipendo!

Legend of the River King 2 (GBC)Legend of the River King 2 (GBC)

Editor: Natsume /. Developer: Natsume

Release date: July 1, 2001 (United States) /. March 30, 2001 (UK / EU)

Legend of the River King 2 is an amazing, hearty fishing adventure and portable pleasure. There is plenty to see and do with insect trapping, flower picking, and diving to join the central hook from the previous game. Two different routes through history offer considerable replay value even for avid anglers. Fishing fans and RPG fans will both have their fun, although those who do because of the the atmosphere will get the most out of the experience; The soundtrack, setting and sense of scale work together to deliver one of the most charming depictions of summer by the sea ever seen on an 8-bit cassette.

A real catch, even all these years later.

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