A huge step forward from the original Game Boy, handheld gaming entered a golden age with the Game Boy Advance.
The Game Boy Advance was a technological breakthrough, something Nintendo is quite good at. What would have been an entire console a decade earlier could now easily slip into your pocket, and a mostly 2D console allows developers to relive the glory days of the SNES, even if those days weren’t long past at the time.
It blew the original Game Boy out of the water and brought with it some of the best 2D games the world has ever seen. Whether it’s platform games, adventures, JRPGs, or something really weird, having a Game Boy Advance gave you access to an incredible library.
Some Sonic the Hedgehog fans will tell you that there were no good 2D games between Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic Mania, but those fans have clearly never owned a handheld console. Like the DS after it, the GBA would have not one, but three great 2D Sonic games. They were great platformers worthy of the golden age of Sonic, and they still had their original characters.
Before Metroid went through a disturbingly long hiatus, Metroid Fusion blessed the world with its presence. There is disagreement among fans about how great this game is, but many consider it worthy of the same praise as Super Metroid, which is about as good as Metroid games get.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Final Fantasy Tactics is a series that has inspired many great games over the years, so it’s nice to look back and see a great entry in this classic series. Featuring a classic JRPG plot of a protagonist being sucked out of their world, a great Final Fantasy story coupled with refined tactical gameplay awaits.
While we’re on the subject of tactical RPGs, let’s talk about Advance Wars, games that were so good that the fanbase managed to make a remake through sheer willpower. It is simple and clear tactical gameplay with brilliant art style and tons of memorable moments. While you’re waiting for the delayed remakes, why don’t you go back and play the originals?
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
We’ve now made a few of these retro console lists, and the only series that always appears is The Legend of Zelda. Not only is it amazing that a LoZ game has ever been made for every Nintendo console, but they’re all fantastic games. With a talking bird hat that shrinks Link to solve classic puzzle dungeons, this is the Zelda series you’ve always known and loved.
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
If you knew what an “aria” was without looking it up, Konami might have a job for you. Despite being a genre-defining milestone, the Castlevania series began to move away from 2D adventure games in the 2000s. This move would eventually diminish the series significantly, but before it went down, we got another classic 2D adventure. If you loved Symphony of the Night, but have never played it, you are missing out.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Mario’s various RPG outings are quite a wild ride, and perhaps none is crazier than the Mario & Luigi games. They’re great, though, because they combine isometric puzzle/platforming with turn-based action combat (that description makes sense if you’ve played them) and if there’s a Mario spin-off franchise that needs a new game for Switch, it’s it this.
Ruby & Sapphire may have introduced the world to the third-generation Pokemon, but Pokemon Emerald is the game that perfected it. It was a huge step forward for the series, with sprites getting a lot more detail and even a little more animation to inject a whole new world of life into our favorite creatures. Not to mention the great lineup of new Pokemon. Rayquaza, Salamence, Sceptile and Absol just to name a few. We could be here all day listing them.
Written by Ryan Woodrow on behalf of GLHF†
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