Game Boy games we’d like to see on Switch (that could actually happen)
With rumours of Game Boy and Game Boy Color games coming to Nintendo’s Online service, we thought it prudent, in the event of that coming to pass, to go through the list of 1000+ Game Boy games and figure out what could actually come to the service.
We’ve immediately scrubbed Pokemon, Tetris, and licenced games from the list. While Pokemon games were on the 3DS Virtual Console, they were paid versions, and we don’t think they’d be given away for free. Tetris is basically a licenced game, and there’s already the magnificent Tetris 99 on the service as well. Licensed games are a minefield of different companies who want to get paid and that’s just asking for trouble, and so far, nothing on NSO in the NES and SNES library is licensed.
Here’s what we came up with.
The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening/DX, Oracle of Ages/ Oracle of Seasons
While Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask were getting the lion-share of attention in the early 2000s, three portable Zelda games were punching above their weight. Link’s Awakening, we all know, it even got remade on the Switch in 2019 – and you are probably better off playing that one.
However, the Capcom developed Oracle of Ages and Seasons are outstanding and have some of the most creative Zelda puzzles. Oracle of Ages has you travelling through two time periods, affecting the past to change the future. Seasons has you manipulating the time of the year to advance where the weather is more fortuitous,
Both games are interconnected as well. If you finish one, you can get a password to start the other and have it act as a semi-sequel to whatever game you just finished. You can also get passwords to bring items back into the original game. This and its Game Link Cable features could be much easier to do in 2021.
Donkey Kong might have the most boring name, but perhaps you’ve heard of Donkey Kong ’94. This game is simply amazing, and while the first appearance might seem like just a Donkey Kong port on the Game Boy it’s so much more.
DK94 is almost a sequel to the original Donkey Kong arcade game. While the first four levels are just that game, the rest plays out very differently. You still control Mario, and you still have to get Pauline from Donkey Kong eventually, but the levels are more in-depth; there are items to hold and traps to overcome. Mario also can take a hit, fall further, climb ropes and even swim. DK94 brings the best of Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr and other Mario platformers. If we get this one, do yourself a favour and check it out. It’s Donkey Kong’s (the character, not this games, I’m not that old yet).
Donkey Kong Land series / Country
Donkey Kong’s arcade-style offerings are great, but Rare’s Donkey Kong Country series is where the great ape’s popularity really (barrel) blasted off. The first three Donkey Kong Country games are already on the NSO service under the SNES app, but did you know that not only did the first game get a surprisingly good Game Boy Color port, but each of the three games also got Game Boy sequels?
Enter the Donkey Kong Land series, three games for the Game Boy that, frankly, don’t get the love and attention they deserve. Each game has its own unique enemies, and all new levels and layouts that, while reminiscent of their SNES counterparts, are optimised for the handheld’s screen and great fun to play.
Super Mario Land / Wario Land series
Alright, so why are all the Mario Land and Wario Land games all together on this list? It’s somewhat hard to explain; what starts as a quaint but very different Mario game slowly morphs across Mario Land, Mario Land 2, and then Wario Land – which of course, is Mario Land 3. From there, the games are entirely Wario titles and take on their own identity. The original Mario Land feels off, and while Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins is fantastic – it also is a little off in its feeling as a Mario title. It makes sense then that the next time isn’t Mario at all, but instead Wario. From there, the Wario Land games grew into their own thing across two more games.
All of the above games are worth checking out, but the weird feeling the Mario games had on the Game boy is much more suited to Wario.
Game & Watch Gallery (Game Boy Gallery in Australia)
When I was a kid, the Game & Watch Gallery games were my window into Nintendo’s past, “oh, old Nintendo games,” I said. Now Game Boy games are that too many others, the fact many will see Game Boy games as “oh old Nintendo games” pains me to even think about. But it’s good news because despite this being an old Nintendo game featuring older Nintendo games – they all still hold up. If you least appreciate them for what they were.
Any of the Game & Watch collections offers Game & Watch games as they were on original hardware or improved with at the time, modern graphics, sound and gameplay changes. The Game & Watch Gallery games are not the first examples of remakes or revamps but certainly would have inspired many.
Kirby’s Dream Land series / Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble
The Game Boy is where Kirby’s puff-ball adventures began, with the release of the wonderful Kirby’s Dream Land. This iteration of Kirby was very much in the formative stage — there’s no Copy Abilities here — but a lot of the series’ key defining features, aesthetics, and enemies were brought to life in this first outing on the Game Boy.
Kirby would have a few more games on the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, such as Kirby’s Dream Land 2 and Kirby’s Block Ball, but perhaps none were quite as unique and interesting as Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble. Here, you controlled a very rolly Kirby using an accelerometer in the Game Boy Color cart, which could certainly be an interesting mechanic to emulate on the Switch — especially since it never got a release on the Virtual Console on any platform.
Mario Tennis / Mario Golf
There’s a reason why Mario Golf and Tennis games always get compared to the Game Boy originals – it’s because they’re damn good. While they lack the flash and over-the-top acrobatics we see in the newer games, their tight mechanics and in-depth story mores are peak Camelot.
You see, before they were removed or a glorified tutorial, the story mode in these games had heart, had a purpose – and a lot of dialogue. Alright, so maybe that last thing wasn’t so good. These games also had multiplayer, which was missing in the 3DS Virtual Console release. Perhaps we might be able to see this happen on the Switch.
Tetris might be the most known Game Boy game, which also makes it the most known puzzler. The console had several other puzzlers, some of which made their debut on the Game Boy.
While the Switch has hundreds of Picross games now, and the puzzle genre is super popular, it wasn’t always the case. When Nintendo released Mario’s Picross, there wasn’t a follow-up released in the west until the Nintendo DS. While it was released on the 3DS Virtual Console, it’s time for Mario’s Picross to shine on a bigger screen.
Produced by the little known game developer Shigeru Miyamoto, Mole Mania is another puzzle game often forgotten on the Game Boy. So why haven’t you heard of Mole Mania? Because it was released just after some other game called Pokémon in Japan. In the west, the Game Boy was almost on life support as Pokémon hadn’t taken off. The Game Boy was going through a bit of a lull.
Mole Mania got a release on the 3DS Virtual Console, so it’s been available since its original release, but it needs mentioning again. It’s a fun puzzler with a great soundtrack, and it’s possibly one of the few times a Miyamoto led game bombed.
Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters
Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters is a sequel to the NES original. While that game had a super hard difficulty and some fine at the time, but now ancient, gameplay issues, the Game Boy sequel fixed a lot of them. While it might be a little easier, Kid Icarus here on the Game Boy is still quite a challenge and something the Switch emulators rewind functionality could even things out a bit. The soundtrack as well for this one pushes that little tiny sound chip the Game Boy has to the max.
Wildcard: Super R.C. Pro-Am
While the Nintendo Switch Online service might not have all the games everyone wants, the service’s amount of deep-cuts is pretty astounding. These are games not many remember, left in the past without an official way to play them in the modern era.
One of these games is Super R.C. Pro-Am, while the NES version got another revive in Rare Replay on Xbox – this Game Boy version hasn’t seen a rerelease – ever. Not even on Virtual Console. So while it could get stuck in the whole Microsoft owns Rare thing, this million-seller could see the light once again. Plus, if we get this, who knows what other Rareware era games could come.
Game not listed here? It’s not because we hate it or don’t think it’ll happen – there’s just so many good Game Boy games and really we could do 10 articles like this. If we forgot your favourite, let everyone know it in the comments.
Oliver Brandt and Daniel Vuckovic contributed to this article.