The ten best Game Boy Advance games of all time

Life advanced is right.

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At the time of its release, the Game Boy Advance was a gigantic leap forward for Nintendo handhelds. The resolution and power in the small console was a big step forward from the Game Boy Color. While it wouldn’t get a back-lit screen until the upgraded SP model later released, many people have countless memories of playing this predecessor to the Nintendo DS. Here are the ten best Game Boy Advance games of all time, ranked alphabetically.

Related: The 5 most valuable Game Boy Color games

The top ten best Game Boy Advance games

Advance Wars

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Advance Wars is not typically the kind of game you would expect Nintendo to make, but this turn-based strategy war game has proven to be popular to this day. To win, you will need to lead your troops through various maps and defeat the opposition’s forces and take the objective. It’s a simple tactical game that Nintendo has shown a willingness to go back to multiple times with re-releases and remakes.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

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Outside of Symphony of the Night, many people consider Aria of Sorrow to be the best Castlevania game. The gameplay is largely in line with classic games in the series aside from the new Tactical Soul system. You can absorb the souls from enemies to gain new abilities. All of these souls affect the way you play the game in a different way, with each utilization being well thought out and helpful

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land

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Nightmare in Dream Land is a remake of Kirby’s Adventure, one of the original titles that introduced the world to the pink puffball. With the jump from NES to the Game Boy Advance the sprite work and art design has been significantly improved. The game also features up to four player cooperative play with each person using a different colored Kirby who can collect their own powers along the way. A few fun mini-games and the debut of Meta Knightmare make it into Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, really filling out this cartridge with plenty of content for Kirby fans.

The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap

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Minish Cap is one of the few Legend of Zelda games not made by Nintendo. With the primary Zelda team focused on console games, Capcom lead development for this GBA game. The main gimmick of this game is shrinking Link down to the size of the minuscule Minish. Outside of that, this is largely what you would expect from a 2D Zelda game. It’s filled with puzzles, exploration, and a story that fully takes advantage of what power the Game Boy Advance can offer. There were quite a few Zelda games on the GBA, but this is the only one that feels like a complete Zelda adventure.

Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga

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While Mario didn’t receive any original Super Mario platformers on the Game Boy Advance, he and his brother Luigi teamed up for an adventure that spawned an RPG series that was very beloved until the end of the Nintendo 3DS. Both brothers’ controls are all assigned to either the A or B button. This felt like the first time these plumbers actually worked together on an adventure, which is a unique trait that this series still holds over the rest of the Mario games. We hold out hope that Nintendo will revive and continue this series at some point after Alpha Dreams’ closure.

Metroid Fusion

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Metroid Fusion is the last classic 2D Metroid game to release before Metroid Dread brought the series back 17 years later. The game is a lot more linear than other 2D titles in the series, putting more of a focus on the story than exploration. Other than that, this is a traditional Metroid game. Solve puzzles, defeat bosses, earn powers, and make Samus look like a badass while doing all of it.

Pokémon Emerald

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Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were the introduction to the third generation of the series, but Emerald was the improved edition of those games and also acted as the finale for the generation. This is the game that introduced 2-on-2 battles in Pokémon games and one of the most popular legendary Pokémon ever, Rayquaza. The introduction of abilities was a big shake up for Pokémon’s competitive scene with the influx of new metas. Any of these games are a good choice to go back to, but we would recommend sticking with Emerald for the absolute best experience.

Sonic Advance

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Sonic Advance has an odd development story for the blue hedgehog, but started a string of very successful and beloved 2D games. Rather than being handled by Sonic Team and Sega, the game was developed by Dimps and published by THQ. While the game is played from a 2D perspective, certain elements were melded in from the Sonic Adventure games like grinding on rails. You can play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose in this first installment, taking advantage of all their different abilities and playstyles.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

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During the time of the Game Boy Advance, it was not uncommon for games to get ports for home consoles and handhelds. However, pretty much 99% of the time, the portable version was a distinct downgrade from its more powerful brother in almost every way. While the Game Boy Advance version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is not as good as the console version, this is one of the better handheld versions of a game ever made. You play this title from an isometric top-down view rather than behind your Skater, and it actually feels pretty dang good for the noticeable difference in power and controls.

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!

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The debut of the WarioWare series brought with it a plethora of fun microgames that are played within seconds before moving on to the next one. Each game has you thinking on your feet and reacting quickly to drive your high score up. While it’s a simple idea, this title spawned a whole series that really has not been touched by any other gaming company. It’s quick, simple fun that is perfect for the Game Boy Advance.