Given The Big N’s acclaimed history when it comes video-gaming gold, it was only a matter of time before the red brand added more than just their NES and SNES slam-dunks to their Switch Online scoreboard. And though not every title on there is a certified three-pointer, that doesn’t stop this retro-loving rascal from dreaming…
Currently, rumours abound of Ninty’s intentions to lean heavily on the Switch’s penchant for portability by adding original Game Boy classics to their online subscription service – a move that has many gaming geeks like you and me moussing at the mouth (a foul image that I can only apologise for at this stage) and reaching for their link cables and weird magnification-light doodads.
But where the Game Boy barrelled through batteries and made low-light gameplay a game over all of its own, the Nintendo Switch – whichever version you’re rocking – is ready and willing to bring some bleepy-blooping blinders back to life for a whole new generation to enjoy.
But what will the titles be? What must Nintendo include if they want their Game Boy back-catalogue to boom? Let’s count those cartridge-based critters down, shall we?
Kirby’s Dream Land (1992)
Nowadays, despite the odd second-rate solo outing here and there, Kirby is best known for copying the powers of other competitors in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but things weren’t always this way. He was, in his initial Game Boy outing, quite the show stealer.
Quick and easy to pick up, but deceivingly deep for the more initiated, this was the way to put a recurring video game character on the map. Fun is at the very core of HAL’s seminal Game Boy outing, and I can guarantee you’ll be humming the soundtrack long after you’re popped your Switch in sleep mode.
Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (1998)
Getting to switch between multiple characters is commonplace in this day and age – from GTA to Final Fantasy VII Remake , everyone’s getting the drop on the swap. But back in humble 1998, being able to alternate between the eponymous Goemon and his buddies Sasuke and Ebisumaru was something to behold.
But that doesn’t justify its place on this list: its expansive overworld, intense battling system and ass-kicking minigames do. Akin to The Legend of Zelda titles of old, but boasting quintessential Japanese humour and rhythms, this is something a lot of western gamers should definitely check out for something a bit different to the norm. Let’s go, man… (geddit? Go man… Goemon… never mind)
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (1993)
Forget that bloody red-wearing wet wipe Mario; Wario was the undisputed prince of platforming on the Game Boy, and Wario Land is arguably one of the best games of the entire 90s. It’s actually a shame Wario only gets to rock his microgames these days!
Reworking the mechanics of the Mario mainstream titles to better fit the Game Boy’s screen size, something about Wario’s first solo outing just felt right. Far more devilish than the tradition Mazza masterpieces and donning a decent sense of humour to boot, you really must make this your first stop for Game Boy goodness.
Harvest Moon GB (1997)
In a post-Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ world, the charming, relaxed gameplay of Harvest Moon suits the Switch’s unique platform perfectly: do some farm chores on the commute? Sure thing. Win over the animals’ hearts whilst waiting for the pizza to arrive? Yessir.
And though, compared to later iterations of the game, the Game Boy version had to trim down on certain inclusions, this is still a stress-free frolic to while away the minutes and hours. It’s thoroughly charming even today, and farming will always be good, honest work.
If you’ve heard of no other title from this list – and if you haven’t, I really must question your motives for clicking such a specific article! – this one will be all too familiar. But don’t discount the block-based, brain-busting bonanza just because you’ve played countless other counterfeit copies: this mutha is the real deal.
The music. The clever graphical design. The perfect speed and difficult curves. Where Tetris may have found fault over the years by messing with the formula, this is legitimately a flawless puzzling experience. It was the fuel that rocketed the Game Boy to the moon, and now it can be enjoyed / despised all. over. again.
Get it in my VEINS.
Final Fantasy Adventure (1991)
If Goemon is too Japanirific for you but you want to experience something Legend of Zelda-y from the Game Boy library, you could do a whole lot worse than Final Fantasy Adventure. Take the best bits of Link’s adventuring and smash them together with some sincerely steep RPG elements, and you’re getting close to this portable plunge.
For fans of the series, there’s chocobos and AI buddies to go gallivanting with which, when combined with the game’s puzzles and pretty sizeable map, makes for a must-have in any Switch owner’s save files.
Donkey Kong (1994)
Whilst Tetris is more renowned and more closely associated with the Game Boy, Donkey Kong pays homage to the Mario games that came before and the arcade roots that brought both main characters to the dance in the first place.
And don’t let the title fool you here: this is a Mario game. But it’s an absolute masterclass in puzzle-platforming that genuinely stills holds up, even against its more contemporary contenders. Combining a perfect control scheme, tantalising difficulty arc and charming audio-visual interplay, there is no better Game Boy game than this – and I’ll lob barrels at any Donkey who doesn’t agree!
Does the future of Nintendo hold a Game Boy in its hands and, if so, what are you most looking forward to revisiting or playing for the very first time? Sound off in the comments, or go and grab a Switch Online membership so you can check out the NES and SNES selection whilst you wait.
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