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The 25 best GBA games of all time

Best GBA games
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Following in the footsteps of the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance continued on what made its predecessors so great. You just have to look at the best GBA games list here to see why with some fantastic titles that show off the numerous enhancements of the console. The Game Boy Advance packed greater graphical power, the ability to link up to the GameCube, and fantastic third-party support from the likes of Square, Capcom, Konami, and later, Sega. Not to mention a whole host of stellar exclusives such as The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and Mario Kart: Super Circuit. 

As well as being a more powerful machine that could run portable versions of classic SNES games like A Link to the Past, The GBA was home to a variety of unique games like Drill Dozer, Bokai: The Sun Is In Your Hand, and more. So settle in as we revisit the best GBA games to come to Nintendo's powerful little console. 

25. Double Dragon Advance

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Atlus)

Million’s remake of the classic arcade game is not only one of the best games in the series, but the best brawler on Nintendo’s handheld. While it includes overhauled versions of the original four stages of the arcade hit, it adds four more, greatly expanding the fun in the process. Combat mechanics are also expanded, with Million looking to later games in the series for inspiration and introducing new weapons to spice up the already robust gameplay. As with many scrolling fighters, Double Dragon Advance really comes alive with a second player, but considering the high price of the game nowadays that may be a little difficult to achieve.

24. Gunstar Future Heroes

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Sega)

Treasure's marvelous run-and-gun is as much a homage to classic Sega games of old as it is a revisit of the Mega Drive original. While its combat mechanics have been pared back somewhat, it still manages to offer plenty of tactical action as you switch between your available weapons and shoot your way through numerous levels, taking apart gigantic, often spectacular-looking bosses as you do so. Many of the levels will be instantly familiar to fans of the original game, but you'll find plenty of new sections that reference a number of classic Sega hits, from After Burner to Thunder Blade. The only real criticism is that it’s painfully short with just six levels.

23. Kirby And The Amazing Mirror

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

While Kirby’s original outing on the GBA was an enhanced remake of his first NES adventure, his second was a far more ambitious affair. Traveling through Mirror World is essentially like traversing a gigantic maze and Kirby will often have to call on three other Kirbies (via a cute mobile phone) in order to solve certain puzzles and continue his quest. It’s a neat idea, but it does admittedly work better when you team up with three other human opponents. Mechanically, it’s otherwise just like any other Kirby game, but it’s bolstered by its nods to the Metroidvania genre and some very entertaining mini-games.

22. Sonic Advance

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Sega)

Sega’s hedgehog may have performed heresy by moving over to Nintendo’s handheld in the eyes of certain fans, but everyone else discovered that Sonic had lost none of his trademark speed or flair in the once unthought-of move. Dimps and Sonic Team’s platformer effortlessly recaptures the fast pace and clever level layouts of the earlier Mega Drive games, and there’s a tightness to the stages that aren’t found in the two sequels. Best of all, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose all play differently to each other, so you have plenty of reasons to return once you’ve completed its six zones.

21. Rhythm Tengoku

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Sega)

Nintendo’s last first-party GBA game never reached the west, but it’s an absolute blast to play that requires little knowledge of Japanese to enjoy. Like WarioWare it’s a collection of quirky mini-games with a unique visual style, but the focus of each crazy task is based on keeping your rhythm as much as possible. Mini-games range from punching objects to plucking whiskers from hairy vegetables and using sea animals to jump all the way to the moon. It’s utterly bonkers, but the tightly crafted controls and excellent tunes will cause your feet to tap as much as your fingers.

20. Harvest Moon: Friends Of Mineral Town

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Natsume)

While they’re typically classed as RPGs, the Harvest Moon games are more about resource management and none will test your abilities as much as this one. It's essentially a portable remake of the PlayStation game, Back To Nature and it's a ruddy good one too. You quickly realize that the biggest challenge you face is time itself and it becomes a real task to tend your crops, feed your livestock and still find time to woo the girl of your dreams. A later release called Harvest Moon: More Friends Of Mineral Town also exists, but swaps the lead character for a female one.

19. F-Zero: Maximum Velocity

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Although Nintendo’s console had a number of polygon-based racers in its later years, the games that attempted to replicate the Mode 7 stylings of the SNES fared best. Maximum Velocity is perfect proof of this, wowing gamers on launch with its slick racing and snazzy-looking tracks. While it’s set many years after the original game (meaning no regulars like Captain Falcon and Samurai Goroh) it retains the same mechanics, including progress-based speed boosts and F-Zero’s elimination-based format. It works perfectly and the end result is one of the best racers on the system. Two sequels followed, but both are prohibitively expensive, particularly the Japanese exclusive F-Zero: Climax.

18. Kuru Kuru Kururin

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo’s handheld was a great haven for puzzlers, but few will boil your blood like this maddeningly tricky gem from Eighting. Kururin’s brothers and sisters have gone missing and it’s down to the intrepid duck to leap into his helicopter and navigate some incredibly tricky levels in order to find his missing siblings. Unfortunately, many of the areas Kururin must enter leave little room for his helicopter blades so you need careful timing and deft manipulation of your speed to ensure Kururin doesn’t blunder into nearby walls. Sequels headed to both the GBA and GameCube, but unlike the original, they never left Japan.

17. Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Chapter

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Okay, we’re technically cheating here, but Camelot’s stunning RPGs are so intertwined that they’re essentially two sides of the same coin. While the choices you make in your journey aren’t as impactful as Camelot would have you believe, there’s no denying the richness of the story or the many entertaining characters that you meet. Mechanically it’s excellent too, with combat revolving around the securing of the Pokémon-like Djinn, which you can find via exploration or besting them in battle and then use to enhance the combat prowess of your party. It’s all topped off by some of the finest pixel art to feature in any GBA game.

16. Drill Dozer

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

During the 2000s, Game Freak focused almost exclusively on Pokémon games, but it did find time to turn out this gem of a platformer. Coming across like a stylized manga, Drill Dozer works thanks to a sharp localization, challenging and exotic bosses, and inventive mechanics that revolve around the use of the titular drill that protagonist Jill uses. The GBA’s often forgotten rumble capabilities are cleverly used to highlight the intensity of your drill’s power, while the inventive level design and well-thought-out puzzles ensure you’ll always be finding new ways to get the most out of your hydraulic tool.

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