30 Best GBA Games of All Time

GBA games are always in the limelight.

Milan Zagorac
Milan Zagorac
23 Min Read

The Game Boy Advance was a highly expected console at the time. Its release alongside the PlayStation 2 more or less dominated the market, one handheld, the other home console. The GBA has quite a library of games, most of which are still highly praised. 

The best GBA games will include Pokemon and Mario titles, but other franchises as well. The GBA is known for having lots of exclusive titles that were only accessible via a Nintendo handheld (but not all of them) or via a GBA emulator.

The following 30 games are the best to have been released for the GBA. Note that there are many other games worth playing, but you can’t go wrong by starting with these ones.


Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire

Pokemon Sapphire, one of the best GBA games.

Release: 2002
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo/The Pokémon Company 

The Pokemon franchise is simply put, extremely popular. It single-handedly propelled Nintendo’s sales and this is the most sold GBA game, with more than 16 million copies. Like most Pokemon games for handheld devices, it is an RPG.

As with most Pokemon stories, this one puts you in the shoes of May or Brendan and the goal is to collect around 202 Pokemon and defeat the elite four. With a top-down perspective, the orientation should be familiar to those who played early Final Fantasy games or Chrono Trigger.


Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen

Pokemon FireRed is a very popular GBA title.

Release: 2004
Developer: Game Freak 
Publisher: Nintendo/The Pokémon Company

Why not enjoy a remake of one of the most popular Pokemon games, Red and Blue? FireRed and LeafGreen are two of the best GBA games and with good reason. As a remake, it brings the best of the story of its original, released in 1996.

However, given the years between them, much was updated. Many things were improved from the music to the graphics, but the new features were the most notable. The story revolves around a silent boy who embarks on a quest to capture all Pokemon.


Pokémon Emerald

Pokemon Emerald is very popular and one of the best GBA games.

Release: 2004
Developer: Game Freak/Nintendo Software Planning and Development
Publisher: Nintendo/The Pokémon Company

The Pokemon franchise tends to have two or three games with a similar story released simultaneously. The color themes are red, green, and blue. Depending on the game, some colors sell better than others. In this case, the emerald or green one, came “last”.

The gameplay is like all the other Pokemon titles, with a top-down perspective. It is an RPG that is set in the same world as Ruby and Sapphire, but with a different protagonist, once more a boy or a girl. Other than catching Pokemon, the player must also save the world.


Mario Kart Super Circuit

Mario Kart Super Circuit is a great Mario game.

Release: 2001
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo 

Mario Kart games boomed after the first one so it comes as no surprise that the third one in the series performed so well. Mario Kart games bring back levels from Super Mario games and turn them into circuits. The playable characters are the famous ones from the franchise.

The typical game mode is a circuit race that has obstacles. It also contains power-ups, similar to all Mario games. These power-ups give you speed boosts or ways of making your opponents’ race more difficult.


Namco Museum

Namco Museum brings back the greatest Namco hits and is one of the best GBA games.

Release: 2001
Developer: Mass Media Games
Publisher: Namco

Namco Museum is a collection of games that was released for various consoles and devices, containing some of Namco’s greatest hits. This particular version was released for the Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, and the GBA.

The pack contained the following games, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaxian, Galaga, Dig Dug, and Pole Position. These games are legendary and were available for various devices and now, are among the best GBA games. 


Pac-Man Collection 

One of the many pac-man games in Pac-Man collection.

Release: 2001
Developer: Mass Media
Publisher: Namco 

Pac-Man is a legendary character and there are many great games in the series. Namco released this specific pack for the GBA as an exclusive. The games inside, however, are regular Pac-Man games, but optimized for the GBA.

Included titles are Pac-Man, the original title, Pac-Mania, Pac-Attack, and Pac-Man Arrangement. The games themselves were popular Pac-Man titles, but Ms. Pac-Man is missing, and that has been criticized, alongside the inability to save high scores.


Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team

An interesting Pokemon game where you are the Pokemon!

Release: 2005
Developer: Chunsoft
Publisher: Nintendo/The Pokémon Company

Pokemon games were predictable and even though they sold like hotcakes, innovation was necessary to keep the audience on their toes. While it plays like a standard Pokemon RPG, the story is about as different as they could have made it out to be.

Instead of starting as a person on their journey to collect all Pokemon, you start as a Pokemon. You have no recollection of past events and as far as you can gather, you shouldn’t be a Pokemon in the first place. On the route to your humanity, you discover more danger.


Wario Land 4

Wario Land 4 is one of the best GBA games.

Release: 2001
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Publisher: Nintendo 

Wario Land 4 is the fifth game in the series, even though it’s named this way. It follows the character Wario, who is like a negative Mario. He used to be his rival and antagonist in Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. Since then, he has been made into an anti-hero.

Wario Land 4 is a classic platformer. The story revolves around Wario heading into a pyramid to search for lost treasure. He ends up finding more than he bargained for, with a lost princess, and potentially more treasure than he would need. The ending depends on your gameplay prowess.


Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Mario & Luigi are synonymous with Nintendo.

Release: 2003
Developer: AlphaDream
Publisher: Nintendo

Mario and Luigi have to be two of Nintendo’s best characters, the most popular ones after all the Pokemon. This is the third RPG game with Mario as the protagonist, although we get Luigi, as well. Given that you control two characters simultaneously, it’s not a standard RPG.

The story revolves around Mario & Luigi going to a neighboring kingdom of Beanbean, to return Princess Peach’s voice. The gameplay has you using both Mario and Luigi in unique ways to solve puzzles. Given the innovation and uniqueness, this has to be one of the best GBA games.


Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo is a great game, one of the best GBA games.

Release: 2003
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Publisher: Nintendo 

Based somewhat on the eponymous movie, it features characters from the movie, namely Marlin, Nemo, and Dory. Depending on the level, you play as one of these characters, in an interesting action-adventure game.

This game was released for both the GameCube and the GBA. The two versions have different stories but both revolve around the premise of Nemo going to school but getting sidetracked into a dangerous adventure. It is up to him, Dory, and Marlin, to make the best out of it.


The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

Zelda games are always popular and The Minish Cap did not disappoint.

Release: 2004
Developer: Flagship
Publisher: Nintendo 

Zelda games tend to play out similarly and this one is not that different, gameplay-wise. Other than Link’s ability to shrink and navigate various overworld puzzles that way, some new tools are introduced, refreshing the gameplay.

The story revolves around monsters being released around Hyrule and Zelda being turned to stone. Since only children can see Picori people, Link is sent to find the Picori and have them reforge the Picori Blade. Link meets a magical hat named Ezlo, who helps him on this adventure.


Yu-Gi-Oh! The Eternal Duelist Soul 

Yu-Gi-Oh! games are always entertaining to card lovers.

Release: 2001
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

Yu-Gi-Oh! is another popular franchise that needs no introduction. Collecting cards and battling it out with other card collectors is something most children have dabbled with at some point. A digital version of the physical game is what this title is about.

The game features a story that was criticized both at the time and today, for being lacking in some elements. Namely, fans will have a good time with the game, but newcomers might struggle. There isn’t a tutorial and you are simply thrown in the deep end of Exodia.


Golden Sun

Golden Sun is a great RPG and one of the best GBA games.

Release: 2001
Developer: Camelot Software Planning 
Publisher: Nintendo 

RPGs were popular on the GBA and Golden Sun was a new IP at the time, a welcome respite from all the usual storylines and series. It has its own world, called Weyard, which is very similar to our own planet. The world is also governed by the four elements, earth, wind, fire, and water.

The story is centered around four teenage Adepts, people who can use Psynergy, also known as magic. They have to stop the antagonists from bringing back Alchemy to the world, a powerful force, the use of which almost destroyed the world long ago.


Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance never fails to be entertaining.

Release: 2003
Developer: Square 
Publisher: Square/Nintendo 

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is different from other FF games, in the sense that the gameplay, while turn-based, takes a new approach. Other than having to do jobs to advance the stats of your party, you also have to abide by different rules for every battle.

The plot is centered around friends getting pulled into a fantasy world of their own making, by a magic grimoire. They must find themselves (personally) and each other in Ivalice, the fantasy world, and eventually return to the real world.


Metroid Fusion

Metroid Fusion is one of the best GBA games and a great open world title.

Release: 2002
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Publisher: Nintendo 

Metroid is another popular series that Nintendo brought to the world. Like in most Metroid titles, the player takes control of Samus Aran, bounty hunter. It is still an open-world game, with doors and elevators connecting the rooms. It has more linearity and guidance compared to previous Metroid titles.

Samus Aran is sent to a planet, SR388. She is attacked by a parasitic organism, X, that ends up being problematic later in the game. Upon being taken to a medical facility and healed, she has to return to the planet and deal with the infestation. Metroid Fusion is in the talks as one of the best GBA games.


Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

Kingdom Hearts brings back favorite Disney characters and Chain of Memories is a great GBA title.

Release: 2004
Developer: Square Enix/Jupiter 
Publisher: Square Enix

Kingdom Hearts is a combination of a card game and an RPG. RPG elements are experienced outside combat. When you start a battle, you do so by placing cards on the deck, which prompt actions from your party members. Cards are ranked, the higher ranked ones costing more, while also doing more.

This is a direct sequel to the Kingdom Hearts game for the PS2, released in 2002. As such, characters like Sora, the main one, Goofy, and Donald Duck, return. This was a collaboration between Nintendo and Disney, so you will see some popular cartoon characters.


Sonic Advance 

Sonic Advance is a great GBA game.

Release: 2001
Developer: Dimps/Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega/THQ/Infogrames

Sonic the Hedgehog is a known series in the world of platformers, notably for the Sega Genesis. However, Sega was having issues selling their Dreamcast after the launch of the PlayStation 2. They decided to pull out of the hardware industry and focus on making games instead.

Sonic Advance was an effort from two different teams, the external Dimps team and Sega’s own Sonic Team. The game plays like a classic Sonic platformer, where Sonic rushes through levels, trying to stop Dr. Eggman. It is one of the best GBA games, despite its Sega origins.


Kirby & the Amazing Mirror

Kirby games are typically entertaining and cheerful. The Amazing Mirror is one of the best GBA games.

Release: 2004
Developer: HAL Laboratory/Flagship/Dimps
Publisher: Nintendo

Kirby was at this point a very successful franchise. This was the seventh game in the series, developed by three studios. It takes after a different franchise, namely Metroid, adopting an open-world exploration style.

This game sees Kirby exploring a vast world, most of the zones being open to you. However, you should be aware that not all zones have the same enemies and that some parts will be inaccessible until you get power-ups. It is a great experience for those who like Metroid games.


Yu-Gi-Oh! Worldwide Edition: Stairway to the Destined Duel

Another great Yu-Gi-Oh! game for the GBA.

Release: 2003
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami 

This title is a bit different from the previous Yu-Gi-Oh! title on the list. The gameplay is somewhat similar, with you having to defeat multiple opponents using your deck. However, the story has more of a narrative this time, explaining some things along the way.

You can select one out of three decks at the start, each having forty cards. Following the standard rules, you battle in the Pyramid. You have to face ghouls controlled by the antagonist of the game, Marik Ishtar. Like the previous version, the focus is primarily on the gameplay.


Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku

Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku is a very fun game for the GBA.

Release: 2002
Developer: Webfoot Technologies 
Publisher: Infogrames

Dragon Ball Z is one of the most popular franchises worldwide. This is the first in a series of games, with this title being considered as one of the best Gameboy Advance games, this one focusing solely on Goku as a playable character. The basic gameplay elements are action-adventure, with one button for striking and another for energy attacks.

The story follows Goku up until the destruction of Namek, which includes battling Frieza as a Super Saiyan. Energy attacks use up the energy bar. You can cycle the energy attacks and adapt them to your opponent. The sequels add more characters and advance the story.


Mario vs. Donkey Kong 

Mario and Donkey Kong meet again.

Release: 2004
Developer: Nintendo Software Technology 
Publisher: Nintendo 

Both Mario and Donkey Kong are successful series and this one combines them both for an interesting puzzle-based platformer experience. It is a candidate for being one of the best GBA games. Mario has a new arsenal of moves to solve various puzzle levels.

From a triple jump to a handstand, Mario has to navigate challenges of all types to catch Donkey Kong. He stole Mario’s toys because he wanted one but they were all sold out. Mario chases him all over the fictional world and eventually, they battle it out. 


Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire 

A Pokemon pinball game, what is not to love?!

Release: 2003
Developer: Jupiter
Publisher: Nintendo/The Pokémon Company

Pinball games might not have sold well on all platforms, but when you are a Pokemon title and are being sold on the GBA, you outsell other games. Based on the extremely popular Ruby & Sapphire version, this title sold well for a pinball game.

The gameplay is what you would come to expect from a pinball title, moving a ball around to score points. The ball is now a Poke Ball and you do have to catch Pokemon in order to complete the Pokedex. One of the best GBA games, Pokemon Pinball was a surprise.


The Incredibles

Mr. Incredible doing a front flip in The Incredibles for the GBA.

Release: 2004
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
Publisher: THQ

The Incredibles was a great animated movie and as you expect from a pairing of this scale, the game also did well. Based on the eponymous movie, it follows the Incredibles family as they navigate their ordinary and not-so-ordinary lives.

This is an action-adventure title with multiple playable characters. Voiceovers from the movie can be heard at certain moments in the game. While the game wasn’t always met with critical success, it did much better with the gaming community.


Mega Man Battle Network 4: Red Sun and Blue Moon 

The Mega Man Battle Network series take place in the real and virtual worlds.

Release: 2003
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 2
Publisher: Capcom

The Battle Network series of Mega Man games were interesting because they made the RPG genre a bit livelier. While still a tactical real-time combat RPG, the elements outside the combat are interesting and refreshing.

You play as two characters, Lan Hikari in the real world and MegaMan.EXE on the NET. The plot is complicated and has you completing many battles and taking care of resources, such as Mega Man’s mood. With permanent debuffs, you might want to watch the Emotion Window.


Frogger’s Adventures: The Temple of the Frog 

Frogger in Frogger's Adventures: the Temple of the Frog.

Release: 2001
Developer: Konami Software Shanghai 
Publisher: Konami 

Frogger games have been known for their frustrating levels and puzzles. Time-based and with some luck, you can pass some levels, while others take a methodical approach and much repetition. 

The Temple of the Frog puts Frogger in the role of the protagonist, rescuing his friends and his swamp from the evil Mr. D. There are fifteen levels total, but only five bosses. A classic Frogger experience, this is one of the best GBA games.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was a popular book, movie and video game.

Release: 2002
Developer: Eurocom
Publisher: Electronic Arts

The Harry Potter franchise is beyond popular and it comes as no surprise that one of the multiple Harry Potter titles made the list.

The GBA version had a lot of cut content to fit the console’s hardware requirements but was a great game despite that.


Golden Sun: The Lost Age

Golden Sun: The Lost Age is a great sequel and one of the best GBA games.

Release: 2002
Developer: Camelot Software Planning 
Publisher: Nintendo

The Lost Age continues the story of its predecessor, with somewhat different characters, still four of them.

The game has many random encounters and lots of battles for you to complete in a traditional RPG experience.


Sonic Advance 2

Sonic Advance 2 is another great Sonic game for the GBA.

Release: 2002
Developer: Dimps/Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega/THQ/Infogrames

Sonic Advance 2 is the second Sonic game for the GBA. Sonic has to save his friends from Dr. Eggman, as he often does.

Upon completing some levels and beating the level’s boss, additional characters, Sonic’s friends, can be unlocked.


F-Zero: Maximum Velocity

F-Zero Maximum Velocity is a fun racing game.

Release: 2001
Developer: NDCube
Publisher: Nintendo 

A racing game other than Mario Kart had to make the list. Maximum Velocity follows up on the SNES F-Zero.

Another racing title, you can expect five-lap circuit races with challenges that are not found in other racing games.


Spyro: Season of Ice

Spyro: Seasons of Ice is a fun platformer with various challenges.

Release: 2001
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Publisher: Universal Interactive Studios

Seasons of Ice is a platformer that puts Spyro in danger while he races to save his friends.

As a platformer, it had innovative gameplay elements, making it one of the best GBA games. 


The Game Boy Advance has many great titles, these being but some of them, deemed the best GBA games by the author. The GBA is still popular and its library gets attention even after two decades.

Whether by using an emulator, or by purchasing used originals, or by getting a GBA Switch pack from Nintendo, there are ways of playing these classics. Relive the glory days of handheld gaming with the best Game Boy Advance games.

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With over 1650 hours of Apex Legends, and 2100 of League of Legends, Milan is an avid gamer. When he's not indoors, he climbs mountains or does urban acrobatics. Add a passion for writing to the mix and you get a hopefully interesting broth.
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