Speculation has been rampant on the handheld’s library coming to Switch after an official Nintendo GBA emulator leaked online. This comes after plenty of rumours regarding both GBA and original Game Boy titles making their way onto Nintendo’s online service.
Nintendo Switch Online’s current offering is made up of collections of select NES, SNES, N64, and Sega Genesis titles. And a dive into Nintendo’s Game Boy line feels like the logical next step.
The Game Boy Advance, specifically, is one of the best-selling and most fondly remembered of Nintendo’s pocket-sized consoles. At the time of release, the GBA was celebrated for its amazing games and nearly SNES quality visuals.
Now, nearly 81.5 million units later, it is time for Nintendo to give the GBA its due. So, with Game Boy Advance games on Switch seemingly an inevitability at this point, below are 12 titles that would be must-plays if they were to come to the service.
The GBA (like every other Nintendo handheld) was no stranger to Pokémon games, both mainline and spin-off. However, despite this, Pokémon Emerald is the quintessential Game Boy Advance Pokémon game. Emerald combined the Pokédex of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, fixed a couple of the problems of those two games, and told a surprisingly complex and deep story.
This game was a definitive step up from the past generation of Pokémon titles, sporting a new engine that, in turn, offered up the most beautiful adventure in the series up to that point. With the introduction of possible online multiplayer and worldwide trading, this Emerald re-release could potentially be the definitive version of a game that is already so highly regarded.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Despite being one of the only Zelda games not to be developed in-house at Nintendo, The Minish Cap still feels quintessentially Zelda. After the franchise made the jump to 3D with Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, The Minish Cap harkened back to the series’ top-down 2D roots. One has to remember this was the first top-down Zelda game since the ground-breaking Link to the Past.
The game was developed by Capcom after its success with Oracle of Ages/Seasons on Game Boy Color. The Minish Cap introduced one of the most creative gameplay mechanics in the franchise’s history. With the help of a talking hat named Ezlo, Link could now shrink down and explore parts of the world as a sprite-sized swordsman. Combining that with creative dungeons, story twists, and items, made for an unforgettable handheld Zelda experience. With Breath of the Wild 2 delayed, this could be the perfect thing to hold fans over until next spring.
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
When it came to Castlevania games, the GBA was no slouch. The on-the-go console sported three stellar games in the series, but Aria of Sorrow is widely regarded as the best. Releasing in 2003, this game marked the end of the Game Boy Advance Castlevania trilogy. It is easily the most aesthetically pleasing of the three, featuring stark whites, purples, and blues that really popped on the GBA screen.
Most notably, Aria of Sorrow introduced the Tactical Soul system, which allowed the game’s protagonist to take on the abilities of their enemy. This bevy of acquirable powers made Aria‘s world a joy to battle your way across. And, of course, this added a whole new layer of strategy when taking on the title’s numerous bosses.
The GBA was home to plenty of excellent RPGs. While the console did become the best place to play some re-releases of role-playing classics, Golden Sun was a wholly original Nintendo-developed RPG for the handheld. Developed by Mario Golf studio Camelot, Golden Sun and its sequel were fully-featured adventures that fit in your pocket.
Both Golden Sun games offered an engrossing story, stunning visuals, and a creative djinn capturing mechanic used to bolster your party. The IP has remained fairly quiet in the years since its Game Boy Advance releases, but a release on Switch Online could be a great place to gauge interest in the franchise.
Wario Land 4
Yes, you read that right: Wario Land 4. At one point, Mario’s evil, chubby counterpart had his own series of platformers. Spun off of the handheld Mario Land series, Wario Land offered a different take on a Nintendo platformer. The franchise was much more focused on the acquisition of treasure and exploration than the pinpoint platforming found in the Mario series.
Wario Land 4 was a fantastic entry in the series. Instead of a linear path of levels, the game allowed players to take on any level in any order. Sure, they were ranked in order of difficulty, but if you wanted to go for the hardest challenges the title had to offer right off the bat, you totally could. Wario Land 4 and the series as a whole have seemingly been forgotten in time, so this would be a great place to celebrate them.
Mario vs Donkey Kong
Mario vs Donkey Kong is the definition of charming. This GBA series picked up where the classic Donkey Kong arcade series left off. Serving as a spiritual successor to those classic arcade titles, Mario vs Donkey Kong supplied gamers with these beautiful bite-sized platforming challenges.
The title, at least early on, mostly revolved around guiding Mario to get a key to a level and avoiding Donkey Kong’s various obstacles. However, in typical Nintendo fashion, it rarely came down to simply that.
This is another series that has seemingly been left in the dust by Nintendo. It is one that was fruitful for the company for many years and saw plenty of sequels and spinoffs. So, Nintendo Switch Online could be a fantastic spot for fans to take in this piece of Nintendo history.
The original Game Boy was a proving ground for many of gaming’s biggest and brightest. But Sonic The Hedgehog waited until the GBA to make the jump to Nintendo’s world of handhelds. Sonic Advance was released only a few months after the Game Boy Advance itself but found its contingent of fans instantly.
This was a full Sonic adventure in the palm of your hands. If you were not a Sonic fan, Advance was not going to change your opinion, but if you loved the series, this game was for you. Sonic Advance spawned two sequels, but neither beat the thrill of the original.
Mega Man Battle Network
Another franchise that found success in spin-offs on Game Boy Advance was Mega Man. The Mega Man Zero series found fans in its own right, but here we are talking about Mega Man Battle Network. The Battle Network series traded in the traditional run-and-gun action of Mega Man and traded it in for more RPG trappings.
Battle Network has a bit more of a cult following, but they were excellent RPGs with a unique battle system that combined elements of real-time and turned-based combat. It is yet another franchise that has been lost to time. But on the list of leaked GBA games on the Switch, sure enough, it was there. And if it were to come back, I am sure people would appreciate these games for the hidden gems they are.
Super Mario Advance 4 (Super Mario Bros. 3)
This really came down to either Mario Advance 2 (Super Mario World) or Super Mario Advance 4 (Super Mario Bros 3). The Mario Advance series were fantastic remakes of some of Mario’s best adventures, but on the go for the first time. Advance 4 was the last of the bunch and featured an update of the Mario All-Stars version of Super Mario Bros. 3.
There’s not much else to say here. Mario 3 is widely regarded as one of the best platformers of all time, so being able to play this stunning 32-bit version of this masterpiece on the bus or train was a mind-blowing prospect. Also, a Switch release of this title could be an excellent excuse to run through that game in docked mode. Colours would pop and the music would sound great on a modern-day sound system.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2
The Tony Hawk games on Game Boy Advance were actually fantastic translations of their home console skateboarding counterparts. Developed by Vicarious Visions, the GBA version of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 was incredible. It sported an isometric camera, so it looked a little different from what some may be used to with the Pro Skater series. However, the skating action was just as fun.
It featured every level and mode from the home console versions of the game (except the level editor) and packed it down into this little handheld joy. While it did not feature the licensed soundtrack of its living room big brother, the music did still make you want to throw on your cargo shorts and shred some vert. The GBA version of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 is one of the best of the handheld’s library, full stop.
There are two types of people in the world: those that love Metroid Fusion and those that love Metroid: Zero Mission. There is no wrong answer between the two, but the thing I love about Fusion is that it was a whole new adventure as opposed to a remake. Fusion picked up the story where Super Metroid left off and offered up what would be the last 2D Metroid game for more than 15 years.
And this was a full Metroid game, with SNES-like graphics on a handheld. Yes, it was a little more linear than some of the other games in the franchise. But it is still one of the best in the series. The narrative takes a much bigger focus here than it had in Metroid before. Plus, it came packed with some of the most creative and challenging boss fights the series had ever offered. This is a Metroid game that has not seen the light of day in a long time, so why not bring it back now?
Unlike every other game on this list, nobody outside of Japan has ever gotten to (legally) play Mother 3. This Earthbound follow-up has become the stuff of gaming legends, with rumours of a localized version appearing on a nearly monthly basis. Many consider this game a lost RPG classic, with it developing a large worldwide cult following.
It may seem like a bit of a pipe dream that it would ever make the jump internationally, but what better place to do it than on this Nintendo Switch Online library? If Nintendo wants to continue to sell its online offering, why not pack in one of the most sought-after games of all time?
And there it is. Surely, there are many games that could have made the list, but here are 12 to get you started.
It has not been 100 percent confirmed that Game Boy Advance games are even coming to Nintendo Switch Online, but it certainly looks that way. Soon enough, you will likely be reliving those childhood memories of exploring the Hoenn region in Pokemon Emerald or swinging your sword in The Minish Cap.
And with GBA on the horizon, then it will likely only be a matter of time before Game Boy Color and maybe even Game Cube games make their way to the Switch.