Looking to start or build up your classic Game Boy collection? This budget-friendly list should help you quickly find which games will start you off well without emptying your wallet.
And don’t forget, with the GB/GBC, you don’t necessarily have to have the original hardware to play these cartridges (although, it is fun to pull out the vintage electronics for nostolgia factor) — You can also play these games on aSuper Gameboy on your SNES, a Game Boy Player for a Gamecube, and of course, the many models of the Game Boy Advance. Also, in case you are interested, you can also check out our older guide to the Cheapest GBA Games Worth Your Time (and the rest of the series), which will probably be updated later on.
BTW, keep in mind, these prices are for cartridge-only games as complete copies of Game Boy games come at quite a premium now and typically are reseved for dedicated collectors 🙂 (Prices listed are an average eBay and Amazon prices for US games, including shipping)
Possibly the most timeless portable game of all time, Tetris does not require much of an introduction. While there may be some that will disagree with me, I still consider the Game Boy version of Tetris to be the definitive version — I’m not sure if it’s the pure simplicity of the port or the nostalgia of the audio. However, there should be few debating against Game Boy owners paying just a few dollars for this classic.
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|Super Mario Land Series
Super Mario Land: $7, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins: $8
The Super Mario series took a little while to reach its full potential on the Game Boy. The original Super Mario Land was fun and whimsical, but it wasn’t until the second installment that we saw the series really shine. Both games are still excellent values and are must-haves for portable platforming fans.
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|Wario Land Series
Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land: $5, Wario Land 2: $8, Wario Land 3: $7
Once the Super Mario Land series hit its stride, it essentially transitioned into the Wario Land series. Not only did this portable franchise introduce us to a new anti-hero, but it opened the Mushroom Kingdom to a number of new gameplay mechanics and personality.
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|Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening: $9
If you want a lengthy adventure on the go, I’m sure you’ll find Link’s Awakening to be up to the challenge. Even though the cartridges are in strong supply, the demand for this game (still a Game Boy exclusive) keeps loose cartridges close to the $10 mark. Of course, if you are a Zelda fan at all, this is well worth the price of admission.
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|Kirby’s Dreamland: $5
While it isn’t as deep, challenging, or lengthy as the later installments in the series, Kirby’s debut is still quite a value and a handful of fun. It’s a light and fun adventure, mainly because controlling Kirby is such a joy and the series is a welcome change from traditional platformers from that era.
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|Super RC Pro Am: $3
If you enjoy the thrill of a good racing game, you can’t beat this value. Despite its monochome appearance, Super RC Pro Am holds up surprising well for a racing game. As expected from old-school Rareware, this game has solid graphics in addition to excellent track designs and enough power-ups to keep the replay value and entertainment factor high.
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|Kirby’s Pinball Land: $5
Pinball games make for surprisingly good entertainment on the go, and there isn’t much better than Kirby’s Pinball Land. Revenge of the ‘Gator (see below) offers more solid pinball at a lower price, but Kirby’s Pinball Land offers an extra layer of personality and polish, providing a more satisfying pinball experience.
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|Dr. Mario: $6
The Game Boy has plenty of excellent puzzle games to choose from — many of which are of the falling-block variety. While Dr. Mario falls into this category, it offers a splendid take on the format serves as a nice complement to Tetris for those that enjoy the genre.
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|Bugs Bunny in Crazy Castle Series: $4 each
This charming puzzle platformer series has a rather simple presentation, but has a wonderful difficulty curve that will keep your brain busy for quite a while. These cartridges are in large supply, but are not appreciated nearly enough.
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|Mega Man: $9
If you enjoy old school action platformers, it’s hard not to love the Mega Man series. And even if you’ve played all of the NES incarnations, you still need to pick up the portable installements. The first game, subtitled “Dr. Wily’s Revenge” can still be found for less than $10 and is well worth the price of admission.
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An oddball shooter from Hal Laboratories, Trax isn’t your typical scrolling space shmup. Instead, you proceed at your own pace across a battlefield while inside a dome-shaped tank. The tank can fire in 8 directions, but the interesting control scheme can be slightly disorienting and challenging. However, you are granted a generous amount of power-ups that spread your shot in different ways, so it’s not so bad.
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|Toki Tori: $8
This cute yet entertaining puzzle adventure starts out with a rather simple setup to get your familiar with the basics and eventually gives your little yellow buddy extra abilities and tools to combat the added complexities in the later levels. Each of the levels and their respective tools are carefully designed, so you will need to think carefully and creatively to efficiently accomplish your goal. Now that this little gem is also on WiiWare, it’s getting cheaper on the GBC.
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|Bubble Ghost: $6
This puzzle-y adventure follows a gleeful ghost whose sole charge is to guide a bubble through a danger-filled haunted house. It’s a delicate mission, but your phantasmal friend has a great deal of control over his bubble and can blow it around in 8 different directions. While deceivingly simple, the game is actually quite challenging, requiring patience and planning in order to circumvent the many obstacles you’ll encounter.
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|Solar Striker: $3
This classic arcade-style shooter that’s not too harsh in the difficulty department, Solar Striker was one of the few shoot ’em ups developed solely by Nintendo (the lead designer was Game Boy godfather Gunpei Yokoi). It’s a game of satisfying simplicity, with 6 stages of fast-paced, bullet-dodging action. The graphics aren’t especially impressive, but Solar Striker succeeds as a pretty straightforward classic-style shoot ’em up.
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Other Cheap Favorites
- Bionic Commando Elite Forces: $5 Amazon / eBay
- Contra Operation C: $6 Amazon / eBay
- Contra Alien Wars: $9 Amazon / eBay
- Revenge of the ‘Gator: $3 Amazon / eBay
- Yoshi: $3 Amazon / eBay
- Yoshi’s Cookie: $7 Amazon / eBay
- Uno: $3 Amazon / eBay
- Donkey Kong: $8 Amazon / eBay
- Game and Watch Gallery Series: $5 Amazon / eBay
- Mole Mania: $5 Amazon / eBay
- Dexter’s Laboratory: Robot Rampage: $3 Amazon / eBay
- Donkey Kong Land: $6 Amazon / eBay
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles: Fall of the Foot Clan: $4 Amazon / eBay
- Tennis: $3 Amazon / eBay
- Quarth: $3 Amazon / eBay