The 7 Absolute Best Puzzle Games for the Game Boy Color

Gameboy Color

The 7 Absolute Best Puzzle Games for the Game Boy Color

When you think of portable handheld gaming, you are bound to think of hardware like the Nintendo Switch or PlayStation Vita. Even the Steam Deck is likely to spring to mind in today’s world around any mention of portable gaming, but the real hardware beginning of this segment goes all the way back to the Game Boy.

Released in 1998, the Game Boy Color would succeed the 1989 original Game Boy after developers began asking Nintendo for updated hardware to build newer games. Among those games were the usual suspects like Mario, Donkey Kong, and Kirby, but also a wonderful assortment of puzzle games perfect for playing on the go. 

What is a Puzzle Game? 

A puzzle game can be many things but typically and unsurprisingly, it requires some type of puzzle-solving. This genre is full of different types of games and is very broadly put together so it’s fair to say that many different games can fit under the puzzle umbrella. Those games could include a game like Tetris where players have to maneuver and manipulate the environment of the game in real-time. On the other hand, a puzzle game might be a hidden object game or a physics-type game so there’s no one clear definition of what a puzzle game is, only that many types exist. 

Was the Game Boy Color Known for Puzzle Games? 

The Game Boy Color was known for all types of games including the puzzle game genre. With Tetris constantly at the top of every best-seller list for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, there was a heavy puzzle presence everywhere you turned. However, there were also many other popular genres for the Game Boy Color, or GBC for short, including a variety of Pokemon games, Mario, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Legend of Zelda, and more. It’s safe to say that while the GBC wasn’t especially known for puzzle games, they played an important role in its strong sales. 

#7: Tetris

Originally released for the original Game Boy in 1989, Tetris would quickly become one of the top-selling games for both the Game Boy and Game Boy Color.

This monochrome-based title plays superbly on the Game Boy Color which Nintendo smartly made backward compatible with original Game Boy games. The premise of Tetris is fairly simple as “blocks” composed of four squares fall from the top of a playing field and your goal is to manipulate those objects and create a horizontal line of blocks with no gaps. 

To do so, you have the ability to rotate these objects by 90 degrees in an attempt to get them to fit into each other and make a solid horizontal line. As you score higher and higher in the game, the blocks fall faster and the game ends when you are unable to remove any more horizontal lines and the blocks extend beyond the top of the playing field. 

To say Tetris is a classic would be dismissing its impact on the game industry as a whole as it helped drive sales of the Game Boy year after year. More than 35 million copies were sold between both the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. 

Tetris is the ultimate classic!

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09/28/2023 02:39 pm GMT

Another wonderfully iconic Game Boy title, emDr. Mario/em is a puzzle-based video game released in 1990 for both the Game Boy and Nintendo Entertainment System.

The core of the game is a falling block puzzle game where your objective as the player is to destroy all of the viruses appearing on the screen. To make all of these viruses go away, you have to utilize colored vitamin capsules that are thrown into the playing field by emDr. Mario/em. Yes, this is the very same Mario who has taken a break from rescuing Toad or Princess Peach

Somewhat similar to Tetris, when the colors of the vitamin capsules and the virus sequentially touch four in a row, they disappear from the playing field. The overall objective of the game is to eliminate all of the viruses on screen and move on to the next level where you will try again. emDr. Mario/em ends when the viruses fill up enough of the screen so as to block the addition of any more vitamin capsules. The game was a massive success for the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color selling more than 5.3 million titles throughout its lifecycle. 

emDr. Mario/em is available as a renewed Game Boy title on Amazon here

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Dr. Mario is one of the OG Mario games!

#5: Bust-A-Move 4

Offering up more than 640 total levels, Bust-A-Move 4 (aka Puzzle Bobble 4) was a fantastic puzzle game and the third sequel Bust-A-Move franchise.

There are a few different modes of which the puzzle mode is the most prominent. Within puzzle mode, you have the arcade style of gameplay which includes three different difficulty modes as you go through level A-Z. Each letter consists of five different levels per letter, and once you beat those five stages, you move on to the next level all the way through letter Z. 

Story mode asks you to help the characters seal a mystical playing card by playing and beating other cards until you are able to seal all of the cards away in the “Arcana.” There are around five different characters you can play plus two non-playable characters that appear throughout the different puzzle mode games, which helps change things up a bit. 

Overall, the gameplay is incredibly fun, and with so many different levels to play, you can be occupied for hours and hours before you even realize you still have hundreds of levels left to beat.

#4: Denki Blocks!

Released for the Game Boy Color in 2001, Denki Blocks! was a hugely fun puzzle game that focused on maneuvering different color blocks.

The goal is to work around the grid that compromises the game board and put together all of the game blocks. Every move is a single step and when each of the blocks, called a “gumblock,” collide, they become a “clump,” and the goal is to join as many of these clumps together until there are no blocks of the winning color left.

If it sounds easy, you’d be mistaken as the game’s difficulty increases with every different level and there is plenty of puzzle-solving required to make sure you’re able to combine each color without using too much time.

The cutesy art style was right at home on the Game Boy Color with fun graphics and the characters showing excitement every time the player is able to achieve success. Of course, trying to make a square with four different pieces might sound easy, but rest assured you’ll be hitting the reset button again and again. 

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Originally released as a puzzle computer game set for PC computers, Microsoft would bring a copy of its emMicrosoft Puzzle Collection/em to Game Boy Color and it made for a whole lot of portable fun.

Taking the best of the game and making it portable, there were around six total games in all across hundreds of levels plus three different difficulty settings.  

Jewel Chase asked you to steal as much “loot” before the computer-controlled robber was able to steal more than you on a gameboard made up of just four different colors. Fringer asked you to untie all of the knots on screen in a stage before your time ran out signaling the end of the game. 

Today, these puzzle games might seem simplified compared to more modern puzzle packs, but back when it was released for the Game Boy Color in 2000, it was a huge coup for puzzle fans. How could any Game Boy Color fan say not to a game called Rat Poker where you had to line up rats of different colors until you were able to line them up in a specific pattern? 

emMicrosoft Puzzle Collection Entertainment Pack/em is available from Amazon right here

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No matter how hard you try on Nintendo consoles, Pokémon is everywhere and for all of the right reasons. As one of the best-selling franchises in video game history, the release of emPokémon Puzzle Challenge/em on the Game Boy Color felt just right.

Unsurprisingly, only characters from the Pokémon universe appear in the game such as Pikachu, Chikorita, Pichu, Cyndaquil, and more appear as your “heroes.”

Overall, the gameplay was heavily focused on collecting Pokémon by doing battle against trailers in an effort to unlock new Pokémon that could be used as part of the game. As is the case with most puzzle games, the goal was to achieve a goal or high score without allowing your computer or player-controlled opponent to win. Three different game modes were available including single-player, training, and multiplayer. 

Within those game modes, you had a Marathon mode which kept the game going until one player lost, or a challenge mode against another player. The Time Zone gameplay mode asked players to try and hit a high score before time ran out. Overall, emPokémon Puzzle Challenge/em had multiple methods of play and there was enough variety to keep players coming back to the Game Boy Color as it’s often regarded as one of the best games for the platform of all time. 

Pick up emPokémon Puzzle Challenge/em for the Game Boy Color on Amazon here

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It’s only right on a list of the best puzzle games for the Game Boy Color that a Tetris game takes the top spot, and this time around it’s a game native to the handheld console. As the 31st best-selling Game Boy and Game Boy Color game of all time, emTetris DX/em moved more than 1.8 million units after its 1998 release. 

Something of a re-release of the original Tetris and offering backward compatibility with the original Game Boy, the game was developed by Nintendo as was its predecessor. To help differentiate from the original, emTetris DX/em extended the feature set by offering three different player profiles for families sharing a console as well as high scores that are saved regardless of battery life. A new single-player mode competed against the CPU while the new “Ultra Mode” asked players to try and score as many points as possible within three minutes. 

The most fun version of the game was dubbed “40 Lines” and asked the player to clear 40 different Tetris lines as fast as possible. Building on the game’s already huge fanbase was easy, so it’s no surprise that this Game Boy Color game takes the top spot as the absolute best puzzle game for the console. 

Grab your copy of emTetris DX/em for the Game Boy Color from Amazon here

Final Thoughts

The Game Boy Color had to fight out of the shadow of the original Game Boy but did so with some incredible gaming titles, puzzle games among them. While few games achieved the popularity of the original Tetris, there are so many excellent puzzle games for the console which is a testament to the strength of the genre.

The 7 Absolute Best Puzzle Games for the Game Boy Color FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How is the Game Boy Color different from the original Game Boy?

Unlike the original Game Boy’s monochrome screen, the Game Boy Color was released with a color screen and slightly upgraded processor enabling more powerful titles.

Can the Game Boy Color play the same games as the original Game Boy?

Yes, the Game Boy Color was famously known for its backward compatibility with all titles from the original Game Boy. 

What was the best-selling Game Boy Color game of all time?

The best-selling games of all time for the Game Boy Color are the Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal games which, when combined, sold more than 29.4 million copies after their release in November 1999. 

When was the Game Boy Color released?

The Game Boy Color was released in North America on November 18, 1998, and would stay on store shelves until March 2003, when Nintendo canceled its release. 

What console replaced the Game Boy Color?

The Game Boy Advance was the successor to the Game Boy Color and was released on March 21, 2001, in North America and would go on to sell more than 81 million units. 

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