The Game Boy Color (GBC) release in 1998 introduced a new world of gaming possibilities. Its vibrant colors and improved graphics allowed players to experience games in an entirely new way — especially action games. The console featured interchangeable color cartridges and built-in rechargeable batteries that brought endless hours of play.
Today, we have the Nintendo Switch, perhaps the best-ever portable gaming device, but there’s something special about the classic Game Boy Color games that remain as popular as they were back in the day. Nintendo saw the Game Boy Color as the perfect opportunity to open the doors for classic Nintendo franchises into the modern age – and it certainly did.
No doubt, the gaming experience improved, but what stood out was the extensive library of fantastic games available. Among these, the action genre was particularly well represented. The Game Boy Color had everything from classic Mario platformers to thrilling RPGs.
Here’s an in-depth look at some of the best Game Boy Color action games ever created.
What are Color Action Games?
Action games require quick reflexes, good hand-eye coordination, and strategic thinking. They can take the form of platformers, fighting games, RPGs, or even shooters. Adding color to the mix was an innovative way for game developers to enhance the visual appeal of their action games, thus the name color action games.
As such, color action games were often more eye-catching and immersive than the monochrome classics. Games in this genre often rely on vibrant levels and intense battles to immerse players in the story. Likable characters, intense boss fights, and well-developed storylines are all part of the appeal.
Was the Game Boy Color Known for its Color Action Games?
The Game Boy Color had a collection of 576 color games released during its lifetime. Action games were among the most popular genres available. However, they were not the most prolific. Puzzle and strategy games made up a large portion of the titles released for this system.
Many classic franchises made their debut on the system and continue to be popular today. Some of the most popular action games released on the Game Boy Color were original titles that weren’t part of an existing franchise. These games took advantage of the vibrant color palette to create innovative and immersive worlds.
The 7 Best Game Boy Color Action Games of All Time
Below are some of the best Game Boy Color action games of all time based on user ratings from Nintendolife.
7. Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel
Released in 2000, Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel took the classic Metal Gear Solid formula and turned it into an intense color action game. It featured the same intense stealth-action gameplay but with more colorful and vibrant graphics.
The game follows Solid Snake as he is sent to investigate a suspicious group attempting to develop a weapon of mass destruction. To do this, Snake must use his stealth and combat skills to infiltrate their base and uncover the truth.
The mercenary group called “Black Chamber” are the game’s main antagonist. As Snake, you must battle your way to victory to stop their nefarious plans. What awaits Solid Snake is an action-packed adventure that takes full advantage of the Game Boy Color’s color palette.
Unlike other titles in the Metal Gear Solid franchise, Ghost Babel focuses heavily on intense action-oriented gameplay. It features more intense boss battles, varied environments, and an exciting storyline that keeps players engaged throughout the game. Each level has its unique challenge, and the game is fun to play even today.
Players can acquire numerous weapons and use them to their advantage. The soundtrack is also top-notch, adding to the tension of the game. The plot furthers the Metal Gear Solid storyline and reveals secrets about Snake’s past.
6. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
The Legend of Zelda series stands out as an iconic franchise in gaming history. The Game Boy Color entry, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, is one of the best action-based games ever. The world of Holodrum serves as the backdrop for this classic adventure.
Link must save the Oracle of Ages from the clutches of Veran. It is up to him to traverse the land and collect the necessary artifacts to restore balance to the world. To do this, Link must use the Harp of Ages to travel between the past and present. Players will also use items like bombs and boomerangs as they battle enemies, utilize environmental elements, and solve puzzles.
The gameplay is classic Zelda action that has stood the test of time. Fans of the series will find it familiar yet fresh with its new characters, environments, and story. The game also features an expansive over-world filled with dungeons, secrets, and enemies to fight.
Oracle of Ages is an essential title for any fan of the Zelda series and one of the best Game Boy Color titles available. Its classic action gameplay, engaging story, and the expansive world make it unforgettable. It’s sure to please fans both young and old. Do yourself a favor and experience the adventure of the Oracle of Ages.
5. Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior’s Dream
The Game Boy Color was home to many classic fighting games, but none were as good as Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams. Originally released in 1995, Street Fighter Alpha was the first Street Fighter game to feature 3D visuals.
The Game Boy Color version, released in 2000, is a port of the original game but with its unique twists. It boasts vibrant colors and detailed sprite work that make it look great on the small screen. The game also retains the arcade version’s classic moves and characters.
Players can choose from eight characters and battle it out in one-on-one duels. The fighting mechanics are simple yet deep, with various combos and techniques to master. There are also multiple modes to keep things interesting, including a Training mode for rookies and an Adventure mode for those looking for a bit more challenge.
Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams is a classic fighting game with enough content to keep players coming back. Its excellent graphics and solid gameplay are its best selling points. It’s sure to please fans of the series looking for a portable version of Street Fighter Alpha.
- First game in the Alpha Series
- Inspired by "Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie"
- Anime-style art
- Ten playable characters and three bosses to defeat
- new fighting moves such as Darkstalkers
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Released in 2002 for the Game Boy Color, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets follows Harry’s journey as he uncovers the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets.
Harry must search Hogwarts and its surrounding areas while avoiding obstacles and battling enemies. He can also cast spells, brew potions, and collect items to help him progress through the game. The game includes many iconic moments from the book series and a unique storyline exclusive to this game.
The 2-D journey to Hogwarts is an iconic Game Boy Color experience that no fan of the series should miss. The combination of exploration, spell-casting, and enemy battling create a captivating journey that imitates JK Rowling’s magic. Nothing compares to the charm and originality of this classic adventure.
Harry must unlock the mysteries of Hogwarts while avoiding danger, and this is an adventure every Potter fan should take. Its visuals stand out. The graphics are vibrant and colorful despite being on a tiny Game Boy Color screen.
The combination of exciting action-adventure gameplay and Harry Potter’s magical world makes it a must-play title. Fans of the series will love exploring Hogwarts and revealing its mysteries.
- Take the wheel of a flying car
- Suitable for All Ages
- Based on the second book in the series
- A magical multitude of new challenges
- Multiplayer action with a Game Link cable
3. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
Bringing one of the most idolized games in the Zelda series to a handheld console, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX is an incredible Game Boy Color classic. Released in 1998, this game was an enhanced version of the original 1993 Game Boy title, Link’s Awakening. Unlike the other Zelda franchise games, Link’s Awakening takes place on Koholint Island rather than Hyrule.
Players take the role of the hero Link and need to explore the island while fighting off monsters, completing puzzles, and collecting items. An attempt to wake the sleeping Wind Fish is the key objective. Link has to collect eight musical instruments to do this. He also needs to battle the evil monster, who is revealed to be the nightmare of the Wind Fish.
The gameplay is classic top-down action with a few new features added for the DX version, such as a color dungeon and the ability to update your game progress with a Game Boy Printer. The game also featured an incredible soundtrack, with tracks composed by legendary Zelda composer Koji Kondo.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX is an excellent example of how to do an enhanced sequel on the Game Boy Color right. With added features and stunning visuals, this game will always remain one of the best titles available for the platform.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is a classic installment in the long-running series, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best Game Boy Color games ever released. Armed with Link’s sword and shield, you’ll set off on an epic quest to save Holodrum from being plunged into eternal darkness by General Onox, who was once a powerful but kind-hearted guardian of the land.
You’ll need to collect magical essences and solve puzzles as you progress, all while using your cunning to outsmart monsters and other foes. The game’s top-down perspective and tight, engaging controls make it perfect for on-the-go gaming.
The game also features some unique gameplay mechanics. Link can transform himself into different forms, like a rabbit and a mole, each with special abilities. He can also use the Rod of Seasons to manipulate the environment around him, allowing him to progress further in his quest.
The game has multiple endings, meaning you can have different experiences each time you play. Not to forget the graphics and sound, which are top-notch for the Game Boy Color.
- The land of Holodrum is slowly withering. Onox, the General of Darkness, has imprisoned the Oracle of Seasons and is draining the very life out of the land. With the seasons in tumult and the forces...
#1.Pokemon Gold/Silver Version
Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver remain some of the most beloved games in the long-running series, and it’s no surprise that they are also regarded the best Game Boy Color games ever released. The games feature a vast world to explore, with over 150 new Pokemon to catch, train, and battle.
Your mission is to become the Champion by defeating all 8 Gym Leaders and then face off against the Elite Four in Kanto. Along the way, you’ll also need to complete various side quests, such as collecting all 150 Pokemon, trading with other players, and uncovering the secrets of the mysterious region of Johto.
The games feature an enhanced version of the turn-based battle system from Pokemon Red and Blue, with new moves and abilities for each Pokemon. Using the Game Link Cable, you can also trade your Pokemon with other players. And if you’re a completionist, you can even try to catch all 251 Pokemon available in the games.
The visuals and sound effects are great for the Game Boy Color, although they are a far cry from what we see on modern gaming platforms. Despite that, Pokemon Gold and Silver remain two of the best titles available on the platform, and they are definitely worth a play if you haven’t done so already.
- New Pokemon to capture and train
- Day-and-night real-time gameplay
- Transfer Pokemon from Silver, Green, Red, Blue, and Yellow editions
- Breed and evolve new Pokemon
- 200 new moves
- This renewed game will not come with the original case or manual; cartridge only. It has been cleaned, tested, and is in nice condition.
- The game is an authentic copy and a new save battery has been installed!
Nothing beats the classic Game Boy Color games when it comes to pure gaming nostalgia. With its vibrant colors and timeless 8-bit graphics, you can always count on a Game Boy Color game to provide hours of entertainment. From the celebrated Legend of Zelda series to the iconic Pokemon franchise, these action-packed titles stand out as the best for the Game Boy Color handheld console.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Lenscap Photography/Shutterstock.com.