When it comes to the world of handheld gaming, Nintendo is easily one of the first developers that comes to mind. All of their video game consoles have made a big impact on the gaming scene, but they’re particularly renowned for their portable contributions. To this end, three of their handheld systems have made their way into the top 10 best-selling consoles of all time, with the Nintendo DS and Game Boy/Game Boy Color (GBC) taking the second and third spots respectively.
The success of the Game Boy Color was greatly helped by the discontinuation of Sega’s Game Gear, meaning that it was really only seeing appreciable competition from the original Game Boy. Since this was also developed by Nintendo, you can see how they dominated the market at this time. Even though the Game Boy models had worse graphics than the Game Gear and no backlight, the sheer popularity of their games helped secure their immense commercial success. Among these are the iconic original Pokemon games, as well as their direct sequels. The GBC can often be purchased for a lower price than the Game Boy, and is compatible with all original Game Boy games, which definitely helped make it a popular handheld console of the era.
The GBC was well known for its excellent additions to the action and RPG genres, and to a lesser extent, the racing genre. This doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile console for strategy game lovers, however. While these titles didn’t make quite as much of an impact, likely due to the limitations of the system, there are still some great entries worth a play through. Discover the best Game Boy Color strategy games down below.
What is a Strategy Game?
All strategy games rely on the player making tactical and thoughtful decisions, rather than predominantly physical skills such as reaction time and coordination. But generally, there are two kinds of games you’ll encounter within the strategy genre — real-time (RTS) and turn-based strategy (TBS) games. The core difference between these types is that real-time games involve the player making strategic decisions and carrying out actions whilst the enemy is simultaneously making theirs. Turn-based strategy games, however, progress in incremental turns, typically where the player performs an action and then the enemy performs an action.
While that’s the strict distinction between these kinds of strategy games, they do tend to have more differences. Turn-based games often use elements from role-playing games, such as experience levels, stat growth for playable characters, and a more detailed storyline. Real-time games, by comparison, don’t usually have as much of an elaborate narrative, and more varied goals. These can include destroying the enemy forces, but also capturing certain buildings, posts or flags, or even building structures. As such time restraints are more common within real-time strategy games, and gameplay is faster paced. They usually also have more limited resources, so management of these becomes a central part of a player’s strategy. The outcome of turn-based games, however, is more commonly weighted towards the individual actions the player takes during each turn.
Best Game Boy Color Strategy Games of All Time
There isn’t exactly a plethora of options to choose from, but there are enough GBC strategy titles to keep you entertained. Check out the best of the best below.
7. Heroes of Might and Magic
Technically a remake of a spin-off, this title was originally released for DOS some 5 years earlier. The Heroes of Might and Magic series is a spin-off of the Might and Magic series, which weas more focused on RPG elements. The story is centered around Lord Morglin Ironfist, who flees his homeland via a magic portal after his father’s throne had been usurped. In the mysterious land of Enroth, he finds three warlords vying for power, and must lead his forces to victory.
The gameplay style focuses on achieving specific objectives in each scenario, usually defeating the enemy forces and capturing their castles. Sometimes, however, the goal might be to acquire an amount of gold or a special item. Generals lead armies of troops to overcome opposing forces. Four classes are found within the game – these are the Knight, Barbarian, Sorceress and Warlock. Each has its own affinities and weaknesses, so must be used tactically to be successful.
While the original DOS version received positive reviews and was named 1995’s best turn-based strategy game by Computer Games Strategy Plus, the GBC version was considered a little less favourably. Nevertheless, the game offers many hours of addictive gameplay to those that can’t get enough strategy, especially when on the go.
|Developer (U.S.)||The 3D0 Company|
|Number of Players||1|
|Release Date (U.S.)||April 29, 2000|
- The realms of Might and Magic are expanding. Now lands have been discovered and you must rise to the challenge of conquering them. Beware, for many warlords have risen to test your leadership and...
6. Force 21
The military setting is fairly familiar to strategy fans, but this time it’s in 2015 and focuses on the conflict between Russia and China. In Force 21, the former has been invaded by the latter in an attempt to capture their resources. For some reason, you can choose between American and Chinese forces to control, with Russia being left out. The general premise is that, somehow, technology has rendered nuclear weapons useless, so the armies are relying on traditional weapons such as infantry and artillery.
Up to 16 teams can be commanded, with a mix of 8 units — helicopters, combat engineers and electronic warfare all make an appearance. The levels contain a variety of terrain and include Snowfields, Desert and Countryside as stages. Typical strategic gameplay is seen, where the player must tactically position their units, capture key structures and make use of camouflage to get the jump on opposing forces.
Force 21 has been generally received favorably, although reviews can be mixed. This is likely due to the constraints of playing an RTS game on the GBC, but as one of the first examples of the genre for the console, the game still has a lot to offer.
|Publisher (U.S.)||Red Storm Entertainment|
|Developer (U.S.)||The Code Monkeys|
|Number of Players||1|
|Release Date (U.S.)||01/12/00|
Published exclusively in North America, Warlocked doesn’t hide where its inspiration came from but is an interesting title nonetheless. Two campaigns can be chosen, in which the player commands either human or beast armies. A notable difference is that the beast campaign involves a tutorial, largely because it’s the more difficult option.
As is common in a lot of early RTS games, the main objectives usually involve destroying enemy forces and their base, and the interface is controlled by point-and-click mechanics with an overhead perspective. Some levels revolve around performing stealth missions, however. There are over 30 wizards to collect and use during the game, with abilities ranging from the offensive to the odd, i.e. creating a contagious fog to turning opposing units into chickens. Dragons can also be recruited, which are incredibly strong units which only fall prey to sizable armies of archers. While the gameplay is rather simple, the multiplayer mode offers more dynamic and complex experiences. This is mostly because human players tend to be a lot more cunning and skilled compared to the rather primitive AI in single-player mode.
With 12 missions for each campaign and plenty of different locations, there’s a lot to enjoy within Warlocked. Commercially, the game didn’t break records but was named Best Strategy Game Boy Game of 2000 by IGN. Game Informer was slightly less positive, saying the movement is slow, but the gameplay was praised. Overall, it’s a great game as far as RTS GBC titles go, and definitely worth a look.
|Developer (U.S.)||Bits Studios|
|Number of Players||2|
|Release Date (U.S.)||July 24, 2000|
4. Worms Armageddon
There isn’t much story involved, but that doesn’t take away from the immensely fun gameplay of Worms Armageddon. A team of 8 worms is controlled, with the goal of defeating the enemy team. In typical Worms fashion, the environment is destructible, with the humorous cartoon-style graphics players have come to expect and love.
During the player’s turn, 1 of their worms can be moved, which involves walking, jumping or maneuvering the stage via methods such as teleporting or swinging on a rope. Worms are killed by reducing their health to zero or by blasting them into the water. Many weapons can be used, including explosives, airstrikes, guns and even strange choices like sheep and skunks. These fall from the sky, but each team also starts with a selection. The trajectory of projectiles is influenced by wind effects, adding depth. Special weapons can be chosen and are available once a certain number of turns is reached. Game modes include a single-player campaign and multiplayer.
While the PC version was critically acclaimed, the GBC version didn’t fare as well. The game was mostly criticized for its lack of custom options but still considered fun to play, particularly by IGN. The Electric Playground also thought the game lacked some features, like soundbites and the full range of weapons, but the physical mechanics and terrain elements were considered well-imported. All in all, Worms Armageddon is by no means perfect but still a lovely and portable playthrough, especially for fans of the series.
|Number of Players||2|
|Release Date (U.S.)||January 1, 2000|
- Those intrepid invertebrates return with a vengeance in the much-loved Worms Armageddon. Its a whole new can of worms! Its hilarious fun that you can enjoy on your own or with all your friends.
3. Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories
Yugioh! Dark Duel Stories hit America around the same time as the collectible card game did. The game mechanics are slightly different from the card game. The mechanics will also be somewhat familiar to fans of the Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering card games.
There are eight card types within the game, which are used to form a deck of 40 cards. To advance to the next stage, the opponent must be defeated five times. Monsters are defeated if their attack (ATK) or defense (DEF) stats are lower than the player’s ATK stat, depending on whether the monster is in an offensive or defensive position. Victory is secured if the enemy player runs out of cards to draw or has their life points reduced to zero. An interesting mechanic is the ability to input passwords found on the bottom of the real-life trading cards, which unlocked in-game cards to use. Secret passwords also had the effect of unlocking hidden bosses to replace the regular bosses. Another feature is creating hybrid cards by combining two cards, which results in changes to their stats.
The game was more successful in Japan than in the West, similar to the franchise as a whole. In fact, Dark Duel Stories is the fourth best-selling GBC game in Japan. GameSpot gave the game a favorable review, especially recommending it to enthusiasts of the series and card games in general. Dark Duel Stories will probably be more enjoyable among these audiences but delivers an entertaining portable experience for most card-based gamers.
|Number of Players||2|
|Release Date (U.S.)||March 18, 2002|
2. Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors
The game centers around the original Saiyan saga and runs until the end of the Buu saga. Many fan favorites are available as playable characters, including all of the Super Saiyans and members of Frieza’s Ginyu Force.
Unlike most of the games Dragonball Z Legendary Super Warriors relies on a card-based system, with over 100 cards. These include attack, defense and support cards, as well as cards that boost stats. Characters can be levelled up to improve their stats, and have unique skills, in typical RPG fashion. Battles involve the use of a deck of 20 cards, and two phases, attack and defense.
There are various modes to play, which include Story Mode, Battle Mode and V.S. Mode. The story involves 30 battles, with a boss after every 10, and unlockable cards after each victory. ‘Hero’ characters are unlocked during the first playthrough, while ‘Villains’ can be acquired during subsequent playthroughs. Battle Mode consists of facing enemies without saving and is the main method for trying to obtain rare cards. V.S. Mode is the name for multiplayer, where players can battle each other and trade cards.
The game was critiqued positively for the range of characters, replay value and battle mechanics. Most publications gave the game very good scores, especially Neoseeker (9.0 out of 10), GameSpot (7.8 out of 10) and IGN (7.5 out of 10). As such, Legendary Super Warriors is easily one of the best GBC strategy games and deserves a spot in any strategy gamer’s collection.
|Number of Players||2|
|Release Date||November 8, 2002|
- Re-enact your favorite Dragonball Z battles by using high-intensity fighting cards to protect the universe from complete domination! Start as Gohan and begin your training against Piccolo, then battle...
1. Pokemon Trading Card Game
While the task of collecting over 200 cards doesn’t seem as exciting as capturing monsters on paper, Pokemon Trading Card Game (TGC) offers a memorable experience. There’s minimal story present, which is reminiscent of the main series. The player challenges opponents to card battles, including 8 Club Masters and, eventually, the 4 Grand Masters. These are essentially renames of the classic Gym Leaders and Elite Four.
Cards are obtained by winning battles, of which there are 226. The mechanics are based on the card game, where one Active Pokemon is put into battle. 5 Pokemon are placed on the bench, from a draw of 7 cards. Attacks require an Energy Card to be drawn and placed on top of the Active Pokemon. Evolution is available, and increases strength and grants new moves. By reducing the opposing Pokemon’s health to zero, the player collects 1 Prize Card. Victory is obtained when 6 Prize Cards are collected, all opposing Pokemon are defeated or the opponent runs out of cards.
Pokemon TCG was acclaimed, receiving scores from 7.6 out of 10 to 9.2 out of 10. Although not reaching the heights of the main Pokemon games, Pokemon TCG is easily one of the best Game Boy Color strategy games. Both IGN and GameSpot considered it a good rendition of the tabletop game, albeit with less cards to choose. GamesRadar thought it was an ‘excellent addition’ to the series. Pokemon lovers turn-based strategy fans won’t want to pass up Pokemon TCG.
|Publisher (U.S.)||Wizards of the Coast|
|Developer (U.S.)||Creatures Inc.|
|Number of Players||2|
|Release Date (U.S.)||April 10, 2000|
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