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The Absolute Best Game Boy RPGs of All Time

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The Absolute Best Game Boy RPGs of All Time

The Game Boy is a handheld gaming device created by Nintendo and released in Japan on April 21, 1989. Game boy was instantly successful and sold over 100 million units worldwide in its lifespan. 

The Game Boy was so successful that Nintendo released many device variations over the years. These devices included the Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advance, which were later released in the late 90s.

The Game Boy was never really known for its RPGs, but some classics deserve your attention. Here are the absolute best Game Boy RPGs of all time.

What is an RPG Game?

Role-playing games, or RPGs for short, are a subgenre of video games that allow players to create their characters and take on the role of a character in a fictional world.

Role-playing games usually involve two types of gameplay: combat and exploration. Combat is a turn-based system where you can attack your enemies with weapons or magic, while exploration allows you to explore different areas in the game world.

RPGs are open-world and don’t follow a linear story like other video games. Players can choose which path to take in most RPGs at any point. This allows them to explore different areas in the game and complete side quests before returning to the main storyline.

Japanese companies like Square Enix and Atlus make the most popular RPGs. Still, western studios like Bethesda develop many popular RPGs as well. 

A Brief History of The Game Boy

The Game Boy was the first handheld gaming system to become famous and widely available. It was released in 1989 by Nintendo, allowing players to play games while on the go. The Game Boy line has since been retired, but it has left a lasting impression on gaming history.

The main competitor for the Game Boy was the Sega Game Gear, which had similar capabilities but inferior graphics and sound quality. The Game Gear also costs more than its rival.

The first version of the Game Boy was released in 1989 as a black-and-white handheld gaming device with a monochrome LCD screen. It didn’t have a backlit display or color graphics, so games were limited to shades of green or blue.  Players controlled everything using a four-directional D-pad and two action buttons (A & B).

The Game Boy became one of the best-selling video game consoles, selling just over 118 million units worldwide. (Statista)

Best Game Boy RPGs of All Time

There are plenty of excellent Game Boy titles today, but here are some of the best RPG titles you can find. This list is based on actual user ratings from Nintendo Life.

7. Dragon Quest III (1988)

gameplay in Dragon Quest III
Dragon Quest III is one game that has stood the test of time incredibly well.

In the early days of the Game Boy, Nintendo was undoubtedly at its peak. The company released games like Mario and Zelda that became household names and brought over some of its more obscure franchises onto a new platform.

Dragon Quest III follows an unnamed hero as he attempts to stop an evil wizard from taking control of his kingdom. The gameplay consists mainly of exploring dungeons and fighting monsters using turn-based battles where you can attack, use magic or items and defend yourself against enemies’ attacks by blocking or dodging them entirely.

PublisherEnix
DeveloperEnix
# Of Players1
GenreAdventure, RPG
Release DateFebruary 10, 1988

6. Final Fantasy Adventure (1991)

front cover of final fantasy adventure game
Final Fantasy Adventure was the first game in the Mana series to be released on Game Boy, and it received a fairly positive response.

A top-down game with RPG elements, , allows you to level up your stats and buy equipment. The story was simple: you play a young boy named Randi who must save his sister from an evil wizard.

For some people, it’s the first RPG they have ever played. It takes place in the same world as Secret of Mana, which is an excellent game in its own right. The game has some rough edges, like you can’t save your progress unless you’re near an inn, but it’s still a lot of fun to play through even today.

PublisherSquare
DeveloperSquare
# Of Players1
GenreAction, RPG
Release DateJune 28, 1991

5. Dragon Warrior Monsters II (2001)

gameplay in dragon warrior II monsters
Dragon Warrior Monsters II is an expanded version of Dragon Warrior Monsters with some new monsters and quests to explore.  

The first game was a huge success and became one of the best games on the Game Boy Color. The sequel improved on the first game by adding more monsters, better graphics and music, and a new story.

The first Dragon Warrior Monsters game was a monster-raising RPG that let you capture over 200 different types of monsters from all over the world. You could train them, feed them equipment, and fight them against other monsters in battle. You could also use your monsters to help you explore dungeons or defeat bosses in combat.

PublisherEnix
DeveloperEnix
# Of Players1
GenreRPG, Action
Release DateMarch 9, 2001

4. Pokémon Red/Blue (1996)

gameplay in pokemon blue/red
The original games were released in 1998 on the Game Boy and have been remade several times since then.

Pokémon Red/Blue was one of the first RPGs for the Game Boy, and it quickly became one of the best-selling games in history. Two versions of the game: Red, and Blue, were identical except for some minor differences. The game allowed you to catch 150 different Pokémon creatures around the Kanto region, and it allowed you to train them up into powerful fighting machines that could take down any foe that came their way.

The game features a large world with plenty of areas to explore and an extensive roster of Pokémon to catch and train. Some fantastic story elements help make this game stand out from other RPGs at the time.

PublisherNintendo
DeveloperNintendo
# Of Players1
GenreStrategy, RPG
Release DateFebruary 27, 1996

3. Final Fantasy Legend III (1991)

final fantasy gameplay
Final Fantasy Legend III is the third entry in the Final Fantasy Legend series, and it’s one of the best Game Boy RPGs ever made. 

story follows a boy named Sion, who must save his world from an evil demon known as Zeromus. Along the way, he’ll meet up with other characters from previous Final Fantasy titles.

The game features many familiar elements from other Final Fantasy games, including magic, demons, and swords.

PublisherSquare
DeveloperSquare
# Of Players1
GenreStrategy, RPG
Release DateDecember 13, 1991

2. Azure Dreams (1997)

gameplay in azure dreams
Azure Dream is a Japanese RPG for the Nintendo Game Boy Color, developed and published by Konami.

The game is set in a dream world where you play as a young boy named Abriael, who must travel around the world collecting treasures while battling monsters and solving puzzles. It was released in 1999 in Japan and a year later in North America.

Azure Dream has several different endings depending on specific actions taken during the game, making it possible to replay it multiple times without seeing everything it offers.

PublisherKonami
DeveloperKonami
# Of Players1
GenreStrategy, RPG
Release DateNovember 13, 1997

1. Pokémon Crystal (2000)

gameplay in pokemon crystal
Pokémon Crystal is the third enhanced remake of Pokémon Gold and Silver.

Pokemon Crystal was a third version of the series, developed by Game Freak, with improved graphics and sound.  The game follows much the same storyline as Gold & Silver: you are a young trainer who sets out on an adventure to bring his/her first Pokémon back home safely while also taking part in capturing wild ones.

PublisherNintendo
DeveloperNintendo
# Of Players1
GenreStrategy, RPG
Release DateDecember 14, 2000

Where to Buy Game Boy RPGs

eBay is where you can find most retro games at fair prices. However, be aware that there are many fakes available on eBay. It’s always worth checking multiple sellers before buying, just in case the one game you want is more expensive than you thought.

Amazon also has a decent selection of used games, but their prices are higher than other options. If you’re looking for something specific, it’s worth checking here first.

Summary

The Game Boy was an ideal RPG platform, with its monochrome display and limited hardware capabilities; it would have been difficult for any developer to create something like Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger on the handheld system. Nevertheless, some imposing titles were produced for this little console.

The Game Boy was the best-selling handheld console of its era, and it’s easy to see why. Its simple controls, low price, and massive library of games provided an excellent gaming experience for everyone, from young kids to adults.

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Last update on 2024-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular Game Boy RPG?

Pokémon Crystal is an enhanced version of the original game released on the Game Boy.

What's the best Game Boy Pokemon game?

Pokemon Crystal is the third Game Boy Color game in the Pokemon series and is considered the best version of the Game Boy Color.

What games can you play on a Game Boy?

You can play various genre games on the Game Boy Color, including RPGs, Sandbox, and Action games.

What Game Boy is best?

Initially released in 1998, the Game Boy Color was Nintendo’s first handheld game console. It was a huge success, selling over 118 million units worldwide across several generations. It was replaced in 2001 by the Game Boy Advance, but it remained popular even into the early 2000s.

How many units were sold for the Game Boy?

The Game Boy Color has sold over 118 million units since its release, making it one of the most popular gaming consoles ever.

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