We’ve all been cute this week with our wish lists for the rumored Super Nintendo Classic Edition and the not-even-in-the-works N64 Classic Edition. But now it’s time for the next level. It’s time to get
silly serious. It’s time for a list of games we’d want to see on the completely imaginary, never-gonna-happen Game Boy Advance Classic Edition. No, a miniature version of the revered handheld-that-was-already-fairly-miniature isn’t even close to being a thing, but it’s fun to dream.
And hey, wouldn’t it work anyway? People loved the Game Boy Advance. It sold over 81 million units worldwide since 2009, which is, well, a hell of a lot. More than the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One have sold thus far. And the library of software, which kept 2D gaming alive at a time when open-world 3D game design was beginning to supplant everything, holds up extremely well.
Just look at that Wii U you don’t own and check out its Virtual Console! See all the awesome GBA games on there? No, of course not, because you don’t own a Wii U. And if you did why would you download games designed for a portable system on a home console? Aha, that’s where the GBA Mini comes in (or, y’know, a Switch Virtual Console. Shhhh).
But what design would you go with? Nintendo, as they’re wont to do, released a bunch of different versions of the GBA. If I had my druthers, I’d prefer a redo of the Game Boy Advance SP, one of the greatest hardware designs, in any category, ever. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket, has a backlight, and the clamshell design protects the buttons and screen from the elements. Near perfection. But it had one glaring flaw we care a whole lot more about in the Year of Our Lord 2017: it lacked a headphone jack. I don’t think kids or anyone gave a hoot back in 2000-aught-3, but now? Hoo boy. Better not pull an Apple and stick that thing back in there, Nintendo.
I’d totally be okay with the original wide and flat design, too, so long as it had a brighter, backlit screen. The original GBA’s screen, similar to the first gray brick Game Boy, was nigh impossible to see in daylight. The third design option, the Game Boy Micro, would maximize the mini-ness. At 2-by-4-by-0.7-inch, that thing is tiny. Perhaps the perfect size for a GBA Mini. Plus, it came out when the Nintendo DS introduced dual-screen, touch-gaming to the world, so no one cared about it and it disappeared quickly. A GBA Mini could give the GBA Micro a second chance.
A GBA Mini would also give Nintendo another opportunity to lean into its perception as a toy company. Everyone keeps calling them that as a slight and I don’t understand why. Toys are fun! Shouldn’t video games be fun as well? A GBA Mini would be a cute, inexpensive (no more than $40 let’s say) companion in your pocket alongside its bigger brother in your bag (or big pocket), the Switch.
Alright, enough rambling for search engine optimization purposes: time for the 30 games I want to see on the entirely hypothetical Game Boy Advance Classic Edition.
1. Advance Wars
2. Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
There’ve been no sequels to these since the Nintendo DS days, so we might as well revisit the strategy-RPG classics that flatten out the horrors of war into a charming cartoon.
3. Astro Boy: Omega Factor
Treasure (the guys behind Gunstar Heroes and Sin & Punishment) made this terrific brawler/platformer/run-and-gunner/shmup that nobody played. One of maybe two or three video games based on anime that’s not only good, it’s excellent.
One of Hideo Kojima’s few non-Metal Gear games, this top-down/three-quarter-view adventure game cast you as a vampire hunter who uses actual sunlight to defeat monsters. It’s true. The original cart came with a sensor that could pick up Our Yellow Sun’s rays, which you need to exorcise demons, in-game. Will the real GBA Mini, that’s not even real, have such technology? Probably not. But since we’re imagining all this to begin with: yes, of course. Duh.
5. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
6. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
7. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Ah, here we go. The sons of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which was the son of Super Metroid, which was begot by Metroid, begot by Mario, begot by… Look, these games are cool because no one expected to play beefy console-caliber games on a portable system back in 2001. But this trio proved you could. Aria is the best one, by the way.
8. Chu Chu Rocket
A puzzler that has you guide mice to rocket ships so they can escape their feline pursuers, and one of the first SEGA games to make its way to a Nintendo system. Not as visually sleek as the Dreamcast original, but a level editor, multiplayer mode, and addictive gameplay give it longevity. Wait, will our hypothetical GBA Mini have wireless play options? A Link Cable? I dunno. Sure!
9. Drill Dozer
One of the few non-Pokemon games from Game Freak. Charming, fun, and full of ideas that iterate on one another as you progress through the action. If you can’t play it on a Wii U, and you’re not since you never bought one, then try it on the make-believe GBA Mini.
10. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
11. Final Fantasy V Advance
What’re these? Oh, nothing just another great strategy-RPG with a strange anti-video game message at the core of its Labyrinth-like story, and the best numbered Final Fantasy game in the series.
12. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Fire Emblem is so in right now, it’d be foolish to not include one.
13. Golden Sun
Not even a big fan of this series. It’s way too talky even for an RPG and the gameplay is not all that interesting. But some people go crazy over it, so, why not.
14. Kirby and the Amazing Mirror
Kirby’s always good.
15. Konami Krazy Racers
You might be wondering “Where’s Super Mario: Super Circuit?” Well, I’m here to tell you this is the better GBA racing game. It has Gray Fox from Metal Gear Solid in it for crying out loud. Sadly, Pyramid Head didn’t make his debut until later in 2001, after this game originally came out, so you’ll have to settle for Super Bomberman R on the Switch if you wanna play as a symbol of sexual self-punishment in a non-Silent Hill game.
16. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
17. Mario Golf Advance Tour
Gotta get those Mario spin-offs in our unicorn-like GBA Mini. Mario & Luigi is the start of a surprisingly funny RPG series with fun platforming mashed up with a time-based battle system. Not exactly Super Mario RPG, but close. And golf because, of course.
18. Mega Man Battle Network
19. Mega Man Zero 2
Speaking of spin-offs…the Mega Man series, may it RIP in pieces, is full of ’em. These two are among the most notable. Battle Network is like Pokemon with a Digimon twist (uhh), and Zero 2 is one of the hardest games you’ll ever play. Seriously, you’ll die and die and die. Cool music, though.
20. Metroid Fusion
21. Metroid: Zero Mission
Hey look, another “retired” series. Fusion is controversial because it’s the most linear game in the series (besides Other M), but you know what? It’s still good, and tense (a Terminator-like enemy stalks you the whole time), and it tells a neat little sci-fi story. Zero Mission, a remake of the first game, is even better than Super Metroid according to insane people.
22. Mother 3
Whoa! What’s this doing here?! Shouldn’t Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories be here instead?
23. Pokemon Emerald
The apocryphal GBA Mini needs a Pokemon game, and this is the one from that era to slap on it. A remake of Ruby and Sapphire, it’s the culmination of the third generation of Pokemon games. Apparently not that popular among hardcore Pokemaniacs even though it’s stocked to Mudkip’s gills with content (and who doesn’t love content?!), including a post-game Battle Frontier where you can challenge trainers forever and ever.
24. Sonic Advance
The first Sonic game on a Nintendo system. And it’s…not…bad! Nice graphics unique from other 2D Sonic games and solid Sonic-style loop-the-loop gameplay’s all there. There are two sequels (and another two on Nintendo DS) but the first gets the distinction for bringing Mario’s former rival to a Nintendo machine. So put it on this fake one!
25. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
The only Mario platformer on this list, and we’re going with the Mario 3 port because for some reason Nintendo added a bunch of levels and items (like the cape from Mario World!) that were only unlockable with a stupid e-Card Reader accessory. Nintendo rectified things by adding all that stuff into a Virtual Console release on the Wii U, but they should also put it on the not-even-real GBA Mini, which more people will end up theoretically owning.
26. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Because Sakura, my main, is in it. And because it’s a colorful, fun, weird puzzle game that got a great port on the GBA, so it should be on the fictional GBA Mini.
27. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Not The Legend of Zelda‘s finest hour, but an a-okay adventure game that reveals how Link got his famous green cap. Spoilers: it’s a talking bird.
28. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2
I couldn’t believe they squeezed down such a good PlayStation game into an isometric, kinda-fuzzy-looking GBA port and made it work, and you won’t believe it’s on the GBA Mini because it doesn’t exist.
29. Wario Land 4
30. WarioWare, Inc: Mega Microgame$!
Look, we all know Wario is the unsung MVP of the Nintendo universe, so here are two of his best games on one phantasmic, made-up machine. Unless of course you already own the original GBA, then you could just play these, and all these games on this list, on there. But then that makes you, what, 80? Yuck. Or heck, just buy a refurbished PSP for $100, hack it, and dump all your ROMs on there. That’s how we all played Mother 3, and we aaaallllll know it.
So, what do you think? Not bad, eh? If not, well, hell, what pre-installed GBA games would you want to cram onto a fabricated Game Boy Advance Classic Edition?