Shack Chat: What is your favorite Game Boy Advance game?

With the anniversary of the Game Boy Advance having hit the shelves for the very first time in 2001, we're looking back at our favorite GBA games.


On March 21, 2001, the Game Boy Advance launched in Japan, ushering an all-new and excting era for handhelds. It didn’t quite pack the power of a Super Nintendo into a pocket-sized device… but it most certainly did a good job of upping Nintendo’s portable game. Through it, we were treated to a love library of 32-bit pocket gaming goodness. With Nintendo and other game creators taking full advantage to give players fun experiences, there was plenty to play. This week on Shack Chat, we’re looking back at our fondest Game Boy Advance memories and our favorite GBA games.

Question: What is your favorite Game Boy Advance game?

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Bro Editor

To this day, there hasn't been anything quite good enough to replace the amazing RPG adventure that was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. But, as I noted here on Shacknews last week, Nintendo sure did try. No, they didn't hit the lofty heights that their collaboration with Square did, but if Super Mario RPG was an A+, then Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga was a solid A-.

This was the game that pushed a new RPG formula where one button would control Mario and one would control Luigi. As a turn-based JRPG, this was a lot of fun, especially while incorporating the various Bro Attacks. As a story, it's a laugh riot, utilizing wacky characters, sitcom-style one-liners, and a lot of physical comedy. It helps that a lot of the physical comedy revolved around poor Luigi.

It's such a shame that AlphaDream went under, because they had something special with this series. And it all started with Superstar Saga, which stands near the top of Nintendo's RPG efforts.

Pokemon Emerald - Donovan Erskine, Hoenn Region Champion

No Game Boy Advance game holds a place in my heart like Pokemon Emerald. Gifted to me for Christmas, Pokemon Emerald was one of the first games I ever fell in love with. I couldn’t stop playing it and have probably beaten the game north of 10 times. It’s the reason Pokemon is my favorite gaming franchise and is the first title that comes to mind when I think of the Game Boy Advance.

Guilty Gear Advance Edition - Blake Morse, Was pretty broke when GBA came out

I remember owning a GBA that I’d got secondhand at a GameStop back in the day, but I wasn’t exactly flush with cash at the time. I was working as a cashier at a store that sold things like bedding and linens and other random home decor items and I would play the GBA on my lunch breaks. The only two games I had for it were a port of the original Metroid and Guilty Gear. Since GG was the easier one to enjoy on a quick break it’s usually what I found myself playing. And because GBA games tended to not go down in price that much, even when used, my catalog never really expanded. Not to say I didn’t have fun with GG. Although it was a watered-down version of PlayStation 2’s Guilty Gear X, I still got a kick out of it and played the crap out of it, even after we’d all been laid off and the store had shut down.

Metal Slug Advance - Sam Chandler, Love the slug

I love everything about the Metal Slug franchise. I love the over-the-top action, the dramatic set pieces, and the weird and wacky storylines. For a Metal Slug game to come to a handheld device is basically a dream come true. Metal Slug Advance was such a game, bringing the iconic side-scrollin’ action of the series to the GBA. It meant there was no need to waste precious coins in an arcade machine and you could play it on the go. Plus, it looks pretty great and still has that rockin’ soundtrack. I think the world could do with some more Metal Slug titles.

Mario Golf: Advance Tour - Bill Lavoy, Co-EIC

It actually took me a bit of research into Game Boy Advance before I started to recognize a few of the games I played on it. Mario Golf: Advance Tour stood out to me. Not because I can sit here and have an in-depth conversation with you about it, but because I recall it was one of the first golf games I ever played – I haven’t played many – and it helped fuel my passion for golf games in general. I still don’t play a lot of them today, but every time one pops up I think about buying it, and that’s partly thanks to the fond memories I have of playing Mario Golf: Advance Tour. I’m now once again excited for June 25th when Mario Golf: Super Rush comes out on Nintendo Switch.

Advance Wars - Josh Hawkins, Advance Wars reboot, pls

There are few games as defining for the Gameboy Advance as Advance Wars, at least when it comes to my history with the Nintendo handheld. Don’t get me wrong, I played and enjoyed a LOT of other games on that system, but Advance Wars and its sequel, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising were by far some of my favorites.

I picked up a Gameboy Advance pretty late into the console’s lifecycle, and subsequently replaced it with the Gameboy Advance SP a few months later. But, during that time, Advance Wars was easily one of the games that I spent the most time with. It gave me all of the same tactical strategy that Fire Emblem did, while also ticking a few other boxes along the way. I also spent way more time with the level editor than I care to admit.

I’m still waiting on them to revive the series and give me more, even though I know it will probably never happen. Yeah, I know we got Wargroove, and it was pretty solid, but I’d still love to see the original get another go at things.

Metroid Fusion - TJ Denzer, Symbiotic news hunter

I am a fan of Metroid in games in general, but there's something very, very standout about Metroid Fusion. In a game that has always made you feel alone as you fought your way through vast tunnels of alien bases and threats, Metroid Fusion finally gave Samus company... in the form of a viral organism taking over her suit and using it to try to hunt her down and kill her. Why? Because Metroids can eat the virus and the last one just happens to be the baby that Samus saved - the one that consequently sacrificed itself to aid her against Mother Brain, and the remains of which are bound to her suit to save her from the virus. And Samus's armor is really good for killing Metroids.

Metroid Fusion features a lot of the usual elements of Metroid games, but the game is still rife with tension as you wander its halls wondering if the fake Samus might be just waiting around the corner, forcing you to try to run for your life. Then there's the bosses, many of which are the viral amalgams of foes from Samus's past. But even a viral recreation of Ridley isn't even close to as unsettling as the gravity-bending monstrosity known as Nightmare

Metroid Fusion taught me that no matter how well I think I know Metroid, it can still surprise me. The Fusion suit, the hunter, and everything in between make this not only one of the best action platformers on the Game Boy Advance, but also one of the best titles in the Metroid franchise.

Super Mario World - Greg Burke, Head of Video

I never owned a Super Nintendo, so I rarely got to play these games. My friends always wanted to "go outside" who owned a Super Nintendo. When I found out that the Gameboy Advance would have arguably the greatest game ever made, I jumped on it and never looked back.

Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire-Steve Tyminski, PokeMans!

What is my favorite Game Boy Advance game? I had quite a few GBA games during the lifespan of the system and got in on launch day. My brother and I had Super Mario Bros Advanced, which was Mario 2, as well as having the Tony Hawk game. Then, there’s the likes of the Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and Mario Kart: Super Circuit. However, if I had to pick one, I’m going with Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. The Music and graphics were a step in the right direction for the Pokémon series at the time as well as adding some new Pokémon. I’m not a fan of abilities, but the third generation of Pokémon was a nice introduction to main ideas in the series like double battles. There are several good GBA games but I had to go with Pokémon on this one.

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones - Bryan Lefler, will reset to save a character

My favorite Game Boy Advance game changes on how I’m feeling at any particular moment. Looking back, one title sticks out as an experience I hadn’t had anywhere else prior, and that’s Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Being only the second game in the franchise to be localized outside of Japan, my familiarity with Fire Emblem at that time began and ended with Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee like many gamers in the west. I was working for EB Games when the GBA SP launched and it was the first handheld system I had bought for myself. A year and a half later when Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones debuted, I took a chance on it based on word of mouth and my undying love of Smash Bros.

I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous pixel art, rock-solid strategy mechanics, grandiose storyline, and, of course, the iconic and sweeping musical score. I was attached to each character as they were introduced in a way that I had never felt before. Upon any of their very-likely deaths, I would instantly reset the game to try the failed battle again. Perma-death was a consequence that I simply was not prepared for and I couldn’t stand to let anyone fall. The sense of connection and ownership I felt over this game was different than any Nintendo title I had played in my life up to this point, and for that reason, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones will always be a favorite.

And those are our favorite Game Boy Advance games! But what about you, Shackers? What was your favorite Game Boy Advance title or fond memory you have associated with the handheld? Let us know in the Shacknews Chatty section below and have a great weekend!

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

From The Chatty
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    March 19, 2021 2:00 PM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: What is your favorite Game Boy Advance game?

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      March 19, 2021 2:01 PM

      I remember thinking "this is portable SNES!" What a time to be alive!

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      March 19, 2021 5:29 PM

      I have an enormous collection of GBA games. Many are great. And yet, the answers are easy:

      1st party: WarioWare: Twisted (especially on a GBA Micro)

      3rd party: Yggdra Union

      Twisted is my vote for Nintendo’s greatest game that’s also a toy. Perfect fusion of tactile object and video game.

      Yggdra Union is one of the best turn-based strategy JRPGs of all time, with the most epic story, deepest combat system and just all-around “how much more noble and heroic can thus get” energy. Puts all the Fire Emblem games to shame, and that’s saying something, since they’re all great!

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        March 19, 2021 5:42 PM

        Your Yggdra Union choice fascinated me, Borzoi. This looks really interesting.

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          March 19, 2021 5:52 PM

          You know I love turn based strategy games. This is one of the very very best.

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      March 19, 2021 5:48 PM

      I mean, Wario Land 4, Advance Wars 1 + 2, Superstar Saga, Golden Sun, Metroid Fusion, FF Tactics Advance, Castlevania Aria of Sorrow, impossible to just pick one, What a great system!

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        March 19, 2021 7:40 PM

        Ff tactics advance was incredible. I wanna go back and play it again...

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      March 19, 2021 6:35 PM

      I loved the GBA version of Mario Kart. The graphics were chunkier than the SNES, but it’s so much smoother.

      I do remember struggling to find the perfect light to play the dang thing though. I remember being a grown ass man and on vacation with Mary, Tommy and my parents, and being late to dinner because I found the perfect place to play — the sunlight was perfect, and it looked so sharp — and I didn’t want to put it down.

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      March 19, 2021 6:39 PM


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      March 19, 2021 6:56 PM

      Advance war. The first one was just great. Oh and all the castlevania games that came out for that system.

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        March 19, 2021 7:23 PM

        Yup. I was going to also post Advanced Wars. Loved that game.

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      March 19, 2021 7:48 PM


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      March 20, 2021 12:51 AM

      Golden sun

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      March 20, 2021 1:04 AM

      Zero Mission or Aria of Sorrow probably have the most play time from me.

      Well the most play time on my GBA is probably Tetris DX, really, but that's a GBC game.

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      March 20, 2021 1:11 AM

      Golden Sun. It needs a sequel on Switch.

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        March 20, 2021 2:04 AM

        That company had been alternating between Mario Golf and Tennis since 2002! That would be unexpected for sure

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          March 20, 2021 2:15 AM

          Those games were so damn good. With the power of the switch, the fights would look so damn good.

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            March 20, 2021 4:17 AM

            I also feel like they’ll have Tennis and Golf nailed for a while if the quality of ACES is any indication. Good opportunity to revisit JRPGs with a new Golden Sun! People would freak out

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      March 20, 2021 2:17 AM

      Still holding off on upgrading. Too much untapped potential in the GBC.

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