The 5 Best RPGs for Game Boy

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As one of the first handheld consoles, Nintendo’s Game Boy changed gaming forever. It also had a library of great RPGs, both iconic and overlooked.

When the Game Boy first released in 1989, it was excited gamers as a major innovation in handheld gaming. The fact that it was also Nintendo who brought portable gaming to life in this new way made it even better. While the first games were simple ones, it wasn’t long before the system received great titles. Plus, even after it was succeeded by the Game Boy Color in 1998, some GBC games could be played on the older hardware.

The Game Boy’s incredible library includes some RPGs perfect for on-the-go play. From ushering in new, now iconic, franchises to unique titles all its own, the Game Boy’s RPG lineup deserves to be appreciated. Here are the five best ones.


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Final Fantasy Adventure


Even though it has Final Fantasy in its title, this game is actually the first entry in the Mana series, and was known as Seiken Densetsu in Japan. Final Fantasy Adventure‘s gameplay is similar to classic Legend of Zelda titles where the main character explores the world, fights enemies in an action style and solves puzzles in various dungeons.

Unlike Zelda, though, this game has a leveling system and mechanics that returned in later Mana games and Secret of Evermore, such as  charging up weapons, spells and secondary characters who join the protagonist at certain points in the game. The game’s story is pretty standard for a classic JRPG, and it does have some Final Fantasy characters and themes in it, but it still serves as a great template for what would become the Mana series.

Legend of the River King


The Legend of the Fisher King in his little boat, fishing away

An unusual RPG from Natsume, a studio best-known for the Harvest Moon series, Legend of the River King was a unique game that has long been overlooked. Instead of battling evil to save the world, the main character is on a fishing quest to heal his sister with the help of a legendary Guardian Fish said the have the power to do so. There is equipment to make fishing easier and even combat — just not with the fish. Instead, the protagonist occasionally fights off bugs and smaller enemies to level up and gain more stamina for catching bigger fish. River King puts a unique twist on the genre that’s most relaxing and fascinating to see in action.

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Pokémon Yellow


A boy and his Pikachu in Pokemon Yellow

The Pokémon series is a staple for any handheld or RPG lover, and it all started on the Game Boy. While all of the classic Generation I and II games are great (with Gold and Silver in particular really turning a corner for the series), Pokémon Yellow is arguably the definitive way to experience the games that established the series’ now-iconic formula.

Yellow was the first special edition to release in the franchise, completely upgrading each Pokémon’s design and adding elements from the popular anime adaptation. Having a special Pikachu follow the player around just like Ash’s was incredible at the time, and it would even grow closer to its trainer as they raised it — something subsequent games would expand on through the friendship mechanic. Pokémon Yellow was the first upgrade for the series, and a great RPG for the Game Boy.

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Dragon Warrior I & II

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