The 30 best Game Boy games, in honor of the trail-blazing console's 30th anniversary

Nintendo Game Boy 2 by 1Evan Amos, Wikimedia

  • Originally released in 1989, the Nintendo Game Boy is now 30 years old.
  • The Game Boy helped create a market for portable video games; Nintendo has sold more than 100 million Game Boy and Game Boy Color consoles worldwide.
  • The Game Boy has an impressive library built from more than a decade's worth of games and dozens of classic remakes.
  • Nintendo continues to dominate the portable gaming market with innovative handheld consoles like the Switch and the 3DS.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Nintendo recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Game Boy, the handheld console that helped Nintendo cement its legacy as a video game innovator.

The battery-operated Game Boy was a game changer when it was released in 1989. While the original Nintendo Entertainment System made Nintendo a household name by bring video games into homes across the world, the Game Boy made it possible to play games just about anywhere. Many of the early Game Boy games were adapted from popular arcade games, and through the years Nintendo steadily built the Game Boy's library by re-releasing scaled-down versions of dozens of successful games from the Nintendo Entertainment System.

As developers discovered the advantages of the Game Boy, they began creating exclusive games for the console. Portability let players spend more time with their games, which encouraged developers to create complex roleplaying games like "Pokémon" for Game Boy. Companies publishing blockbuster PlayStation games like "Metal Gear Solid" would also create portable spin-offs with an entirely new style of graphics and gameplay to capitalize on the massive audience of Game Boy owners.

Pokemon Pikachu side by side&quotPokemon: Yellow" & &quotPokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!"/Nintendo

With a vast catalogue of classic games that were ported from other systems, and even more games designed with portability in mind, the Game Boy has one of the most impressive game libraries of any console. As an added bonus, nearly every game released on the Game Boy Color is backwards compatible, so the original Game Boy released in 1989 can play games that were released more than a decade later.

Below we've collected 30 of the most important games released on Game Boy and Game Boy Color, in honor of the console's 30th anniversary. We've included their original descriptions as provided by Nintendo, or their original box art, with a few exceptions.

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"Tetris" (1989)

"Tetris" (1989)

"Tetris" and the Game Boy have an intertwined legacy. Nintendo included the Russian puzzle game with every Game Boy at launch, which helped it skyrocket in popularity. While "Tetris" had seen success in the arcades, it took years to produce a properly licensed home version.

The fast, addictive gameplay and portability of the Game Boy version made the game a massive hit, and the partnership at launch helped "Tetris" become one of the best-selling games of all-time.

"Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow" (1996)

"Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow" (1996)

"Set out on your adventure together with your friend Pikachu, complete with monochromatic pixel art, 4-bit background music and, for the first time in the series, enhanced color elements. You'll take on the role of a Pokémon Trainer and travel across the land searching for Pokémon with Pikachu. Catch, battle, and trade as you work to become the best Pokémon Trainer!"

"Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal" (1999)

"Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal" (1999)

"When initially launched on the Game Boy Color system, the Pokémon Silver Version game continued to expand the Pokémon universe, adding 100 Pokémon, held items, Pokémon eggs, and real-time events thanks to an internal game clock.

"Dozens of Pokémon join the action, including the legendary Pokémon trio Raikou, Entei, and Suicune. At the start of your expedition, you choose one of three starting Pokémon: Chikorita, Cyndaquil, or Totodile. Then, prepare to battle your rival and countless other Pokémon trainers as the two of you make your way across the Johto region."

"Super Mario Land 2" (1992)

"Super Mario Land 2" (1992)

"Mario faces off against his evil rival Wario, who has captured Mario Land and turned it into his private playground.

To toss Wario off his ill-gotten throne, Mario must search new worlds for the six golden coins that unlock the gate to Mario's castle. A mob of monsters, old and new, seek to stop him. Along the way, through six zones, Mario can nab Power Mushrooms, Super Stars and Fire Flowers for extra power. And if he eats the Magic Carrot, he'll turn into a high-flying hare!"

"Wario Land 3" (2000)

"Wario Land 3" (2000)

"Trapped inside a magical music box, the invincible Wario is on a dangerous quest to help a mysterious figure recover its lost powers! Smash, bash, and crash you way through more than two dozen gigantic levels in search of hidden keys, treasures, and mystical music boxes.

Become Fat Wario, Zombie Wario, Vampire Wario and more! But be careful, Wario's wacky transformations may help or hinder you in your quest. Seek out the 100 Treasures to reveal secrets, open new levels and power-up Wario with even more abilities. Test your wits on level after intricate level and flex your muscles in action-packed boss fights!"

"Super Mario Bros. DX" (2000)

"Super Mario Bros. DX" (2000)

"Bowser has taken over the Mushroom Kingdom, and it's up to Mario to put an end to his sinister reign! Battle Bowser's vile henchmen through 32 levels in the original 1985 game mode.

Move on to collecting special Red Coins and Yoshi Eggs in Challenge mode. Then, try to unlock a secret mode that's waiting to be found by super players like you. Every mode will give you the chance to beat your own score, and there's a lot more to do than just saving a princess. So get ready for a brick-smashin', pipe-warpin', turtle-stompin' good time!"

"R-Type" (1989)

"R-Type" (1989)

R-Type is a port of a classic shoot 'em up game that debuted in arcades in 1987. Players blast their way to a massive boss on each stage, unlocking new power-ups with each victory.

"Equip Bits and obtain Laser Units to make the Force appear and to power it up. The Force can then be integrated into or separated from your R-9. Make the most of your weapons, including the Reflecting Laser Beams, Air-to-Surface, and Antiaircraft Lasers. Keep pressing the fire button to fire blasts from the Beam Cannon."

"The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening" (1993)

"The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening" (1993)

"A high-seas voyage takes a dangerous turn when Link's ship is destroyed by a furious storm, and he washes ashore on the mysterious island of Koholint. Link learns that the only hope he has of returning home depends on awakening the mythical Wind Fish, who slumbers within a giant egg atop the island's highest peak.

Lead Link on an incredible adventure as you explore uncharted lands, meet amazing new friends and foes, and unravel the mystery of the Wind Fish."

"Donkey Kong Country" (2000)

"Donkey Kong Country" (2000)

"After a dark and stormy night, Donkey Kong finds all of his bananas stolen by K. Rool and his reptilian crew of Kremlings! Armed with chest-pounding muscle, mighty barrel rolls, and awesome vine-swinging skills, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong set out to face their adversaries!

Play over 100 levels filled with collectibles and hidden bonus levels. With the help of Donkey Kong's quirky family, animal friends, and your fast reflexes, our dynamic duo will prove to be an unstoppable force."

"Donkey Kong" (1994)

"Donkey Kong" (1994)

"Donkey Kong has once again kidnapped Pauline!

Challenged by many perils, Mario must reach his archrival in order to save our damsel in distress. As Mario makes his way through a series of platforms while jumping and dodging obstacles, he will also need to gather disappearing keys to unlock doors to hidden rooms.

Donkey Kong will stop at nothing to confuse and trap our hero. Help guide Mario as he journies to the top! With 10 stages and 100 tricky levels to solve, it is a long trek to the final confrontation!"

"Mega Man V" (1994)

"Mega Man V" (1994)

"After another of Dr. Wily's failed attempts at world domination, peace reigns on Earth once more. Or so it would seem...

During a peaceful stroll with his sister Roll, Mega Man is confronted by a powerful robot called Terra that drops from the sky! The enemy easily defeats Mega Man, then quickly dispatches an army of robots to conquer Earth.

Waking up in Dr. Light's laboratory, Mega Man is given a new and powerful weapon to defeat the alien invasion--the Mega Arm. Now equipped to take down his enemies, Mega Man sets off to restore peace once. Use the aid of weapon upgrades and companion assists as you blast your way through waves of robotic foes, and solve the mystery behind this alien attack!"

"Kirby's Dream Land 2" (1995)

"Kirby's Dream Land 2" (1995)

"The Rainbow Bridges that connect the seven Rainbow Islands have disappeared. Help Kirby solve the mystery! Search through the different islands while battling King DeDeDe and his horde of evil minions.

Along the way, meet Rick the Hamster, Kine the Fish, and Coo the Owl. Each possesses important abilities that can multiply the magnitude of Kirby's powers! Earn the mysterious Rainbow Sword, and prepare to face Kirby's most menacing rival ever--the evil Dark Matter!"

"Metroid II: Return of Samus" (1991)

"Metroid II: Return of Samus" (1991)

"Bounty Hunter Samus Aran faces off against the Metroid scourge once again in this sequel to the NES classic, "Metroid." Take control to guide Samus™ through cavernous corridors, ancient ruins, and alien traps. On the mysterious planet SR388, you'll find artifacts of a lost civilization that grant amazing powers. Cut through creatures in a buzz-saw blur. Roll through hidden tunnels and climb sheer walls.

Fight to the heart of the planet and search for the merciless Metroid leaders. If you are a cunning explorer, you''ll earn the best of several super endings. Enter this exciting Metroid sequel and experience the thrills of this beloved series."

"Contra: The Alien Wars" (1994)

"Contra: The Alien Wars" (1994)

"In the year 2636, the alien war continues on and it's up to two soldiers, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, to put a stop to the alien invasion. The aliens have ravaged the Earth with their powerful organic and technological weapons.

Players can join with a partner and battle through 6 stages of non-stop run-and-gun action collecting power-ups including bombs, flamethrowers, spread shots, lasers and machine guns to take out the aliens. Bill and Lance travel through war-torn cities, on air bikes, riding missiles and ultimately into the alien base to defeat the alien boss once and for all."

"Harvest Moon 2" (2000)

"Harvest Moon 2" (2000)

"The honorable mayor of your local town has given you a farm at an unbelievable price—for FREE! But there's a catch. You must restore the farm to its former glory within a certain amount of time, or he will reclaim the property and turn it into a theme park!

Choose between playing as a boy or a girl farmer, and then grab your gloves and dig into a list of chores. Clear the land so you can plant and harvest crops. Raise happy cows, chickens, and sheep so that they can provide resources to sell and start you on the path to riches! Build new structures on your land, and watch your farm grow into an investment! Prove to the mayor that you have what it takes!"

"Gargoyle's Quest" (1990)

"Gargoyle's Quest" (1990)

"A long time ago, the Ghoul Realm barely escaped great peril. A large army of powerful beings called Destroyers came from a neighboring universe, overpowering the creatures of the Ghoul Realm. Just when everyone had given up hope, a great fire swept over the Realm, wiping out the Destroyers' army.

Several hundred years have passed, and the Realm is threatened once again. As the gargoyle Firebrand, you are destined to become the Red Blaze – the same powerful force that fought back the Destroyers so long ago. Now, you must traverse the Ghoul Realm and build your powers and abilities as you prepare to take on the Destroyers' King Breager and ensure the protection of the Ghoul Realm."

"Ghosts 'n Goblins" (1999)

"Ghosts 'n Goblins" (1999)

"Take on the role of the knight Sir Arthur, and delve into the realm of demons and monsters to rescue your girlfriend, the princess. Choose your weapons wisely, and take advantage of their strengths to deal with the situation at hand. Defeat the main boss at the end of each level, and pass through the gates that stand between you and Astaroth. Teach him a lesson in chivalry he'll never forget! The stage for adventure is set. Are you brave enough for the challenge?"

"Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge" (1991)

"Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge" (1991)

"Dracula has awakened from his 100-year slumber and kidnapped Christopher Belmont's son. There are four castles to explore as you take the role of Christopher and try to save your son: Crystal, Cloud, Plant, and Rock, which can be completed in any order before going on to the final stages.

In all of the levels, you must face hordes of undead enemies. Luckily, you have your trusty whip to help you vanquish your foes. At times, the whip will not be enough and you will have to use holy water, daggers, and other special weapons to advance. Destroying Dracula is the Belmont legacy, help Christopher continue the tradition in 'Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge.'"

"Final Fantasy Legend" (1989)

"Final Fantasy Legend" (1989)

"Create your party by choosing four warriors from eight different character classes including humans, mutants, and monsters. Humans specialize in hand-to-hand combat and have access to most weapons, mutants wield magic like no other, and monsters can evolve themselves by feasting on the meat of fallen opponents to become new monsters.

Venture your way through four different lands each with a unique fantasy theme to stop the wicked Ashura Devils from destroying the world. A beautiful fantasy soundtrack adds atmosphere to the experience and puts you in the right mood."

"Bionic Commando" (1992)

"Bionic Commando" (1992)

"Rad Spencer is a member of FF Corps, an elite group of commandos who serve the Federation. The group is specially trained in the use of powerful wired grappling guns. When the Federation's greatest soldier, Super Joe, is captured while infiltrating the enemy Doraize Army and investigating the development of a powerful super-weapon, Rad Spencer is sent in to save his missing comrade.

Take control of Rad and his powerful bionic arm as you infiltrate the Doriaze Army's heavily guarded fortress, navigate 19 levels, fight to save Super Joe and ultimately take down the enemy leader in this classic side-scrolling adventure."

"Kid Dracula" (1993)

"Kid Dracula" (1993)

"Kid Dracula, star of the mythical Transylvania 92010, and the coolest living corpse ever to stake his claim on Game Boy. If you thought Mario had a way with magic, you should see junior jugular's spellbinding powers, including the mesmerizing bat transformation. Poof! Nobody wings it better than Kid Drac. Meet and destroy Garamoth, a varicose villain who's draining the life blood out of Kid Drac's 8 level, 5 subgame Kingdom."

"Ninja Gaiden Shadow" (1991)

"Ninja Gaiden Shadow" (1991)

"Fight with the all new Ninja Gaiden "Shadow" through his awesome new adventure in the future. Collect the secret ninja power-ups to gain energy and ninja life force. Use the new ninja ninchaku rope and the art of the fire wheel to defeat your enemies. Use your proven ninja skills and techniques to fight your way through the many new levels and bosses."

"Shantae" (2002)

"Shantae" (2002)

"Genie-girl Shantae is the self-appointed guardian of a small fishing village, Scuttle Town. Living life in a lighthouse rather than a bottle, she's constantly on the lookout for danger. When the nefarious lady-pirate, Risky Boots catches wind of the treasure that was recently unearthed in the village, she launches an attack.

To get Scuttle out of trouble, it's up to Shantae to prove that she's the rightful "Guardian Genie" to the best of her dancing, buying and hair-whipping abilities. Learn "Dance Magic" to get new attacks, and battle your way through over 50 locations and Mini-Games!"

"Metal Gear Solid" (2000)

"Metal Gear Solid" (2000)

"Go undercover as the legendary Solid Snake as your infiltrate the GLF terrorist organization and regain control of Metal Gear. Embark on a highly classified mission containing 50+ stages of espionage action and suspense.

Hone your skills and prepare yourself for the unknown with over 180 different VR Training missions. Challenge your friends to an intense round of hide-and-seek Metal Gear-style in the all new VS Battle mode. Build up an arsenal of weaponry to help you take out the hostile terrorists."

"Final Fantasy Adventure" (1991)

"Final Fantasy Adventure" (1991)

"In the empire of Glaive, a gladiator-slave is force to fight evil monsters controlled by the Dark Lord. But when his friend is mortally wounded, he learns of a secret pendant which will give him great power.

As the hero, you must battle your way out of the Dark Knight's castle and search through a dangerous world for the girl who has the pendant. But you discover she has been captured by the Dark Knight's men. To free her, you must find the legendary sword and fight off the Dark Knight's beasts and overlords through deserts, snowfields, lakes, forests, and saves. Are you ready for the adventure of your life?"

"Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters" (1991)

"Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters" (1991)

"Angel Land is up to its halos in woes as mythical monsters are running rampant. Pit, the original Kid Icarus, must save the realm again. Armed with his trusty bow, he'll zap the bad guys and find the Three Sacred Treasures hidden by Palutena. Only after this grueling training will he be strong enough to take on the dark forces behind Angel Land's troubles.

Pit will encounter old friends and new enemies – from helpful Centurions to the dreaded Eggplant Wizard – as he journeys from the depths of the underworld to the towers of the sky palace. Find hammers to shatter special walls and reveal helpful items. Collect hearts by fighting off Pit's foes. Train hard and battle harder. Pit's challenges make the labors of Hercules look like a walk in the park."

"The Legend of Zelda Orcale of Ages" and "The Legend of Zelda Orcale of Seasons" (2001)

"The Legend of Zelda Orcale of Ages" and "The Legend of Zelda Orcale of Seasons" (2001)

"Transcend the very fabric of time with the Harp of Ages. Rescue Nayru, the Oracle of Ages, to save the Land of Labrynna from Veran, Sorceress of Shadows, who will pitch the world into an endless night.

Travelling through time presents Link with unique challenges. If a river blocks Link's path in the present, he can travel to the past and move a stone, redirecting the flow of water. If he plants seeds in the past, he'll find full-grown trees and vines when he returns to the present.

Transform the world around you with the Rod of Seasons, and create order from chaos. Stop a power-hungry general named Onox, and rescue Din, the Oracle of Seasons, to save the troubled land of Holodrum.

Change the seasons to overcome puzzling obstacles. If Link finds a small plant at the bottom of a cliff, change the season to summer, and Link can use the newly grown Deku Flower to boost up to the top. If Link faces a deep lake, use the Rod of Seasons to shift into winter, letting Link walk over the ice.

When played together, these two games offer an ultimate adventure not possible when each game is experienced on its own. The games feature a link system that unlocks access to additional content that you can't access any other way."

"Dragon Warrior III" (2001)

"Dragon Warrior III" (2001)

"Your father, the brave Ortega, is dead. He set off to destroy the Demon Lord Baramos but fell in glorious battle. Unless stopped, Baramos will unleash a torrent of evil that will destroy the world. You must stop paramos and discover the legend of the Dragon Warrior! Your journey starts on Aliahan. Only you decide where it ends."

"Donkey Kong Land 2" (1996)

"Donkey Kong Land 2" (1996)

"K. Rool has kidnapped Donkey Kong, and he's demanding the entire banana hoard as ransom! It's up to Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong to rescue their kidnapped pal. Play as either Kong and take advantage of their unique abilities.

Diddy Kong's Cartwheel can take out the bulkiest of baddies, while Dixie Kong's Helicopter Spin will let you hover over some tricky spots. There's also a wild assortment of friendly animals ready to help out the two little Kongs. There are over 40 levels to complete—each filled with special traps, collectibles, dastardly Kremlings, and a boatload of barrels to blast out of!"

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue" (1993)

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue" (1993)

"The whole sewer crew, except Michelangelo, is capture in a most heinous hideout. Who could be behind this travesty? Who else? Shredder has returned as Cyber Shredder, half-man, half-machine, and he's created this twisty-turn "fun house of turtle torture. Use turtle strategy and all new moves to help Michaelangelo rescue the gang from Cyber Shredder's fortress."

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