10- Final Fantasy Adventure: Game Boy (1991)
After one of those dreary summer vacations, I was in need of a new game, having beaten Legend of Zelda for the fifteenth time. That was when my brother took a trip to Toys ‘R’ Us and came home with a game I would never think twice about picking up myself; Final Fantasy Adventure. Until then, and even now, I have a hard time sinking my time into the turn based RPG’s that come out of Japan. Final Fantasy Adventure was different, though.
You start off as a prisoner who is tasked with fighting in a gladiator arena for the villain Dark Lord. After escaping the hero meets up with a female companion and they set off to find the Tree of Mana and save the world. The gameplay leaned towards a Legend of Zelda style, infused with a shallow but understandable leveling system. Instead of being the game I replayed over and over again to see how quickly I could beat it, Final Fantasy Adventure was a game I could savor. Ironically, I ended up buying future Final Fantasy titles, thinking they would be like this…a game that is actually a part of the Mana series. Needless to say, they didn’t compare. –Justin Wheelock
9– WarioWare: Twisted: Game Boy Advance (2005)
Until the WarioWare series, Wario was just another one of Mario’s nemeses. Thanks to MegaMicro Game$ and Twisted, Wario’s identity has been redefined – he is a greedy SOB who now bases his lifestyle around 3 second minigames. Although MegaMicro Game$ takes credit as being the first in this fast paced series, WarioWare Twisted introduced a whole new way to play games.
A game like Twisted can only be played on a portable system as the player literally twists and turns the Game Boy Advance to finish fast-paced minigames thanks to the cartridge’s built-in gyroscope. Each game is crazier than the last and the player will become more addicted by the second. Rarely does the world get treated to a game that is so unique, so polished and so entertaining. WarioWare Twisted, we salute you. – Zachary Gasiorowski
8– Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: Game Boy Advance (2003)
Castlevania is no stranger to portable systems, spawning three games on the GBA alone. However, the third time was the charm. Each and every enemy in the game could be absorbed into Soma, the protagonist, by assimilating their souls. Each enemy soul could then be equipped and used as a mini weapon. Although there were definitely favorite weapons, spawn killing even the lowliest of enemies had a purpose in Aria of Sorrow.
The plotline, although slightly strange (Drac’s castle randomly appearing in Japan…huh?), it was good enough to warrant a direct sequel a short time later on the DS. Symphony of the Night is the fan favorite Castlevania, but Aria of Sorrow is definitely the best Castlevania on GBA and is also one of the best games on the system. –Zachary Gasiorowski
7- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance: Game Boy Advance (2003)
I’m one of those guys that hold Final Fantasy Tactics up as one of the single greatest achievements of mankind. Way back when, I was one of those guys who absolutely loathed Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, simply because it was not exactly the same as the original.
While it isn’t the same as the original, and I don’t think it comes close to being better, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a very, very good game in its own right. As one of the first tactical games to come out on a handheld, alongside Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis (#16 on our list), Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was the game that ushered in a new era of tactical RPGs, paving the way for both more strategy-emphatic Final Fantasy titles like Revenant Wings and Grimoire Rift, and carving a niche for other tactical games like Jeanne D’Arc and Devil Survivor. This is all outside the fact that the game was one of the very few handheld games that you could sink one-hundred hours on, with an addicting job system and numerous unlockable characters. –Steven Rondina
6– Advance Wars: Game Boy Advance (2001)
What originally started as Game Boy Wars on the original GB in Japan, Intelligent Systems and Nintendo gave GBA owners a reason to own a GBA and proved that even a handheld system can compete against the PC greats. There is no quest that Final Fantasy Tactics is a stellar turn based strategy game, but Advance was the first to do it on a handheld system. The simple game design was easy to grasp but required a tremendous sense of forward thinking in order to be successful.
Even if you didn’t like strategy games, Advance Wars was the game to change your mind and make you a fan of this style of game. Once the lengthy single player campaign was completed, friends could challenge each other in pass-the-system multiplayer, multi or even single-pak link modes. There was even an option to make your own maps. Advance Wars’ addictive qualities were through the roof and perfected suited for a handheld experience. The music rocked too. –Zachary Gasiorowski
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