Since its launch in February 2023, the selection of Game Boy Color titles available on Nintendo Switch Online has steadily increased, with its numbers rivaling its older brother, the Game Boy. Most of the already released titles include some genuinely amazing games, like Pokemon Trading Card Game and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons & Ages. It has also played host to several oddball picks, like Quest for Camelot and Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, truly showing off the variety that the system has to offer.
Despite this growing library, there are many more amazing games for the technicolor handheld that deserve some recognition. For this list, I want to focus on some under-appreciated titles that few people might have played. We could discuss more obvious picks, like the Mario Tennis and Golf games, for example, or even the likes of Pokemon Pinball, but those feel more like inevitabilities. So let’s look at some of the hidden gems and lesser-known treasures for the Game Boy Color that would be a welcome sight on the Nintendo Switch.
Mega Man Xtreme
Capcom has done an excellent job keeping the Mega Man series relevant on modern hardware with its Legacy Collection releases. However, some spinoffs and handheld titles slip through the cracks, which is where Mega Man Xtreme comes into the picture. While a full remaster wouldn’t make much sense, releasing it on Switch seems more ideal.
Xtreme is essentially an 8-bit remake of Mega Man X and X2, with stages and bosses from both games present; it plays just as well as its Super Nintendo counterparts. The original’s challenging gameplay remains, as does the fantastic music. The iconic stage themes have been recreated excellently on the Game Boy Color hardware, and the graphics are impressive for a handheld.
The Game Boy Color’s smaller screen size can make the difficulty feel a little cheap at times, but overall, it doesn’t make this any less heart-pounding and exciting to play.
Magical Chase GB
Magical Chase GB is definitely what you could call a hidden gem of the Game Boy Color library. A Japanese-only port of the TurboGrafix-16 game of the same name, Magical Chase GB is an adorable-looking shooter that would be an excellent addition to the Switch Online library. Starring a young witch named Ripple, you shoot through colorful stages filled with bizarre and adorable foes to defeat six sinister demons.
It’s a simple but charming game with bold, colorful graphics full of personality. You can buy upgrades and health from shops partway through the stages to change up your strategy before the bosses. While not exceptionally long, these games are incredibly replayable, and bite-sized fun is always right at home on a handheld. The language barrier isn’t a problem for this one, as very little text prevents the game from being playable for a Western audience.
Even if this doesn’t make its way to the NSO service, you should keep an eye out for it in the future if you haven’t heard of it until now. It’s a whimsical and endearing cute-em-up worthy of your attention.
The Game Boy era was full of games that tried to capture just a little bit of what made Pokemon a household name. While Konami’s Azure Dreams certainly has some of that same flavor, it’s much more interesting as an engaging and strategic dungeon crawler. As the crimson-haired protagonist, you venture into the monster tower that looms over your village to make money and unearth what happened to your long-lost father.
The combat is straightforward, and your monster companions will attack on their own, but you have your attacks, too, so you’re not just relying on your monsters for protection. From the get-go, Azure Dreams has an engaging gameplay loop that sees you diving back in, starting fresh each time as you try to make it a little further. With over a hundred creatures to tame, you could sink a lot of time into this one.
Another game that was never released outside of Japan, Samurai Kid is a puzzle platformer in which players control a young samurai prince on his quest to defeat a demon king and rescue a princess. The game’s mechanics are simple to grasp, but even from the early stages, it’s easy to see how later puzzles could get trickier, with new layers getting progressively added as players play.
It revolves around using your three key weapons to interact with the environment: your large gourd can turn enemies into blocks, your sword can cut through certain walls, and your fan can anger enemies and lead them into more favorable positions. While each level is self-contained, there’s an incentive to return to each level after gaining more skills to earn more power-ups. Each level has a ranking system, too, challenging players to see how fast they can finish each level.
With very little text needing translation and extremely intuitive gameplay, Samurai Kid feels like a game that deserves a second chance. To me, it stuck out as a hidden gem.
The first game in Konami’s Lost In Blue series, this is a unique game in several ways. You start the game shipwrecked on a mysterious island with no sign of civilization. So, you must use your little survival knowledge to maintain your hunger, thirst, and energy levels. The survival elements keep things moving forward as you constantly look for fresh food and water sources. Your collected items can rot or degrade, so you can’t rest for a moment.
This game requires a bit of patience, and you might have to look up a guide to get you started. Walking in without much knowledge of how the game works will swiftly lead to a morbid end for you. But this sort of hardcore survival gameplay is pretty commonplace these days, and it is interesting to see that sort of gameplay attempted back on the GBC. With a non-linear approach to progression and many endings to unlock, Survival Kids is a game that is a joy to get lost in.
Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!
I wouldn’t usually include licensed games on a list like this, but this charming little game is a bit of a special case. While Pax Softnica developed it, Nintendo published it. This could be described as a hamster linguistics simulator. In it, you travel through your neighborhood, talk to other hamsters, and fill out a dictionary. Each word you learn has a purpose in solving puzzles and recruiting your fellow ham-hams for your clubhouse.
While it isn’t a highly complex game, it is adorable and wholesome, not only in its gameplay concept but also in its presentation. It feels like an entry-level adventure game, but it’s one that older players could enjoy, too, so long as you don’t take it too seriously. This game (along with its GBA sequel) gets very little attention these days, but introducing them to a newer generation with NSO would be a treat!
Real-time strategy games are seldom released on anything other than PC, and for the most part, you can understand why. Their complexities often require many more buttons than consoles usually have, so the experience ends up watered down. While Warlocked from Bits Studios simplifies the experience, it does so in a way that still makes it extremely enjoyable. It’s incredible what they pull off with the few GBC buttons.
This fantasy RTS feels perfectly crafted for the system as each map is catered to be a short burst of tactical goodness. It’s got base building and resource gathering, plus the various wizards and warlocks you can recruit to your cause, keeping each level of the two campaigns fresh. And you don’t just have to play solo either, as there are several multiplayer maps to unlock. Nintendo has done an excellent job keeping these handheld multiplayer modes alive on NSO, so we only hope that Warlocked will receive the same support.
Dragon Warrior Monsters
We’ve already included one monster battler on this list, and just as Azure Dreams takes a slightly different approach to the genre, Dragon Warrior Monsters takes the Pokemon formula and spices it up with the traditional trimmings and mechanics of a Dragon Quest game. Of course, Dragon Quest is a series with iconic monster designs, so it’s already primed for this sort of gameplay, and it’s incredible just how well it slips into those shoes.
Playing as a young boy named Terry, you must tame and forge a bond with a team of monsters to save your kidnapped sister. Combat is very similar to that in the other Dragon Quest games, although you do none of the fighting yourself, and your monsters all fight for you. By changing their tactics, you can alter how they’ll behave during battle and overcome the many other tamers you come up against.
With a new installment in this side series recently hitting the Switch, bringing the original to NSO would be ideal for showing fans where it all began.
Resident Evil Gaiden
In a series as storied as Resident Evil, it’s no surprise there are many spinoff titles, but Resident Evil Gaiden is often overlooked. While it is not a one-to-one recreation of the Resident Evil formula and takes some liberties with its gameplay style, it does it mainly for the better, in my opinion. Playing as Barry Burton, you must infiltrate a cruise ship to find Leon, who has gone missing while investigating a new bioweapon.
Exploration is done from a top-down perspective, and as always, you must search for items while avoiding the grasping clutches of the ship’s zombified inhabitants. Combat, however, takes a different approach. Rather than aiming and shooting in the traditional way, when you lock onto an enemy, you are sent to an RPG-like battle screen where you must time your button presses to do damage. It’s unconventional but surprisingly fun, and it makes the combat very tense, as you have to make each shot count.
While this game is primarily considered non-canon today, it is a remarkably playable and unique series entry that brought the masses survival horror.
Metal Gear Solid
With Konami’s recent release of the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Volume 1, there’s a chance this one might appear in the eventual Volume 2. But still, if it doesn’t, there’d be no better home for it than Nintendo Switch Online. This handheld iteration of the classic stealth series sees Solid Snake doing what he does best in smaller proportions. The gameplay harkens back to the original Metal Gear games while providing new gameplay elements and a completely original story to help give this installment its identity.
Without a doubt, this was one of the best ways to play Metal Gear on the go back in the day, and even these days, it’s worthy of praise for just how well it replicates the signature espionage action of its bigger brother on the PS1. While it doesn’t come up in the conversation often, it’s more than worthy of joining the NSO library so that people can experience this forgotten entry in one of gaming’s most beloved franchises.
We made a similar list for Game Boy Advance games last year! Check it out here!
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