Not surprisingly, the Game Boy Advance, one of the most successful handheld systems ever, saw a number of successful games as well. Entries from nearly every major series released during its lifespan. That being said, there were also a number of new IPs that debuted on the more advanced version of the old-fashioned Game Boy. Here are a few of the most interesting.
Boktai: Boktai was an unusual type of game by the guy behind Metal Gear– it still involved stealth, but since it also involved vampires, it really took things to the next level. Both the original Boktai and its sequel had a solar cell built right into the Game Pak, so the game could sense whether it was day or night and the vampires’ strength would wax or wane accordingly. The DS follow-up Lunar Knights instead utilized the DS’ internal clock to simulate day and night instead of forcing the game players to actually go outside.
Advance Wars: Advance Wars is one of the greatest game series to ever start on the GBA. Just kidding. Any Power Player worth his salt knows that the Wars series started with the very first Nintendo console, the Famicom. However, neither Famicom Wars nor any of its brethren made it to the non-Japanese markets until the Game Boy Advance. That being said, one supposes you could be forgiven for not knowing that. America actually got this game way in…advance (Editor’s note: who isthis Aaron guy?) of the other territories thanks to the events of September 11, 2001, and it wasn’t even released in Japan until 2005 as a compilation with its sequel, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. Fun fact: All the armies are named after Lucky Charms marshmallows.
Wario wants YOU to D.I.Y.
WarioWare: This franchise started in 2003 and is arguably the GBA’s most important original property. In fact, it’s the one game Shigeru Miyamoto says that he wishes he had come up with. Take a bunch of five second games and mishmash them all together, and you’ve got the basic concept of WarioWare: Mega Microgame$. This series has slowly become a mainstay for Nintendo when launching a new system, although some series fans say the novelty has diminished with successive installments. Still, it has one of the most interesting casts of characters ever seen, including ninja kindergartners, karaoke robots, and, you know, Wario.
Legend of Stafy: No one outside of Japan played these– well, mostly, but this became a huge series for Nintendo as well on the GBA. It was originally developed by TOSE for the black-and-white Game Boy. Then, since development wasn’t really that far along, Nintendo asked TOSE to wait until the Game Boy Color came out to release it. Then, turns out that it was still taking too long to come out, so it got delayed again and was released on the Game Boy Advance instead. Complicated, what? Trivia time! In English, Stafy is known as “Starfy,” which is totally not the same at all as in his DS adventure (The Legendary Starfy), which was released internationally.
bit Generations came with some great minimalist boxart– practically frameable.
bit Generations: This is a series that, again, most people outside of Japan have not really heard of, but was very influential. The series was created to be kind of a metagaming experience, with the individual titles, like Dotstream and Dialhex, each featuring a simple but deep kind of play. The bit Generations series had more of a lasting impression than it might seem at first, as the series then inspired later releases in the ArtStyle and BitTrip collections.
Gyakuten Saiban: Take That! If you didn’t know that Phoenix Wright’s adventures really started on Game Boy Advance, that is. It’s kind of a wonder, considering how well the games work with two separate screens, but the legal action worked nearly as well on the single-screened portable. If you wanted to review evidence or character profiles, you simply had to press the R button and view each item or person individually. Graphically, the games were quite similar to their DS counterparts. While there have been some DS-original games in the overall series, every game with Phoenix’s name in the title was originally on Game Boy Advance.