12 classic Game Boy and Game Boy Color games we want on 3DS

Forget 3D for a minute - here are the 2D treats we want to download

Words: on January 20, 2011

Contributors: Henry Gilbert, Chris Antista, Carolyn Gudmundson, Brett Elston

With the full reveal of the 3DS earlier today (details on everything you need to know here), we were especially excited to hear that the 3DS will feature its own version of Wii's online shop, with its own Virtual Console section for original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.

Nintendo hasn't announced pricing yet for 3DS's Virtual Console, but considering NES games are only five bucks (500 points) on Wii's Virtual Console, we have to imagine that Game Boy and Game Boy Color games won't run more than four dollars. Compared to a lot of the drivel available for $4 on the iPhone and whatnot, that seems like a pretty good deal for such nostalgia-inducing treats as Mario Land and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening – the only two games thus far announced for the service. Here are the rest of the titles we hope to see soon after the 3DS launches.

Final Fantasy Adventure

Technically this one wasn’t a Final Fantasy at all. Before being rebranded internationally, Adventure was part of the Seiken Densetsu or Secret of Mana series, which explains why its style is more Legend of Zelda than Final Fantasy. Still, the top-down adventure was a little more complex than the NES original, with more of a focus on stats and leveling up than Link was.

Above: A sampling of FF Adventure's aural delights

With some pretty high-end GB graphics and a soundtrack from Square’s top composer Nobuo Uematsu, Adventure was ahead of its time. Even getting republished around when Final Fantasy VII was huge, it still never got the exposure it deserved, something the 3DS VC can change.


Talk about bad timing. Developer Wayforward puts a ton of work into making a GBC-exclusive platformer, gets a top company like Capcom to publish it, and when it finally comes out so few play it because the Game Boy Advance had already been out for a year at that point. Shantae was widely ignored, as by then the GBC was a trash heap dominated by Mary-Kate and Ashley.

Those that did find Shantae were all the better for it. The game was an amazing, old-school platformer that followed the adventures of a saucy half-genie as she battled a bunch of jerky pirates. Perhaps the best looking game the GBC ever had, it deserves a second chance on 3DS VC. And it makes more sense than ever since the game's long awaited sequel, Shantae: Risky's Revenge, hit DSiWare last year.

Game Boy Wars series

If you’re a sane person, then you’re aware that the Advance Wars series is some of the best portable fun Nintendo released in the last decade. But what you may not know is that the deceptively simple strategy series got its start on the Japanese NES aka Famicom as Famicom Wars, and that the series then hit Japanese handhelds in the late 80s as Game Boy Wars.

Obviously the games won’t look that advanced (ZING) these days, but if you’re an Advance Wars fan, doesn’t it irk you that three Wars games exist that you never played? Nintendo already has an import section for the Wii’s VC, and these game would make a real splash if the 3DS ever got a similar subdivision.

Above: The intro to the first Game Boy Wars 

Kirby's Dream Land and Kirby's Dream Land 2

While Kirby's Dream Land 2 is vastly superior to its predecessor, it's worth playing the original Dream Land if only because it's Kirby's debut and it's interesting to see him before he became the Kirby we know today – in the original he could inhale and swallow or spit enemies, but he couldn't absorb their powers like in subsequent games. '

Above: Kirby's genesis. Factoid: Kirby's sprite started as a placeholder while the developers at HAL decided what he should look like, but his blobby form was so cute it stuck

Once you're done with that (and let's hope a save function is added to the VC release), you can move on to Dream Land 2, which benefits from all the improvements made in Kirby's Adventure for NES, which was released between the first two Dream Land games. Kirby has been adorable from the start, but back in the Dream Land days he was also quite tough. The majority of Dream Land 2 might not be that difficult compared to other platformers of yore, but wait until you get to the final boss, Dark Matter. 

Super Mario Land 2

While the first Mario Land is the odd duck of the series (not bad, just different), Super Mario Land 2 was a welcome return to form.  With its cartoony design and big detailed sprites reminiscent of Mario World, a plethora of different theme worlds, and original, but predictable power-ups, Land 2 gave Mario fans what they wanted and did so brilliantly.


We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that this game brought lovable asshole Wario into all our lives. Instead of Princess saving, Mario’s out to get back his castle which was stolen by the chunky ne’er-do-well. It wasn’t the easiest game ever, but Mario Land 2 is still one of the best platformers in portable gaming history.

Super Mario Bros Deluxe

Normally when Nintendo rereleases an aging classic, it upgrades levels, lightly tweaks gameplay, and overhauls the graphics into something more befitting of a newer platform. Super Mario Bros Deluxe said “Nuts to all that shit!” and essentially recreated the original SMB using the most sacred of all sprites!

Above: Notice anything different? If not, then you should probably stop reading our site 

Of course it added stuff, too: “The Lost Levels” are integrated, as is an overworld map, multiplayer challenge modes, unlockable art, and - BOOYA! - Game Boy Printer support! Mega Man 9 gets a lot of credit for being one of the first games to offer the ultimate old school fan service, but the 3DS’s Virtual Console has a unique opportunity to prove to the world it was actually done first by SMBD. (Oh my, that’s an unfortunate abbreviation – DO NOT Google, kids!)




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  • Nintygameplayerperson

    Nintygameplayerperson - 1 year, 7 months ago

    The Game Boy Color version of Donkey Kong Country! That's actually the first version of DKC that I've ever played.
  • ericeman

    ericeman - 1 year, 8 months ago

    Back in the day I had a gold Game Boy Pocket which was essentially the first console in our house that was mine and not my brother's. I sold it to get 'Kirby's Tilt and Tumble' which was a fantastic game that would actually be possible thanks to the gyroscope.

    My point is: I'd gladly repurchase a gold Game Boy Pocket if only for nostalgic reasons. Oh, and Kirby's Tilt and Tumble.
  • RaptorRider

    RaptorRider - 1 year, 8 months ago

    With the gyroscope embedded into the 3DS, it would be amazing if they added Kirby Tilt and Tumble.
  • Nap1400

    Nap1400 - 1 year, 8 months ago

    I totally agree with the original Kirby's Dreamland 1&2 being on here, but there's another Kirby game I want on there: Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble. That was one of my favorite Kirby spin-offs when I was a kid, and it would make good use of the 3DS's gyro sensor.
  • enviremental

    enviremental - 1 year, 8 months ago

    Red, blue, yellow, Gold, Silver, and crystal version. Easy.
  • Aforextreme

    Aforextreme - 1 year, 8 months ago

    I am SO glad I'm not the only person who thinks the original Pokemon Pinball is balls-hard. In that sense, I kind of like the sequel better, but nostalgia still compels me to love the first more.

    As for other good games that should be on the 3DS VC: why not Kirby's Pinball Land, Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors (an odd fighting/card game combo), Mario Tennis (Camelot's tennis-RPG), the GB/GBC Pokemon games (R/B/Y/G/S/C), and Dragon Warrior Monsters?
  • onewheeled999

    onewheeled999 - 1 year, 8 months ago

    YES, finally some love for Pokemon Pinball! That game was, and still is, one of my favorite GBC games I ever played, and I still enjoy it to this day.
  • kytano_skorpius

    kytano_skorpius - 1 year, 8 months ago

    The Wario Land games too. Those were classics.
  • GammaGames

    GammaGames - 1 year, 8 months ago

    Advance wars would be fun
  • kytano_skorpius

    kytano_skorpius - 1 year, 8 months ago

    @jmcgrotty Double negatives are bad...

    I have to say, good list and I mostly agree with it. A couple I'd like to see are Castlevania Legends, though I know it'll never happen. For whatever reason Konimi seems to hate that game.
  • SillyPigeon

    SillyPigeon - 1 year, 8 months ago

    MARIO GOLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! for Game Boy Colour
  • Mikaro

    Mikaro - 1 year, 8 months ago

    Ages and Seasons = So many childhood memories <3 I remember doing the link cable thing back and forth to fight twinrova and ganon... Good times.
  • GamesRadarBrettElston

    GamesRadarBrettElston - 1 year, 8 months ago


    Right now it's just GB/GBC. Nintendo won't even say if it plans to bring GBA into the mix, let alone Game Gear or Lynx.

    As for which version will appear on the VC, I assume it will be the specific version they port. As in, say they bring Donkey Kong GB over - I think It'd be the regular Game Boy version, not the enhanced Super Game Boy palette. I wouldn't expect the custom borders either.

    But as always with Nintendo, there are no details to work with, other than the new VC won't be available on day one. If they're still this light on details, it may not even make it in month one...
  • Scoob

    Scoob - 1 year, 8 months ago

    Good list. Except the Final Fantasy Adventure part. That remake has been done already in 2003 as Sword of Mana, and it was an awesome game. Maybe re-releasing that as a VC type title would be sufficient.
  • gumbyx84

    gumbyx84 - 1 year, 8 months ago

    Agree with all of these. Sadly, we will probably only see SML2 and maybe Kirby. We might even see the Oracle series and Metroid 2. I WISH they would re-release Shantae, but for some reason I don't think Nintendo will be allowing 3rd party games to be released. Also, not sure WayForward would want to pay to get it on the Portable VC.
  • thefreakysurgeon

    thefreakysurgeon - 1 year, 8 months ago

    i would LOVE to see Super Mario Land 1 and Wario Land 2 get on the e-store sometime!!
  • AshLynx

    AshLynx - 1 year, 8 months ago

    I'd really want Magi Nation, another GBC game that came out towards the end of the GBC's lifespan and one of the greatest RPGs that no one played.
  • ViolentLee

    ViolentLee - 1 year, 8 months ago

    Mario's Picross, one of the greatest puzzle games of all time -- spawning a whole series of sleepers, each better than the last.
  • Japanaman

    Japanaman - 1 year, 8 months ago

    I'm curious how Nintendo will handle the ports. Will Super Gameboy titles be ported in black and white, in GBC color, or in Super Gameboy color? And will the colors be edited and if so, edited like in GBC or like in SGB? And will SGB titles have the SNES backgrounds to better fit the new larger 3DS screens? And will we see Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and GBA games? And will TurboGrafx games be on there since they were compatible with the TurboExpress? It would be a shame to buy them on Wii and buy them on 3DS as you only had to buy 1 game for both systems and you can buy just one game for both PS3 and PSP (I believe) I also wouldn't mind seeing VB titles in true 3D and Lynx titles.
  • NESman

    NESman - 1 year, 8 months ago

    Oracle Zelda games would be great. Ordered both from ebay to use the the GBA but Ages was a dud.
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