After the revitalization of the Game Boy thanks to Pokémon, Nintendo started to design the true successor to the system that would eventually become the Game Boy Advance. However, to buy some time, they introduced the Game Boy Pocket, a smaller and sharper version of the original system, and soon after the Game Boy Color. Basically a Game Boy Pocket, except with the ability to FINALLY display games in colors other than pea green. This was a monumental shift since this was the first portable system to be able to play games in color without draining the battery in less than 2 hours. While it’s often forgotten nowadays since it was only truly supported for a few years, the Color still has a decent enough library to warrant its own Classic Edition.
Now, personally, I would have combined this with the original Game Boy Classic Edition, since a lot of the Game Boy games on my previous list received DX versions that added color palettes for this system. However, Nintendo being Nintendo, I really doubt they’d bother and will emphasize the original system if they do, in fact, make a Game Boy Classic Edition. Even on the eShop Nintendo placed more emphasis on the original instead of the Color, outside of Zelda and Pokémon.
With the system itself, I believe it will retail for $45-$50 and will include 20 games, as honestly while the Color itself has a lot of good games, I don’t think there’s enough to warrant a full list of 30 games. In terms of construction, it would use pretty much all the same materials as the original Game Boy Classic Edition, just with a different casing, thus reducing the cost of the system greatly. Any of the technical quirks of my original Classic Edition template (HDMI port, wireless adapter, Classic Controller port) will also be on this system.
As for the games, I emphasized games either heavily advertised or designed specifically for the Color in mind with this list. So, even if there were games that could work on both systems, if they were advertised for the Color they would go in here rather than the previous system. Also, as with previous Classic Editions, I won’t put in any games that were on a previous Classic Edition, so no Super Mario Bros. Deluxe nor any of the DX versions of original Game Boy games.
With that being said, on to the list!
With Super Mario Bros. Deluxe not eligible for this list (though I will add the caveat that Nintendo could add that game in regardless), the system needs a headlining game, and Legend of Zelda is one of the safest choices for that. This entry, along with its companion piece below, were developed by Capcom and was built on the same engine as Link’s Awakening. This game was more focused on action and combat, as Link traveled to save the oracle Din from the evil Onox. He has the ability to change the seasons almost at will and also has several animal friends who can assist him in battling the bad guys. This game, along with its sister below, refined the portable Zelda experience to as close to perfection as you can get, and to this day is one of the cleverer titles in the franchise.
Released at the same time as Seasons, this game has Link quest to free the oracle Nayru from her possession by the evil sorceress Veran. Unlike the more combat-oriented Seasons, Ages emphasizes puzzle solving a lot more and has Link able to travel through time using the Harp of Ages. While both games were released at the same time, unlike Pokémon, both games had completely different worlds, story, and characters for Link to explore and interact with. The main function of linking the games together were the Rings, which could power Link up and could be transferred from one game to another, while some could only be gotten via linking. Furthermore, if you link the two games together and defeat them, you unlock a special endgame boss that ties the two games together.
While this was playable on the original Game Boy, this game was advertised as a Game Boy Color game (and released that way on the eShop), so it’s going on here. While the previous Wario Land game was just a modified version of the standard Mario formula, Wario Land II truly struck out on its own with one simple change: Wario cannot die. I don’t mean he doesn’t have lives like in Super Mario Odyssey, I mean that Wario cannot be killed. Certain hazards will instead transform Wario into different forms that allow him to proceed. Instead of simply getting to the end as fast as possible, the objective of each level is to explore around and grab as much treasures and money as you can get, as much like the previous game, the ending depends on how rich you are at the end. One of the more clever platformers, this game still holds up and would form the basis for a lot of Wario’s games moving forward.
Yes, I know it’s weird that the last game used Roman numerals while this one uses Arabic numerals, but that’s how the games were released. Anyway, like any good sequel, Wario Land 3 takes what its predecessor built up, and adds and improves upon it, refining it into a great platforming experience. Just like the last game, Wario cannot die but is instead transformed into different forms when hit with attacks, but the new gimmick this time is the tried and true day/night cycle. Different paths and enemies will appear depending on the time of day, which just emphasizes the Metroid-esque search for goodies that these games revel in. And just like always, the ending depends on how much loot you find.
Honestly? These two games are probably the main justification Nintendo would use to make a separate Game Boy Color Classic Edition in the first place. The first sequels in the mega popular franchise, these games have you traverse the land of Johto, encountering brand new Pokémon and fighting brand new Gym Leaders while trying to take down a revived Team Rocket. Introducing two new types, a day/night cycle, several new moves, new evolutions, the ability to breed two Pokémon together, allowing Pokémon to hold items, and even including a visit back to Kanto in the second half of the game, these games were monumental in extending the life of the franchise. Much like the previous Classic Edition, I do think Nintendo will focus on the original versions, so no Crystal here. While these are some of my least favorite Pokémon games, there’s no denying that these games have a huge fanbase and will likely sell the system all on their own.
The Game Boy Color was a breeding ground for Pokémon spinoffs, and one of the most beloved was Pokémon Pinball. Using two different tables, you bounce your Poké Ball around and, what else, attempt to catch ‘em all. The various bumpers were themed after Pokémon, such as Shellder or Voltorb, and to catch or evolve a Pokémon, you had to direct your ball into specific entry points. With enough points, you could also open up various fun minigames, such as one where you had to collect all of Meowth’s coins. While it can get a little repetitive if you’re tying to 100% complete it, the pinball mechanics are still a lot of fun. Plus, the blue table is the first, and one of the only, times we actually got to hear Aim to be a Pokémon Master, the first Japanese theme to the anime, here in America.
Panel de Pon, one of Nintendo’s flagship puzzle franchises, has had a rough go in the US. The default cast of characters for the franchise has been considered too cutesy and saccharine for gamers in America, so whenever the game is brought to English territories, the graphics are changed to get rid of its original cast. The most well known version was Tetris Attack, which used the cast from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, but because The Tetris Company refuses to allow its name to be used in that game anymore, that game (and its Game Boy port) cannot be re-released. In the N64 era, Nintendo decided to try again, but with Pokémon characters. While the console version was based on the first two arcs of the anime, this portable version was based more off of Gold/Silver and featured the cast from those games. You traverse around and attempt to defeat various Gym Leaders, some of whom give you a playable Pokémon when defeated. If you’ve ever played Tetris Attack or Pokémon Puzzle League, you know what to expect here and the gameplay is still as great as ever. I just wish I was at least somewhat good at the game.
The final Pokémon spinoff on this list, this game takes the basic story concept of the original Pokémon games and applies them to the Trading Card Game instead. Based off the first few expansions, you select your Starter Deck and travel around to the various Clubs in order to defeat the Club Leaders and get their Medals. Then, you can challenge the Grand Masters in order to get the ultimate rare cards. Featuring everything the regular card game had at the time, along with multiple game-only cards, this was a great way to introduce someone to the TCG and get them used to the way the game works. While the color palette has not aged well, it still has a lot of nostalgia for people, though people used to how the TCG plays nowadays might get frustrated with the slow gameplay. Also, the AI is really, really bad.
Released at the same time as its N64 cousin, Mario Tennis takes the basic gameplay of the console version and successfully translates it to the small screen. Most notably, it introduced various original human characters that can be used in the game’s story mode, where you can build up your stats until you become the top tennis player in the Mushroom Kingdom. Originally, by using the Transfer Pak, you could unlock the various human characters in the N64 game and unlock Bowser, Yoshi, Wario, and Waluigi in this game, but obviously that wouldn’t work with these Classic Systems, even if this system would include a wireless adapter. More likely, Nintendo would just have those characters unlocked from the start.
Much like Mario Tennis, this game was also developed along with its N64 cousin and includes many of the same features of both its console counterpart and its Tennis cousin. This game also has a single-player role-playing mode where you play as one of a few brand new human characters as you quest to become the best golfer in the Mushroom Kingdom. Again, like Tennis, you could upload your GBC character onto the N64 version and play them in 3D, but that, again, is not an option for this Classic Edition version. By itself, it’s still a great golf game and the single-player modes offer a lot of replayability.
The third version of the classic Game & Watch Gallery series, this game once again takes classic Game & Watch games and repackages them for the Game Boy. Much like previous entries, all of the base games come in Classic, which uses a similar style to the original LCD graphics, and Modern, which replaces all the graphics with stylings from the Mario franchise. This game in particular also includes a variety of extra unlockable games that can only be played in Classic mode. While there are a lot of games here that aren’t familiar to folks, it does include the Game & Watch version of Donkey Kong Jr. and the original arcade Mario Bros., which are interesting to play compared to their more popular counterparts.
The Bust-a-Move series is one of the most popular puzzle series, but despite having multiple versions on Nintendo consoles, they don’t get much attention from Nintendo themselves. This version was created specifically for the Game Boy Color and features all the fun of the series classic gameplay in a portable setting. If you haven’t played this game, you have a mass of colored balls, and you have to fire colored balls of your own to connect them. If you can get the same color connected, they will disappear and balls below them will fall as well, with the goal to clear the screen. There was another game in the series released for the Game Boy Color known as Bust-a-Move Millenium, which does offer some exclusive features, but also has some control problems, which is why I chose this game instead, but I could see either game being chosen.
Technically, this does break my “no games from previous Classic Editions” rule, since the first Dragon Quest was on the Famicom Classic Edition, but that wasn’t on the English version, so I’m employing a loophole here. A remade version of the first two Famicom games, this was actually the first time English fans could play the second game legally. While there is some screen crunch here and the sound quality isn’t as good as their console cousins, it’s still the classic RPG gameplay and if you’ve enjoyed previous Dragon Quest games, you’ll love these as well.
Harvest Moon is one of the more beloved cult classic franchises, and one of the most popular versions of this game is the Game Boy Color edition. You start out as a simple farmer and your goal is to develop your farm, find a lover, get married, and raise a family. While it may seem quaint compared to, say, Stardew Valley, the game still has a lot of charm and working on your farm can get pretty addicting. Plus, unlike Stardew, you don’t have to worry about energy meters or keeping the town interested in you.
While the original Game Boy had their Mega Man games based on the Classic series, the Color upgraded to the X series with X-Treme and X-Treme 2. These games basically take levels and Mavericks from the first three X games that weren’t used in the first X-Treme and reworks them for the Game Boy’s screen. This game won’t blow you away, but it is a pretty fun portable Mega Man X game. As to why the sequel, this game allows you to play as both X and Zero and includes a new mode where you can freely change between the two, but only one can get the Boss Weapon, introducing some strategy. There’s also even a bonus mode where you fight all the bosses from the first X-Treme game.
Rayman was never considered one of the top tier mascots even back in its heyday, often overshadowed by Crash or Spyro or Mario, but he’s been a cult classic for decades now. Rayman got a Game Boy Color title based on the original game, and it plays relatively well. Unfortunately, it does have a lot of cut corners as most of the bosses and side characters were cut from the game. There was a version of Rayman 2 that was also released for the Color, which had some improvements from this game, but also suffered from technical limitations. While I think the first game would be chosen, I could also see the sequel be chosen.
One of the odder titles for this lineup, this is actually the third game in the River King series, but the first one released in English. This is a fishing RPG made by the same company that made Harvest Moon (emphasized in Europe where it was released as Harvest Fishing) and while not as beloved as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, it’s still charming in its own way and the fishing mechanics offer something unique compared to the traditional turn-based battles. I fully admit that I would not be surprised if this was dumped for a DX title, but I think this would be a good boost for the dead series.
One of the most beloved and underplayed titles in the system’s library, Ghost Babel is an alternate timeline game taking place after the NES games that returns the series to the original gameplay style. The game has never been re-released and was released near the end of the Color’s lifespan, so a lot of people haven’t played this at all. There’s a lot of replayability in this game since it grades you on your success or failures while taking the difficulty setting into account. There’s even a 2-player mode, which is a rarity for this franchise. And it’s not rated M, so it can be considered family-friendly and be used to advertise this to older players, kinda like Star Fox 2 for the SNES Classic Edition.
One of the last games released for the Game Boy Color, Shantae was a quirky little Metroidvania-esque game that was almost completely ignored thanks to the Game Boy Advance. Luckily, the franchise got a second chance and is now one of the biggest indie darlings, so it makes a ton of sense to include this forgotten classic in the Color Classic Edition, especially since this game isn’t on the Nintendo Switch just yet. While things are a bit rough here compared to Pirate’s Curse or 1/2 Genie Hero, it’s still a lot of fun to play and has all the hallmarks of what makes the series great.
So, that’s my list for a possible Game Boy Color Classic Edition. Are there any games I missed? What would you put on here?