The Game Boy Color was actively circulating at a time when the Game Boy was still the most popular handheld around. This and the fact that the Color supported backward compatibility for original Game Boy games meant the two devices were essentially competing for attention from developers. Game makers were keen on capturing as large a market as possible, so they focused on making titles that could run on both machines.
If you think that's not a big deal, then you must be among the many who think that the Game Boy Color simply slapped a color LCD onto a regular Game Boy. It's actually a much more powerful device, with roughly two times the clock speed and three times as much memory as the original design. The improved internals allow for games that run faster and are much more detailed on a screen with the same resolution.
Some games truly showcased the power of the Game Boy Color, and this list is here to give them a shoutout. Read on for our picks of the 10 great Game Boy Color games with the best graphics.
10. Wario Land 3
This should come as no surprise to Game Boy fans. The Wario Land series has always been a visual standout, even when it was first introduced for the black-and-white Game Boy, and Nintendo took full advantage of the upgraded hardware in the Game Boy Color to make Wario's final adventure a sight to behold.
9. Lufia: The Legend Returns
This game may not have the pedigree of your Final Fantasys and Dragon Quests, but it's better than anything either of those series brought to the Game Boy. Lufia: The Legend Returns is unmatched in story and scale, telling a compelling coming-of-age tale that spans a massive continent, and the detailed sprites and vibrant animations really bring this medieval fantasy adventure to life on the Game Boy Color.
8. Survival Kids
Survival Kids on Game Boy Color features graphics that are truly impressive. The pixel art style is carefully crafted, offering vibrant and detailed environments such as lush forests and rugged cliffs. The characters are charmingly designed and their animations add a sense of realism. The graphics effectively immerse players in a survival experience, enhancing the overall gameplay. Survival Kids on Game Boy Color showcases the console's visual capabilities and delivers an engaging wilderness adventure.
7. Tomb Raider Starring Lara Croft
Tomb Raider starring Lara Croft on Game Boy Color has some seriously cool graphics that make you feel like a real explorer! The detailed pixel art brings ancient tombs and treacherous caves to life. Lara Croft herself looks awesome with her signature outfit and expressive animations. The game's graphics keep you hooked as you navigate tricky puzzles and face dangerous enemies. Tomb Raider on Game Boy Color is a visual treat that captures the adventurous spirit of the franchise!
6. Toy Story Racer
Licensed video games are always a coin toss when it comes to quality, but Toy Stoyr Racer isn't just a good game; it also looks incredible. Using a faux-3D visual style, Toy Story Racer takes full advantage of the extra power under the Color's hood for a complete and satisfying portable racing experience that just so happens to also be a tie-in for Toy Story.
5. Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country for the Game Boy Color is an amazing recreation of the original SNES visuals. The characters and backgrounds are rendered in stunning detail, with colorful sprites that bring the beloved characters and environments to life. Playing this on the Game Boy doesn't feel like a compromise from the original SNES experience at all.
Shantae is a staple of Game Boy Color "best of" and "best looking" lists for a reason. The game's vibrant color palette, fluid animations, and intricate sprite work make it a stunning visual experience. The expressive animations of Shantae herself, from her hair whip attacks to her iconic belly dance transformations, showcase unparalleled attention to detail. It's also one of the best handheld platformers ever.
3. Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare
The original Alone in the Dark redefined the horror genre in video games by introducing us to tank controls and 3D characters over pre-rendered backgrounds. The New Nightmare carries on that tradition of innovation by bringing those same mechanics over to the Game Boy Color. Neither Resident Evil nor Silent Hill even attempted this, making The New Nightmare entirely peerless on Nintendo's humble handheld.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons
Oracle of Ages and Seasons are easily the best-looking Zelda games on either the Game Boy or Game Boy Color. Combining the pixel art style made familiar by A Link to the Past and splashing vibrant colors on top of it, the Oracle games introduce a new level of immersion that makes it hard to go back to the black-and-white games.
1. V-Rally: Championship Edition
Watch this game in motion and tell me that isn't the most graphically impressive thing you've seen run on a Game Boy Color. The pseudo-3D visuals look like something you'd see in a MODE7 game for the Super Nintendo, and it runs at breakneck speed. There are a lot of great Outrun-style games for the Game Boy Color, but they all pale in comparison to V-Rally: Championship Edition.