Platformers are the bread-and-butter of Nintendo and all of the developers who release their games on the former's platforms. The original Game Boy might have a tiny screen, still, timeless platformers were released on the gaming handheld. Below are seven of the best platformers on the original Game Boy.
Best game boy platformers
7. Prehistorik Man
Prehistorik Man sounds like an unpolished game made by some fly-by-night game developers. Yet, it is one of the most graphically and aurally intense games on the original Game Boy. It certainly sounds and feels like an Amiga game.
There are so many brave directions this game takes--from hyper-speed gameplay to aggressive screen transitions, from obnoxious level design to go-big-or-go-home boss fights. Indeed, Prehistorik Man is a unique take on the genre. Admittedly, some may not enjoy this game's psychedelic approach and the novelty may wear off almost immediately. Yet, for those looking to do away with the polished Nintendo platformer experience, this is the perfect detour.
6. Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters
Do not worry. This game would not afflict you with carpal tunnel syndrome, unlike the Nintendo 3DS Kid Icarus game.
Kid Icarus on the Game Boy is faithful to the original Kid Icarus on the Nintendo Entertainment System while introducing improvements to make it slightly easier. The levels are wider, requiring exploration to find hidden walls, upgrade weapons, and interact with merchants. The fourth stage consists of dungeons reminiscent of the original game, where players search for maps, torches, and pencil items, as well as health and restoration locations.
The gameplay involves controlling Pit, jumping and shooting monsters with a bow and arrow, collecting hearts as currency, and earning experience to increase life. The sound design is also impeccable, with great music and faithful sound effects.
Graphics-wise, Kid Icarus is relatively decent for its time. The environments evoke an ancient Greek myth, with columns, statues, and stone structures adding to the organic feel. The fortresses, on the other hand, have a bleaker aesthetic with sleek surfaces and black backgrounds. While the enemies are menacing within the constraints of the small screen, the boss fights are highlighted as the graphical standout, particularly the Minotaur and the final form of Orco, who stands two screens tall.
5. Trip World
Trip World is a rare original Game Boy platformer that was never localized in North American territories. This makes the game very hard to find on the retro market. While it may evoke similarities to Kirby, Trip World is actually a distinct 2D side-scrolling platformer with its gameplay style.
One of the most impressive aspects of Trip World is the level of detail present in its world. The levels themselves are exceptionally well-designed, to the point where players might mistake the game for an actual 1:1 conversion from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
In this charming game, players take control of a bunny-like creature, hopping around to retrieve a peace-keeping flower. What sets this game apart is the notable inclusion of non-hostile creatures. Many of these creatures won't pose a threat unless provoked. This departure from the typical platformer trope where everything in motion is an enemy to be exterminated.
4. Bubble Bobble Part 2
This list has a lot of charmers, and Bubble Booble Part 2 is as cute as Trip World in terms of art direction. The game features numerous heartwarming scenes, including a captivating opening sequence. What is more important, though, is the gameplay. Bubble Bobble's core gameplay is simple yet engaging, requiring players to encase enemies in bubbles and pop them to defeat them. With at least sixty levels, each containing four to seven enemies, the game offers a good challenge. Lives are limited to three, but players can collect bubbles with "EXTEND" to gain more lives.
The story revolves around a quest to save a sick brother by obtaining Moon Water, embarking on a journey through various environments, including forests, deserts, cities, and even the moon itself. The graphics are impressive for a GameBoy game, featuring vibrant and varied shades, while the enemy designs add to the visual appeal. There is a single background music theme for the main levels and a separate theme for the boss levels, along with basic sound effects.
With approximately 115 levels in total, each playthrough lasting around five hours, the game offers good replayability as the levels, enemies, and tactics vary, ensuring a fun and unique experience.
3. Kirby's Dream Land
It is easy to look at Kirby and say, "Awww, cute." But Kirby is an intergalactic mass-murdering creature wrapped in an eye candy wrapper. Unlike Mario, Kirby cannot pounce over his enemies. Instead, he uses unique abilities. His unique ability is to inhale his enemies and spit them out as projectiles. He can also use his body to fly and use gusts and wind as his preferred weapon.
This is only the first game of the two Dream Land series on the original Game Boy. There are other Game Boy Kirby games. However, they are not platformers. Instead, they are arcade or puzzle games. All of them are excellent games on their own right.
2. Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land
Wario Land, also known as Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land, stands out as a remarkable platformer deserving high praise. Unlike a typical sequel, Wario Land introduces new characters and features a distinct format from the Mario games. The storyline takes a unique twist on the "Save the Princess" theme, with Wario aiming to rescue her before Mario and potentially profit from her capture.
Wario's abilities include ramming into enemies and wearing different hats that grant him special powers. These hats play a crucial role in solving puzzles throughout the game, offering more than just convenience. The graphics create a fitting atmosphere for each location, and the animations, particularly Wario's transformations with the hats, are well-executed. The sound design is atmospheric and memorable, enhancing the overall experience. The gameplay is where Wario Land truly shines, encouraging strategic enemy interaction and exploration.
1. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Is anyone surprised that the top two games are of the Mario franchise? Probably not, as this franchise molded the platformer genre both in 2D and 3D realms.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins combines gameplay elements from home console versions of Super Mario 3 and Super Mario World. The game consists of six themed worlds that can be tackled in any order, adding a non-linear approach to progression. Each world offers multiple levels, concluding with a boss battle and the acquisition of a golden coin. This design choice enhances replay value and allows for different experiences with each playthrough.
6 Golden Coins' stages are well-crafted and designed for on-the-go play, with cohesive themes within each world. For example, the Turtle Zone features underwater and submarine sections, while the Pumpkin Zone offers a spooky atmosphere with gothic architecture. Other zones include a Space Zone, Macro Zone, Tree Zone, and Mario Zone.
The stages are fast-paced and relatively short, with an auto-save feature after each completion. Secrets are hidden throughout the game, such as stages with hidden exits that lead to optional secret levels. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is just Nintendo styling over its competitors with its mastery of the platformer genre.