The Game Boy is a platform famously known for hosting one of the greatest games of all time: Tetris. But Tetris is not the only puzzle game on the platform, as the portable console houses a bevy of puzzlers that served as inspirations to a thousand clones that are still being played today, especially on mobile phones. Below are the top seven Game Boy puzzle games.
Best gameboy puzzle games
7. Brain Drain
At first glance, Brain Drain looks like a match-3 puzzler, but it is a memory game in all of its facets. Basically, players are shown the arrangements of shapes before the game mixes it all up. It is in the hands of the player to swap around the pieces to return the arrangement to its status quo.
This is done through a frame that can cover up to four pieces to be rotated clockwise or counterclockwise. Scoring is based on how quickly the player can arrange the pieces. The pieces get increasingly creative. At the start, it might be squares, circles, and diamonds. Brain Drain then starts throwing smiling stars and UFOs. There is even a bonus round which instead of an arrangement of shapes is a jumbled picture.
It is sort of a slider puzzle but instead employs Brain Drain’s mechanics. Brain Drain evades the usual trappings of a memory game by being random and employing a ticking clock. The music and art design are also cutesy, which makes it easier to love even though this game did not usher in groundbreaking puzzle mechanics.
6. Dr. Mario
Dr. Mario is one of the first non-platformer Mario titles. While always compared with Tetris, it is an entirely different game. The only similarity between this and Tetris is that both games are set in containers where things fall from above. Dr. Mario is a match-3 game. Players are to align three or more vitamins of a specific color with a similarly styled virus tile to destroy the latter.
This puzzler features levels where the virus tiles are preordained. The match-3 subgenre has since exploded in the gaming scene with various themes and gimmicks pushing things forward. Dr. Mario on the Game Boy has long been left behind in all this progress. Still, it is a nice title revisit for gamers who want to experience simpler times.
This puzzle game is all about pushing the boxes all over the labyrinthine levels into a zone. Each step the character takes gets added up. The aim is to accumulate the lowest step count. Even if players successfully complete the level, the crux of the game is to take the least amount of movement.
This makes Boxxle replayable, although admittedly, the music gets repetitive relatively quickly. Boxxle may not be the best puzzle game on Game Boy due to its lack of production value as compared to the other titles, but this puzzler is one of the few that can be “finished”.
4. Bust-A-Move 2 Arcade Edition
If a challenge-laden albeit grindy experience with Boxxle is not an attractive proposition, then Bust-A-Move 2 Arcade Edition is a puzzle game for pure fun. This is not an indictment that the game is child’s play. Well, it is, but in a good way. This is a match-3 puzzler on this side of Zuma. Players control a chibi dinosaur catapult balls to match three balls of the same shade.
Now, since this is on the original Game Boy, there are no colors. The arcade version, of which the game is based, is bustling with colors and an amazing soundtrack. Obviously, it is difficult to carry around arcade machines, and are prohibitively expensive to begin with, but the experience should still be the same with this pocketable version.
3. Gear Works
It is hard to reduce the gameplay of Gear Works into mere words as it may confuse the readers instead of conveying a picture of how it is played. To put it simply, the game lays down white gears on the playfield, and players install gears on pegs until all of the white gears are a-turnin’. There are different sizes of gears that behave differently depending on how they are placed. It can be adjacent, diagonal, or on the same row.
Gear Works also has this unique gameplay mechanic which pushes the players to hurry up. When players take too long in finishing the level, they are to go to replay again the immediately preceding level and the next preceding level if the player is too incompetent to finish what he already did. Reading Gear Works’ gameplay description might be intimidating, but once players get it, they will have a great time chaining gears. The thrill of having a palpable punishment for lollygagging makes this game surprisingly entertaining.
Qix is one of those games that have no business being extremely addicting. Its gameplay is genuinely ingenious as it combines puzzler elements with action-leaning gameplay. In fact, Qix’s core gameplay is so iconic it is featured in one of Rockstar’s Bully mini-games. Players navigate a playfield against three adversaries: two Sparx and the Qix.
Sparx travel along the borders of the playfield which shrinks or the borders of the player’s claimed portions of the playfield. The player claims territories by drawing a closed shape that reconnects the borders or of another shape the player made. The Qix, on the other hand, moves unpredictably across the playfield, and if it hits the player’s incomplete shapes or the player itself, then it is game over.
It is up to players to play coy or take a riskier approach. Larger shapes earn higher scores but expose the players to vulnerable positions. Smaller shapes take a long while to complete. Or just be both depending on the situation. Whatever the player’s style is, Qix accommodates.
Tetris appears in all video games’ Greatest of All Time lists and absolutely deserves its ranking. It owes a lot of its distinction to its simplicity. Non-gamers will pick the game’s rules immediately and be addicted to the gameplay for hours. It sets players in a trance and would have them dreaming of the falling tetrominoes. Players would even imagine fitting the shapes into their office spaces or classrooms even in their waking moments.
The modern iterations of Tetris in Puyo Puyo Tetris and Tetris Effect: Connected are valiant efforts in spicing up the proven formula. Yet, the original Game Boy version is still the most popular one after all these years. Game Boy and Tetris introduced the concept of mobile gaming to the world well before Nokia’s Snake.
Admittedly, the Game Boy is an expensive machine, and most people may have been introduced to the game with the “Brick Game”, a bootleg dedicated handheld alternative to the Game Boy which only runs Tetris and its variants. Nevertheless, rich or poor, gamer or Luddite, find Tetris the most enjoyable puzzle game in whatever form, whenever the year, and whichever platform it appears.