The original Game Boy is was a significant step in the world of gaming. It was the first handheld gaming console that landed in households and stuck. It totally changed the game when it comes to gaming.
I’ve played a ton of Game Boy games, and I love many of the classics. But nothing beats picking up a random cheap game from a garage sale and falling in love with it. This list covers the greatest hidden gems of the original Game Boy.
Some of these games are unknown but excellent, and others are just straight up underrated!
Game Boy Hidden Gems
Here are the hidden gems on the Game Boy:
- Batman: The Animated Series
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue
- Cosmo Tank
- Mickey’s Dangerous Chase
- Speedy Gonzales
- Mary Kate & Ashley: Get A Clue
- Jurassic Park 2
- Trip World
- Rolan’s Curse 2
- Crayon Shin-chan
- Great Greed
Above is a list of great Game Boy hidden gems. There are so many great games, but these are the gems everyone should check out. We will provide details for each of these games below, along with footage to help you determine if the game is what you are looking for.
Breakdown Of Game Boy Hidden Gems
First, we want to go through the hidden games listed above. After that, we’ll shout out some honorable mentions — awesome Game Boy games that don’t quite make the cut. And finally, we’ll discuss the classic Game Boy games that are almost universally loved.
Exploring Game Boy Hidden Gems
Let’s break this down and explore these Game Boy hidden gems!
Batman: The Animated Series
There are 4 different Batman games on the original Game Boy. One is very popular, two get some attention, but this one is almost never talked about.
In my opinion, Batman: The Animated Series is the ultimate hidden gem on Game Boy. However, that is in part due to my preferences.
I like very difficult games. Not only is this game an incredible challenge, it also has a hard mode available by pressing select on the title screen menu. This is one of those games that truly has “retro difficulty”, and I love it!
Beyond difficulty, the game has interesting controls that it teaches you through its level design. The background and foregrounds are designed beautifully, with a wide range of scenery types. You will travel through the swampy underground, and climb a tower in the snow. You’ll get charged by mechanical geese, run against the city backdrops, and scale the rooftops during a thunderstorm. It really takes you on an adventure in the levels and the story.
This is a clip from my first playthrough of Hard mode.
Gameplay Of Batman: The Animated Series
One neat feature of Batman: The Animated Series is that you get to play as both Batman and Robin. Each of these characters has their own special skill sets and qualities.
The controls in general feel pretty nice once you get used to them. Wall-jumping and grappling is really fun once you master it.
One unfortunate issue this game really has is that your movement might get halted if you have a controller that easily bumps up on the D-pad, which causes Batman to prepare his grappling hook. That’s why I play games on a controller with separate D-pad buttons. No more trying to duck in Contra, only to start running forward directly into a bullet. I know you retro gamers know exactly what I’m talking about!
The music is so dang good, and really fits the dark Batman feel. The bosses are crazy and super creative. Definitely give this game a try if you’re up for the challenge!
Oh yeah, it also makes for an awesome speedrun!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue
TMNT III: Radical Rescue is my all-time favorite Metroidvania!
There are a lot of areas in this game, and the way that the map is all interlinked makes for an almost Dark Souls 1 type experience. Expect to get lost once or twice, only to end up finding a back door to a place you had previously gone through.
The travel to repeated areas is just as exciting the next time through because you’ll have picked up new Ninja Turtles with their unique abilities. You’ll be able to get to places that previously seemed impossible to access.
TMNT III: Radical Rescue also features a simple password system for those who don’t have a ton of time to invest on any given day.
Exploring TMNT III: Radical Rescue
You can explore for health bar increases, pizzas which heal you when your health bar gets depleted, keys, and key cards. There are plenty of helpful items to collect in TMNT III: Radical Rescue.
The difficulty scale on this is quite a ramp up! For context, getting to the final boss took me 4 hours. Beating the final boss took me another 4 hours. But on the topic of bosses, each one has an interesting and unique move-set. Try experimenting with different characters for new boss fight strategies!
I really love this game, and I hope more people are able to enjoy it as much as I have.
The Turtles’ idle animations are also super cute.
Cosmo Tank is absolutely insane.
You remember Jackal on NES, right? Cosmo Tank is like that. But it’s also a first person shooter. And it’s a dungeon crawler.
I’m not kidding.
This game’s development team was completely unhinged, and the results are seriously impressive.
The game has interesting items, like a sensor that helps you find the level boss, and power ups for your weapon. Every 10 power capsules you collect will improve your firepower, up to power level 3. You’ll also find health drops to aid you along your quest.
You get to choose your own adventure by selecting the next planet you’d like to rescue after each rescue mission. But choose wisely, because some require certain items, and some will be tougher than others!
Mickey’s Dangerous Chase
Mickey’s Dangerous Chase is yet another hidden gem that comes with a decent amount of difficulty. I was pleasantly surprised with the challenge of this game. That said, the difficulty mixes well with the quality of fun you’ll have. It never feels like a chore to overcome a challenge, it’s just enjoyable all the way through.
This one is a platforming game where you can pickup and throw items like Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers on NES. Just like Chip ‘n Dale, this game’s physics feel quick and smooth, so you’re never fighting with the controls.
As a bonus, the characters and overall look of the game is adorable and charming!
What I love most about this game is really just the level design. It’s very linear, and Mario-like in many ways. But you’ll still have to plan out the best route forward. You will have to be tactical and precise in your approach to each challenge ahead. Good luck!
It’s pretty hard to go wrong with oldschool Sunsoft games. Speedy Gonzales on Game Boy is no exception!
As the name implies, this game is fast! Playing as Speedy Gonzales, you’ll be running through levels designed like a Sonic game, but with their own unique feel.
Unlike Sonic, you really have the freedom to run quickly in Speedy Gonzales. You still need to run with caution, but you won’t be knocked back every time you finish a loopty-loop by some stray bullet. You can truly go fast, and it feels awesome!
This game’s difficulty is welcoming to any experience level players, so don’t worry about the difficulty!
Unlike the other games on this list so far, what you’ll mostly focus on with this Game Boy hidden gem is the entertainment value. Just sit back, plug in that cartridge, and enjoy your playthrough.
My only complaint with this one is that the music might be kind of headache-inducing. However, for some, you may be able to embrace some classical music turned chiptune.
In my list of hidden gems on the NES, I applauded M.C. Kids for many reasons. Amusing gameplay, original music that slaps, interesting level design, surprising secrets, and crazy game mechanics.
M.C. Kids’ Game Boy equivalent, McDonaldland, is not a port, but it features all of those same quality elements. If you like outside-the-box creativity in gameplay, this one is a winner.
McDonaldland is admittedly not as good as its NES counterpart. Which is likely due to screen size limitations mixed with their focus on making the recurring characters recognizable. But not as fun is almost irrelevant when M.C. Kids is one of the best games in the NES library!
I highly recommend this game for those who want a truly distinctive and special Game Boy experience.
I’m now realizing I really like games with cute character sprites.
Mary Kate & Ashley: Get A Clue
Mary Kate & Ashley: Get A Clue is a highly intellectual piece for those looking to titillate their neurons.
I don’t know why I wrote that sentence, but I guess it’s kind of true. It’s not all that difficult to work out the puzzles, but you will certainly need to think through each level. It’s not a game you can just BS your way through. You’ll really need to stop and ask “what’s the next logical step in this situation”.
It’s a slow-paced game, and there’s not much action. But like a good movie, this one is a little more stimulating.
When you play Get A Clue, you’ll switch between Mary Kate, Ashley, and their little dog too. They each have their own abilities, and are more suited for some aspects of the puzzles than others. Think wisely before determining who goes where… and when!
You’ll notice Get a Clue is a black cartridge, which means it’s compatible in color and on the original Game Boy, with only minor differences.
I know it’s a little ironic to feature Cinemassacre’s AVGN on a hidden gems list, but I just couldn’t help myself.
Jurassic Park Part 2: The Chaos Continues
Jurassic Park 2 on Game Boy is an action exploration game. You mostly walk around as Dr. Grant, shooting dinosaurs. Not his usual method, but desperate times call for desperate measures!
It feels mostly linear, but if you miss something along your route, you’ll have to turn back and hunt for it!
The strut on Dr. Grant is akin to the Treasure Master’s Scooter walk. Definitely some fancy footwork going on here with our boy Grant.
This game isn’t going to blow your mind. The sprites are too big for the small screen, which forces the challenges and action to be unremarkable.
However, this is one of those stand-out Ocean games that really just hits the spot when you need a good action adventure. Fighting for survival in this prehistoric-style setting can be a very captivating experience. And as with all Ocean games, the OST is an absolute banger. The music notes sound like 8-bit pinball spinners, ringing you into a ’90s euphoria.
The adventure isn’t too repetitive either, as you get to swim, excavate, take a raft, and plenty more. All of which controls incredibly well!
Anyway, Jurassic Park 2 nothing too crazy or special, but I promise it’s a lot of fun and totally worth a playthrough!
Ah, why not? I decided to continue with the irony.
Trip World is a bit lower down the list, but only because it’s one of the more well-known hidden gems. Still a hidden gem, for sure! But it’s kind of famously a hidden gem.
This is a Sunsoft game that is beautifully made in a similar style to Mr. Gimmick. Musically, this one will not disappoint you. The gameplay is versatile and inventive. And the level design is both gorgeous and leaves room for replays.
Like Gimmick!, Trip World plays as a cute little character with a gimmick. However, this gimmick is quite a bit different from Mr. Gimmick’s. Instead of riding stars, you can morph into various character types, each useful in different environments and scenarios.
You’ll be able to fly as one type, swim quite fluidly as another, roll around like a bouncy ball, and as another character type you blast a massive hadouken that will send you soaring in the opposite direction. There’s plenty more to discover, but I don’t want to ruin the experience for any first time players!
The best word to describe this game is unique. You won’t find another game like it on the original Game Boy, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a game that entertains you more.
An SGDQ speedrun doesn’t do the casual game justice, but it does show you how cool the momentum and physics can be when mastered!
Rolan’s Curse 2
Don’t worry if you haven’t played the original Rolan’s Curse! Rolan’s Curse 2 is a game you can pick up with no previous knowledge and dive right in. If you love it enough, you may want to consider the first installment, but it’s not necessary.
Rolan’s Curse 2 is an action RPG that shows how impressive the Game Boy really is. There’s a lot of power in this little machine, and you’ll be able to spend countless hours playing this game.
There are a whole bunch of different characters with different abilities you’ll be able to gather to your 4-person team. On top of that, the map of this game is pretty massive. With this combination, you can really vary your experience on subsequent playthroughs.
Something unique to this game, unlike other RPGs, you level based on exploration rather than the action. Find upgrades for characters throughout the map to increase the power and durability of your team.
Crayon Shin-Chan: Ora To Shiro Wa Otomodachi Da Yo
Okay, this game is just weird. But it’s too much fun!
A summary of this game would be a side-scrolling platformer with Mario Party-esque mini-games interspersed throughout. The mini games are just as fun as the platforming.
As for the plot, I really have no idea what’s happening to be honest. But it sure looks funny.
Keeping on theme with endearing character sprites, I just about lost it with Crayon Shin-Chan. The first time I saw him hug a log and shuffle his way up the tree, or dangle from a branch, I couldn’t help but laugh. He’s obviously holding on for dear life, and he’s got an innocent but mischievous style to him.
This little guy has a bunch of games, but this one on the classic Game Boy will definitely bewilder you!
Up front, I do not like turn-based games. They’re just not my thing. Great Greed breaks the norm and makes it feel more actiony, so it’ll be more enjoyable for those who feel the same way.
Great Greed is a mostly-linear turn-based RPG that takes place in modern day. Or… at least modern day at the time of the game’s release. Even with that alone, as you can see, this is anything but your standard turn-based RPG.
The action is not technically turn-based, as you and your enemy will take your action at the same time. You also won’t have to sort through menus like you’re working some kind of unpaid data input job. Instead, you’ll assign your actions to A, B, and the 4 directions on your D-pad. This makes for a much smoother battle system than typical turn-based games.
Great Greed is an exceptionally innovative game that can scratch the RPG itch without long, burdensome, or tedious battles. And I haven’t even touched on the adventure yet!
It’s a bizarre experience to deal with politicians in video games, but this game has that. You’ll be dealing with some very unexpected sidequests (and main quests) that you won’t find in any Final Fantasy or even Earthbound game.
This is a lovely review of the game, that you may want to skim before starting it up. Just to make sure it’s a game that piques your interest!
Before we break into games that are some of the Game Boy classics of all time, let’s check out some honorable mentions. These games aren’t quite hidden gems, but they are lesser-known, lesser-played, and might just be your cup of tea.
For the Frog the Bell Tolls
If you’ve played and loved The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, you probably already know that Richard has his own game!
For the Frog the Bell Tolls is a very unusual name for this fantastic game. But you will remember Richard loves his frogs, and so it absolutely suits him well. In some circles, the game is better known as Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru, it’s Japanese title.
Whatever you choose to call it, this game is certainly less well-known than some of the Game Boy classics, but it has a bit of a cult following. It’s a really good game.
It’s super charming, but has a lot of tricks up its sleeve to keep you thinking and fighting until the very end. The plotline also makes a few counter-intuitive choices that will keep you enticed for the full game.
As a fan of odd time signatures, I’ve found some good songs on this OST that appeal to me. They aren’t afraid of 11/8ths time, and the gameplay is just as interesting as the music.
Most people who start Super Hunchback don’t finish it — this game is really tough!
You can easily get lost in the labyrinths of levels this game offers. And if you get lost for too long… too bad, GG, try again!
Despite the difficulty, it’s certainly beatable. Many dedicated gamers have seen this game through to the end. You just have to be patient and work for it.
In this game you’ll find traps, hidden doors, intriguing logic puzzles, and secret passageways. You’ll search through all of it to ring the bell at the end of the levels.
Along your tasks to ring all of the bells and get a smooch, you’ll find lots of collectables to help you along the way. Or at very least, it’s a nice detour!
Going down the list, we’ve got Batman Forever. And I know what you’re thinking. I know exactly what you’re thinking!
Batman Forever is notoriously a garbage game. But you see, this is not that Batman Forever.
Sure, it’s very similar and shares many of the same features, but this one does it right.
The fact that it’s fighting game plus an adventure platformer usually doesn’t mix well, but this might have the most realistic feel of any Game Boy game I’ve played.
It’s not perfect, and it’s nowhere near as good as Batman: The Animated Series, but it’s surprisingly a great game! I’d consider this the 2nd best Batman game on Game Boy.
Batman: Return of the Joker
Alright, I swear I’m not even a fan of superheroes, but I’m about to go all in on Batman.
Batman: Return of the Joker is not as good as Batman Forever, but it still has a lot to offer.
With 3 difficulties to choose from, all providing vastly different experiences, this one has major replay value. The way Batman swings with his grappling hook makes this almost feel like a spiderman game.
One quality of this game I like is the max health upgrades that are often pretty well hidden throughout all levels except one.
The drawbacks, and the reason I don’t consider this a hidden gem, are in the graphics and the controls. The game looks kind of stuttered and feels at least visually cluttered. And the controls are basically like ice physics for the full playthrough.
It’s still one of my favorites, but I don’t think it will be yours. Give it a try if you think you’d like to give another Batman game a go!
Batman on Game Boy is the most popular of the 4 original Game Boy Batman games.
… That was a bit of a tongue twister.
I would say that this is the lowest quality and least fun Batman on the Game Boy, but that does not mean that it’s bad. This is still a fantastic game, totally worth playing!
While it’s by no means a hidden game, it’s still a gem. Most everyone who plays this one has a blast with this one.
The main downside is that you can definitely “feel” the early Game Boy release. The gameplay feels in many ways similar to Super Mario Land, and even some of the sprites and blocks look similar.
Overall, totally worth a playthrough!
Operation C (Probotector)
Operation C is essentially like Game Boy’s take on Super Contra from the NES. While it’s very similar, it is its own unique game. The general flow of the game will be similar, but the experience is quite a bit different. While we know Operation C in the US, Europeans will know this game as Probotector.
There’s not too much to say about this one. If you like Contra games, chances are you’ll also enjoy this one! If you don’t, it’s probably not for you.
With that said, there are two Contra games on the original Game Boy. The other game is Contra: The Alien Wars, also known as Probotector 2. Contra: The Alien Wars is a Game Boy port of Contra III: The Alien Wars, which stays a lot more faithful to the SNES version than Operation C does to Super Contra. Which in my opinion makes Operation C the better game.
With Operation C, it’s more of an original experience. Contra: The Alien Wars is still a good game, but it’s too much of a direct port, and it runs more sluggishly than Operation C’s faster-paced action. Honestly though, I had a nice time playing through both of these legendary Game Boy games.
Spartan X 2 (Kung-Fu Master)
Do you recall large groups of ninjas stacking together like IHOP pancakes and hugging the life out of you? Are there memories in your mind of you crouching to kick a small child off of a rooftop only to have him do a double front flip onto your head?
If so, you may have played Kung Fu on the NES. Or perhaps you’ve just lived a strange life. Whatever the case, Kung Fu was a classic for many of us growing up. Most people don’t realize that this timeless classic has an NES sequel — Kung-Fu Master! It’s also known as Spartan X 2.
The Game Boy version of the sequel is simply known as Spartan X or Kung-Fu Master. It features a strikingly similar combat to the original NES Kung Fu. The main difference here is that you’ll also be doing some platforming.
Sometimes the platforming is simple, like jumping over boxes. But other times, you’ll be fighting enemies on moving platforms, conveyor belts and hoping over deadly pits!
It’s a great game that is relatively unknown. It isn’t quite fun enough to consider it a hidden gem. I’m grateful I was able to play through Kung-Fu Master, but I wouldn’t be interested in doing a second playthrough.
Most of the hidden gems on this list, I’d be down to play again. Kung-Fu Master, on the other hand, I’d highly recommend checking this one out as a one-off experience.
James Bond 007
James Bond 007 is a on-of-a-kind game. Not just for the Game Boy, but in general.
I had to learn how to play card games… I mean, I really had to put the game down and watch youtube tutorials on card games.
You never know where this game is going to take you next, or what you’ll have to do when you get there. It constantly keeps you on your toes.
For the general gameplay, it’s almost like a Metal Gear Solid game. Lots of stealth, tactics, and carefully planned attacks on enemies.
James Bond 007 is a solid Game Boy game and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to try a game unlike any other.
Yu Yu Hakusho 3: Makai no Tobira
If Double Dragon, Pokemon, and Street Fighter had a baby and raised it deeply entrenched in Japanese culture, you might end up with something like YuYu 3.
I have a hard time defining Yu Yu Hakusho 3: Makai no Tobira. It opens to a Japanese humor intro, then throws you into an overworld like one of the Pokemon games. From there, you can enter buildings to momentarily turn the game into a side scroller beat-em-up. Occassionally, you’ll stumble upon a ‘boss fight’ which will feel more like a fighting game.
If you play this game without Japanese knowledge, you might think it has something to do with the Yakuza. However, you’ll soon realize the plot actually revolves around high school bullies.
It’s up to you to decide if you want to save the world and beat this game, or would you rather sit back and enjoy some Megallica?
Ninja Gaiden Shadow
Ninja Gaiden Shadow is an impressive game for the Game Boy brick that is absolutely worth a play.
While I don’t think it has much replay value, there’s a lot of fun to be had going through it for the first time. It’s very similar to any other 2D Ninja Gaiden experience, but significantly less irritating.
The knockback from enemies isn’t completely disruptive the way it can be in other games in the series. While other Ninja Gaiden games truly expect you to be a real life ninja, standard civilians can easily conquer this game.
It features some cool concepts, like “light play” and more of those classic conveyer belt battles. I’d say give this game a play if NES Ninja Gaiden bested you. Consider this your revenge!
Having played through all of the NES Ninja Gaiden games, I found this one a nice walk in the park, comparatively. It’s also got great scenery and an overall good flow to the game.
Well-Known Game Boy Classics
There are of course many famously great games on the original Game Boy. Just in case you’re new to Game Boy, there are games that everyone should have in their collection. Or at least, you should give them a playthrough!
Kirby’s Dreamland 2
While I Kirby’s Dreamland is a nice introduction to the handheld Kirby experience, Kirby’s Dreamland 2 knock it out of the park.
It’s so much fun. Kirby’s Dreamland 2 is an adventure where you get to choose your own creative approach to each level. You can gather many powerups for Kirby to use. But, beyond that, you can combine them with the three sidekicks that you’ll bring along on your adventures.
Have you ever dreamed of hopping around on land as a lightbulb fish? Well, now is your big chance.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
My all-time favorite game, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Challenging puzzles, mysterious characters inspired by the Twin Peaks TV series, an island much like Lost, entrancing music. This game has it all!
I truly love this game, and cannot recommend it enough. With different versions of this game being available on Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Nintendo Switch, I personally prefer the Game Boy Color version. That version is known as The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX.
Any version is great, and the Nintendo Switch version might be the most welcoming to gamers wanting a more smooth experience. But all three versions are mostly the same, in terms of the actual content that matters.
Pick your preference!
Donkey Kong ’94
Admittedly, I have not played Donkey Kong ’94. However, just about every other Game Boy fan loves this one. I am certainly missing out! It looks to me like a puzzle-arcade style game. It’s definitely not the familiar arcade Donkey Kong, nor is it Donkey Kong Land.
Instead, this game offers a completely unique experience that has received endless love from gamers around the world.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Super Mario Land is a fun game with the gravity of Jupiter. How Mario built an aircraft that can fly there, we will never know. Kidding aside, it’s a fun game, but it is developed fairly rudimentary. It really feels like the early Game Boy game it is.
The upgrade to Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is astounding. Mario Land 2 you have a character with better controls, new power-ups, and levels that are super fun to explore.
I really do love both of these Mario Land games, but Mario Land 2 easily takes the cake. I especially love the difficulty of the final stage!
There’s also a Super Mario Land 2 DX romhack. It’s a colorized version with playable Luigi who has his own Luigi-like jumps and physics!
Kirby’s Pinball Land
Kirby’s Pinball Land is pinball… with Kirby!
It’s a darling little game that provides a fun experience when you go for full completion. It features 3 main stages that can be selected in any order. After completing each, you head to the final area!
It’s not much more than just a classic pinball game (of which, Game Boy has a few). But the sprites, music, and overall charm renders this one a classic for many.
I picked on this game a lot while playing it, but honestly it’s a fun way to spend 30 minutes on a weekend afternoon!
Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land
While the naming convention here is a little iffy, the game itself is so good.
If you want a game with replayability, tons of extra content, multiple endings, and fun hidden secrets, this one is a banger.
The music of this game has stuck with me throughout my life. The melancholic beauty of the water theme is nearly unmatched in any other game, with the exception of Aquatic Ambience in the Donkey Kong series. Even the map music will leave special memories for you to think back on.
In an almost Mario Odyssey fashion, your cap is what holds the power. You can get a fire-breathing dragon cap, a jet cap, a viking cap, and something that looks like a pumpkin. These will help you do all of the extras this gem of a game has to offer.
I love taking a gamble at the end of the stages, even though it rarely works out in my favor. Just like me in the mini-games, Wario’s greed is on full display in this one. You absolutely should check it out.
Donkey Kong Land
Chiptune Aquatic Ambience is truly something to behold!
I found this game more enjoyable than any of the games in the Donkey Kong Country series. It has a camera that is less jerky, the chiptuned music is really pretty, the bosses are much more exciting, and it’s platforming were lots of fun for me.
I know we all love Aquatic Ambience, and I’ve mentioned it a few times in this article now. But just about every song in this Game Boy classic is pleasing to the ears. I always got excited for levels when the pirate ship theme started up.
The original Game Boy, also known as “the brick”, has so many great games. Some, less known than others.
I hope this guide helps you find games that you haven’t yet heard of, but look appealing to play.
God bless, and thanks for reading!