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7 Game Boy games that should come to Nintendo Switch Online

Is it finally time for an era of Game Boy nostalgia? It might be, according to a new rumor that Game Boy and Game Boy Color games may be coming to the Nintendo Switch’s online service soon. The rumor comes from known Nintendo leaker Nate Drake, who raised the possibility on his Nate the Hate podcast. Nintendo Life backed up the speculation, saying it has sources that claim Game Boy games are coming to the Switch “very soon.”

While it’s not firm evidence by any stretch, a Switch Online upgrade has been rumored for years. In 2019, a data mine revealed that the online app had two additional emulators besides those for the NES and SNES. That had fans wondering if one might be reserved for Game Boy titles, which seems like the next logical step for the app. Nintendo hasn’t given its classic handheld as much love as its iconic consoles in recent years, so a resurgence of Game Boy nostalgia would certainly be a cause for celebration.

There’s no shortage of great portable games that would be right at home on Switch. The Game Boy’s library is full of memorable hits and forgotten classics that deserve some fresh eyes. Here are seven Game Boy games we want to see on Switch Online.

Pokémon Red and Blue

Squirtle fights Bulbasaur in Pokemon Red.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Let’s start with the obvious one. No Game Boy collection would be complete without Pokémon Red and Blue. The RPG catapulted Pokémon into mainstream media, kicking off a literal empire for the franchise. It’s always important to preserve games with such historical significance, but putting Red and Blue on Switch wouldn’t just be a symbolic move; these are still two genuinely fantastic RPGs that deserve to be played.

They may be primitive compared to modern Pokémon games, but that’s part of the appeal. Red and Blue are tight experiences that contain a focused roster of monsters and memorable gyms. Every town or cave in Kanto is iconic, highlighting the game’s strong design. Switch Online could also buff up its lineup with Yellow, Gold, Silver, and Crystal, but Red and Blue are nonnegotiable.

Metroid II: Return of Samus

Samus shoots a Metroid in Metroid 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When Metroid Dread was announced at E3, fans quickly learned a hard truth: Tt’s not easy to play old Metroid games. While the original Metroid and Super Metroid are included on Switch Online, other entries are harder to track down. You’ll need a Game Boy Advance or Wii U to play Metroid Fusion, for example. Metroid II: Return of Samus is an especially tricky one to find, leading many fans to just stick with its Nintendo 3DS remake instead.

The original Metroid II is worth digging up, though, if only for historical reasons. While it’s a clunky game at times, it contains some significant moments, like Samus finding the baby Metroid that’s instrumental to Super Metroid’s plot. It’s also a particularly haunting title, as Samus slowly exterminates an entire planet’s ecosystem, only to be forced to navigate through silent corridors after she completes her mission. It’s a tragic moment that Nintendo scrubbed from its remake, which only makes the original more special.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons

Two logos for the Zelda Oracle games.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We’ve seen several Zelda games get a rerelease treatment over the years. Most 3D Zelda games have some sort of HD version at this point, and Link’s Awakening got an excellent Switch remake thanks to the team at Grezzo. There’s still one Zelda game that has yet to get that kind of treatment yet. Well, two actually — Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons.

The Game Boy color titles are classic Zelda in every sense. They feature top-down gameplay, filled with items and clever dungeons. Most notably, the Oracle games both feature their own unique stories and mechanics. One is more puzzle-heavy while the other focuses on action. Playing both unlocks a special final act, which I imagine many players never got to see back in the day. Switch Online offers a perfect opportunity for fans to finally get the full experience.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

Mario swims in Super Mario Land 2.

Just like Zelda, many entries of the Mario series haves been released and rereleased more times than I can count. The original Super Mario Bros. is available just about anywhere, and even niche titles like Super Mario Sunshine have been brought out of hiding in recent years. That same level of preservation has never been granted to the Super Mario Land series though, and that’s a shame.

Super Mario Land stealthily contains some of the series’ most creative ideas. That’s especially true of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, which is loaded with creative energy. What other Mario game features Goombas waddling around in hockey masks that have a knife sticking out of them? Perhaps most notably, it features an entire outer space level, which feels like a direct influence on Super Mario Galaxy.

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3

Wario swims in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We can’t talk about the Super Mario Land series without discussing its bizarro cousin. Super Mario Land 3 is a completely different kind of game, because it doesn’t star Mario at all. Instead, it’s Wario’s first solo outing. The eccentric platformer is a cross between Super Mario Bros. 2 and the Kirby series, with an emphasis on gameplay-changing abilities.

It’s as good a time as any to revive this classic. With WarioWare: Get it Together! coming to Nintendo Switch, the antihero is going to be back in the spotlight. Why not capitalize on his big moment by reintroducing players to one of Nintendo’s most criminally underrated series. Wario has played second (or, really, third) fiddle to Mario long enough!

Donkey Kong

The menu screen of Donkey Kong 1994.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You might be thinking that Donkey Kong doesn’t need another release. After all, the arcade classic is available just about anywhere. However, the Game Boy release of Donkey Kong is an entirely different beast (pun intended). It doesn’t simply port the game to a handheld device; it completely rethinks what the game is.

Rather than simply running up construction girders over and over, the 1994 version is more of a full puzzle-platformer where Mario must navigate more vertically designed levels filled with ladders, keys, and barrels. It’s a brilliant little gem that few players have gotten to experience since the 1990s.

Pokémon Pinball

A Pokeball on a pinball board in Pokemon Pinball.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We opened with one Pokémon game, so it feels right to close with another. Pokémon Pinball is still, to this day, one of the series’ best spinoffs. It turns out that the monster-collecting mechanics of Pokemon translate to pinball shockingly well. Players thwack a Pokéball around to collect monsters and complete some memorable minigames. The original was particularly notable as it came with its own rumble pack — a feature that can be replicated with the Joy-Cons’ HD rumble.

Pokémon Pinball isn’t the only series spinoff that deserves a spot on Switch Online either. The Game Boy also featured a fantastic adaptation of the Pokémon trading card game. In general, the Game Boy featured tons of creative titles like this that reimagined what Nintendo’s most popular series could look like in a handheld context. That design innovation deserves to be celebrated just as much as the NES.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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