Some boys like speed, others adventure, sports, cars, and challenges – and they can do it all in cool games for boys. Oh, and on top of that, you can also boot the system to run the Super NES version of Space Invaders, which could also be purchased separately. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a perfectly pleasant way to while away some time, which is precisely what Game Boy was designed for. It’s a look back to Nintendo’s own past that simultaneously paved the way for its future: It was here that Mario first learned the chain-jumps and handstands that would become a part of his repertoire a few years later in Super Mario 64. Although points and prizes are nice rewards, the real achievement is overpowering your enemies. Yes, this Game Boy cartridge contained an entire Super NES game.

Final Fantasy Adventure takes the Zelda action-RPG format and pushes the role-playing mechanics even further than games like Golvelius and Crystalis, integrating Final Fantasy touchstones like chocobos, spell conventions, and even partner characters. Belmont’s Revenge is the one stand-out, a game that actually ranks with the finest entries in the franchise.

This picture crossword concept has become a mainstay of Nintendo’s library, with more than a dozen entries appearing on 3DS alone!

Heiankyo Alien is a fairly simplistic title compared to most of the works chronicled here, but it merits a mention for its historic importance. It’s a bit rough, but this is a cart worth owning just to show to your friends as a fun party trick: True 3D action on Game Boy! What makes Game Boy Camera a work of genius is the way it takes advantage of the portable nature of the system and turns it into a device that straddles the fence between gizmo and game: Suddenly Game Boy became a practical tool for self-expression. Despite its lack of color, Tetris on Game Boy actually ended up being a better game than its NES counterparts — Nintendo and Bulletproof gave it multiplayer link capabilities, brilliant music that showed off the console’s packed-in earbuds, and a visual design that didn’t need color to work.
When completed, the filled and empty blocks form a simple black-and-white image — in the case of Mario’s Picross, the image ties back to Mario series sprites. Here’s an odd one: Chalvo 55 came out incredibly late in the Game Boy’s life, and it was a sort of semi-sequel to a Virtual Boy game that never actually shipped. Capcom made a bunch of Game Boy Mega Man carts, but the first four consisted entirely of hacked-together stages taken from the NES games. Although it makes use of many of the same not-quite-canon mechanics of its portable predecessor (Castlevania: The Adventure), it incorporates them into a journey that feels much better designed. What both games have in common is the way they both feel like, well, Mario ... despite their unconventional styles. An absolute tour-de-force of Game Boy technical prowess, X came to us from the same people who would deliver Star Fox a year later for Super NES.

The sequel, 1995’s Kirby’s Dream Land 2, brought the concepts and improvements introduced in Kirby’s Adventure on NES back to the Game Boy before Kirby spun into a variety of handheld block puzzlers and pinball games for the remainder of the platform’s life.