The Gameboy Advance, a handheld that molded portable gaming into what it is today. It gave us the rechargeable battery, the back-light (screw you Game Gear I’m not using six AA’s), and the clam shell design. As arguably the best handheld ever released it’s sad to admit how many of us missed out on the pint-sized portable powerhouse. Fear not though, Nintendo has come through with its promise of giving 3DS ambassadors 10 free GBA games before the end of the year, and unlike the dated NES titles these are game you might actually want to play.
These days Maximum Velocity looks like a bare bones, outdated game, but in the early days of the Gameboy Advance it was quite an achievement. Maximum Velocity uses a similar style to F-Zero for the SNES, and it is an entertaining racer… for a little while. After a few tracks the 5 lap races will seem to drag on, and the difficulty will ramp up to the point where only the most dedicated F-Zero fans will want to keep playing. Also, there is no Captain Falcon. How can you be an F-Zero game without Captain Falcon?
Forget Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mario World, Yoshi’s Island is the best 2D Mario adventure and one of the best platformers of all time. Coming in at the end of the SNES’s life-cycle, Yoshi’s Island took the system to its limit though music, color, aesthetic, and sheer content. The GBA port is only slightly marred by it’s limited buttons, but if you can get past the incessant crying of baby Mario and the time paradox that must be occurring for this adventure to take place (how old is yoshi!?) then you’ll experience one of the best games to ever be released. Just don’t touch the fuzzies.
Possibly the most underplayed and under appreciated Legend of Zelda title. While missing out on your sweet green GBA cartridge, you’ll finally get to experience Capcom’s unbelievably charming Zelda experience. Minish Cap’s prowess lies in its focus on stunning visuals and character’s that appear rarely, if ever, in the rest of the Zelda franchise. This game is what put Vaati above Ganon on my list of “Enemies of Link that I’d most like to fight”.
Fire Emblem is a RTS that makes you so interested in your random units that you will reset your game, wasting hours of progress, just to keep one alive. As a fantasy RTS game, Fire Emblem puts the burden of death on your characters, if they die in battle they’re gone for good. View this as your chance to see why so many people love the series in Japan. I’ll give you a hint, make a General as fast as you can.
Kirby games have always been pretty straightforward. Walk to the right, suck up an enemy and choose whether to spit them out or take their power and their soul. Kirby and the Amazing Mirror puts a spin on things and gives players a crude “Metroid-vania” style of play. This game will also offer more of a challenge than other Kirby titles because of its maze-like environments. Unfortunately, the 3DS cripples this title because it’s centered around multiplayer gameplay via link cable, and the AI that controls the other Kirbys is dumber than a Waddle-Dee walking right off the edge of a platform.
Due to the recent release of Mario Kart 7, Super Circuit will more than likely be put on the back burner for most ambassadors. However, if you’re looking for a throwback, Super Circuit is your game. It looks and plays like Mario Kart for the SNES, but with different tracks. Again, there is no multiplayer available, but on the bright side that just means that the guy who played Mario Kart for the SNES non-stop won’t be able to dominate in battle mode just because he knows where to stop the item roulette to get a red shell every time. Also, let’s face it. If you’re going to be playing a Mario Kart multiplayer it’s going to be Mario Kart 7.
Donkey Kong ’94 is still one of the best Gameboy games ever made and it’s on the 3DS eShop if you’ve never played it. While the original is still better than its spiritual sequel, Mario vs. Donkey Kong remains an arcade-style puzzle game worth playing. Just remember to ignore Donkey Kong’s borderline obsessive interest in collecting child-like Mario dolls.
Do you like Super Metroid? Of course you do. That’s a stupid question and I’m a stupid person for asking it. Metroid Fusion is arguably one of the best titles on the Gameboy Advance, and that’s probably due to the fact that it plays a lot like Super Metroid. Aside from having a new story, Fusion is very similar to its SNES cousin and I don’t think there is anything I can say that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over about Super Metroid. The only thing I can say is that if you haven’t played Metroid Fusion you’re missing out. Most importantly, if you were turned off by Other M’s misogynistic portrayal of Samus Aran you can be sure that she talks here and not once is it crying like a baby that Ridley’s back for the 50th time.
If at any point you start understanding what the hell is going on in Wario Land 4 you’re probably doing it wrong. With a lofty sense of weird and some bosses too horrifying for the GBA, Wario Land 4 still remains one of the best handheld platformers. It’s a game full of fighting, cars, theivery, and an almost dangerous sense of greed. It’s like America: The Game.
This is the game that laid the groundwork for the “micro-game” series WarioWare. Since the later games in the series all use some sort of motion or touch screen control you might think this one is a little stale at first. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is still a lot of fun to take on these 5 second games in rapid succession knowing that one wrong button press could end it all. You’ll be surprised at how much of an adrenaline rush it is to reach level 100 in this game, and there’s no risk of breaking your touch screen by frantically trying to finish a touch based micro-game.
Ambassadors can download all titles through the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
Written by Jesse Baguchinsky & Trevor Faulkner