Hey, have you guys ever played a Mario game where Princess Peach gets kidnapped or is in some kind of peril? Oh, that’s right, that’s pretty much every Mario game ever, and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is no different. What makes this quest to retrieve the abduction-prone princess unique is that it’s an RPG starring both brothers to get her stolen voice back. Sounds like something out of a bizarre Disney movie, but it gets even weirder when long-time antagonist Bowser joins the rescue team. Superstar Saga was one of the strangest games on the GBA but also one of the greatest.
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Did anyone else notice that these Castlevania titles seem to get more “emo” as time goes on? Weird. Anyway, Harmony of Dissonance put us in control of a demon-slaying Belmont once more in order to save a friend. There was a castle with two “dimensions”, both seemingly linked, that we had to traverse. It was cool to see the effects that an action in one version of the castle would have on the other. And if you needed a little downtime from castle-crawling, you could always use your feng-shui skills and furnish an empty room with collectible furniture. Either way, it was fun for whatever mood struck you, whether it be adventurous or decorative.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
C’mon, it’s a Mario Kart game! We don’t need an explanation for why it’s here! You race around wacky tracks in the Mushroom Kingdom, you launch shells at your opponents, and you try your very best to do that drifting trick to get a speed boost. You know it, you love it, and you’ll play every single Mario Kart game that comes out. The major difference? This was the first time you could get your kart fix on the go.
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
Yikes, these titles can get a tad confusing sometimes. But there’s no confusing that Super Mario Bros. 3 was one of the best games EVER. And we mean that, seriously. It takes something special for a game to be debuted to the public via a scene in a late-80′s Fred Savage movie (that’s The Wizard, for those who might not know). The Tanuki Suit, the Frog Suit, the whole conspiracy that the entire game might be a stage production, and those awesome visuals were what make this game a timeless classic.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Whoo! Another Fire Emblem game! You’ve got magical MacGuffins, royal twins, warring nations, and a whole new world to explore. They didn’t change much in the formula, but they didn’t really have to because the series’ gameplay was solid. The new story was definitely more intriguing though. The sheer number of backstabs, double crosses, and the constant threat of permanent character deaths made The Sacred Stones seem like something out of a George R.R. Martin novel. And you know what? That’s alright in our book.
Please pardon us while we drool all over Metroid Fusion. In this game, we saw Samus infected by parasites, which forced her to remove parts of her suit. A vaccine made it so that she had Metroid-like characteristics and could absorb the cores of X-Parasites for more power. It was pretty weird, but we dug it. The best part of this installment was the cat-and-mouse game between Samus and her X-Parasite clone, SA-X. The hunter became the hunted!
It’s not a Nintendo list without a Pokemon game or two, right? Ruby and Sapphire are our picks, because we hate Rayquaza! Nah, we’re just kidding, we think Rayquaza’s cool. But Ruby and Sapphire were the first Pokemon games we got to play on the GBA, so that’s pretty special. It introduced us to the Hoenn region and three of the most memorable starter Pokemon. How can you not love Torchic, Mudkip, and Treecko? Mudkip even became the star of its very own internet meme, which is awesome, because we herd u liek Mudkipz.
Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
The sequel to Advance Wars is bigger and definitely better. It built on an already fantastic game and gave you the freedom to control armies from the various allied nations. It didn’t overhaul anything major when it came to gameplay, just like The Sacred Stones, but that didn’t matter because it was still a blast to play. You know how that old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And there was certainly nothing wrong with the tried and true formula of the past game, making this sequel a second offering of a tasty title.
Camelot Software Planning
This game was one of the greatest RPGs on the GBA and also one of the flashiest. The story was standard fare for the genre and featured the fabled tale of a band of youths who set out to save the world with swords and spells. But what made this game special was the gameplay and fluid battle system. Golden Sun was so gripping that you could get lost in solving environmental puzzles and grind for hours in random battles, staring in awe at the dynamic camera angles during fights. Weyard was an interesting world to explore and Psynergy was a cool form of magic, but the stars of the game would have to be the Djinn summons. Not only did these spirits imbue you with different skills, but they could rain havoc upon your enemies when called. And that is totally awesome.
Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island
We can still hear that ear-piercing, heart-stopping crying that sent us on a baby-fetching frenzy. If you’ve ever played this port, you know what we’re talking about. In Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island, you take on the role of different Yoshis as they attempt to reunite Baby Mario with Baby Luigi and free the stork that was going to deliver the brothers to their destination. It’s an amazing amount of fun, but every time you were hit, the wee Baby Mario would float around and wail his brains out while a timer counted down. Panic mode would ensue! But it didn’t matter because we just couldn’t get enough.
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