Nintendo's Game Boy Advance was a revolutionary handheld console that put the power of 32-bit architecture in the palm of your hand.
GBA not only inspired developers to create some of the most amazing RPGs of the generation, but it wasmore than strong enoughIt supports remakes and versions of classics.
Of course, it was made for gaming on the go.
But with so many fantastic RPGs with compelling storylines and complex combat systems, it's no surprise that many of us spend hours on our living room couch staring at that small screen.
And people wonder why so many children these days have poor eyesight.
Whether you're reminiscing or just stuck at grandma's with your old GBA to keep you company, these are the most amazing RPGs to play on this classic handheld.
40Bright Soul (2003)
Developed by Nextech and Grasshopper Manufacture, Shining Soul is an action RPG with hack and slash gameplay that allows you to decimate your enemies with melee weapons and magical abilities.
It takes place in Rune, where the Dark Dragon has assembled an army of darkness to destroy the world.
The player takes control of the hero of the Shining Fleet as he prepares to defeat the beast.
The problem with Shining Soul is that while many of us remember it fondly, it's not really a great game. The story feels boring and lacks any RPG elements.
39.Bright Soul 2 (2004)
Its sequel was a significant improvement, with a slightly improved combat system, better RPG mechanics, and a much better story.
After a great victory over the dark, the balance between dark and light tilts too much to the side of light.
This eventually led to the reemergence of powerful dark forces, and it's up to the hero to stop them.
It's important to note that this game bears little resemblance to the original Shining Soul, taking place centuries later.
38.Monster Rancher Advance 2 (2002)
After the great success of the original Pokémon games, many franchises began offering the same formula for raising and fighting monsters, such as:like tecmo monster rancher.
Monster Rancher Advance 2 allows players to take on the role of monster breeder and compete against rival breeders to become the best monster breeder.
Apart from its addictive gameplay, it shines with its replayability.
37.Fantasy Star Collection (2002)
Phantasy Star is one of the most influential and often groundbreaking RPG series in the genre's early history, and this collection brings the first three adventures to the palm of your hand.
Explore the planets of Palma, Motavia and Dezolis, discover dark secrets and experience some of the biggest twists you can find in a GBA title.
36.Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation 2 (2006)
Huge battle robots aren't exactly mainstream in the RPG genre, but Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation 2 has enough content to keep you busy for a long time.
This tactical RPG from Banpresto features over 40 different scenarios, including story elements from a variety of previous games and even original manga.
The graphics are nothing special.
And it's not the best tactical RPG on GBA.
But saving the day with badass robots still sounds like a fun time.
Onimusha Tactics takes the same art style and general setting as Onimusha: Warlords on PS2 and applies it to the tactical RPG genre.
In this game, the main character Onimaru uses the Oni Gauntlet to lead his warriors against Nobunaga and his Genma army.
In a genre dominated by high fantasy stories set in medieval European settings, Onimusha's oriental aesthetic is a breath of fresh air.
34.Demi Kids Light (2003)
DemiKids, also known as Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children, is a slightly simplified, kid-friendly spin-off of the main Shin Megami Tensei series.
Like most SMT titles, it focuses on dungeon crawling and features a unique combat system that allows you to talk to the enemy to recruit them.
Given how similar this mechanic is to catching a Pokemon, for example, it's no wonder they decided to jump on the "two versions of the same game" bandwagon with DemiKids Light & Dark.
33.DemiKids Dunkel (2003)
Both games have a surprisingly deep story for a game marketed to children.
And the "dark" version of the game would have caused quite a scandal if it caught on.
That's because in the game you are literally fighting Lucifer to ask him to stop the end of the world.
Fortunately, that never really happened.
So we can enjoy the excellent gameplay and the great soundtrack without reliving unpleasant memories.
32.Enders Zone: Fist of Mars (2002)
Developed by Winkysoft for Konami, Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars is one of the few examples of a mecha-centric series that shines not only with its giant robots but also with its plot.
Split into 26 episodes like an anime series, the story follows a young worker on an interplanetary cruise ship that crashes on the surface of Mars, a mining planet.
After being blamed for the attack, he is rescued by the Anti-Earth League who fight discrimination against "Enders", people born on mining planets.
With a deep plot that touches on sociological themes and multiple endings that depend on your actions, it's easy to get lost in the game's drama.
31Final Fantasy I and II: Dawn of Souls (2004)
I'm a fan of remakes and re-releases of time-honoured classics, and one of the best ways to experience the first two chapters in Square's Final Fantasy series is with this GBA compilation.
In addition to bringing the classic NES experience to the palm of your hand, Dawn of Souls also features some minor gameplay tweaks, an updated bestiary, and four additional dungeons to bolster the decades-old game.
If you like "classic" turn-based RPG and revel in the tropes of the genre, you can't ignore Japan Art Media's Lunar Legend.
It is a retelling of the original Lunar: The Silver Star released for the SEGA Mega CD in 1993 and contained a deeply immersive story that is guaranteed to play the game even if you are not a fan of the genre.
While the game's graphics and gameplay remain largely unchanged, Lunar Legend adds a "critical system" to combat that helps spice things up in such a true turn-based RPG.
29Yggdra Union: We Will Never Fight Alone (2006)
If you've ever played Yggdra's Union, you'll know that it's one of the most difficult RPGs on the GBA, with a unique combat system that allows you to control armies rather than individual characters.
The main difficulty of the game is learning the basics of morale-based combat.
And the game is not meant to be easy for you during your baby's first steps.
Such uniqueness is revealed in the second game of Dept. Heaven", which focuses on providing a more unusual experience with each release.
28UP: The Enemy (2003)
In CIMA: The Enemy of Neverland you are part of an organization trying to protect people from being abducted by the mysterious "Cima" alien life forms.
While combat is nothing out of the ordinary in this action RPG, it is your goal in every mission.
You must manually guide a group of survivors through enemy territory, telling them where to go, where to stay, and protecting them in real time as they move.
It's quirky but addictive, and the missions are so varied that trickery never gets old.
27Mega Man Battle Network 5: Equipe ProtoMan/Equipe Coronel (2004)
Classic Mega Man X games were one of the staples of my childhood, and the Mega Man Battle Network series on GBA tied my growing interest in JRPGs to my childhood icon.
This real-time tactical RPG features extensive customization options and a fast-paced combat system that utilizes a deck of "chips" that grant MegaMan different powers with each use.
The fifth part of the series is far from the best in terms of gameplay.
But the darker tone of the plot was very exciting as a teenager. The puzzles are more complex than ever and the graphics are excellent.
26Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cybeast Gregar/Cybeast Falzar (2006)
As the final entry in the Mega Man Battle Network series, the sixth installment received lukewarm reviews accusing the series of being outdated after so many iterations.
While that may be true of the story, the gameplay is by far the most refined version yet.
It maintains the same level of deep customization and challenging combat that made the series famous, and additions like the crossover system and beat-out mode are a great way to keep it fresh.
The story is nothing special this time around, but it does serve to tie together several threads from the first game, giving fans a much-needed sense of closure.
25Mega Man Battle Network 3 (2003)
What sets the third chapter in the Tactical RPG series apart from the rest is the expertly written story, which is easily the best of all six iterations on the GBA.
Follow Lan as she fights as Dr. Wily and the evil WWW Organization unleash Alpha, a prototypical version of the Internet destined to destroy society as they know it.
The music in this game works wonders in its most dramatic scenes and delivers one of the most moving and emotional endings in the franchise... well, almost.
It would ruin everything if I tried to explain it.
24Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hands (2003)
If you've ever played a Metal Gear Solid game or the latest Death Stranding, you know that famed game developer Hideo Kojima is all about experimentation.
A perfect example is Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand, produced by Kojima, which includes an ultraviolet light sensor in the game cartridge.
The more sunlight it receives, the more powerful Django's "Sun Gun" becomes.
That unique gimmick aside, the game is a highly competent and visually stunning action RPG that follows Django on his quest to rid the land of evil vampires (hence weaponized sunlight).
23Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django (2004)
Django's adventure continues in Boktai 2, which refines the gameplay and visual style to perfection.
After a vampire steals his Sun Gun and his hometown of San Miguel is destroyed, Django must once again embark on a quest against the forces of evil.
The game retains the ultraviolet light sensor, but replaces Django's Gun del Sol with Vice's Sol, a solar gauntlet with the power to pierce melee weapons with sunlight.
This change makes combat in this action RPG much tighter and more personal, so it doesn't feel like a repeat of the original game.
22Final Fantasy IV (2005) Preview
The GBA was an old-school RPG lover's dream, as its 32-bit architecture and simple controls were ideal for remakes of NES and SNES classics like Final Fantasy IV.
This game was the first to introduce the ATB system to the Final Fantasy series, allowing players to input commands on the fly.
He was also the first to give characters defined classes instead of letting them choose.
Final Fantasy IV is also one of the more difficult entries in the series, so much so that an "easy" version of the game was released in the Japanese market.
If you're up for the challenge, you won't regret playing this gem.
21Final Fantasy V avance (2006)
The fifth Final Fantasy game has also received a major remake for the GBA, allowing newcomers and seasoned fans alike to experience Bartz's adventures like never before.
While keeping the ATB introduced by the previous game, this game reintroduces class customization in the forma work system.
The GBA version adds four new classes: the Gladiator, the Cannoneer, the Necromancer, and the Oracle. It also includes a new optional dungeon with a new boss.
20Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team (2006)
pokemon mystery dungeonIt came out just as Nintendo switched from GBA to NDS, so it released on both consoles at the same time.
Red Rescue Team was the GBA version, offering fans a whole new Pokémon experience where the pocket monsters themselves take center stage.
They even talk!
The gameplay also differed from previous Pokémon games and took the form of a roguelike dungeon crawler with randomly generated levels, like any other mystery dungeon title.
19Lufia, The Ruins of Lore (2003)
How good a game looks depends only in part on the performance of the console.
It has a lot to do with creative thinking and game design, which is why I like Atelier Double's Lufia, Ruins of Lore so much.
While it's definitely a "traditional" turn-based RPG in terms of story and combat system, it successfully breaks the mold in many areas to stand out from the crowd.
For example, the perspective from which the battles are presented creates an illusion of depth and feels very dynamic.
18Fire Breath (2001)
We have covered many GBA ports of older titles and we will cover a few more.
But no one can hold a candleby breath of firein terms of improvements over the original game.
It's not exactly a remake, but the GBA version of Breath of Fire improves the graphics by implementing a vibrant color palette and speeds up game progression.
Anyone looking to break into Capcom's long-running RPG franchise should start here.
17Breath of Fire 2 (2002)
The same goes for the second part of Capcom's Breath of Fire, of course, which offers a much better story than the first game.
As you follow the shapeshifting dragon Ryu on his quest to find his missing family and learn about his draconic heritage, you will feel deeply invested in the story and its characters.
One of this game's more useful additions to the BoF formula is the Monster Meter, which gives you an idea of how likely you are to have a random encounter so you can prepare accordingly.
sixteen.Night of the Conjuring: A History of Fencing (2006)
Developed by Flight-Plan, Swordcraft Story is a spin-off of the main Summon Night series that focuses on weapon crafting, both from a gameplay and narrative perspective.
The story isn't groundbreaking, but it's a classic coming-of-age tale that's sure to entertain younger viewers, which probably explains why it's so popular today.
It also allows players to choose between a male and female protagonist, which is always a good thing.
Remember that sharp wits or cunning tendencies won't be enough to get you through this action RPG – you'll also need to develop reflexes and navigate the 2D battle arenas.
15.Summon Night Swordcraft Story 2 (2006)
The second game in the spin-off series hasn't changed much in terms of gameplay, but it looks even better than its predecessor with a brighter color scheme and sharper sprites.
Once again, you can choose your gender before embarking on your adventure as an aspiring Craft Knight.
Along the way, you'll meet charming characters, build a truck full of weapons, and explore exciting locations that will stay in your memory for a while thanks to flashback magic.
This game is much more about the journey than the destination. With a catchy soundtrack and loads of personality, you'll have no trouble getting the most out of it.
14Shining Force: Rise of the Black Dragon (2004)
The original Shining Force was one of the most memorable JRPGs on the SEGA Genesis.
This enhanced version for the GBA was an absolute delight for longtime fans, while also introducing the iconic title to a new audience.
With an old-fashioned charm that comes from the remarkably ordinary fantasy story and the sprites that go in its place, this game plunges you into an era long gone.
In terms of gameplay, this tactical RPG has a lot in common with Fire Emblem.
And it can get quite difficult as the game progresses.
13Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (2003)
Developed by AlphaDream under the watchful eye of Nintendo, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga delivers a fast-paced, action-packed experience unrivaled in the genre.
While it can be quite challenging, the game doesn't expect you to spend hours and hours fighting the same damage sponge enemies.
Instead, you need to focus on exploring and solving puzzles using a variety of tools.
It's a great introduction to the classic RPG genre for those who aren't used to it, and even if it doesn't work, it's still packed with mini-games and other fun activities.
12Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis (2002)
I go crazy for any Tactics in the genre, and Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis only deepened that love the first time I played it.
The story of this Lodis Knight leaving and defying his former organization after discovering its atrocities in the land of Ovis is not only compelling and inspiring, but still relevant today.
While the story kept me hooked, the gameplay is also great.
Being able to persuade enemies to join your cause in the middle of battle adds a lot of complexity to these encounters, and the highly customizable units mean no two games are the same.
11Mana Sword (2003)
Square Enix's Mana series is one of the most prolific RPG franchises, and also one of its longest-running.
This new version of the first game in the franchise allows players to experience the title that started it all without the hassles of outdated systems. Also, it looks great on the GBA.
It has a simple, high fantasy story that follows a nameless hero on his quest to defeat the Dark Lord and save the mana tree.
The hack and slash combat is also easy to pick up, but it's still challenging in the game.
10Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (2004)
As I said before, with many remakes and re-releases for a younger audience, the GBA was ready to get involved with the classics. Even Game Freaks Pokemon Red & Blue has its own transformation.
Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen allows players to relive the original adventure on the third-generation engine by significantly updating the graphics and even the combat system, while keeping the narrative and characters largely intact.
The game also adds nine new islands for players to explore. Even if you know the original inside and out, there are still some discoveries to be made.
Not to mentionThose Gen 3 gamesThere are many ROM cheats to revive the experience in different ways.
9.Pokemon Esmeralda (2005)
But even a significant amount of nostalgia isn't enough to make FireRed & LeafGreen better than the actual third-gen Pokémon games.
Especially Pokemon Emerald.
It is the definitive version of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.
It features the mighty Rayquaza as the main legend and introduces the amazing Battle Frontier that has catapulted the replayability of the game to new heights.
This generation added 2v2 combat, which is now a staple of competitive play, and the Hoenn region is simply a joy to explore.
8.Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (2003)
For whatever reason, isometric, grid-based tactical RPGs tend to have visuals that are easy on the eyes, but Final Fantasy Tactics Advance shines with colorful visuals that keep your eyes from wandering.
The story follows a group of young people from the town of St. Ivalice who are transported to a world of magic and fantasy after opening an ancient tome.
In this world of Ivalice, they must wield the sword and master the art of war in order to survive and find their way back home.
With a complex job system that feels like a game on its own, and the added difficulty of "Laws", special restrictions present in most encounters, this game stands out better.
7.Riviera: A Promised Land (2005)
The first game in the Spike's Dept. Heaven is Riviera series, an unusual turn-based RPG that stands out from the rest with its unique art style and somewhat bizarre story.
One of the coolest aspects of the game is that it acts as a kind of dating sim, where the main character can woo anyone in his harem of party members by spending time with them and meeting certain criteria.
There's also a PSP port with enhanced graphics and full voice acting.
But if you like to play, this is just as good.
6.Advance of Final Fantasy VI (2007)
This 16-bit masterpiece of the RPG genre has only gotten better with this GBA release which includes some new areas like the Dragon's Den dungeon, new espers and slightly updated graphics.
When it was first released, FFVI was revolutionary, taking everything that had worked in previous games and even other franchises and polishing it to a mirror-smooth shine.
Part of what made it so impressive at the time was the depth of its characters and its drama, which explored themes like teenage pregnancy, the use of chemical weapons in war, and life under a military dictatorship.
5.Golden Sun (2001)
Golden Sun appears in every discussion of the GBA game library. And for good reason.
Developed by Camelot Software Planning, this traditional turn-based RPG proved that there was a market for incredibly deep and far-reaching stories.
In fact, the history of this game is so long that it has been divided into two games.
Underpin this fantastical narrative with stunning visuals, including dynamic sprite-based cutscenes and eye-catching battles.
4.Golden Sun: The Lost Age (2002)
Picking up where the original Golden Sun left off, The Lost Age follows a motley crew of enemy survivors from the first game as they struggle to achieve what they failed to achieve in the original.
Experiencing the same story and conflict from two opposing perspectives opened my mind to the kinds of stories video games can tell.
In terms of gameplay, the game offers more of the same amazing puzzles and labyrinthine dungeons that made the first one such an immersive experience.
3.Fire Emblem: The Burning Blade (2003)
The seventh installment in the Fire Emblem series was also the first to be released worldwide, bringing the fantastic tactical gameplay of the series to Western audiences.
It offers three playable heroes and a strong fantasy story that doesn't get too complicated and focuses on fantastic characters and well-written dialogues.
Coupled with fantastic graphics and beautifully designed environments, this made The Blazing Blade one of the most influential titles of the decade.
2.Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004)
I would say now might be the perfect time to look back on KH history and maybe try playing Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on GBA.
It is a prequel to KH2 that follows Sora, Donald, and Goofy as they explore Castle Oblivion to find their friends.
In addition to the unique card-based combat system, this game features a spatial synthesis mechanic that allows players to make an impact.infrom mob strength to spawning a save point in a newly spawned area.
It is definitely one of the main reasons to have a GBA.
If you can get past the card battles (and the older graphics), you're going to have a lot of fun with this title.
1.Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (2005)
Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade might have been the first Fire Emblem to come out of Japan, but it wasn't the best on the GBA.
That honor goes to The Sacred Stones, which basically plays the same but features a much better story with a compelling plot and excellent pacing.
The ability to choose between a male and female protagonist early in the game increases replayability.
It also improves the graphics significantly and offers some challenging scenarios that make it a great GBA RPG and one of the best Fire Emblem games of all time.