Game Boy RPGs On Switch – Why We Need Them

For a moment, let’s ignore the fact that Nintendo has yet to give most fans what they desire in regards to their older library of games. Nintendo Switch Online is fine – I’ve spent hours playing River City Ransom myself – but we need more than NES games on there, and at a faster pace. Also, you can never have too many RPGs.

Just a few days ago, the original Game Boy turned 30 years old. Let that sink in for a moment. I don’t know where you were – perhaps you weren’t even born yet – but I distinctly remember fighting over the handheld with my two older brothers on many road trips. Sure, you had to keep a reliable light source within arms reach in order to get the most out of its amazing 2.6in (diagonally), 160 x 144 pixel screen, but it was still great.

The well deserved 30 year celebration got me thinking about how awesome the collection of RPGs are on the Game Boy. I mean, we’re talking multiple heavy hitting RPG franchises that made their debut exclusively on the platform. If it wasn’t for those games, who knows how their legacies would have turned out, if at all. In this article, I’m going to highlight some – but not all – Game Boy RPGs. By the end, maybe you will agree with me as to why the many RPGs found on the Game Boy should join the modern era, specifically on Switch.

Final Fantasy Legend I, II, III

Often confused as a spinoff series of the legendary Final Fantasy franchise, The Legend games actually mark the beginning of the SaGa series. When tasked with localization, the naming convention was changed simply to cash in on the growing hype surrounding Final Fantasy at the time. If you’ve played any of these titles before, you’ll know that they are structured completely different than that of the Final Fantasy series.

SaGa games, in general, are not necessarily catered towards the casual RPG fan due to the complexities involved in their systems, as well as the fact that they are usually less “handholdy” than your average RPG. That said, some of these entries are considered some of the best in the series. On top of that, I believe that playing them – especially Legend II and III – would go a long way in helping SaGa newcomers understand the more complex outings of the franchise, such as Romancing SaGa 2 (that is already on Switch). I would seriously pay full price to have a compilation of these in my Switch library.

Final Fantasy Adventure

Once again riding the hype train is Final Fantasy Adventure. Unlike both Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy Legend, Adventure actually marks the beginning of the Mana franchise. Basically, it is a lot like your average Zelda game from the same time, complete with dungeon diving, puzzle solving, and sword slashing.

Adventure, however, dives much further into the RPG mechanic pool than Zelda does – only ankle deep there in the shallows. Your hero levels up, can equip an assortment of gear, and is capable of teaming up with a semi-AI controlled companion – obviously quite rudimentary now, but back then it was pretty swell. With rumors going around that we might see the Seiken Densetsu Collection localized – which this game is a part of- Adventure very well might see the light of day on Switch in our lifetime.

Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow

It would be impossible to leave out what began the craze that is Pokemon. In 6th grade, this was the the thing to have and frequent topic of conversation between friends, and for good reason. While some might argue that having these now – after the Pokemon Let’s Go “reimagining” – would be a bit redundant, I strongly disagree with that concept. Any old school Pokemon gamer worth their salt will immediately let you know how much different the two games actually are from each other. So yes, please bring these to the Switch, k thx.

Legend of the River King

Before the agricultural simulation RPG – Harvest Moon – became a household name, there was…Legend of the River King? Before writing this article, I was completely unaware that Legend of the River King was part of a long-running (but currently dormant) series, spanning back to the Famicom. Billed as a fishing-themed RPG, Legend of the River King features a story – more like a purpose though – alongside an equipment system, virtual pet mini-game, and of course, lots of fishing.

I’ll be honest and say that I remember very little about this game – it might actually be terrible. However, I’ll never forget how angry my older brother was when I traded our copy of Brave Fencer Musashi in for this hidden gem…or was it a turd? If this was on Switch, perhaps I could put this decades-spanning question to rest!


As you can see, there is a lot of important RPG history tied behind Nintendo’s mega successful Game Boy system. While I have doubts that these will ever appear on Switch Online or elsewhere – considering none of these made an appearance on the 3DS Virtual Console (AFAIK) – I still have hopes that some could show up one day. Do you think we will ever see Game Boy titles on the Switch? Would you prefer them as part of the online service, or would you rather go for the tried-and-true virtual console system?

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Gio Pimentel
Staff

While I didn’t play any of these titles I can’t believe this system is 30 years old. Metroid 2 and Links Awakening took up a lot t of my time.

DjAtkins
Member
DjAtkins

The SaGa Gameboy games are my ALLL time favorite soo happy to see them in this list. I have them loaded on my modded 3ds

Jeremy Rice
Staff

Still kills me that I never got around to playing the Final Fantasy Legends games (or any SaGa games). That needs to be corrected at some point.