Gamer Koala

The Best RPGs for Game Boy Advance

Ah, the Game Boy Advance — a beloved handheld from Nintendo that truly perfected the Game Boy’s formula. And much like the Super Nintendo system, the GBA was a high mark for 2D pixel-style RPGs. I know I am biased, but it’s my favorite handheld for a reason! My Game Boy Advance SP gets used to this day.

Nintendo went on to focus more on 3D titles with the Nintendo DS, but the best RPGs for the Game Boy Advance truly stand the test of time. This was a tough list to narrow down, but whether you enjoy hack-n-slash or turn-based RPGs, this list has something for every RPG fan.

10. Shining Soul II

GBA cover of Shining Soul II

Game Info – Shining Soul II

U.S. Release: Game Boy Advance (2004)
Developer: Nextech
Game Type: ARPG
Multiplayer: Yes

Shining Soul II is a classic hack-and-slash action RPG. It plays similarly to Diablo and features ten dungeons to conquer as part of a storyline, as well as more hidden dungeons to find and explore.

The game features eight playable classes and centers around fast-paced combat, character progression (up to level 200!), and a fun co-op multiplayer mode that requires a link cable.

Gamers enjoyed the game’s old-school charm, the thrill of hunting for rare loot, and the ability to team up with friends for some epic monster-slaying action.

9. Summon Night: Swordcraft Story

GBA cover of Summon Night: Swordcraft Story

Game Info – Summon Night: Swordcraft Story

U.S. Release: Game Boy Advance (2006)
Developer: Flight-Plan
Game Type: ARPG
Multiplayer: Yes

Summon Night: Swordcraft Story blends action RPG elements with crafting, all wrapped in a charming world. You play as a Craftknight, learning to craft and wield powerful Guardian Beasts in a world filled with mysteries.

Your assignment is to win a tournament and save your homeland from an impending disaster. The gameplay involves real-time combat, deep crafting mechanics, and character interactions.

What made this game a hit was its innovative Guardian Beast system, which allowed players to summon unique creatures for combat and the engaging relationships you build with other characters.

8. Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II

GBA cover of Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II

Game Info – Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II

U.S. Release: Game Boy Advance (2003)
Developer: Webfoot Technologies
Game Type: ARPG
Multiplayer: No

Dragon Ball Z and RPGs might not seem like an obvious match, but “The Legacy of Goku II” pulls it off splendidly. You follow the DBZ saga from the Androids to the Cell Games, controlling various characters along the way.

The game picks up where the first left off, and the objective is to save the world from the impending Android threat. The game itself involves real-time battles, exploration, and character leveling.

Gamers appreciated how this game captured the show’s spirit, complete with intense battles, energy attacks, and the iconic storyline.

7. Mother 3

GBA cover for Mother 3

Game Info – Mother 3

JP Release: Game Boy Advance (2006)
Developer: Brownie Brown
Game Type: RPG
Multiplayer: No

Mother 3 is a legendary RPG that never reached English-speaking audiences. It had a troubled development cycle that spanned several Nintendo consoles before finally releasing on the Game Boy Advance. But since the GBA was near the end of its life cycle and development of games had shifted to the Nintendo DS, Mother 3 was not officially translated for the Western market.

In the game, players are tasked with saving the world from a mysterious army and finding their missing brother. The play involves turn-based battles, environmental puzzles, and a unique rhythm combo system for combat.

And while the game was never officially released in the West, fans of the series came to the rescue and released a translation patch that can be applied to ROM copies of the game, letting the U.S. audience finally play this gem.

6. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

GBA cover of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Game Info – Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

U.S. Release: Game Boy Advance (2003)
Developer: Konami
Game Type: Metroidvania
Multiplayer: No

While the Castlevania series is primarily known for its platformers, Aria of Sorrow takes a fascinating RPG twist. You play as Soma Cruz, trapped in Dracula’s castle with a mysterious amnesia.

Your objective is to uncover the truth and escape the castle’s clutches. The gameplay involves fast-paced action, weapon crafting, and the unique Tactical Soul system, where you collect and use the abilities of defeated enemies.

What gamers loved about this title is its captivating gothic atmosphere, challenging gameplay, and the intrigue of the story.

5. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

Cover art for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for Game Boy Advance

Game Info – Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

U.S. Release: Game Boy Advance (2003)
Developer: Square
Game Type: Tactical RPG
Multiplayer: Yes

The Final Fantasy series is legendary, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance brings that epic fantasy to the GBA. In this tactical RPG, you lead a group of young heroes who find themselves in a magical world where they take on various quests and challenges.

The objective is simple: find a way back home. Along the way, you’ll be involved in grid-based battles, character development, and strategic thinking.

What made this game a massive success was its deep strategy, memorable characters, and a beautifully crafted world that begged to be explored. While it wasn’t a direct sequel to the original Final Fantasy Tactics, it did receive a sequel on the Nintendo DS called Finance Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. (You gotta love those FF game titles, right?)

4. Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen

Cover art for Pokemon LeafGreen Version for Game Boy Advance

Game Info – Pokémon LeafGreen (and FireRed)

U.S. Release: Game Boy Advance (2004)
Developer: Game Freak
Game Type: RPG
Multiplayer: Yes

You can’t talk about GBA RPGs without mentioning Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen. These remakes of the original Pokémon Red and Blue games are all about becoming the ultimate Pokemon Master.

The game’s objective and play involves capturing, training, and battling Pokémon. No surprises there! As with all Pokémon games released on handheld at the time, the perspective was the traditional top-down view.

What people liked about these games is the nostalgia of revisiting the Kanto region, the introduction of updated features from newer Pokémon games, and the enduring charm of catching ’em all.

3. Golden Sun

Cover art for Golden Sun for Game Boy Advance

Game Info – Golden Sun

U.S. Release: Game Boy Advance (2001)
Developer: Camelot Software Planning
Game Type: RPG
Multiplayer: Yes

Golden Sun is a true classic in the GBA RPG library. It originally began as a Nintendo 64 title before shifting over to handheld. Furthermore, the game was so ambitious it had to be split into two parts due to hardware limitations.

Golden Sun is a turn-based RPG, and in it, you control a group of Adepts who possess magical abilities as they embark on a quest to save the world from impending doom. The play involves puzzle-solving, exploration, and turn-based battles.

Gamers were drawn to the beautiful 2D graphics, intriguing story, and the innovative Djinn system that allowed for character customization.

2. Fire Emblem

Cover art for Fire Emblem The Sacred Stones for Game Boy Advance

Game Info – Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

U.S. Release: Game Boy Advance (2005)
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Game Type: Tactical RPG
Multiplayer: Yes

Fire Emblem introduced many players to the joys of tactical RPGs. The series stretches back to 1990 in Japan before finally coming to the Western market in 2003.

You lead a group of heroes through a fantasy world, and the objective is to thwart political conspiracies, battle foes, and build bonds between characters. The gameplay involves grid-based combat and character management, all amid a gripping narrative.

Players revere the intricate strategy, permanent death for characters, and the emotional attachment that grows as you lead your army to victory.

1. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

Cover art for LoZ The Minish Cap for Game Boy Advance

Game Info – The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

U.S. Release: Game Boy Advance (2005)
Developer: Capcom
Game Type: ARPG
Multiplayer: No

Link’s adventures never cease to amaze, and The Minish Cap is no exception.

In this action RPG, Link’s quest is to rescue Princess Zelda and defeat the evil sorcerer Vaati. What makes this game a standout is the clever mechanic of shrinking Link down to the size of the Minish to explore the world from a new perspective. The play involves puzzle-solving, epic battles, and classic Zelda-style dungeon exploration.

Players loved its charming art style, engaging gameplay, and how it seamlessly fits into the Zelda timeline.