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Game Boy Advance Games We Want Now

Nintendo might be adding Game Boy Advance titles to the Nintendo Switch Online service. If this is the case, fans will be ecstatic to get their hands on classics like these.
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In mid-April, a leak from anonymous social media users who claim to have inside knowledge regarding Nintendo products suggested that the company was testing a Game Boy Advance emulator for the Nintendo Switch. Most fans quickly assumed this meant Nintendo is preparing to unveil a GBA program for its ongoing Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

Nintendo kicked off its NSO program in 2018 by allowing users to download and play a selection of Nintendo Entertainment System games. These classics, like Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, are some of the most influential games of all time. The company added SNES games to the service in 2019, kicking off fan speculation that other classic consoles might get added to the Switch’s library.

Indeed, Nintendo continued this trend in 2021, rolling out the Expansion Pack, which includes Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games. While fans have been excited about the updates to the N64 app, many are now clamoring for the addition of Game Boy Advance titles. 

Could the Leaks Be Accurate? 

The first question you might be asking is whether anyone should trust leaks they find online. Generally speaking, it’s best to take leaks with a grain of salt. After all, people can make compelling mock-ups of things like emulators and screenshots. However, this specific leak seems reputable. Several people familiar with Nintendo’s internal workings have confirmed that the company is, indeed, testing a Game Boy Advance emulator for the Switch.

Here’s the thing, though: just because the emulator is a real piece of code that Nintendo is testing, that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to see the light of day. The company has notoriously high standards for its products and is unlikely to release anything until it’s certain the performance is up to its expectations. So, while the company is almost assuredly testing a GBA emulator, it’s impossible to say whether, or when, it might release the product to the public.

Even then, if Nintendo does release the service, another handful of questions remain unanswered. Would the service be part of the Expansion Pack, or would it be added to the base NSO subscription? And which games would it launch with? Today, we’d like to look at a handful of the Game Boy Advance games that we really want to see on Switch.

Golden Sun

Golden Sun is a cult classic turn-based RPG from Camelot, a second-party developer that often works closely with Nintendo. The game is considered one of the best RPGs ever made by some, but it often goes overlooked due to its simplistic graphics and exclusivity on the original Game Boy.

In Golden Sun, players control a party of “Adepts,” magic users who bind Djinn to their service and use them to battle enemies. The turn-based combat is reminiscent of early games in the Final Fantasy franchise.

The game would be a welcome addition to the Switch’s online service, showing players one of the most underappreciated handheld games of the early 2000s. Fans would love to see the game return to a mainline console after its last re-release on the Nintendo Wii in 2014.

Advance Wars

Developer Intelligent Systems is responsible for some of the best first-party Nintendo franchises, including Paper Mario and Fire Emblem. The studio is also responsible for the beloved Wars series, including the 2001 masterpiece Advance Wars. The head-scratching turn-based tactical title was the first entry in the series to reach the US, and its surprise success encouraged Nintendo to bring over similar titles like Fire Emblem.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that there would be no modern Fire Emblem were it not for the US release of Advance Wars. The cute handheld title sees players moving adorable tanks and planes around a diorama-like map and trying to out-think their opponents. The game was lauded for its deep single-player campaign and engrossing multiplayer component.

Metroid Fusion

Nintendo doesn’t release mainline 2D Metroid games often, but when it does release a new entry in the series, fans pay attention. That’s because each of the four mainline 2D Metroid titles is a stone-cold masterpiece, and Metroid Fusion is no exception. The game sees Samus return to action as she struggles to contain the mysterious X parasite, an uphill battle that will keep players engaged for hours.

Metroid Fusion is cited by many players as one of the best video games ever made due to its tight gameplay, economic storytelling, and excellent atmosphere. The title is easy to pick up and play but difficult to master, making it a perfect addition to the Switch’s library. 

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

The Minish Cap is one of only a handful of mainline Zelda games made by Capcom. Even though Nintendo didn’t make the game, it’s still one of the best 2D Zelda entries and an unparalleled dungeon-crawler. 

Players once again take on the role of Link, a young knight on a quest to rescue Princess Zelda from the clutches of an evildoer. In this outing, Link meets a diminutive species of elf-like creatures called the Minish and acquires the power to shrink down to their size and explore every nook and cranny of Hyrule. 

The game is notable for not featuring Ganon as the primary antagonist. Instead, Link faces off with the Wind Mage Vaati, indicating that the story takes place in Hyrule’s ancient past. 

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Most Castlevania fans agree that the best entry in the series is the PlayStation classic Symphony of the Night. However, many contend that Aria of Sorrow, released on the GBA in 2003, is a close second–if not the better entry. The game is a gripping sequel to SotN, refining its predecessor’s dungeon-crawling gameplay by introducing a new “Soul-stealing” mechanic.

Players take the role of Soma Cruz, a reincarnation of Dracula capable of absorbing the souls of defeated monsters. When he does this, he gains new powers that allow him to venture deeper into the mystical castle his former self once called home. Soma is a compelling protagonist who runs from his fate to become the monstrous Count Dracula and endeavors to defeat the cult that wants to see their vampire overlord reborn.

This one is actually on the Switch already; it’s available in the Castlevania Advance Collection. Still, it would be great for more people to try it through Nintendo Switch Online!

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones wasn’t the first game in the long-running series, but it was the first to make its way to North America. It’s also notably easier than other entries in the turn-based tactical combat series, which many fans believe was Nintendo’s way of saying it thought that American gamers would be worse at strategy games.

The game is a wonderful introduction to the story-driven tactical combat of Fire Emblem. Players command named units that represent characters from the narrative, each with their own combat role, defined strengths and weaknesses, and personalities. Much of the game’s tension comes from the brutal perma-death feature: if a character falls in battle, you’ll never see them again throughout the game.

Fire Emblem has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity on the Switch thanks to the excellent 2019 game Fire Emblem: Three Houses, so we’d love to see Nintendo give new fans a chance to play this early entry in the series.

Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga

The long-dormant Mario and Luigi series is Nintendo’s handheld answer to the RPG mechanics of Paper Mario. Superstar Saga, the first entry in the long-running RPG series, is one of the best games ever made. It’s riotously funny, consistently clever, and extremely fun to play. 

The game follows the titular Mario Brothers, but instead of focusing on platforming and action, it’s a turn-based RPG. That means you’ll spend as much time comparing new gear as you will jumping on enemies’ heads! 

The game would make a great addition to the Switch lineup, as it’d mark the first time the series has appeared on Nintendo’s latest home console. Until then, Mario and Luigi fans will just have to wait for any news on whether the series will return from its extended hiatus following the closure of developer Alpha Dream.

Mega Man Battle Network

This one is more a series request than a request for a single game. We’d love it if Nintendo would just put a representative from the Battle Network series on the Switch. The long-running Game Boy Advance series is an alternate-reality version of the Mega Man universe that reimagines the Blue Bomber as a computer program instead of a robot.

Players control Lan, a human in the real world, as he operates his “Navi,” his virtual avatar, Mega Man, in cyberspace. The game is best remembered for its unique combat system, which takes place on a three-by-six grid. Players dodge between squares on the grid while trading blows across the field with enemy Navis or NPC viruses. 

Battle Network challenges players to create a strong “folder” of “chips,” combining the fun of a collectible card game with the reflex-testing action gameplay Mega Man fans love. The series has been dormant for over a decade, so it’d be great to see Nintendo highlight it on the Switch’s online platform.