It has been over 25 years since Pokémon first took the world by storm and, while many a lesser franchise may have fallen to the wayside, Pikachu and the rest of his Pocket Monster pals have exhibited a staying power so strong that they’ve quickly become the top media franchise of all time!
That’s right, we’re talking bigger than Star Wars here, folks!
With the launch of the Game Boy Advance, Game Freak stood poised and ready to take the hugely popular Pokémon franchise into a new and exciting format. And, by the time it was all said and done, the Pocket Monsters reigned supreme as the hottest-selling series to grace the 32-bit handheld.
However, with over 40 million games sold, one can’t help but wonder which Pokémon game really is the best one to call the Game Boy Advance home. So, I went back and revisited them all.
It took some thinking. A few sleepless nights and more than a few cups of coffee, but I feel as though I now have a definitive ranking of
Table of Contents
The Best Pokemon Games For The GBA
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team (2005)
Let’s start things off with this lesser-known title from Chunsoft! Featuring a host of unique gameplay elements, Red Rescue Team succeeds in turning the traditional franchise formula on its head by offering players something a little closer to Final Fantasy Tactics in nature, but still wholly Pokémon at its core!
You control a trainer who has been transformed into a Pokémon and must travel around completing tasks and amassing Rescue Points to uncover the truth behind who you really are – and the identity of those behind your mysterious transformation.
Randomly generated dungeons make every mission unique, while the game’s rich narrative immerses players in a side of the Pokémon universe not seen or experienced before.
While deviation from the norm may repel fans of the more familiar formula that made the original Game Boy titles a hit, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team still remains a highly addictive game that is quite good overall.
Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire (2003)
This may seem like a rather strange combination. And, perhaps on some levels, it is. However, Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire expertly combines the thrill of procuring Pocket Monsters with some of the very best pinball action to come off of a handheld console.
Featuring strong graphics, realistic gameplay, and a lengthy roster of over 200 Pokémon that must be caught in order to complete your Pokédex, this is not some one-and-done pinball party.
Rather, what you have here is a solidly addictive game that is certain to keep you on your toes as you look to become the very best with each flick of the flippers. Granted, if you’re not a Pokémon fan, this one may not be for you.
However, if you’re able to look beyond the brand, what you’ll be left with is a fantastic pick-up-and-play pinball game ready to offer up hours of enjoyment every time you turn it on!
A truly worthwhile addition to any GBA library that does its Game Boy predecessor proud!
Pokémon Emerald (2004)
An expansion of Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire, this more traditional title once again has players collecting, trading, and battling a wide array of colorful Pocket Monsters, while also attempting to stop a pair of powerful organizations from taking over the world.
While it may be more of an ‘add-on’, Pokémon Emerald does a fantastic job of taking everything that’s great about its contemporaries and ramping it up. Proof that the franchise’s tried and tested approach refuses to crumble over time, this is a truly great addition to the Pokémon franchise – as well as a strong strategy RPG in its own right.
Featuring a heightened level of difficulty, plenty of challenging post-game content, and a new story centered around Rayquaza and his intervention in the battle between Groudon and Kyogre, it packs quite the punch and refines the minor erroneous areas within Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire respectively.
Clearly there is a reason why, with over 7 million copies sold, it remains the third best-selling GBA game of all time!
Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire (2002)
Perhaps the most immersive Pokémon games of all time, both Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire shockingly succeeded in raising the bar of this monumental franchise even further and remain worthy successors to their Gold and Silver siblings.
Featuring a new story, 202 different Pokémon, and loads of addictive RPG gameplay, both titles are renowned for their lightning-fast battle mechanics, stress-free controls, and sublime amount of detail.
Additionally, the unique abilities of each Pokémon within the games allow the creatures to become more personalized than ever before, while both titles remained unafraid to show the fans exactly what an RPG was capable of when paired with Nintendo’s sixth-generation handheld.
Are they perfect? Nope. But, as far as Pokémon games go, Ruby and Sapphire are darn close!
While they might be a few decades old now, Game Freak’s 2002 Pokémon entries not only remain the top-selling GBA titles of all time but also two of the most expensive games to score on the aftermarket!
Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen (2004)
I know. I know. Remasters seem to crash and burn more often than not in today’s video game market. But, that’s not always the case. Just look at Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen.
Released on the GBA early in 2004, these games are a near-perfect blend of old and new, offering both traditional first-gen gameplay and loads of modern flair.
Heavy on the nostalgia, both titles see you once again exploring the Kanto region, competing with Gary, and taking in Poké facts a plenty from Professor Oak.
This old-school charm is only further aided by a host of quality improvements that include Team Battles, a more organized backpack, equipable items, and a visible EXP bar among others.
Additionally, it doesn’t take long to see that both the remakes were a true labor of love for the folks at Game Freak, resulting in worthy successors that were leaps and bounds ahead of the originals. Add to this the fact that both were programmed to allow trading between other third-generation games and could even be synced up with Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD over on the Nintendo Game Cube, and you’ve got a pair of exquisitely crafted remasters that serves as a love letter to the games that started it all!