The Nintendo Game Boy was the first handheld console to make a huge impact on gamers around the world, selling more than 118 million units and bringing the joys of gaming to entirely new audiences.
However, even the best console would be a flop without a roster of incredible games to play, and the Game Boy certainly did not disappoint. Today, we’re looking back at some of the top-selling Game Boy games of all time. How many of these classics did you own?
Where else can you start with the Game Boy than with Tetris? This is one of the most beloved puzzle games of all time and epitomises the “just one more go” gameplay that we know and love!
Released for the Game Boy in June 1989, Tetris wound up selling 35 million copies for the portable Nintendo console alone.
Pokémon (Red, Blue and Green)
Thanks to the popularity of the cartoon series, it’s sometimes forgotten that Pokémon started life in 1996 as a series of Game Boy games originally entitled Pocket Monsters. More than 25 years later, the gotta-catch-’em-all franchise remains the most lucrative IP in history.
Put together, the Pokémon red, green, blue and yellow games sold over 46 million copies.
Super Mario Land
The Nintendo mascot had sold millions of games on the NES, and this game showed that the formula could work just as well on the little handheld console.
Technically the fifth Super Mario Bros game, Super Mario Land shifted 18.14 million units.
While Mario has taken all kinds of guises over the years – from tennis ace to kart racer – Dr Mario was one of the first instances of the plumber trading in his overalls for a different career.
Launched in July 1990, Dr. Mario sold 5.34 million copies, and also represented Mario’s first step away from his usual platform game territory into more of a Tetris-esque puzzle format.
One of the most iconic (and most unlikely) platforming greats of the NES era, DuckTales also made its way to Game Boy for cane-hopping and treasure-collecting on the move.
While it lacks the incredibly colour and soundtrack of the NES original, the core gameplay is alive and well in this port, making it a true classic. It shifted over 1.4 million units.
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
It was an unusual to see the villain from previous games become the hero. Wario Land did this, and the character was controlled differently enough to Mario to make this a very different platforming experience to the classic Mario games.
Released in January 1994, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 wound up selling 5.19 million copies, proving fans had no problem rooting for the bad guy.
Kirby’s Dream Land
This 1992 side-scrolling platform game introduced a new Nintendo icon in Kirby, the cute little blob with the somewhat unnerving defensive ability of inhaling his opponents and spitting them out as projectile weapons!
Selling 5.13 million copies on the Game Boy, Kirby’s Dream Land was the first of many Kirby games; the most recent, Return to Dream Land Deluxe, was released for Nintendo Switch in 2023.
Donkey Kong Land 2
This game had some of the most impressive graphics seen on the console. Developers Rare made a version of the SNES’ Donkey Kong Country for the Game Boy, but it was by the sequel, Donkey Kong Land 2, that they’d become experts at cramming that monkey goodness on to handheld hardware.
The original 1995 Game Boy game Donkey Kong Land sold over 3.19 million copies, whilst the sequel sold 2.35 million.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
We might have thought a smaller console would mean a smaller game. However, after Super Mario Land proved just as big as any of the other Mario games, so too did the Game Boy take on that other classic Nintendo franchise, Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was released in June 1993, and sold 3.83 million copies.
A true classic never goes out of style. The original 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong is still beloved today, so it’s hardly surprising that it proved popular when it first arrived on the handheld console.
Released in 1994, the Nintendo Game Boy version of Donkey Kong enjoyed sales of just over 3 million.
Not every game needs a fancy concept and a complex backstory. Golf was, plainly and simply, a handheld video game take on the sport, and it was a lot of fun to play.
Adapted from the 1984 Nintendo Entertainment System game, Golf came to the Game Boy in 1989 and sold 2.12 million copies.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Even now in the 2020s, anything with the Super Mario brand is guaranteed to sell. Small wonder, then, that the sequel to Super Mario Land also proved massively popular.
Released in October 1992, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins shifted an impressive 11.18 million copies.