The Gameboy Advance was my favorite system to play games on when I was younger. I still revisit the handheld every year to replay some favorites from back in the day. Today, though, I wanted to highlight some lesser known titles, or hidden gems that deserve some of the spotlight when compared to the major hits we have all come to know and love on the platform. Forget about Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, and Golden Sun for just a bit and you’ll see some other great games here! Get ready for my top 5 GBA hidden gems.
Wade Hixton’s Counter Punch
Do you have that itch to play some Punch-Out but couldn’t be bothered to drag out the old console and hook everything up? I have good news for you on a game for the GBA that flatters these boxing game titles with a spin of its own. Wade Hixton’s Counter Punch is just like the Punch-Out titles on the NES and SNES, but on a portable device. The graphics are colorful, the gameplay is fast and fun, and the characters provide a unique challenge in each match. Whimsical and silly to the core, you’ll definitely get a laugh out of the game while punching your way through to the top!
Lady Sia is one of those rare games that is completely original and doesn’t follow a franchise or movie tie-in license. For its time, the title was unique, but this could also contribute to Hidden Gem novelty as it was overshadowed by other games from big franchises. Lady Sia is a side-scrolling action platforming game where you control Sia herself. She embarks on a quest to rid the realms of an invading force conscripted by an evil warlock. The story isn’t where Lady Sia shines, however, it’s in the gameplay. Attacking foes and jumping around the environment feels great and the hand-drawn cartoonish graphics are enjoyable to look at. If you’re looking for a fun level-based side-scrolling adventure, look no further than Lady Sia.
Astro Boy Omega Factor
Now that we have the two obscure and original games out of the way, it’s time to hit the great games from establish franchises or intellectual properties. Astro Boy Omega Factor is another fantastic side-scrolling action game or “beat em’ up,” for the GBA. The title was released in the US to coincide with the television series in 2004. The game features a cast of characters that make appearances from the entire canon of Astro Boy. This is sure to be exciting for fans of the manga and anime, but that’s not going to please everybody. Popular series aside, Astro Boy Omega Factor is insanely fun to play through, especially if you’ve had your fill of the other beat em’ up style games on the GBA like Final Fight One.
The Onimusha series has been popular for years, and fans have been asking for either a new installment or an HD remaster of the games. While neither of these desires appear to be on the horizon, the franchise has branched out into other genres before. Onimusha Tactics is a grid-based tactical RPG much akin to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and it is a great game. The gameplay is very similar, as are most of these types of games. Onimusha Tactics has its own flair to the title, though. Utilizing known characters of the series based off of historical figures, Capcom took a chance to experiment on a different genre for their franchise. If you’re tired of replaying other tactical RPGs on the GBA and want to experience a new story with some tweaked gameplay mechanics, check out Onimusha Tactics.
Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars
Similar to Capcom’s decision with our last entry, Konami thought to bring one of their most beloved franchises to the GBA. Did you know that there was a Zone of the Enders tactical RPG on the GBA? Similar in style and structure as Front Mission, Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars is a spin-off of the original third-person action oriented series on home consoles. The most interesting difference between this title and other tactical RPGs is that when initiating combat, the on-screen HUD changes to being inside of a mech. The player has a limited time to target the enemy being attacked and land a hit. This adds some additional gameplay mechanics to the tried and true tactical RPG and makes sense in the setting.
Are any of these titles you hadn’t heard of before? Do you plan on checking any of these titles out? Sound off in the comments below!