For whatever reason, retro gaming has exploded in the last few years. Older gamers are reliving their glory days and younger gamers are discovering these gems from before their time. In my area alone there is a retro game store with three locations in the county and another competing store with one location. And as has been discussed here on Reaxxion before, all that increased interest, including the plague that is speculators, is really driving up the prices.
Games for the various retro systems have all seen rather sharp price increases. Some like the Super Nintendo and the N64 are getting insane. Even the Sega Genesis, whose games are some of the cheapest of the major systems, is starting to climb.
A port in the storm
There is one place left you can go for some great retro gaming. One major library that, for whatever reason, speculators have yet to descend upon. The Gameboy. Forget paying $50-$75 for a retro game because it’s suddenly, inexplicably, gotten hot. An expensive Gameboy game is like $25. Pokemon: Yellow and Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening are the only ones I’ve gotten so far that were over $20. Almost all the Gameboy games I got were under $10. I even got a few amusing time wasters like Tetris and Alleyway for a dollar a piece.
But don’t Gameboy games suck?
No, no they don’t. But I hear this a lot. Handhelds from the Gameboy to the DS have the reputation of being kiddie crap that all the shovelware is dumped onto. And that is true, as evidenced by this gaylord of DS games on their way to being melted down.
Probably iCarly and other Nickelodeon crap. I guess there wasn’t room in the Atari ET landfill. But while that stuff is certainly there, can you honestly tell me there isn’t a system out there that hasn’t had it’s library polluted by shovelware? There were some pretty atrocious SNES games. I would even argue modern sports games are just shovelwae in waiting. After all, you pretty much can’t give away a copy of Madden from two years ago.
So of course Gameboy had it’s fair share of garbage. But it also had some of the best games, and in many ways most unique games you could hope to play. Take Super Mario Land 1 and 2. In many ways these are your standard Super Mario experience, but Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto wasn’t actually involved in these games, resulting in some really odd and interesting enemy designs.
And then The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. This game tries to emulate A Link to the Past in gameplay as best as the Gameboy can handle, and does a pretty decent job. But what really makes this game stand out is the story. Rather than just rescuing Zelda, Link is stranded on an island that turns out to be the dream of a giant magic fish, and must awaken it to escape.
And you could forget the Gameboy Donkey Kong. Not just a port of the arcade classic, but an expansion of that game and formula that would end up becoming the basis for the Mario vs Donkey Kong series on later Nintendo handhelds. I could go on and on here. Metroid II, Kirby’s Dreamland 1 and 2, Castlevainia Adventure, the list goes on and on.
There are many ways you can get into Gameboy. Obviously you can go the emulator or virtual console route. I prefer to be a bit more authentic myself though. If you have a SNES you could get a Super Gameboy, or just an original Gameboy, but I think the best bet is to go with the Gameboy Advance SP.
There are many versions of the GBA, but this is the most compact. And GBA is backwards compatible with Gameboy Color and original Gameboy. And the Gameboy Advance has a ton of gems in it’s 32 bit library itself. Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland, Metroid: Zero Mission, Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, just to name a few. And a GBA SP is only $30 or so.
So there you have it friends; if you want to get into retro gaming without raping your poor wallet, you might want to ask Santa to bet you a Gameboy Advance SP.
Read Next: 4 Classic Games That Changed Gaming Forever