The following ranked list of the NSO GBA library is compiled using the User Ratings (out of 10) given to each GBA game available to play on Switch in the West. This ranking is not set in stone and will automatically fluctuate over time depending on assigned User Ratings (and new additions to the NSO library, of course — we’ll add those in as they are released).
Think a game below deserves to be higher up on the list? Simply click on the ‘star’ button and score it yourself — your personal rating could boost its placement in the overall ranking. The number of GBA games is small at the moment, but there’s no denying the quality and there are more on the way.
So, let’s dive into the GBA games playable on Nintendo Switch, as ranked by you…
Returning to the flat tracks and tight power-sliding gameplay of the original Super Mario Kart, the GBA was capable of replicating SNES-like performance — it certainly wasn’t up to the tech standard of the N64 or GameCube — so Mario Kart Super Circuit ended up feeling like the Super Mario Kart sequel we never got on Nintendo’s 16-bit console. Sure, the visual style has arguably aged worse than the SNES version, but this pint-sized speed-fest packs in plenty of content. The fun foundation was there at the very beginning of the series and it’s definitely present in the GBA entry.
While the 3DS Ambassador and Wii U Virtual Console re-releases lacked the multiplayer features of the original, the Nintendo Switch Online version thankfully rectifies that situation if multiplayer is your thing (which, with Mario Kart, it really should be). No need for link cables these days! Super Circuit still holds up well and serves as a great ‘successor’ to the SNES original, if that’s your favourite MK flavour.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Eighting
This GBA launch title may start off a little too easy but that’s about all you can fault with Kuru Kuru Kururin. It won’t take you long to clear every level, but doing it without error is a challenge and you’ll love every minute as you guide a big ol’ constantly rotating stick (sorry, Helirin) around tricky, colourful courses.
With plenty of environmental variety and some terrific music, there’s a lot of enjoyment from simply improving your times on the various courses. Kuru Kuru Kururin is one of the GBA’s most delightful treats and perfect for portable play — a brilliantly fun little game that’s a bit different from the norm.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
The microgames on offer in WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! may be simple affairs, but the frantic, fast–paced and challenging experience that results from knitting them together in quick succession is incredibly addictive, and Wario’s patented brand of mania is well suited to a handheld. It isn’t the longest game, and beyond the single-player mode there isn’t much else to do, but it’s stuffed full of magical, creative moments, not to mention an abundance of that classic Nintendo nostalgia and charm.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: AlphaDream
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga’s lengthy main adventure felt pretty unique back in 2003. It was only the third RPG-style Mario adventure, but developer AlphaDream’s Mario debut hit the jackpot right away with its addictive battle systems and dual brother gameplay. With plenty of side quests to seek out and minigames to replay for high-score chasers, Mario and Luigi’s amusing animations and “voice acting” played into the game’s great sense of humour and it hasn’t lost its ability to raise an ear-to-ear smile.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
This game made navigating this series’ obtuse naming conventions absolutely worth it, even if you played Super Mario Bros. 3 on NES (which of course you did). Assuming you had the requisite kit to access the e-Reader levels — many of which were never released in North America — Super Mario Advance 4 contained a bevy of fresh Nintendo-designed levels to play through, making it an essential purchase for the Mario connoisseur (and the Wii U Virtual Console release and the Nintendo Switch Online version actually include all 38 levels without the need to have the e-Reader, the cards, and a second GBA to scan them with).
Aside from the extra levels, this feels like playing the version of SMB3 from Super Mario All-Stars on a handheld. Whether you’re a NES purist or you prefer the updated look and feel of the SNES version, Super Mario Bros. 3 shines brightly in any form.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Flagship
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap carried on the trend of giving Link a talking piece of equipment to accompany him on his quest. This time around, it was the Minish Cap — a hat named Ezlo that could shrink Link to microscopic proportions so he can locate the Kinstone fragments and save the Minish people, or ‘Picori’.
Another Flagship-developed entry after the company proved itself with the excellent Oracles pair (Ages and Seasons), this was a traditional Zelda adventure that still looks and sounds wonderful, even if it didn’t do an awful lot to shake up the formula. It introduced a few new items, though – Mole Mitts, Gust Jar, and Cane of Pacci – and allowed Link to learn new sword techniques throughout the game, as well as gain the ability to fuse elements to his sword. All-in-all, a brilliant bite-sized adventure.
Let us know your thoughts below, and remember — if you haven’t rated your favourite games from this GBA list, you can still do so and influence the overall ranking. New games added to the service will appear here, too, so check back in the future and rank them as well.
And if you’re after a full list of every Nintendo Switch Online retro game currently available, we can help you there, too.