Lightning Top 5: GBA Games
So I am trying out a new piece that I would be able to get out more continuously; Lightning Top 5. These will be short pieces about various Top 5 categories of mine which I can write much more quickly than my longer bits, so it will be easier to release a higher volume of content to you guys! I am beginning this series with a set of games from the handheld that consumed my mid-childhood, Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance. This system brought a true renaissance of handheld gaming between beloved, established franchises, as well as seeing the creation of brand new titles that have come to round out the all-star cast of games that we have come to love. So with that, let’s begin!
Number 5 – WarioWare Twisted!
WarioWare Twisted! showed exactly what a collection of mini games, a little bit of a gimmick, a little bit of ingenuity and a whole lot of outrageous, silly comedy can do when thrown into a world run by the money hungry Wario and his “friends.” Gyroscope control was not really prevalent yet, so this technology was truly fresh at the time. The games were addictive and absurd. The characters had their own quirks. I replayed this game quite recently and was giggling like a little school girl the entire time. Also, that darn music. MONA’S PIZZAAAA!!
Number 4 – Sonic Advance 2
This game’s predecessor brought the series back to its roots with fast-paced side scrolling action that I grew up playing on my Sega Genesis. Speed runs, Knuckles gliding and punching things, as well as countless hours in the Tiny Chao Garden made up for years of enjoyment This installment brought in a myriad of new additions that capitalized on the success of the first Sonic Advance game, the most notable is the introduction of Cream the Rabbit, who has in some circles become a widely popular character. Hey, at least she’s not Big the Cat.
Number 3 – Pokemon Emerald
Choosing between Emerald and FireRed/LeafGreen was a very hard decision. I left out the Kanto remakes because they are just that, remakes. I want this list to be brand new games first seen on the GBA. Emerald Version is one of the first Pokemon games to have the Battle Frontier, allowing for a much bigger postgame. This made enabled Pokemon to be played even after defeating the Elite Four and gave legitimate reasons to play other than meta battling. It is the first “full” Pokemon game. A very worthy game for a very worth series.
Number 2 – Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
While most people think the better of the first Fire Emblem games to come to North America is Fire Emblem 7, (with Eliwood and Lyn, for those not as well versed in the entire Fire Emblem series) I believe the best is the Fire Emblem 8, or Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Featuring the twins Eirika and Ephriam, this game introduces a traversable world map where you can level grind with non-chapter Monster Skirmishes to fully level up your team, the ability to shop at stores all over the map, as well as add more options for your recruits to level up to, making the game more personable. It retains everything that made Fire Emblem great such as the difficult strategy, engaging and dynamic plot that can change if you lose a unit, and a cast of characters you grow to care for knowing that permanent death is actually a danger. This game also greatly influenced the design on the hugely successful Fire Emblem: Awakening. For that, I give Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones my Number 2 spot in my list.
Number 1 – Golden Sun Series
I could not pick one single game from the two games on the Gameboy Advance from this absolutely beautiful RPG. It is essential to play both games back to back to truly get the full Golden Sun experience. My first true JRPG became one that I value even more than Final Fantasy VII in terms of brilliance. I got this game Christmas 2001 with my Gameboy Advance. What made my parents decide to pick this game for a 7 year old, I have no idea, but I could care less because this game has truly defined my gaming tastes. The attachment to the characters became somewhat unhealthy, the story and world of Weyard was not only immersive, but massive and a heck of a lot of fun to explore every single corner while the world is slowly rotting away. The turn based RPG gameplay is fun, while still having layers of complexity as any JRPG should have, with Psynergy attacks, grand scale Djinn summons and Zelda-esque puzzle solving. Go out and play as you embark with Issac and Company’s epic quest to save the world for certain, and impending, doom.
Honorable Mention - Megaman Battle Network Series
There was one series for the Gameboy Advance that I had a hard time discerning where to put it. If I could only pick one game from the series, I would place it probably around Number 4 or 5. So this honorable mention goes to the entire Megaman Battle Network series. This game is especially dear to me because it introduced me to the Blue Bomber, while really pulling at my heart strings so many times whilst telling the story of Lan Hikari and his brother Hub, a.k.a. Megaman.EXE. Wicked gameplay, fantastic story-telling, nostalgia riddled and superior music. Every time Proof of Courage plays, an overwhelming feeling of happiness hits me like a tidal wave.