Polygon writer Jeremy Parish has put together a list of his 30 greatest Game Boy games of all times. Unsurprisingly, the Pokémon franchise made the cut at No. 3 with Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Yellow being put into consideration:
3. POKÉMON (SERIES)
(GAME FREAK/NINTENDO, 1998)
Nearly a decade after the Game Boy’s debut, the system enjoyed an unexpected second life thanks to the arrival of Pokémon. Nothing about Pokémon screamed “global success” on paper. It was a role-playing game, a genre that had experienced its first major console success in the U.S. a year earlier thanks to Final Fantasy 7, which succeeded on the strength of flashy visuals that the humble Game Boy could never hope to equal. Game Freak’s game lacked anything resembling a real story, instead following a nameless kid in his quest to capture a bunch of weird monsters. Its battles played out slowly through menus, minimal animation, and cascades of explanatory text. And it was a phenomenon. Pokémon’s strengths were the same things that initially appeared to be weaknesses: Its unnamed protagonist allowed the player to place themselves in the adventure. All those monsters had to be captured one by one and integrated into the player’s combat roster, creating a real connection between human and digital critter. But that wasn’t the only connection Pokémon created! Even more essential was the real-world, person-to-person connection that allowed two Pokémon trainers to battle and trade their creatures head-to-head through the Game Boy’s Link Cable. It didn’t hurt that Pokémon was buoyed by a brilliant marketing scheme that included a card game and a television show that’s still running more than two decades later, but in the end it was the deep, appealing gameplay that made Pokémon such an incredible showcase for Game Boy.