Best GBA console RPGs?

Anyone able to recommend a really good one for when my GBA arrives in the next couple of days? I don’t really want a recommendation of a Fire Emblem/Tactics Ogre TBS/RPG hybrid, but something more traditional, in the line of Final Fantasy 3 or Chrono Trigger or something. Advance Wars 1 & 2 completely satisfy my desire for the GBA turn based niche. I want something more traditional. Any recommendations?

Golden Sun 1 and 2 immediately come to mind.

Sword of Mana? I think it’s a remake of the first Gameboy Final Fantasy though


I don’t know why they don’t port Chrono Trigger to the GBA. That’s like building a legal money making machine. Only better.

He’s asking for RPGs though.

Zelda’s a good recommendation, though, either way. I never played A Link to the Past.

Despite what everyone else in the world says, I recommend keeping it that way.

Despite what everyone else in the world says, I recommend keeping it that way.[/quote]

I’d rather play A Link to the Past then Golden Sun. Not that GS is a bad RPG, but the cinematics were annoying.

Despite what everyone else in the world says, I recommend keeping it that way.[/quote]

I’d rather play A Link to the Past then Golden Sun. Not that GS is a bad RPG, but the cinematics were annoying.[/quote]

I’d rather castrate myself with toenail clippers than play Golden Sun.

Well not really, but I still didn’t like Golden Sun very much. But Link to the Past isn’t such great stuff either.

Any real recommendations then? Could we keep the poo-poohing to a minimum?

Sword of Mana sounds good - I know Chick was raving about it at one point. Hey, Tom, did you ever start running into the difficulties with the gameplay that Charles was mentioning? Can you recommend it?

Golden Sun 1 is torture for those of us who like to PLAY our RPGs instead of sit through tedious wibbling conversations between hyperencephalitic plastic dolls. When Golden Sun 1 is good, it’s pretty darn good – the battle system is gorgeous, and the Djinn management is quite engaging and deep – but unfortunately, you have to sludge through quite a few long-winded character dialogues and a few really crappy dungeons to get to the good bits.

Golden Sun (2): The Lost Age is substantially better, and if you don’t really care about hackneyed anime stories (and let’s face it, the GS plot is probably as stereotypical as you can humanly get), you’ll find a lot better dungeon design and a lot less stupid talking head moments. I’d recommend The Lost Age with mild reservations.

Sadly, I don’t think there is a great pure console RPG on the GBA, yet. Lufia: Ruins of Lore had potential with its smart dungeon designs and cunning puzzles, but the ugly art and regular glitches, along with a really broken experience system turns it into a complete chore.

I’d say get the Gameboy Color Dragon Warrior 3 remake over any GBA RPG. And if you don’t mind getting GBC games, skip the mediocre Link to the Past and pick up the two Zelda Oracle titles instead. Both are lightyears beyond LttP as Zelda titles – they have better dungeons, better bosses, cooler items, tighter overworld designs, and more interesting secrets.

That said, the closest thing to a GBA RPG that I’d recommend is Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, which is hilariously weird and brilliant from beginning to end. In fact, I think it’d be right up your alley, Crypt; it’s surreal and self-deprecating, and rarely boring. It’s a little more action-oriented than most, but if you’re seriously considering Sword of Mana (Tom’s crazy; SoM is pure asspaste), you won’t mind the action-y bits M&L tosses at you.

Well, not very challenging and not your typical RPG, but Pokemon Sapphire or Ruby is an excellent GBA game.


Doug, I’ve already played the Oracle titles and loved every second of them. That said, I’d be loathe to dive into GBC games when I just bought a GBASP. I was intending on trying the Mario and Luigi game but the entire jumping design element (timed jumps with two characters? Ugh) sort of bugs for me for some reason, although maybe it isn’t so bad actually playing it. Maybe I’ll try Golden Sun 2… am I missing out on anything if I skip the first one? And what are the Lufia glitches you’re talking about?

Pokemon is also on my list, since I loved the first game. But, again, not really what I’m asking for here.

I dunno, while the Pokey-mon games have a certain base appeal, they’re also dreadfully repetitive and tedious.

Once around with Pokey-mon was fine, but after awhile, the novelty of collecting critters and customizing a personalized squad of cute anime monster goons is quickly diluted by trudging through featureless dungeons and battling endless ranks of low-level critters with the painfully simplistic one-on-one battle system.

Edit: Crypt, the jumping stuff is painless, really. I absolutely suck at those sort of games, and not once did any of it present an obstacle to my impaired thirty-omething reflexes. Seriously, give it a shot: it’s downright perverse at times, almost as if Chris Carter had decided to make an RPG starring Nintendo franchise characters.

GS2 starts where 1 left off, but oddly, it doesn’t make a huge difference; despite all of the endless talking, the plot didn’t really move along at all. If you want, I can probably sum up the plot for you as a spoiler in four sentences (or less).

Mario and Luigi is pretty slick. The timed double jumps aren’t that hard once you get used to them. The learning curve is surprisingly short. It gets my recommendation.

Lufia has bugs, bugs, bugs. I had the game lock up countless times on my GBA and my brother’s, and the scrolling tile engine occasionally spazzes out, requiring a reset.

I’m a wheelchair bound paraplegic who suffers from severe epileptic seizures when playing video games. My right hand is a malformed fetal claw and I have the same skin disorder on my left hand that graced Phillip E. Marlowe in the Singing Detective. I’m typing this post by monotonously pronouncing every syllable to Dragon Naturally Speaking from the crook of my sternum where my exhausted head constantly lolls due to toneless neck muscles. So Mario and Luigi’s jumping system better be seriously fucking painless.

If you can play any game that requires near-simultaneous use of two buttons, you can play M&L.

You press A to make Mario hop up on a rock, and then B to make Luigi jump up on it. Timing is actually almost irrelevant.

So I can mash each key individually with my fetal claw? Great. I’ll get it. But any other, more traditional recommendations? If not - why the hell is the GBA dropping the ball on making their portable SNES unit play the genre of games everyone loved most on the SNES?