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The 8 best free GBA games for Nintendo Switch, ranked

Nintendo Switch Online and Expansion Pack customers have access to a wealth of amazing retro games as part of the subscription. Whether you pay monthly or take out a yearly subscription, you’ll be able to dive into a handpicked selection of games from Nintendo’s best consoles.

Today we’re going to take a look at the selection of free games available from the Game Boy Advance era of Nintendo handheld history and showcase some great games you can download and play, right now via Nintendo Switch Online.

Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem

Some believe this is the starting place for one of the best tactical RPGs in Nintendo’s history, but this was actually the seventh entry in the Fire Emblem franchise. Fire Emblem is a brilliant mix of wonderful characters, intriguing story, and epic gameplay. The tactical battles could be fiendish in their difficulty, but each battle was so satisfying when you clutched up a win. Plus, the pixel art hasn’t aged a day and is still bold, colorful, and beautiful

Super Mario World – Super Mario Advance 2

Super Mario World

Super Mario World

Really, you could pick any of the Super Mario Advance series, because each of them is truly brilliant. Ultimately, however, these are simply jazzed-up versions of the legendary platformers from the NES and SNES. The reason the second installment makes this list is because when it comes to 2D Mario games, Super Mario World might be the greatest. It’s an iconic game due to its huge expansion on what came before, plus, of course, the appearance of Yoshi. It’s platforming at its best and brightest.

Yoshi’s Island – Super Mario Advance 3

Yoshi's Island

Yoshi’s Island

Another entry in the Super Mario Advance series actually took the shine off the plumber’s antics and brought Yoshi into the spotlight as a rerelease of Yoshi’s Island. Originally available for the SNES, Yoshi’s Island mashed together simple platforming and puzzle solving. This was a departure from the usual platforming games we saw from Nintendo in a few ways, chiefly the visuals and the inclusion of Mario (as a baby) being more of a sidekick to Yoshi rather than the other way around. Yoshi’s Island is often renowned as being one of the best Nintendo games pre-N64 and every second of it still plays brilliantly today.

Golden Sun

Golden Sun

Golden Sun

There aren’t many Game Boy Advance RPGs available through the Expansion Pack service, but at least the major title, Golden Sun, is on there as it’s one of the finest you’ll find from this era. Not coming from the big studios who were, at the time, dominating the genre, Golden Sun came from Camelot Software and it was a delightful surprise. It’s filled with wonderful narrative paths, the characters are adorably cute and fun, while still keeping a serious edge, and it’s astonishingly good to look at, using some great animation. Using turn-based battling, you could get a little tactical and enjoy the screen-drenching colors of wild battles. Check out the sequel also, as it carries on the story.

Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga

Superstar Saga

Superstar Saga

Carrying on the RPG legacy of Mario and the cast of characters that surrounds him, Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga was a critically acclaimed outing. Noted for its terrific writing, which was unexpectedly funny, and easy-to-learn struggling, there was little to fault here. It kind of shook up the RPG genre by relying on timed button presses for attacks, rather than using the common turn-based systems seen elsewhere. It was with this and several other Mario games that Nintendo were drifting away from the Mushroom Kingdom and embracing other, more surreal ideas, and it works well. Some feel that this has a younger audience in mind, but with the great cameos and top-notch writing, it can be enjoyed by all audiences.

Metroid Fusion

Metroid Fusion

Metroid Fusion

It’s understandable why Metroid Fusion won so many awards back in its day. The game came along when all Nintendo franchises were pushing into 3D space, and this outing for Samus looked back instead of forward. And it did so by utilizing the team who originally created Super Metroid, the game that became a cultural standpoint and defined a genre. Not much changed in its formula, if anything Metroid Fusion simply took what came before and made it look better, with outrageously good pixel graphics and a bold color palette. By keeping what made the series great, Nintendo was able to deliver a stand-out experience for fans of the franchise, and one that’s as engaging as ever.

Wario Ware Inc

Wario Ware Inc

Wario Ware Inc

My God, Wario Ware was a turning point for games. Forgive my hyperbole, but I think Wario Ware is one of the best things Nintendo could’ve created. They chose to not only focus on a well-loved, oddball character, but they leaned into preposterous humor and silliness that was sorely needed. The range of mini games found in Wario Ware Inc was wondrous, it embraced Nintendo history, made you play games that were childishly gross, or opted to brandish Japanese oddity as an ongoing joke. Because Wario is, on the surface, an inherently funny character, everything around him had to be silly turned up to 11. Every one of the 210 minigames either made you laugh or made you remark on its brilliance. It’s Nintendo at its best.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

Minish Cap

Minish Cap

While The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap might not have branched out much, certainly not experimenting as much as the series would eventually, there’s no denying the charm here. Yes, it stayed in its lane established by the SNES classic A Link to the Past, but it was visually overhauled to fit with the developer’s games thus far, and the developer? Well, it was Capcom. Nintendo entrusted the franchise to another Japanese giant of the industry and it was a huge success. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies and while, at the time, it was criticized for being too short, its brevity is easily its strength now. It’s the greatness of the Zelda franchise distilled into a lovely spin-off.

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Featured Image Credit: Nintendo

Topics: Mario, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, The Legend Of Zelda