We already took a look at the best selling entries in the Game Boy and Game Boy Color’s vast libraries here (link), now it’s time to delve into the top performing games to appear on their successor, the Game Boy Advance. While by no means as staggeringly successful as its predecessor, the GBA line still managed to shift a combined 81.5 million hardware units, which is nothing to be scoffed at.
Anyway, below you’ll find the list. Once again, it holds no surprises. Hope you like reading about Pokémon...
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire
16,220,000 units sold
Marking the series’ transition from the Game Boy Color to the Game Boy Advance, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were perhaps not the massive leap forward many had expected and probably represents the most divisive the core Pokémon RPG’s have ever been among fans and critics. The day/night cycle introduced in Gold and Silver was abandoned and the visuals were only marginally more impressive than those seen on the Game Boy Color. Neither the over-abundance of water type Pokémon, water traversal nor the bloating of the HM moves were that well received, either. Ruby and Sapphire, however, did introduce double battles, alongside innate abilities and natures, adding further complexity and strategic layers that the competitive Pokémon scene latched onto.
Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen
12,000,000 units sold
There’s nothing inherently remarkable about Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen. They’re remakes of Red, Blue and Green, sporting enhanced visuals and all the quality of life improvements that the series had introduced prior to their release. But the biggest and most revolutionary addition came by way of the Game Boy Advance Wireless Adaptor. This nifty piece of kit came bundled with every copy of the games and allowed players to interact with other local Pokémon trainers completely wirelessly, no longer tethered by cables. And by entering into a Union Room, up to 39 players could wirelessly battle, trade and chat with each other; Nintendo even went as far as setting up special “JoySpots” at Japanese retailers for this purpose.
7,060,000 units sold
With the third generation of Pokémon RPG’s came another belated third entry that remixed certain elements of the story and Pokémon encounters. Pokémon Emerald was the Pokémon Yellow or Pokémon Crystal of its generation, largely unchanged but still sprinkling in some minor new features and enhancements. Chief among these was the Battle Frontier, an expanded version of the Battle Tower found in previous games. After beating Hoenn’s Elite Four and becoming champion, the player was able to enter the Battle Frontier and compete in various series of tough battles against NPC’s to earn in-game prizes. Pokémon Emerald was also the first portable entry to feature sprite animations when battling, which was kind of a big deal at the time for a series that was - and in some circles, still is - seen as being behind the curve when it came to graphical prowess.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
5,910,000 units sold
My personal favourite Game Boy Advance title, Mario Kart: Super Circuit offered up everything I could have hoped for in a debut portable entry to one of the top local multiplayer series of all time. All the trademark Mario Kart mayhem was present and correct, encased in a vividly colourful aesthetic that was a joy to behold, especially on the GBA SP. There were 20 new tracks to master and an additional 20 could be unlocked, all of them lifted straight from Super Mario Kart on the SNES. Plus, not only were the four-player shenanigans left intact, but a simplified version of the mode could be played with only one player needing a copy of the game.
Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2
5,690,000 units sold
While Wario got more than his fair share of opportunities to shine on the GBA, Nintendo, for some reason, seemed reluctant to bring a new Mario platformer to the system. They instead opted to re-release several enhanced remakes of previous NES and SNES entries and labelled them Super Mario Advance. Some might claim that to be laziness, but on the flipside, it did mean that we got to play the utterly sublime Super Mario World on the go and the added allure of gaming in bed or on the toilet is something we can all get behind, as anyone with a Switch will attest to.