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With Pokémon Yellow, Red, Green & Blue becoming the #1 system seller for the original Game Boy, it was no surprise when Nintendo made every kid’s favorite pocket monsters prominent in the lineup for its successor, the Game Boy Color (GBC). A total of six Pokémon games were released on the system through the late 90s and early 00s. There were also several special edition consoles with unique Pokémon-themed prints for the most diehard fans. Get ready to dust off your old gym badges and game cartridges as we look back at the main series games, spin-off games, and special edition consoles that made up Pokémon for the Game Boy Color!
Only six GBC Pokémon games were released for the Game Boy color, which doesn’t seem like much until you consider the massive anticipation (and sales performance) for each successive release. However, out of all of Nintendo’s handheld systems, only the fourth generation (Nintendo DS) has more Pokémon video games than the GBC.
Like every Nintendo handheld, the GBC launched with a main series entry (Pokémon Gold / Silver) that was followed up with a deluxe version (Pokémon Crystal). All Pokémon games for GBC outside of the main J-RPG series are spin-off titles.
Here’s a little bit more about each title in the order they were released (we wrote about a few in our article on all-time best Game Boy Color games):
Developed to harness the power of Nintendo’s new handheld gaming system, Pokémon Gold and Silver brought the interactive world of Pokémon into full color for the first time. Kids were blown away by the 100 new species brought into the mix (including the exciting new Legendary Pokémon such as Suicune, Raikou and Lugia).
Not only did this game give players a total of 251 Pokémon to collect, but Pokémon Gold / Silver also raised the bar by adding new mechanics like the ability to breed Pokémon and an in-game clock that changes the game world depending on the time.
Pokémon Trading Cards are almost more popular than the games themselves! Our guide to rare and valuable Pokémon cards is a testament to their enduring popularity over the decades, with the rarest cards from the original 90s releases being worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the right buyer.
In 2000, Pokémon Trading Card Game (GBC) finally allowed Pokémon fans to enjoy a fully-simulated version of the physical trading card game. The game has a simple J-RPG structure where your player character must battle through successive gyms to collect cards and become the ultimate trading card master.
As the enhanced remake of Pokémon Gold and Silver, Pokémon Crystal is essentially the same game but with additional features and a focus on the Legendary Pokémon Suicune (who features on the cover art). New additions include the late-game challenge arena called the Battle Tower, enhanced battle animations, and the ability to play as a female trainer.
Oh, and there is also a bonus egg that the player can get from the Day Care that has a high chance of being one of the coveted Shiny Pokémon! You can learn more about catching Shinies with our ultimate guide to Shiny Pokémon.
International fans of the original Pokémon Trading Card Game were devastated to learn that the official sequel, Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR!, would be a Japan-only release. However, if you could get your hands on a copy, this follow-up continues the story right where the first game leaves off and introduces a new series of antagonists: Team Great Rocket (as if the regular Team Rocket wasn’t bad enough!)
Essentially 1995’s Tetris Attack with a Pokémon paint-job, Pokémon Puzzle Challenge was originally meant to be a Japanese-only counterpart to Pokémon Puzzle League on the Nintendo 64. However, the game eventually got a North American release just a few short months after the Japanese version debuted.
The game features six “puzzling” modes, including a time trial, marathon, and ultimate challenge mode. The gameplay is identical to Tetris Attack, except it features a unique battle mode, the ability to collect and play as different Pokémon, and the iconic Pokémon chiptune music we all love.
The ultimate pinball experience (at least for Pokémon fans) came in 1999 with Pokémon Pinball! This simple yet insanely popular GBC title challenged players to collect all 151 original Pokémon by completing pinball games rather than battling it out.
Different Pokémon could be caught depending on how you attacked each table, adding a lot of replayability. This title is one of the greatest pinball games of all time despite being nearly 30 years old!
What’s this? An unreleased Pokémon game!?
That’s right! While heavily advertised in games media in the Spring of 1999, this game was never officially released. The game was meant to use the Nintendo Power system (a new type of memory cartridge), but because of a factory closure, the components were in short supply at the time of release, so the game was put on hold and eventually canceled.
In case you didn’t know, Picross is a genre of puzzle game where players need to complete a nonogram. In the nonogram, players must “punch” the correct squares to reveal an image (in this case, an image of a Pokémon). Special numbers on the edges act as clues to how many squares should be punched.
The game features a total of 217 puzzles, which each of the 151 Generation I Pokémon getting their own puzzle. Toepi also gets their own puzzle and is the only Generation II Pokémon in the game.
Secret playable prototype: In 2020, a prototype ROM of Pokémon Picross was leaked on the internet. While it’s called a prototype, the game is actually feature-complete and even has end credits, indicating the game was 100% ready to ship before Nintendo canceled the release.
As part of the international release of the Game Boy Color, eight unique Special Edition console variants were created, and most were exclusive to the Asia-Pacific region. Apart from having different colors (and some being transparent plastic), they were also decorated with different Pokémon.
For example, the teal Special Edition console was sold only in Taiwan, while the Blue version was exclusive to Hong Kong. Later versions were released with new colors and decorated with different Pokémon (unsurprisingly, however, the series mascot Pikachu appears on all of them).
For more info on the different variations, head to the Game Boy Color Bulbapedia for a full breakdown of each Special Edition console.
As you might expect, these Special Edition consoles are worth a lot in the second-hand market. Recently, a Silver Limited Edition Game Boy Color (featuring decals of Picakchu and Pichu) sold for a cool $510 on eBay!
All the Pokémon games for Game Boy Color are:
1. Pokémon Trading Card Game
2. Pokémon Pinball
3. Pokémon Gold and Silver
5. Puzzle Challenge
6. Pokémon Crystal
7. Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR!
Yes! The original Game Boy Pokémon Games (Pokémon Red/Blue/Green/Yellow) are playable on the Game Boy Color.
As it was the launch title for the Game Boy Color, Pokémon Gold / Silver was the first Pokémon game in color.
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