What are the best casual GBA games?

Both Harvest Moon games, the third generation Pokemon games, simulation games like Sim City 2000 or Jurassic Park III: Park Builder, and RPGs like Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap or Golden Sun are all great casual GBA games.

Casual GBA Games

The Game Boy Advance‘s 32-bit visuals and charmingly limited sound capabilities contributed to the creation of some fantastic chill out classics. 

We take a look at casual sims, charming RPGs and any other Game Boy Advance games you might enjoy if you’re on the hunt for easy going games that don’t require God-like reflexes or intense concentration

Best casual farming GBA games

Farming sims like Stardew Valley are wildly popular but, for a system with an incredible diversity of titles, the farming sim genre is somewhat underserved on the Game Boy Advance. A couple of fantastic entries in the Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons series are the only GBA games that fit this description. 

Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town

Screenshot from Game Boy Advance game Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town

The first Harvest Moon game for Game Boy Advance was released in 2003 and to this day is still considered one of, if not the best game in the entire series. It’s since been honored with a 3D remake that you can play on Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

In this ‘slice of life’ game, your goal is to build and manage a successful farm by growing produce and raising livestock and to forge happy relationships with neighboring villagers. 

The play at your own pace style gameplay is deceptively addictive and you can quite easily rack up 50-plus hours crafting your own little handheld slice of pastoral life. 

Stream it using an emulator on Twitch and your cozy gaming channel subs number will explode (disclaimer: not guaranteed!).

Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town

More Friends of Mineral Time is the second Harvest Moon entry on the Game Boy Advance and it hit the shelves in North America in summer 2006. 

This sequel sticks to the same cozy core game play as its predecessor with several new features and additions.

For example, players play as a girl rather than a boy, raise a daughter rather than a son, can change outfit color and can now sell items to Won at the shop. There are also a few new items to collect. 

There’s a paucity of pastoral picks for the Game Boy Advance, but the quality of the Harvest Moon games more than makes up for the lack of other farming sim options.

Casual GBA simulation games

Sim games don’t just take place on the farm. Other genres, like park builders and city builders are great for whiling away a few hours on a long journey, a quiet evening or, well, whenever really. 

SimCity 2000

Screenshot of Game Boy Advance game Sim City 2000

The genre-defining PC, Sim City 2000, game got a GBA port in 2003. While not coming close to 10/10 reviews anywhere, critics are broadly agreed that this is a pretty decent effort at porting a PC classic to a handheld console with the power and control limitations of the GBA.

Players take on the role as mayor and gradually build a city from scratch. It’s missing some of the best elements of the PC version (in our opinion, the background music), but there’s a ton of replayability here and it’s a perfectly pleasant way to pass the time on a lazy weekend afternoon. 

Jurassic Park III: Park Builder

Released in 2001 around six months after the Jurassic Park III film, this Komani-produced theme park sim features 140 different dinosaurs that players can build their park around

Total customization over the selection and placement of different park features, from holding pens and hotels to roads and restaurants, give this title plenty of replayability.

A small word of warning: the game sort of throws you in at the deep end without a tutorial to speak of. That might have been a bit frustrating back when it was initially released, but thankfully these days there’s plenty of content on YouTube and elsewhere that’ll help you if you get stuck.

Casual GBA RPG games

RPG games can be action-filled stress fests, but they can also be charming and relatively laid-back adventures that are perfect for chillout gaming sessions. Here are a few RPG recommendations for people looking for a casual GBA experience.

Pokemon third generation

Screenshot of Pokemon Emerald start screen for Game Boy Advance

Pokemon is one of the most successful franchises of all time. We think a big part of that success is down to the charming gameplay experience offered by the Pokemon games, which truly set the standard for the casual RPG genre.

The popularity of the GBA Pokemon games remains strong, thanks in part to the horde of content creators on Twitch who use emulators to stream retro games like this.

In terms of the core gameplay, the third generation of Pokemon games followed largely in the footsteps of the Game Boy and Game Boy Color releases, with the main difference being that the game takes place in a new region (Hoenn) with an entirely new set of Pokemon (excluding the FireRed and LeafGreen remakes).

All of the third-generation releases for the GBA (Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald plus the FireRed and LeafGreen remakes) fit the bill for those looking for an engrossing yet easy-going RPG.

Medabots: Metabee/Rokusho

Medabots might not be on the radar of many gamers – even those with a big Game Boy Advance collection, but it’s a pretty relaxing RPG that’s well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the Pokemon games.

The formula differs from the Pokemon games in the sense that players collect parts for robots which they use to battle against other characters (rather than capturing monsters), but seasoned Pokemon pros will recognise plenty of other similarities. 

You can use up to three robots in each fight and the anime-styled graphics are really nice. 

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga

Mario and Luigi Superstar saga official art from Nintendo

In this turn-based RPG, everyone’s favorite Italian plumber twins Mario and Luigi give up the sometimes stressful platforming format for a lighthearted jaunt around the Beanbean Kingdom in aid of the hapless Princess Peach.

Mario and Luigi work in tandem to jump, squash and propel their way around the overworld and the battle system is elaborate without being overwhelming. 

Like other Mario RPGs on other platforms, Superstar Saga’s visuals, sounds and storyline help to make it a truly endearing experience that’s perfect for the casual gamer.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

Screenshot of The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap for Game Boy Advance

The Legend of Zelda series is arguably the ultimate casual RPG collection. 

Titles from the original NES release right up to Breath of the Wild really manage to perfectly capture that cottagecore aesthetic within an utterly absorbing universe. 

While we could just as easily stick any of the four Legend of Zelda GBA releases on this list, Minish Cap is definitely the coziest way to explore Hyrule on the GBA.

Golden Sun

Screenshot of Golden Sun for the Game Boy Advance.

Golden Sun is rightly considered one of the greatest RPGs on the GBA. Released in 2001, it received numerous awards and is staple of any ‘best of’ list that you’ll find on YouTube or elsewhere.

The game does begin with some pretty traumatic and disastrous events that shape the overarching story before players take control of the protagonist Isaac in a gorgeously animated and charmingly scored adventure.  

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

Screenshot from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance game for Game Boy Advance

A turn-based strategy game might not be everyone’s first choice for a chill Game Boy Advance session, but it definitely fits in the casual category. 

The storyline is charming and the level and character design are easy on the eye. It’s perfectly possible to sink hundreds of hours into this one without encountering any throw-the-console-at-the-wall moments of frustration or impossibly difficult tasks. 

There’s a good reason this one is in many GBA fans’ list of all-time favorites.

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

Screenshot from Fire Emblem Sacred Stones game for Game Boy Advance

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is another pleasantly paced turn-based strategy recommendation for gamers seeking out a casual yet rewarding experience.

The story follows a loveable cast of characters who set out to thwart the ambitions of the Grado Empire and save the Sacred Stones from destruction.

This is the third GBA installment in the Fire Emblem series (although the first – The Binding Blade – was not released globally) and we’ve picked it for this list because it’s generally considered to be an easier, more accessible game than its predecessors.

Cute GBA games

We think all the games on this list are cute in their own way! But there are some GBA games that really do raise the cuteness levels to the max.

Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak

Screenshot from Hamtaro Ham-Ham Heartbreak game for Game Boy Advance

This 2003 adventure puzzler was the first GBA release in the Hamtaro series based on the manga and storybook series of the same name. 

Players must help the cuddly little hamster Hamtaro to recover the words missing from the Ham-Chat dictionary by communicating with other cuddly little hamster buddies.

You can dig around to collect items, play adorable mini games and even dance in the clubhouse.

Casual GBA Homebrew games

The Game Boy Advance was discontinued in North America in 2008 so there aren’t any studios working on new games for the system. However, there are plenty of enthusiasts and indie developers working on their own mods of existing games and homebrew games for the system. 


Promo wallpaper image for Sunvale GBA homebrew game

Sunvale is a Harvest Moon-inspired GBA homebrew farming sim that’s currently in development. 

Based on info released to date, players can use a range of different tools, customize the interior and exterior of their houses and wander through fields of wobbling cows.

Looking at the Sunvale Twitter account, development may have slowed somewhat in recent months, but we hope this charming little project is completed one day!

We’ll be sure to keep this list updated with any other casual homebrew creations or demake games we come across. 

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