All good things must come to an end, especially when it comes to video games. Each game platform, no matter how influential, is eventually discontinued. When that happens, publishers stop supporting the console, including the production of games. The same is true of the fabled Game Boy and Game Boy Color.
The Nintendo Game Boy and Game Boy Color are arguably two of the most important devices in video game history. They might not have sold as many units as, say, the PlayStation 2, but they revolutionized the industry by popularizing handheld games, which opened up entirely new avenues for the industry. Sure, the original Game Boy model was a massive, monochromatic brick that ate through AA batteries, but without it, we probably wouldn’t have link cables, Pokémon, the Nintendo Switch, and so much more.
Much like the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo continued to publish titles for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color several years after their replacements hit the market, due in large part to the fact that the handhelds remained absurdly popular for a very long time. Given how popular those devices were, you might be surprised to learn which games officially ended the Game Boy and Game Boy Color’s storied libraries.
What Was The Last Official Game Boy Game Ever Released?
Pokémon remains one of Nintendo’s most popular and lucrative franchises. The games spawned countless spin-offs, toys, multi-media adaptations, and even live events. In fact, the 2022 Pokémon World Championships are underway as I write this article. Without the Game Boy, Pokémon probably wouldn’t exist, so it’s sort of fitting the last Game Boy game for the US market would come from that franchise.
On October 18, 1999, Nintendo published Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition (or just Pokémon Yellow Version, for short). Unlike the previous Pokémon games, Yellow was actually loosely based more on the anime series. The game followed the same basic plot as Red and Blue Versions, but it gave players a Pikachu out of the gate, let them catch all three starters, and even added in fights with Team Rocket’s Jesse and James.
Since the Game Boy Color was released in 1998 (October for Japan, November everywhere else), this makes Pokémon Yellow Version the last game Nintendo produced for the original Game Boy, almost a year to the day after the Game Boy’s successor/companion hit the market. Unfortunately, European gamers had to wait one more year to play the game, but it too was their last official Game Boy title. Japanese players, meanwhile, received a bit more Game Boy support. Well…sort of.
The last officially licensed Game Boy titles in Japan belong to the Imagineer-published Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru franchise. The final entry in that line was Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Kanji no Tatsujin, which was a kind of trivia/educational game.
While those titles were the last games ever developed for the Game Boy, it’s worth noting that they weren’t the last ones playable on the Game Boy. You see, many Game Boy Color games were backwards compatible and playable on the OG Game Boy. As time went on, though, Nintendo produced fewer and fewer backwards compatible Game Boy Color games. The last one U.S. audiences received was 2001’s Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: a Pokémon clone of sorts featuring Dragon Quest monsters. As for the final backwards compatible Japanese title…that’s a little up in the air. Some sources claim the answer is Pony Canyon’s Shogi 3, while others point to One Piece: Maboroshi no Grand Line Boukenki. There’s enough of a debate about their exact release dates to create a reasonable margin of error. In any case, Nintendo was all-in on Game Boy Color exclusives and Game Boy Advance games by early 2002.
And speaking of Game Color games…
What Was The Last Official Game Boy Color Game Ever Released?
You can’t overstate what a big deal the release of the first Harry Potter movie was. The source material novels were obviously already a cultural phenomenon, but everyone knew the movies had the chance to be some of the highest-grossing blockbusters ever. Of course, game developers wanted in on that action. In order to cast as wide a net as possible, publishers funded multiple Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone video game adaptations, one for each major console on the market. Since Nintendo was still supporting the Game Boy Color at that time, that handheld was obviously on the list.
On November 15, 2002, EA published Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Game for Game Boy Color. Fans didn’t know it at the time, but that ended up being the final Game Boy Color title to grace U.S. shelves. Fittingly, it was also a shockingly good game that took advantage of the Game Boy Color’s unique limitations and opportunities. While many of the other Sorcerer’s Stone games were essentially adventure titles, the Game Boy Color was a fantastic turn-based RPG, complete with Final Fantasy-esque sprites.
As with the Game Boy, the Game Boy Color received a slightly longer run in Europe and Japan. This time around, though, European gamers said goodbye to the Game Boy Color with a different game. They still got to see Harry Potter fling turn-based spells at rats, but the Game Boy Color’s swan song in that region was Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories. Funnily enough, the final Japanese Game Boy Color title was yet another educational experience called Doreamon no Study Boy: Kanji Yomikaki Master. There’s something strangely satisfying about the final Game Boy and Game Boy Color games in Japan being spiritually linked.
What Was The Last Unofficial Game Boy Game Ever Released?
Just like with the NES, the Game Boy and Game Boy Color are technically kept alive today thanks to the efforts of fans and indie developers. While the Game Boy didn’t receive anywhere near as many unofficial cartridges as the NES, plenty of indie companies are producing physical media that still technically works with the handheld console.
As usual, Limited Run Games is at the forefront of that movement. They regularly produced fully-functional recreations of old Game Boy games (including Star Wars and Shantae) If you’re looking for something new, Kickstarter is probably your best bet. Plenty of gaming projects designed to run via Game Boy cartridges have traveled through that funding website, with some GB-friendly campaigns launching as recently as this year. The Shapeshifter series and Flying Arrows are two notable examples of developers keeping traditional GB cartridges alive in 2022.
However, not every “Game Boy” game project on Kickstarter is actually designed to work for the handheld. Titles such as Nakawak and Mina the Hollower are designed to emulate the Game Boy experience but run on PC. Even though these games are designed for modern platforms, they sport the same pixelated graphics, limited color palettes, and resolutions of old Game Boy games. On occasion, though, even spiritual Game Boy projects eventually take physical form. For instance, the horror game Deadeus began life as a PC-exclusive title on Itch.io but eventually graduated to a full-fledged Game Boy game thanks to the help of Incube8 Games.
In any case, it’s clear that the Game Boy and Game Boy Color’s already impressive legacies and longevity aren’t going anywhere so long as fans find new ways to keep the consoles alive.