Believe it or not this is all I had growing up. As a little kid I couldn’t play Atari VCS, ColecoVision or Intellivision unless I was at a friend’s house. As a teenager I had the same problem – my friends had a Nintendo, but I had to use the money I earned doing summer jobs to rent one. It’s a weird thing to have money and not be able to spent it to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System, but every kid who ever heard the phrase “my house, my rules” knew my dilemma.

By the time I was finally old enough to move out and go to college it was the 16 bit generation, at which point my roommate and I bought a used Sega Genesis at a pawn shop. Until that time all I had was a GameBoy – the only sanctioned “dedicated” video game system my parents allowed in our home. If I’m more nostalgic for these games than other people there’s a good reason why. I know some are considered AWFUL compared to their full Nintendo console counterparts, but when all you have is all you’ve got, you can make the best of even a “bad” game. For the ten games here I definitely did.

1.) “Tetris.” The pack in. The standard. The most addictive puzzle game ever.

2.) “Super MarioLand.” Does it look or play anything like Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 or 3? Absolutely not. Can you beat it in a half hour? Absolutely yes. I still love it anyway.

3.) “The Castlevania Adventure.” This will be my first truly controversial pick. People will say it’s slow, clunky, even graphically lacking compared to NES games. Honestly though it’s less cryptic than Castlevania 2 on NES, which was hard as hell to figure out in the pre-GameFAQS days, and the soundtrack is AMAZING.

4.) “Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge.” There are better GameBoy games, let alone better Mega Man games, but again as a kid who wasn’t allowed to own a Nintendo who had to rent and beat Mega Man games in ONE WEEKEND it was nice to have one I could sink my teeth into over a long time.

5.) “Metroid II.” Yes a remake exists for Nintendo 3DS that does everything better, but this was the first Metroid game I ever had the time/opportunity to beat so it stands out.

6.) “Revenge of the Gator.” Pinball!!!!

7.) “F-1 Race.” Many a study hall was spent playing this head to head with my best friend Chris – this or Tetris anyway – whichever one we brought that day!

8.) “Double Dragon.” Another case of “make the best of what you can get.” It’s not anywhere near Double Dragon II on NES, but I think the soundtrack still holds up.

9.) “Nemesis.” The GameBoy equivalent of Gradius and possibly my favorite SHMUP ever!

10.) “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.” Mow grass for rupees! Don’t hit the chickens! Save the world!