10 Best Anime-Themed GBA Games Ever Made

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).

The lifespan of Nintendo’s unforgettable Game Boy Advance – extending from its release in 2001 to its discontinuation in 2008 – coincided closely with the early anime boom in Western countries.

What was previously a niche form of entertainment became increasingly accepted by Western audiences as television channels introduced more anime into their programming.

The GBA’s library reflects this historical moment with plenty of anime-based titles spanning many different genres. There had always been anime games on Nintendo consoles, but more were brought to the West with English translations than ever before.

It was a great time to be an anime fan – and you can re-live that period by checking out any of these top-quality anime-themed games that defined the GBA’s library.


10. Digimon Battle Spirit 2 (2004)

Digimon Battle Spirit 2 (2004) gameplay screenshot

It was a shame that Nintendo never tried to bring the Super Smash Bros. franchise to the Game Boy Advance – but developers like Dimps were more than happy to fill the void.

Digimon Battle Spirit 2 lets you chase your foes from platform to platform, trying to beat them up just like SSB. Instead of Mario and Pikachu, you play as your favorite characters from Digimon Frontier (the anime’s fourth season).

Fan-favorites like Agunimon, Lobomon, Fairymon, Beetlemon, and Kumamon are all in this game’s playable roster.

The gameplay is top-notch, and although the graphics aren’t very detailed, they have an appealing style with vibrant colors.


9. Crayon Shin-Chan: Densetsu o Yobu Omake no To Shukkugaan (JP) (2006)

Crayon Shin-Chan: Densetsu o Yobu Omake no To Shukkugaan (JP) (2006) gameplay screenshot

Crayon Shin-Chan was one of the most inappropriate shows I ever watched as a kid – and I loved it.

Any fellow Crayon Shin-Chan fans should check out this surprisingly good action platformer based on Shin-chan’s life of mischief.

The game follows the titular Japanese kid as he runs around town putting on costumes that give him special abilities and having absurd fights with bizarre bosses. Shin-chan’s family members are also featured as summons that help you clear out certain obstacles.

One of the big highlights of the game is its graphics. They’re crisp and perfectly capture the charm of the Shin-chan anime.


8. Shaman King: Master of Spirits 2 (2005)

Shaman King: Master of Spirits 2 (2005) gameplay screenshot

Shaman King was one of the most bad-ass shounen anime of my youth, and Master of Spirits 2 on the GBA is one of the best games based on the series.

Master of Spirits 2 plays like a level-based Castlevania game.

The exploration isn’t as good, but the combat and platforming are nice and challenging.

The graphics could be improved, but beating up arcane monstrosities with Yoh’s wooden sword and Amidamaru’s spirit powers is still a blast.


7. Dragon Ball: The Legacy of Goku II (2003)

Dragon Ball: The Legacy of Goku II (2003) gameplay screenshot

Dragon Ball-themed fighters are a dime a dozen, but some of Goku’s best games belong in the action RPG genre.

The Legacy of Goku II is the best example on the GBA.

This thrilling title lets you re-live the entire Cell Saga of the DBZ anime in game format, providing around 15 hours of fun beating up crooks.

You can play as Goku, Trunks, Gohan, Piccolo or Vegeta.

Fortunately for many Western fans, the game’s BGM is based on the soundtrack Bruce Faulconer composed for the English dub. It’s a total nostalgia trip that makes the game all the more enjoyable.


6. Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak (2003)

Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak (2003) gameplay screenshot

I’ve always been a big defender of cute games, and Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak is painfully adorable.

The storyline revolves around romance and supporting the Ham-hams’ romantic relationships. Can it get any cuter?

You control Hamtaro and his lady friend Bijou, helping them overcome the platforming challenges and puzzles of a human-sized world as a pint-sized hairball.

The story is funny, the graphics are fantastic, and the gameplay is polished to a mirror sheen. There’s no reason to skip this Hamtaro adventure.


5. Mega Man Battle Network 3 (2003)

Mega Man Battle Network 3 (2003) gameplay screenshot

Mega Man Battle Network was one of the biggest franchises on the GBA by numbers alone.

There weren’t two or three Battle Network games on the Advance, but six – and even more if you count different versions like MMBN3 Blue & White separately.

That means you’ll never run out of new content to discover in this fast-paced tactical RPG series.

MMBN4 is the best-selling game in the series, but it owes much to the impressive third entry. If you have to choose just one, play Mega Man Battle Network 3.


4. Shonen Jump’s One Piece (2005)

Shonen Jump's One Piece (2005) gameplay screenshot

One Piece-based fighters have been a thing in Japanese markets since the early 2000s – but we didn’t see the first One Piece game released in English until 2005.

Out of almost 40 official One Piece games, only 11 have been released abroad.

Shonen Jump’s One Piece on the GBA is unique because it was developed specifically for Western markets. The story mode covers the East Blue saga, which Western fans would have been familiar with at the time thanks to the 4Kids dub.

Instead of a fighter, developer Dimps chose to make it an action-packed platformer/beat-em-up hybrid.

It features gorgeous sprites, an excellent soundtrack, and superb gameplay. Don’t skip on this underrated gem!


3. Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure (2004)

Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure (2004) gameplay screenshot

Fans of all-time classic shounen anime Dragon Ball are spoiled for choice on the GBA.

We already covered Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku II, but my favorite Dragon Ball title on this portable console is Advanced Adventure.

This platformer/beat-em-up hybrid from Dimps covers the monkey boy’s journey up to the battle against King Piccolo.

It captures the anime’s lighthearted charm but keeps you on your toes with tight combat and challenging boss battles.

The multiplayer fighting mode is also a blast if you’ve got another GBA and a Game Link Cable.


2. Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen (2004)

Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen (2004) gameplay screenshot

The classic Pokémon anime following Ash and Pikachu’s adventure through Kanto and beyond was how many Western anime fans were introduced to the medium.

Ash, Brock, Misty, and their Pokémon are some of the most influential figures in many of our childhoods. They’re an important reason we keep coming back to the Pokémon series despite Game Freak’s questionable game design.

The closest you can get to the original anime on the Game Boy Advance is playing Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen.

These remakes updated the first-generation games to Pokémon Emerald standards. It’s a beautiful experience – especially if you never got to try the Game Boy originals.


1. Astro Boy: Omega Factor (2004)

Astro Boy: Omega Factor (2004) gameplay screenshot

Giving the top spot to Pokémon would have been easy, but would anyone have learned anything new?

Probably not.

Instead, broaden your horizons with Astro Boy: Omega Factor – a multi-genre adventure by Treasure based on Osamu Tezuka’s unbelievably influential Astro Boy series.

The game combines beat-em-up elements and platforming for most of its playtime for an action-packed adventure. There are also some smooth shoot-em-up sequences to keep things fresh, and it all looks fantastic thanks to the game’s crisp and anime-accurate graphics.

Despite the cutesy art style, Astro Boy’s story will pull at your heartstrings and get you all the more motivated to overcome the obstacles thrown your way.

Browse: Video Games

Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.