Barbie: Pet Rescue for Game Boy Color is similar to the computer game of the same name, but features a unique storyline as well as its own missions and challenges.
After a thunderstorm passes over Green Arbor Park, many pets as well as wild animals from a reserve have run away and need to be rescued. Enter Barbie and her Pet Rescue Center. It is her mission to pick up the stray animals, nurse them back to health and return them to their owners, all involving a variety of mini-games.
The game starts at the main menu in the Rescue Center. By picking up the phone, Barbie learns which animal must be rescued next. Picking it up usually involves a side-scrolling vehicle ride to the destination (in a scooter, car or boat) in which Barbie must avoid or jump over obstacles. Most animals can then simply be picked up, but a few require a mini-game to be completed, including a safari photo shoot, the ice cream craze (a Breakout variant) and catching apples in a basket.
Once the animal is back in the Rescue Center, its health and happiness ratings need to be increased to maximum. Health is taken care of in the check-up room. Available options are bandages, vitamins, food, and brushing or bathing the animal. Different animals react differently to the various treatments. Hints on what to use for each one are available. Happiness is taken care of in the play room. Playing with animals involves one of three different mini-games: Rascal Run-Around (a find-the-exit maze game), Snacktime Challenge (a concentration/memory game pairing animals with their favorite food) and Critter Keep-Away (a pinball variant in which a cat's paws are the flippers and must kick back a ball of yarn).
Once an animal is healthy and happy, it can be returned to its owner, involving another vehicle drive along an obstacle course. Before it is returned for good, another mini-game follows. The animal needs to be matched with its parent, requiring a jumbled up picture to be put together again from three parts within a time limit.
Each animal returned provides Barbie with a rescue certificate, which can be looked at from the office. Progress in the game is saved via passwords.