Gameboy Advance Emulators

Gameboy Advance

Nintendo dominated the gaming market in the late 90s and early 2000s, but nowhere was that more evident than in the mobile sector. For consumers, it was pretty much Game Boy or bust. Very few people even remember the Neo Geo Pocket Color, Tapwave Zodiac, or Nokia N-Gage.

After establishing their grasp on the market with the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color, Nintendo went with a redesigned handheld for the Game Boy Advance. When it was released in 2001, the GBA had a landscape design that put the buttons to the left and right of the screen, rather than underneath it. Still, the Game Boy Advance had its shortcomings, namely that it was easy to damage the exposed screen, and the screen had no backlighting.

Nintendo fixed that in 2003 with the release of the Game Boy SP. While it played the same games as the GBA, it had an improved clamshell design and built-in backlight. And yet another version of the GBA was released in 2005: the Game Boy Micro. This tiny device aimed to be small, light, and cheap. Still, all three versions of the GBA essentially ran the same games and worked the same way.

And it’s those games that can be emulated today on a wide variety of systems. Thankfully, a lack of backlit screens aren’t as much of a problem anymore, and button layouts in most emulators can be adjusted to how the user likes.

Lots of popular games hit the GBA over the course of its life. Despite the Nintendo DS coming out in 2004, the Game Boy Advance line continued to sell in North America until 2008. Of course, Pokemon was obviously a major reason for the success of the handheld console. The GBA saw the release of the Ruby and Sapphire generation in 2002, followed by FireRed and LeafGreen in 2004.

The GBA also saw four older Super Mario games remade with new features. Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario World, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, and Super Mario Bros. 3 were made into Super Mario Advance 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively. These games came out often, with all four being released between 2001 and 2003, and they hold up today as solid remakes worth emulating.

Of course, many other popular games hit the platform as well, including Kirby, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart, and Final Fantasy. Mobile gaming flourished in the early 2000s, and the lack of competitors to Nintendo means that you now only need one emulator to play all of these gems.

It’s safe to say that GBA games are best emulated on mobile devices, given that the GBA was itself a mobile device. If you’re on Android, My Boy! is a solid emulator with over 10 million downloads and over 280,000 5-star reviews. It can run on nearly any Android device, no matter how weak or underpowered. You can play in landscape mode with semi-transparent buttons for a large screen, or in portrait with the buttons below the screen, more like you’re playing a Game Boy SP.

If you’re on iOS, the situation is a little trickier. Emulators aren’t allowed in the App Store, so users generally have to jailbreak their device to get emulators — but there are workarounds for installing emulators without jailbreaking. However you get emulator access, you should try out GBA4iOS, which is widely cheered as the the best GBA emulator for iOS.

Staying on your desktop or laptop? You’ll have no problem if you’re on Windows, which has VB10, N$GBA, and VisualBoyAdvance. The Game Boy Advance is generally easy enough to create an emulator for that you shouldn’t have any problems — these emulators are everywhere! And with over 1,000 games made for the system, you’ll never be without entertainment.

So give it a shot. Download a GBA emulator and some of your favorite games, and have fun!