Game Boy Advance emulators

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Revision as of 19:14, 19 June 2024 by Ahayri (talk | contribs) (Enhancements)
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Nintendo Game Boy Advance
Developer Nintendo
Type Handheld game console
Generation Sixth generation
Release date 2001
Discontinued 2010
Predecessor Game Boy (Color), Virtual Boy
Successor Pokémon mini, DS(i)
For emulators that run on the Game Boy Advance, see Emulators on GBA.

The Game Boy Advance (often shortened to GBA) is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed by Nintendo. It is the successor to the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on the 21st of March 2001, in North America on the 11th of June and in Australia and Europe on the 22nd of June and retailed for $99.99. It has a ARM7TDMI CPU at 16.78 MHz and a Zilog Z80 CPU at 8 MHz and 4 MHz. It has 288KB of RAM and 96KB of VRAM.


PC / x86

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Hardware features
and accessories
Enhancements Compatibility FLOSS Active Recommended
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD Web Dev builds
libretro core[N 1]
~ ~
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD Nightly builds
libretro cores
~ ~ ~
NanoBoyAdvance Windows Linux macOS Dev builds
~ ~
SkyEmu Windows Linux macOS Web Dev Builds
~ ~
ares Windows Linux macOS git Artifacts
? ~ ~
GBE+ Windows Linux macOS 1.8 ~ ? ~
No$GBA Windows MS-DOS 3.05 ~ ~ * ~
(mGBA 0.10.0)
Windows Linux Dev builds
~ ~ ~
Mesen Windows Linux macOS 2.0.0 (preview) ~ ~ ? WIP
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD git artifacts[N 2]
? ~ ?
gpSP_libretro Windows Linux macOS libretro core ~ ~ ?
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 1.32.1
libretro core
Hades Windows Linux macOS 1.0.0
Nightly builds
higan (火眼)
byuu (謬/view)
Windows Linux macOS v110 ? [N 3]
iDeaS Windows Linux ?
VGBA Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 6.4 ?
Meteor Linux 1.4.2 ?
BoyCottAdvance Windows Linux macOS 0.2.8 ?
PlayBoy Advance macOS 1.0 ?
GameBeanAdvance Windows Git ? ~
NooDS Windows Linux macOS git ?

Mobile / ARM

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Hardware features
and accessories
Enhancements Compatibility FLOSS Active Recommended
mGBA Android iOS Linux Pandora unofficial android version
libretro core
~ ~
VBA-M Android iOS Linux Pandora libretro core ~ ~ ~
SkyEmu Android iOS v3.2 (Play)v3.2 (Amazon)git ~ ~
gpSP Android iOS Pandora
Didj Symbian
libretro core Pandora
~ ~ ? ~[N 4] ~
Pizza Boy A Basic Android 1.12.1 ~ ~ ~
(VBA-M 2.1.4 based)
Android Dragonbox Pyra Pre-release
1.5.77 Pyra
? ~ ~
My Boy! Android 2.0.6 ? ~
VBA10 Windows 10 Phone 1.22
? ~
GBA_J2ME Java 1.0 ? ? ~
VGBAnext Android 6.6.6 ?
NooDS Android 0.1
GBA4iOS iOS 2.1 ?
VBA8 Windows 8 Phone 2.27 ?


Name Platform(s) Latest Version Hardware features
and accessories
Enhancements Compatibility FLOSS Active Recommended
mGBA Wii Wii U Switch
Nintendo 3DS Vita
Dev builds
libretro core
~ ~
Nintendo Switch Online (Sloop) Switch N/A ~ ~ Only for selected titles
VBA Next GameCube Wii Switch
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox Xbox 360
libretro core ? ~
gpSP Dreamcast PSP
PlayStation 2 GameCube Wii
Nintendo 3DS Vita
libretro core
~ ~ ? ~[N 4]
Virtual Console Nintendo 3DS Wii U 8.10 ~ Only for selected titles (3DS)
Only for selected titles (Wii U)
Game Boy Player GameCube ~
ReGBA PlayStation 2 v1.45.5 revision 3 ? ~
emGBA GameCube Wii Wii U git ? ~
VBA GX GameCube Wii Wii U git ? ~
Gbaemu4DS Nintendo DS Alpha 2 fix 4git ?
GBARunner2 Nintendo DS Nintendo 3DS 2020/08/12 ?
UO gpSP Kai (UO gpSP改) PSP 3.4 test 4 build 230 ?
NooDS Switch Vita Wii U
git (Switch/Vita/WiiU)
git (PSP port)
? ?


Name Platform(s) Latest Version Enhancements Hardware features
and accessories
Compatibility FLOSS Active Recommended
Nintendo 3DS (AGB_FIRM) Nintendo 3DS ? No documented issues, but games that use special cart hardware are not supported


Free and open-source Game Boy/Color and Game Boy Advance emulator developed by endrift. Being written from scratch, it aims for speed, accuracy, and portability. As of yet, it's the most complete GBA emulation effort with enhancements and feature support, passing the older project VBA and its forks. It is also available as a Libretro core for RetroArch. As of 0.9.0, mGBA with a stripped-down GUI has been integrated into Dolphin recently for games supporting connectivity features.
Highly accurate[1] Game Boy Advance emulator. It aims for cycle-accurate emulation when possible (CPU, DMA, timers, PPU and Game Pak prefetch), while also offering enhancements such as improved audio quality. Very high compatibility, including games that require emulation of peculiar hardware edge-cases. Unfortunately, following the release of the next major update, developer "fleroviux" will step down from actively developing the project.[1]
Visual Boy Advance (VBA)
The original GBA emulator. Discovered to have an ACE vulnerability detailed below.
Visual Boy Advance-M (VBA-M)
A fork with additional minor improvements. It is behind in terms of accuracy compared to mGBA or other recommended GBA emulators, but is still useful for its robust debugging features and sound interpolation that reduces hissing.
A RetroArch fork from an older revision of VBA-M with added speedhacks and tweaks, making it useful for lower-end devices. A bit less accurate in some respects, but fixes a few games such as Advance Wars 2.
Low level Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance emulator. Its primary focus is to provide a good user experience through a good mixture of tradeoffs of accuracy[2], performance, features and usability. Capable of full instruction pipeline, prefetch emulation and per pixel PPU Implementation capable of both scan line and mid-scan line effects.
higan / ares
Accuracy wise it is behind compared to NanoBoyAdvance, SkyEmu (and maybe mGBA) but it has dot-based instead of scanline-based renderer and doing better job compared to VBA-M. Also it is behind in terms of compatibility compared to mGBA, NanoBoyAdvance and SkyEmu, but Ares stands out being multi-system emulator and supports some useful enhancements like shaders/filters and simple debug features.
It has potential to being the best GBA debugger in the future. placeholder text
Has a gba driver markup as working, but both graphics and sound are "imperfect" as of version 0.261.
Originally made for the PSP, its last official version was 0.91. There are, however, two forks of interest: gpSPmod, and gpSP-J. gpSP-J has superior compatibility, while gpSPmod has more options for customization (full screen, cheats, etc). Both are superior to Kai. TempGBA is another good fork. For other platforms, there's a libretro port of gpSP with fast x86 and ARM dynarecs. While it's behind the best GBA emulators in terms of accuracy, its great performance makes it a viable option for old/underpowered machines or for using extreme fast-forward in games.
Pizza Boy A
Likely due to the yuzu situation, the project was pulled from the Play Store by its developer after seven years of development and was presumed dead in 2024[2][3][4]. However, in April, the project was renamed and development has resumed[5][6][7].
Nintendo Switch Online (Sloop)
  • GBA support was added to Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack in February 2023, alongside GB games exclusive to the normal tier;
  • Users are limited to the selection of games Nintendo chooses to make available on the service;
  • Can support Local Play with other Switch Online users (up to 4 players, Local Play must be with individual Switch systems);
  • Accurate enough at the point of being able to pass any of the AGB Test Cartridge (v10) tests without a single failure;
  • Video filters can be applied;
  • Allows exchange of regional variants in the International version of the app (USA and/or European versions);
  • Allows rumble support for games that had such function back when played in a Game Boy Player (Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga)
  • Different games between regions (Japan and International)

NOTE: There's a huge ACE vulnerability affecting VBA and most of its forks, except for VBA-M. The function for adding GameShark codes ("Import > Gameshark code file") doesn't check if the file's size is within 1024 kilobits, meaning cheat code files from dubious sources can be engineered with malware in mind. There is good news; VBA-M still doesn't do a sanity check for those files, but it just crashes instead of letting the code wreak havoc. So, depending on your use case, avoid using:

  1. Cheat code files bigger than 1024Kb that you got online from untrustworthy sources.
  2. The import code files feature.
  3. The old emulator altogether, and settle for other options like mGBA or VBA-M. All of them support the same SRAM save data the cartridge uses.

List of recommended GBA emulators for Android:


Name mGBA VBA-M No$GBA SkyEmu NanoBoyAdvance Mesen Game Boy Player Virtual Console BizHawk ares GBE+ gpSP Pizza Boy GBA (Pro) MAME Nintendo Switch Online (Sloop)
Graphics Resizable Internal Resolution For emulation of 2D systems, the resolution can only be upscaled, making the pixels more apparent.
Sprite Replacement ? ? ?
Widescreen Hack
Performance Overclock * ?* ? ? *
Internal Framerate Hack
Post-Processing Post-rendering AA
Post-rendering scaling
(Sharp bilinear, Lanczos and FSR 1)
AI-powered filter compatible
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Shader Chain ~[N3 1] ~[N3 1] *
Inverse tone mapping compatible ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
TAS features Macros/Scripts/Lua [N3 2] ? ? *
Fast-Forward/Turbo Speed ?
Movie recording/playback ?[8] ?
Controls Input lag-mitigating technique ~[N3 1] ?
Quality of life Built-in Custom resolution/CRTSwitchRes
For using this on Windows OS you need CRT Emudriver.
Another option is using EDID editor tool such as "Custom Resolution Utility".
Exclusive to libretro cores and GroovyMAME at the moment.
Also there is a project for achieving software emulators like libretro cores and GroovyMAME send the raw RGB data over a network to a core running on MiSTer, it basically turns the MiSTer into a GPU for the emulator allowing for easy setup and use with CRT TVs/Arcade monitors.
Built-in Cheat Manager ?
Streamable compression format ?
Per-Game Profiles
Command Line Options
Big Picture Mode
Misc Netplay
You can use either yuzu/Ryujinx for playing GBA games online via netplay.
This enhancement shouldn't be confused with GBA connectivity features emulation.
WIP ? *
High Quality Audio Mixer
HQ audio mixer for games which use Nintendo's MusicPlayer2000 sound engine
~ ?
EmuVR support Exclusive to libretro cores at the moment.
AI Service
With the help of OCR and other techniques, the AI service can provide a live translation of a game, or text-to-speech capabilities for the visually impaired among other things, either on demand or automatically.
Exclusive to libretro cores at the moment.
RetroAchievements ~[N3 1] ~[N3 1] * * roadmap
Debug Features *
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Exclusive to libretro core. There is also a modified version of VBA-M for RetroAchievement support. Feature request: RetroAchievements integration in mGBA standalone.
  2. Exclusive to standalone version.

Hardware features and accessories

Shonumi: The State of Emulation - 2024

Where should Multiboot be added? Mini-games transferred from GC to GBA. Only mGBA can run them directly. All other Libretro cores do not support Multiboot. The extension is .gba. Billy Hatcher's mini-game is exclusive to GBA

+If it's possible to use with real hardware add hardware features and accesories section, if not then add it to enhancements section.
VBA 1.73 Mod
No$GBA SkyEmu NanoBoyAdvance Mesen Game Boy Player Virtual Console BizHawk ares GBE+ gpSP Pizza Boy GBA MAME Nintendo Switch Online (Sloop)
GBA BIOS ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
GB/GBC backwards compatibility emulation/Enhanced Mode ? ?* ? ? ? ?* ? ? ? ? ? ? *
Game Boy Advance Video ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Connectivity Single Pak [N2 1] * * ? ~* ? ? ? ?
Multi Pak [N2 1] * ? ~* ? ? ? ?
Wireless * ~ ? ? ~ * ?
GameCube communication [N2 1] [N2 1] * ? ? ? ? ?
Link Cable [N2 1] [N2 1] WIP ? ? ? ? ?
e-Reader e-Reader Alone [N2 1] ~ TBD ? ~* TBD ? TBD ? ? ?
e-Reader/GBA Game [N2 1] ~[N2 2] ~[N2 2] TBD ? TBD ? TBD ? ? ? ~*
e-Reader/GCN Game [N2 1] ? ? ? ? ?
Inputs Rumble Feature ? ? ? ? ? * ~*
Solar Sensor ~[N2 3] ~[N2 4] ~[N2 4] ~[N2 4] ~[N2 4] ? ~[N2 4]
Motion Control [N2 5] ? *
Special hardware Battle Chip Gate ? ?
Soul Doll Adapter ? ?
Multi Plust On System
Turbo File Advance
Power Antenna & Bug Sensor
Official Nintendo Infrared Adapter
Jukebox *
Virtureal Racing System *
Play-Yan ~*
Campho Advance (WIP)
Glucoboy *
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Does not work on Libretro core. Feature Requests: GBA Game Link Support, e-Reader support for for VBA-M libretro core.
  2. 2.0 2.1 incomplete: this emulator will not recognize the games they're connected to. Normally, after choosing "Connection/to Game Boy Advance", the e-Reader should have "(Game Name) Game Data" pre-loaded in its internal EEPROM memory and appearing in a tiny black box on-screen, but this can't happen in either No$GBA, VBA-M, or VBA e-Reader mods. Without this step done, scanning e-Cards will just yield an error message. e-Reader/GBA game pack emulation in this emulator can be still reached by ripping a save game from real e-Reader hardware, with this step already done. Using this save with the e-Reader BIOS, it's possible to connect to the GBA game pack, and scan e-Cards... though it's a very less-than-ideal solution and there are only pre-baked e-Reader save files for Super Mario Advance 4 (U), Pokémon Emerald (J), LeafGreen (J) and FireRed (J)."
  3. Only the Nintendo Switch port allows use of the Switch's light sensor.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Only manual configuration. No automatic detection via light sensor/camera input/weather forecast/GPS location/other.
  5. Motion Control support present on RetroArch VBA-M core.

GB/GBC backwards compatibility emulation/Enhanced Mode

Game Boy Advance is backwards compatible with GB/GBC, resulting in some of the GB/GBC games enhanced if you play on GBA. Having said that, this shouldn't be confused with Game Boy/Game Boy Color emulation or Super Game Boy 1/2. Some of the multicore emulators supports both GB/GBC and GBA emulation, however they do not have support for "backwards compatibility/GBA mode" emulation.

Game Boy Advance Video

See also: Game Boy Advance Video on Wikipedia

GBA Videos were officially released cartridges with movies/shows on them for viewing on GBA hardware. Most recommended GBA emulators should be able to play this type of cartridge if its 32MB, although not all of it supports 64MB ones.

See this dedicated page for more information about home media playback support for emulation softwares.
See Dumping/ripping.


GBA Multi Pak Link Multiplayer (1~4GBA)

This doesn't work with old VBA versions.
Just disable "Pause when Inactive", configure all four Joypads each with their own button layout, enable "Link, Enable GBA Link". Now open VBA-M again as many times needed for each player, and have them each use their separate Joypad configuration. Each player will have a separate SRAM save file.
VBA Link + e-Reader
Useful if you want to use the Pokémon Battle-eCards. Downloads and instructions reside here.
Select "New multiplayer window" from the menu. As you load your ROMs into each window, "Player [X] of [Y]" will appear across the title bar. This can be done for up to four players. However, multiple instances of the same ROM will share a save file.
Set the number of Emulated Gameboys in the Emulation setting to be 2 or more, and the Link Gamepaks Options to Gamepak in all GBAs.

Note: Purple end in GBA means player 1, while a grey end in GBA means P2, P3, or P4. Daisy-chaining up to three cables will set up the additional P3 and P4 by connecting the purple end to a purple midsection.[3]

GBA Wireless Multiplayer

The wireless adapter has the ability to connect five players[4] to each other and includes its own software to download a subset of another player's game that runs when no cartridge is inserted. Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green came bundled with this accessory, but it can also work with Pokémon Emerald and the Classic NES Series.

The libretro core of gpSP has successfully emulated the wireless adapter[5]. GBE+(in v1.6) and VBA-M partially implemented the support of this add-on, though it's still a work-in-progress, and can only access menus. Support of this add-on is currently on mGBA's roadmap.

GameCube Connectivity

The Game Boy Advance can also connect to the GameCube.[6] e-Reader functionality with GC games has now been emulated thanks to mGBA. Dolphin supports connectivity through rudimentary joybus emulation made in parallel with VBA-M. Because this emulator has fallen behind, the feature was recently added to mGBA, a more accurate emulator. They showcased early higan support in a video, but nothing has been released as yet.

Dolphin/mGBA or VBA-M
Requires mGBA 0.9.0 or newer or VBA-M r947 or newer.
  • Reduce your volume. You won't want it to be high, especially with headphones.
  • Open Dolphin and mGBA/VBA-M. Make sure neither are blocked by your firmware.
  • In Dolphin, launch the game and navigate to the area where you're asked to connect the GBA. Then, under the controller options, assign the GameCube controllers as "GBA" for whichever you need.
  • If you are using mGBA, open up the File menu, and click Connect to Dolphin.
  • In the dialog box that appears, press Connect. mGBA will boot up the GBA BIOS if no rom has been selected.
  • If you are using VBA-M, uncheck Pause When Inactive in Options > Emulator. Then, under Options > Link > Joybus Options, make sure the "Enable Joybus Connection" is on and set "IP/Hostname" to use default settings, that is or localhost.
  • Dolphin will freeze.
  • Open the GBA BIOS in VBA-M as if it were a regular GBA ROM. The regular splash screen will stutter a bit.
  • In either emulator, Dolphin should recognize the Joybus Link by then, and the GC game will detect that a GBA was connected.
  • To connect other units, open another emulator instance and repeat its process.

Notable games that work:

Notable games that don't:


Main page: GBA e-Reader emulators

This device can read content off e-Card paper stripes either as standalone content, or additional content to GBA/GC games. Can be thought of as DLC.


Solar Sensor

1. Emulation: This feature has been emulated in mGBA, VBA-M, No$GBA 2.6 onwards, and My Boy!:

  • mGBA: In the shortcuts editor, shortcuts can be configured to raise/lower the solar level incrementally or to set any particular brightness level. The Nintendo Switch port of mGBA also allows use of the Switch's light sensor.
  • VBA-M: This emulator uses the keys of the lateral motion controls to change the Solar Sensor levels. You can find those keys and modify them in Options -> Input -> Configure... -> "Special" tab.
  • No$GBA: Under Options/Emulation Setup, you can find the Solar Sensor Level option. You are given the choice between only three brightness levels though: Darkness, 100 Watts, and Bright Sunlight.
  • My Boy!: This emulator uses a button combination or the device's light sensor to check the brightness level. You can change this under Settings -> Input -> Cartridge Features -> "Solar Emulation By" menu.
  • Pizza Boy GBA: Uses the device's light sensor to check the brightness level.

2. ROM Patches: Fixes applied directly to the ROM by various scene release groups to make it compatible with any emulator/flashcard, making the in-game brightness level controllable with L+Left/Right. It's argued this makes for a better experience actually, but sadly not all releases are covered.

  • Boktai 1: JP, US, EU.
  • Boktai 2: JP, US, EU.
  • Boktai 3: JP Fix.
  • Combinations of Boktai 4 JP with earlier solar sensors to get solar sensor bonuses aren't emulated yet in any DS emulator.
Motion Control

1. Emulation: This feature has been emulated in mGBA, VBA-M, My Boy! and Pizza Boy:

  • mGBA includes full motion control support using the motion sensor present in controllers like DualShock 4, DualSense and Switch Pro Controller.
  • VBA doesn't emulate this feature, and its "Motion Control" option (with keys mapped to each tilt direction) covers the GBC title Kirby Tilt'n Tumble.
  • VBA-M core on RetroArch includes motion control support by using a controller stick (left or right)
  • My Boy! uses the device's accelerometer to emulate this feature. You can change the sensitivity under Settings -> Input -> Cartridge Features -> "Motion sensitivity" menu.
  • Pizza Boy GBA also used the device's accelerometer to emulate this feature for games like WarioWare: Twisted and Yoshi's Universal Gravitation.

2. ROM Patches: Fixes applied directly to the ROM (with the Lunar IPS utility, or at runtime using mGBA or VBA-M and naming them the same as the ROM in the same directory) by various scene release groups to make it compatible with any emulator/flashcard. D-Pad controls substituting motion controls don't work as well here as they tilt it "too much" at times to be very playable.

  • Yoshi Topsy Turvy/Universal Gravitation: JP, EU, US
  • WarioWare Twisted! (Patch: JP, US)
Rumble Feature

There are various rumble features found in GBA/GBC cards:

  • GBC Rumble: GBC games which came on special cartridges with additional hardware for the rumble feature. It was actually used by dozens of releases, and some games like Tarzan 2 GBC were programmed to have rumble support but shipped on regular cartridges. Emulated by VBA-M GX (Wii-only), which also cover the dummied-out rumble games. Not emulated anywhere else.
  • GBA Gyro Rumble: WarioWare Twisted was shipped on a cart with rumble support. It would rumble when you tilt to one "extreme". Emulated by VBA-M GX (Wii-only, functional), mGBA has this feature but it's not enabled in current builds,
  • GBA Variable Rumble: Drill Dozer has rumble support, with variable force and speed depending on the rock type you drill through in-game. Partially emulated by VBA-M GX (Wii-only, functional), mGBA has this feature but it's not enabled in current builds.
  • Game Boy Player Rumble: Many regular GBA games, shipped on regular cartridges, enable rumble during gameplay when played on GB Player hardware (which is essentially GBA hardware). These include Super Mario Advance 4, Summon Night Hajimari no Ishi, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Shikakui Atama wo Marukusuru Advance (both releases), Pokémon Pinball, as well as Drill Dozer which disables its original cartridge rumble scheme and enables this one instead. None of the emulators support this, though it's being under development for the mGBA emulator.

Special hardware

Emulation of these is spotty, apart from GBE+, which supports almost all GBA peripherals.

Turbo File Advance

The Turbo File Advance was a peripheral for the GBA which allowed certain games to write data to it, acting as an external memory card. Developed by Sammy Corporation, it was compatible with only 2 games, RPG Tsukuru Advance and Derby Stallion Advance.

GBE+ supports this add-on.

Power Antenna & Bug Sensor

The Power Antenna & Bug Sensor were small plastic peripherals that interfaced with the GBA's serial port and contained LEDs that flashed in response to certain events within Keitai Denjuu Telefang 2, the only supported GBA game.

GBE+ supports this add-on.

Official Nintendo Infrared Adapter

As the GBA did not have native infrared connectivity, Nintendo released an official IR adapter called the AGB-006 to restore this functionality. However, it only saw use in Cyber Drive Zoids: Kiju no Senshi Hyuu to control specific Zoid toy models.

GBE+ supports this add-on.

Figurine Readers

Some GBA games/series had figurine reader add-ons, essentially precursors to the likes of Skylanders and Amiibo.

  • Soul Doll Adapter (Legendz: Island of Ordeal/Sign of Nekuromu)
  • Multi Plust On System (Bouken Yuuki Pluster World: Plust Gate/EX/Pluston GP)

GBE+ has support for both the Soul Doll Adapter and Multi Plust On System, while mGBA supports the Soul Doll Adapter.

Battle Chip Gate

A peripheral device by Capcom and Takara compatible with Mega Man Battle Network 4 (Japanese edition). It can be connected to the Game Boy Advance and allow the player to transmit real-life toy Battle Chips to the NetNavis in the game. It's also compatible with toy Advanced PETs and Rockman.EXE 4.5 Real Operation. It can also unlock minigames in Mega Man Zero 3.

mGBA and GBE+ support this add-on.


An obscure medical peripheral designed to monitor a child's blood glucose levels and reward them for keeping tabs on their condition. Bayer Healthcare destroyed all unsold stock making it hard to find. It's emulated in GBE+ since version 1.8.

Emulation issues


Left: The default game.
Right: The "Gameboy Colors" mode on VBA-M.

The screen on the original Game Boy Advance is not backlit and can be hard to see in some conditions. To compensate, game developers often used oversaturated colors by default so that the result would look normal on hardware. On standard computer screens, saturation is not an issue, so this can look jarring and undesirable for gameplay. Some games made after 2003 may have also taken the Game Boy Advance SP model into account, since its screen was actually frontlit. For everything else though, emudevs have given some solutions:

Emulator Options

No$GBA: Under "Emulation Options", select "GBA Mode". There are four modes.

  • GBA (no backlight): Strong desaturation
  • GBA SP (backlight): Strong desaturation
  • Nintendo DS in GBA mode: Some desaturation
  • VGA Mode (poppy bright): No desaturation

mGBA: Under Tools > Settings > Shaders > Load New Shader, select "gba-color.shader"

VBA-M: (nightly only): Under Options > Game Boy Advance, you will find the option, LCD Filter.

higan: Under Settings > Video Filter, you will find the "Color Emulation" checkbox.

  • Color Emulation off: No desaturation
  • Color Emulation on: Gamma correction and adjusted color range.

NanoBoyAdvance: Enabled by default. Under Config > Video > Color Correction > GBA

SkyEmu: Color Correction is set by default to 1.00 force in this emulator, and there are 2 types of desaturation methods. The first one is named SkyEmu and is selected by default, and the other one is named Higan and, as it's name suggests, is based on higan's color correction. Change the desaturation type by pressing the ≡ button, then select GBA Color Correction Type. You can also change the intensity of the desaturation: slide the slider to 0.00 to brighten the screen a tad bit.


Cg shaders can be used in OpenEmu or RetroArch that adjust the colors to those of a real GBA screen, as well as other screen types. These are available in GLSL[7] for OpenGL, and Slang[8] for Vulkan.

For GBA, there is[9], which simulates the color profile of a GBA screen under an external light source more accurately than VBA-M or No$GBA color options. If you prefer the darker color options that those emulators have, then use[10] instead.

There is also[11] and[12], which simulates the color profiles of the original Nintendo DS frontlit screen and the PSP-1000/PSP-2000 backlit screen, respectively.

For Game Boy Advance shader presets, see the "Shader Presets" page;

Main article: Shader_Presets

Horrible Sound Quality

As a handheld rushed to the market (because of the WonderSwan Color competition), the Game Boy Advance had some cut corners. The sound hardware was affected the hardest: while it could play Game Boy Color sound in addition to samples and sequenced music like what would be heard on the SNES, the actual playback quality is awful compared to the sound samples stored internally in the ROM.

There were tools made to extract the internal high-quality music (as midi files plus a sound font, to be played on foobar2000), however, interest remains limited in implementing its playback in real-time on emulators. It's worth noting that NanoBoyAdvance includes High Quality Audio Mixer and there's a very experimental feature exists on mGBA (nightly versions) under Enhancements as "XQ GBA Audio", but it's very buggy and still limited to games using the standard sound engine, the so-called "Sappy" engine, which is still a big part of the GBA's software library.

High Resolution Affine Transformation Graphical Effects

Similar to the scaling effects used on the Super NES known commonly as "Mode 7" graphics, the Game Boy Advance has affine transformation effects for some backgrounds and individual sprites that can be done in hardware. Due to the GBA's lower resolution, some detail may be lost.

The mGBA emulator added an Enhancements' menu where you can change the resolution of those graphical effects, for a smoother effect. The graphical render engine will need to be OpenGL for those to take effect. It won't work on games where those effects are done in software instead of the hardware scaling features (like the 3D environment in Asterix & Obelix XXL)

Save formats

Originally, when saves were implemented, nobody settled on a format, so the Visual Boy Advance devs made their own. Because other emulators often went with raw data, having to exchange different saves caused problems. The original Visual Boy Advance tries to figure out which format a given save is but often fails at it. By explicitly telling the emulator to read it as a specific type using a file called vba-over.ini, VBA complies. VBA-M includes this config file by default, but older revisions like VBA 1.7.2 and VBALink do not.

The VBA-Next and VBA-M cores in Libretro have the file baked into the binary so that it can load raw .sav files, but converts the format to its own derivative at exactly 136 KB every time, with save type info contained within the file. This completely avoids the previous issues at the cost of incompatibility with standalone VBA and most others.

To solve this incompatibility, Libretro devs created a command-line tool to convert .srm save files made from these cores to raw .sav save data for other emulators. It takes standard input (i.e. just drag and drop the .srm onto the executable) and outputs accordingly. It can also be done in reverse. A website version of this tool can be found here.

For more information about Game Boy Advance hardware and reverse engineering;