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play gba games android

For many of us, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Advance games were our childhood. Unfortunately for the fans of Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon, Nintendo has been reluctant to create Android games, unlike Sega, which has released several Sonic games. It’s here that the openness of Android excels, allowing users to download emulators and ROMs to play some of their favorite old games.

Sure, you can emulate GBA Playing Classic Gameboy Games On The PC With Visual Boy Advance [MUO Gaming] Playing Classic Gameboy Games On The PC With Visual Boy Advance [MUO Gaming] As the first major handheld console and a gem of the Nintendo brand, Gameboy pushed out some incredibly cool and classic video games, such as Super Mario, Mega Man, Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon, which... Read More  and N64 Project64 - The Best Way To Emulate Nintendo 64 Games Project64 - The Best Way To Emulate Nintendo 64 Games I still remember the exact day that I unboxed my Nintendo 64. I've always been a huge gamer and a bit of a nerd, and that console was a big step for me. Playing my... Read More  games on your PC, and even several different consoles on your Wii 4 Great Emulators You Can Run On Your Wii 4 Great Emulators You Can Run On Your Wii Get retro games working on your Wii, regardless of whether they're on sale on Virtual Console. A variety of emulators await everyone with the Homebrew Channel installed on their Wii. In this article, we're going... Read More , but gaming on Android allows you a new level of portability. Play on the bus ride to work. Play on your lunch break. Play on your roof — I don’t care! (However, I’m not responsible if you fall off your roof because you were too distracted by the awesome games on your phone.) You can even connect an Xbox 360, PS3, Bluetooth, or Wii controller How To Connect a Game Controller to Android For Console-like Gameplay How To Connect a Game Controller to Android For Console-like Gameplay Let's face it, touch controls are terrible for many games. Have you ever tried playing a platformer game on a touchscreen? It's an exercise in frustration. The good news is that you can connect a... Read More  if you really hate touch-screen controls. The possibilities are endless.

You can also emulate older consoles on Android, but I’ll focus mainly on the two best consoles that Android can emulate: Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Advance. There are DS emulators, like nds4droid, but in my experience, they have been achingly slow (if they run at all).

Get An Emulator

Let’s begin with N64. The best option out there right now is Mupen64+ AE which is available for free on the Google Play Store and also as a 99 cent donation version if you’re feeling generous. You can also get N64oid from the SlideMe marketplace for $4.99 if you have some grudge against Mupen, or download it for free here.  (You can unzip .tar files using 7Zip 7Zip - A Free Program to Unzip Uncommon Archive Formats 7Zip - A Free Program to Unzip Uncommon Archive Formats Read More or ZipItFree Quick Zip File Compressor & Extractor (Free WinZip Alternative) Quick Zip File Compressor & Extractor (Free WinZip Alternative) Read More .) Both N64 emulators have worked fine in my testing, but for this article I’ll be using Mupen.

Mupen works really well and has a lot of useful features you might not have thought you needed. You can change the size and opacity of the onscreen buttons, but the real advantages are if you use Bluetooth controllers. It allows for individual mapping of the buttons, and you can create profiles if different games require different common buttons. It even supports up to four players, if for some reason you have four Bluetooth controllers lying around.

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The most useful feature I found when playing Mario Kart 64 was that you can map the buttons to physical keys. Having the L button mapped to my volume keys made it much easier for me to use items (I still lost; Mario Kart was never my game).

play gba games android

For GBA, you can either download Gameboid from Emuparadise  and install it on your Android, or get “My Boy! – GBA Emulator” from the Google Play Store, which has a limited free version, and a full-featured $4.99 version. If you get Gameboid, you will need to download the GBA BIOS that can be downloaded from Roms4Droid. The BIOS is a file it requires to run, and it will prompt you for it as soon as you open the app. Just unzip it, remove  the “gba_bios.bin” file, and place it in the folder on your Android device where you plan to keep your ROMs (game files).

The cool thing about My Boy! is that you can move the onscreen keys, resize them, and even add some extra keys for quick saves, fast forwarding, and screenshots. The fast forward feature is the most convenient thing ever when playing Pokémon, a game that moves notoriously slowly. Having an onscreen fast forward button was a huge help.

I like Gameboid’s default layout, but if you don’t like it, too bad. It’s not as customizable as My Boy!’s. However, if you’re not willing to spend the $4.99 for the full-featured version of My Boy!, Gameboid is a solid free alternative. Both support cheats and hardware button mapping if your phone happens to have any hardware buttons that you really want to use. You can also hook up external controllers, but I’m not sure how necessary that is for GBA games.

play gba games android

Get Some ROMs

A ROM is a .zip file that is basically a game. There are ROMs for nearly every game imaginable: Legend of Zelda, Super Smash Bros., Pokemon Emerald, Advance Wars, etc. Be sure to only download games that you legally own. To make things simpler for yourself, put all your ROMs and your BIOS file in a single folder. When you startup your emulator, you’ll have to direct it to the ROM you want to play, and it’ll make your life easier if they’re all in one location.

When you save your game, you’ll use the emulator’s built-in saving save feature as opposed to the in-game saving feature. This is convenient because you can pause at any exact moment, not just where the game would typically allow you to save. Saving will create a .sav file in the same folder as your ROM. If you ever want to move your game info from one phone or tablet to another, just copy your entire ROM folder over so that it takes the .sav files with it. The app/emulator itself doesn’t store any info.

play gba games android

Have Fun!

Go forth and play thy retro games. The world is your playground. You now have an expansive amount of games at your fingertips, and you should take full advantage of it.

What are your favorite N64 and GBA games? What’s your favorite emulation app for Android? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re interested in emulating old consoles on your PC, there are plenty of options available to you. You can check out how to emulate consoles from 1972-1980 6+ Nostalgic Emulators For Vintage Video Gaming Enthusiasts (1972-1980) 6+ Nostalgic Emulators For Vintage Video Gaming Enthusiasts (1972-1980) Read More 1981-1986 10 Retro Emulators To Play Early 80s Home Consoles On Your PC (1981-1986) 10 Retro Emulators To Play Early 80s Home Consoles On Your PC (1981-1986) Read More 1987-1993 10+ Emulators To Play Old-School 16- And 32-bit Consoles On Your PC (1987-1993) 10+ Emulators To Play Old-School 16- And 32-bit Consoles On Your PC (1987-1993) Read More , and 1994-2001 8 Great Emulators to Play Modern Home Consoles on Your PC (1994-2001) 8 Great Emulators to Play Modern Home Consoles on Your PC (1994-2001) Read More  in our four part series on PC emulation.

  1. Eric
    November 3, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    i know everybody hates advertisements in the comments, but my friends and me make an video game called arcane souls, its similar (i wouldn't say its a rip of)to smash bros. now we founding on indiegogo and it would get a official release.
    thanks for your attention.

  2. Hélder
    July 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Fortunately, Nintendo does not develop for Android or any third-party platform. Creating their own hardware that integrates and is tailor-made for their games is what makes Nintendo games so memorable.
    Want to play Nintendo games? Get a Nintendo console, dude.

    • Justin Dennis
      July 2, 2013 at 11:58 pm

      I would agree with you if we were discussing modern consoles, like the Wii U or 3DS. Those are very unique consoles with unique games, and if you want to play them, you should buy the console.

      However, for older game consoles that have gone out of production, like Nintendo 64 and Game Boy, I don't see any harm in Nintendo reworking them for Android and iOS. In fact, even if you can manage to find a used N64 or GBA at this point, Nintendo doesn't make any money off your purchase. I think that Nintendo could make a lot more money by reengineering old titles for Android, iOS, and even the Xbox Marketplace. It would be better for Nintendo because they make more money, and better for consumers because they get a platform-optimized game rather than a finicky emulator. And still, if people wanted to get the newest Nintendo games, they would have to buy a Wii U or 3DS.

      • Hélder
        July 4, 2013 at 9:00 pm

        You do know that Nintendo still sells pretty much their entire catalogue from the NES to the N64, from Game Boy to Game Boy Advance on Wii Shop and Nintendo eShop on their current consoles?
        They still make money on those games. It's not abandonware.
        On Wii U, a "virtual console" game allows you to play it entirely on the gamepad, make restore points, take screenshots at any time and instantly sharing them on Miiverse with other players ("hey, I got stuck here.See? Help!" and you'll get good answers) in a game-specific community. The prices might be a bit too high, but there is a added experience.

        • Justin D
          July 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm

          Actually, I didn't know about the virtual console. That's very cool, and I can understand now why Nintendo doesn't want to make Android/iOS games. My problem with the virtual console is that there isn't a huge variety of games (like you can't play Pokemon Red/Blue or Ruby/Sapphire or any of that on the 3DS or Wii U). However, from a business standpoint, it makes sense for Nintendo not to make Android/iOS games in case they ever offer them as a download for the 3DS or Wii U.

          But still, as a consumer, I would really like them to make Android/iOS games. I think they would be awesome, and I would buy tons of them. (Regardless, I don't think I'll ever get a Wii U or 3DS).

          So now I understand why they won't make Android/iOS games, and thanks for that information on the virtual console, but I still wish they would. :)

  3. Dilan W
    July 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Nice article!

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