Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
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 are just a few major series that made the transition to this platform (or even started there).
Tim did a great article last year reviewing some of the best emulators for handheld consoles, but of that group I think that VisualBoyAdvance really shines. It’s on par with other great Nintendo emulators, like ZSNES (for the SNES) and Nestopia (for the NES). That being said, I feel that this emulator deserves its own post outlining specific features and usage, and that’s what I’m here to give you!
Version 1.7.2 of VBA (as I’ll abbreviate it from here on) is available as a binary for Windows. It works on all modern versions of the OS, 32 or 64-bit. Translations, documentation, SDL configurators, and more goodies are all available for download on the official website.
The archived download is less than 600 KB in size. Simply extract the files to a folder of your choice. VBA is completely portable and will work just fine from a flash drive.
Configuring VBA isn’t nearly as hard as setting up your preferences are for most other emulators. All configurable options can be accessed through menus underneath the Options menu header.
In the above screenshot, you can see an example of what I mean with the Video options. Here, you can turn in vertical sync or use an aspect zoom. You can see that I’ve got it set to double the original window size.
The Emulator options also have a few important things you can tweak.
In this menu, you’re able to associate certain filenames with the emulator and set default ROM directories. I’d recommend leaving the Synchronize option checked for the best experience. Near the bottom of this menu, you can select the format of in-game screenshots.
VBA also supports filters! Nothing like scanlines or fuzz to really make your emulation experience more nostalgic.
VBA has a fairly unique way of handling ROMs. VBA actually supports the original Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance games. As VisualBoyAdvance, this version originally was coded to support only Gameboy Advance games. Support for Gameboy and Gameboy Color is still built into the emulator, though.
It’s very simple and straightforward. Select Open… for Gameboy Advance ROMs and Open Gameboy… for original Gameboy and Gameboy Color ROMs.
Saving your state is very simple with VBA.
Each game is allocated up to 10 slots. You can save to these slots by the shown hotkeys or by accessing this menu. Saving to your oldest slot will obviously overwrite your oldest save file.
Now what are you waiting on? The Gameboy brought us some of the coolest games in our palm and the Gameboy Advance is one of the most underappreciated handhelds ever (in my opinion). Let me know what you think of these consoles and the VisualBoyAdvance emulator in the comments!