Playing Classic Gameboy Games On The PC With Visual Boy Advance [MUO Gaming]

Craig Snyder 23-12-2012

classic gameboy gamesAs 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 Classic Handheld Consoles: Emulate 7 Retro Portables With These Top Emulators In the late 80's, video gaming was gaining in popularity with the release of highly successful consoles from companies like Nintendo, Atari and Sega. Once technology had improved (and shrunk considerably) portable games consoles were... Read More 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 Emulating & Playing Classic SNES Games On The PC With ZSNES In my opinion, the Super Nintendo was the greatest gaming console that ever existed. Boasting titles like Chrono Trigger, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, EarthBound, Final Fantasy III, Super... Read More (for the SNES) and Nestopia Emulating & Playing Classic NES Games On Your Computer With Nestopia Oh, the NES. As an '89 baby, there wasn't a larger part of my childhood than this gaming console. Before school, after school, and on weekends you would find me attached to this thing. With... Read More (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.

classic gameboy games

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 VisualBoyAdvance

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.


visual boy advance games

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.

visual boy advance games


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.

visual boy advance games

VBA also supports filters! Nothing like scanlines or fuzz to really make your emulation experience more nostalgic.

Loading ROMs

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.


visual boy advance classic

It’s very simple and straightforward. Select Open… for Gameboy Advance ROMs and Open Gameboy… for original Gameboy and Gameboy Color ROMs.

Saving States

Saving your state is very simple with VBA.

classic gameboy games


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!

Related topics: Emulation, Retro Gaming.

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  1. null
    May 12, 2013 at 3:43 am

    I waste hours of my life in front of a pc playing pokemon on Visual Boy, I could save anywhere. Ohh the memories...

  2. James Nguyen
    December 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    VBA has been out for a LONG time, but it still is the best gba emulator out there!

  3. omegadeep10
    December 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Great article. I used to play this ALL the time at school. I just wanted to point out that it IS illegal to download Nintendo roms from the internet to play, unless you already own a hard copy of it. You probably won't get caught, but just wanted to let you know.

    here is a better explanation:

  4. Eric Wilborn
    December 24, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Love Game Boy games, even with emulation.

  5. Elton Mah
    December 24, 2012 at 2:16 am

    GBA, what an old friend of mine... :3

  6. Adam
    December 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    WOW - really, VBA? that one is old news... you now emulate gameboy, gameboy color, gameboy advance, and the DS, as well NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, Wii, just about everything ever SEGA, psx/ps1, and ps2 - and with bluetooth, and usb being what it is you can pretty much turn a strong i7 gaming machine into a universal console for everything but xbox/xbox360, and ps3 (as of Dec 2012) xbox emulation rather failed due a majority of games simultaneously being released on PC, the 360 and ps3 are too new to have been reverse engineered to this degree - current computers arent yet strong enough to handle an OS, several background apps and the emulated console/game... But to anyone interested in this, do your homework, there are alot of open licence home made (homebrew) titles for virtually every system. your favorite search engine should lead the way to any consoles emulator!

  7. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    December 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    VBA has been around for a long time. I used it since I was still in primary school:)
    I think it's most people's first encounter with emulator.

  8. Arxadius Stark
    December 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I dunno about the others but for me NO$GBA has been the go-to application for playing GBA games and even some NDS games.

  9. Félix S. De Jesús
    December 23, 2012 at 3:14 am

    OMG!!! You put me back to the 2002-2004, when I used to play SNES and GBA on my computer. In my case with a Barbie joystick, because it was cheaper and Serial Plug instead of USB.

    I love the Way saving and loading several times the Status, just to end the games... <3