Gaming nostalgia, at its finest, comes in many different forms. Most of us love the new-age graphics and fantastic gameplay but wish we could use that old GameBoy now and again.
Sadly, vintage consoles, handhelds, and games have become harder to obtain as the years go by. So getting those old school systems we have come to know, and love is more of a challenge.
Not everyone can get their hands on those vintage systems, so programmers have come up with solutions! Emulators and ROMs that you can play right from your Android device!
What is the Difference Between an Emulator and a ROM?
There is an important distinction to make between an Emulator and a ROM. An emulator is essentially the vehicle or virtual environment for a console like the Game Boy Advanced, and then the ROM is the actual game. A ROM would be something like Animal Crossing or Super Mario Bros.
That said, you will need one of the below emulators even to play a game. But after that, you'll need to find a ROM that you can load into one of the emulators — you can generally find those all around the ‘net. Once you have the emulator on your phone, hit the Internet and look for Game Boy Advanced ROMs for Android.
From there, just about every emulator below will have an option to “load” the ROM into the emulator, which then allows you to play your Game Boy Advanced game of choice.
But Which are the Best to Use?
Now, this part can be especially confusing if you are new to the Emulator concept. There are several different things to look at when selecting the best Emulator download.
We've compiled a list of the best GBA Emulators currently on the market!
11 Best GBA Emulators for Android
VGBAnext offers multiple types of GBA Emulator for Android. It has offers for the Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and even the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This one runs great and allows you to play your favorite ROMs from those three consoles seamlessly.
One of the highlights of this one is that it has controller support. Are you tired of using on-screen digital controls? VGBAnext has MOGA support, allowing you to play your favorite games on GBA, GBC, and NES with modern physical controller support. It is actually unique in the fact that there is a button that allows you to rewind gameplay by 16 seconds.
It even has a Network Play feature for playing your favorite games with friends over wireless networks.
GBA.emu is packed full of different features that you would hope an emulator would have. There are save/load game states, BIOS emulation, support for cheat codes, and it even has support for a controller if you want to attach that external hardware.
GBA.emu has a ton of support for ROMs as well, so you can play most Game Boy Advanced games on this ROM.
This one also offers cross-platform support for utilizing a PC.
GBC.emu is a Game Boy Color emulator, also developed by Robert Broglia. Broglia also made the GBA emulator, so the GBC.emu emulator has many of the same features. These include save/load states, BIOS emulation, hardware support (for controllers), support for cheat codes, and more. This emulator also has support for the original Game Boy as well. That means to can download games for that one as well!
Similar to GBA.emu, it offers support for cross-platform play on the PC. There is no free version, so you'll have to pay the $2.99 to get it. ROMs appear to work really well with GBC.emu. Even the original Game Boy ROMs are available. You will run into the occasional bug, but overall, GBC.emu is phenomenal with playing your favorite ROMs.
My Boy is another GBA emulator available on the Google Play Store. It is one of the more popular options available. It has been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of players. It has a plethora of features packed into it. These include support for cheat codes, external hardware, save/load states, fast forward, and many more! If you need it, it has it.
You might find some better graphics with My Boy, as it does employ OpenGL rendering. It also is much easier to set up as it has BIOS emulation. That means you won't need a BIOS file in order to play your favorite ROMs. Speaking of ROMs, games play really well in My Boy!
There are very few bugs, and if you do run into a glitch, it is rarely something game-breaking.
My Boy also has some decent developer support. It has not been updated in about a year, but the developers always seem to update it every so often so that the latest versions of Android stay compatible with it.
John GBA is another Game Boy Advanced emulator available. It works similar to GBA.emu and is very feature-rich. It contains things such as support for cheat codes, fast forward and slow down modes, save/load states, and more. Unfortunately, they appear to be lacking in good hardware support for it, which is disappointing for those that prefer playing with a controller.
The cost is $2.99, which is a decent price and prevents those pop-up ads while playing. Unfortunately, it also does not have any cross-platform support available. Overall, it is a cheap way to get into playing a Game Boy Advance.
The VinaBoy Advance is an excellent choice for Android. You can quickly and easily load a ROM within the emulator, so as long it is in a format like. gba, .gbc., .sgb., .zip, .7z, or .rar. This is an amazing emulator, featuring fast, smooth, multi-threaded, and in-game anti-aliasing. Suffice to say; your games are going to keep things moving quickly.
One of the cool things about this one is that it supports auto-save, and even supports cheat codes.
We have shown you all of the awesome GameBoy Advance emulators that you can pick up thus far! But if you want to take some more nostalgic games for a spin, you cannot go wrong with the Super GameBoy Color emulator. With this one, you'll be able to quickly and easily load ROMs onto the console and take a trip down memory lane.
The on-screen controls are a little rough, but it is still reasonably easy to play. This makes the Super GBC Emulator work checking out!
Pizza Boy GBA
Pizza Boy GBA is amongst the ones in higher demand. It is one of the few GBA Emulators on the market that do not annoy you with advertisements everywhere.
Another unique thing about Pizza Boy is that it was written with the C and Assembly programming languages, which makes this one, one of the better performers out there. That also makes it lightweight, which makes it easier on your battery life as well.
The developers say that you should be able to easily playback your favorite games in 60 frames-per-second, even on some of the older Android devices on the market.
This is a great one to check out if you are still sporting an older Android model!
MyGBA is one of the more reliable ways to play your favorite Gameboy Advance ROMs. It provides smooth performance, excellent sound, and can easily save and load states to name a few.
MyGBA is similar to just about any other emulator out there. The one different thing is that the ROMs that you use with it must be in. gba or .zip formats.
This comes into play when obtaining the best ROM's.
Emulator for GBA 2
We're looking at the aptly named Emulator for GBA 2. The build and design on this one may not be the best UI, but it deserves a spot on the list. The basic functions work very well.
This emulator only supports the Game Boy Advanced 2, so you will have to find ROMs specifically for that machine. There are no other emulators mixed inside of it that you can play around with.
You have your basic load and save state functions, as well as a network mode that allows you to play with other players on the network. It has easy to use virtual keypads. Unfortunately, whether or not this one has hardware controller support is unknown.
GemBoy is another great emulator available. This one functions as a dual-emulator, offering both Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color emulators. It does not offer nearly as many features as the GBA.emu, but you still have save/load stats, hardware support, and a few other features.
Most Game Boy Advanced and Game Boy Color ROMs will work with this emulator.
For offering two emulators in one, GemBoy is a surprisingly lightweight application.
Emulator Wrap Up
From this point on the choice is yours!
Take a look at the different options, and select what you may feel is best for your phone. Do you have an older Android model? Do you want to be able to play different console games? Be sure to pay attention to all of these factors when selecting.
The best part is you will be able to play your favorite classics right from your personal Android! The Emulator method will give you easy access and open doors to those consoles that you may now be able to obtain from the store.
What is your favorite emulator on the list? Let us know in the comments!
Be sure to check out our article on the best GBA ROM's or Android!
GBA Emulator Questions
What's the best GBA emulator for Android?
There are many Android Emulators to choose from. You will want to choose what is best for you. If you are looking for a multisystem emulator, or one that has hardware, our list above has many options to meet your needs.
What is the best GBA emulator?
This all depends on what you would like to play! John GBA tends to fall at the top of many lists. Try that one out then check out the other options!
How do I emulate GBA on Android?
There are many websites and video tutorials on downloading the Android Emulators. They usually start with a download, and then you follow the instructions!