There are many ways to emulate the Game Boy Advance these days, whether it’s on modded games consoles, retro handheld consoles or modern solutions such as the Raspberry Pi. Sometimes though, it can be a minefield to know which is the best emulator to use, so we have put together a concise list of the best GBA emulators for PC, Android and iOS.
Best GBA Emulator for PC – mGBA
mGBA has fast become a favourite with retro gamers looking to emulate the GBA on the PC. It first began development in 2012, and appeared publicly as an alpha release in 2014. mGBA has since received regular updates, it plays original Game Boy games and even now has Nintendo DS support!
mGBA has evolved into the definitive GBA emulator. Not only does it do a fantastic job of allowing you to play all your old GBA games, it allows you to use GameShark codes, has a comprehensive debug mode where you can access game assets and export them.
I am usually a fan of playing my Game Boy Advance games on a retro handheld console such as the Anbernic RG350, but mGBA is now my choice of emulator when it comes to GBA emulation on the PC.
mGBA Features Include:
- Not Just GBA Emulation – You can also play Game Boy & Game Boy Color games.
- Game Boy Advance Peripheral Emulation – Many GBA peripherals and special cartridges are supported, e.g. Realtime clock, Game Boy Printer, Game Boy Camera.
- View Game Sprites, Palette, Tiles & Maps – Utilise the excellent built in tools that allow you to access the games assets.
- Video Scaling & Filter Options – Integer Scaling & Bilinear Filtering
Best GBA Emulator for Android – My Boy!
My Boy! Is a hugely popular GBA emulator for Android devices with over 1 million installs. My Boy! Is well known for quality standard of emulation and configurability, but aside from all the usual standard features you would expect of a quality GBA emulator, My Boy! Features GBA link cable emulation. This is a feature loved in particular by Pokemon players, which makes My Boy! Particularly unique.
There is a free version of the app, but if you want the full experience, It is a paid app. But if you are a Game Boy Advance fan and are seeking an excellent GBA Emulator for Android, you must consider My Boy!
My Boy! Features Include:
- Excellent Game Compatibility – Play virtually any GBA game with no issues
- Link Cable Emulation – Play multiplayer games via Bluetooth or WiFi
- Gyro/Tilt/Solar & Rumble Emulation
- Cheat Code Functionality Built In
- Video Filters & Shaders
- On Screen Controls or Use Your Own Bluetooth Controller
- Easy To Use Interface
Other Android GBA Emulators To Consider
GBA.emu is an Android GBA Emulator by Robert Broglia, who has also developed a number of other Android Emulators for Retro Systems, all of which are well regarded. It is now a paid app, but one which over 1,500 reviews and an average of over 4.5 stars out of 5.
John GBA is a simple to use Game Boy Advance Emulator for Android. It has a decent amount of functions built in, including cheat options, cloud file support for saving config and save data.
John GBA is a paid app, but there is a Lite version available too for free. A solid choice if My Boy! is not to your liking.
Best GBA Emulator iPhone & iOS – RetroArch / mGBA Core
Since iOS is typically more difficult to install emulators too and usually require some kind of workaround, I would recommend using RetroArch for your GBA emulation on iPhone & iOS.
The mGBA core is available to iOS users via RetroArch, so once again, I make this the recommended core for Game Boy Advance emulation.
There are comprehensive tutorials available online to assist with the installation, so installing emulators on to your iphone / iOS device need not be a painful experience any longer.
Best RetroArch GBA Core – RetroArch / mGBA Core
As for the best all round GBA emulation solution, RetroArch once again saves the day!
The mGBA core also allows you to play Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games.
Another popular request for GBA emulators is the options to speed up emulation, in particular with Pokemon players where there are a lot of sections of the game players want to speed up to skip past – RetroArch has you covered here with it’s fast forward mode!
The mGBA core also once again is my go to core in RetroArch for Game Boy Advance emulation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many GBA emulators have video filter and shader options built in, making it easy to make your GBA emulators look nicer. RetroArch for example has many shaders available that allow you to round off hard edges of pixels, recreate CRT scanlines and also specifically recreate the pixelated look of the original GBA screen.
mGBA also has built in upscaling and filtering options to make your GBA games look better on the big screen