How To Set Up RetroPie For GBA

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Matt James

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Nintendo Game Boy AdvanceRetroPie

RetroPie GBA Setup

Want to play your favourite GBA games on the big screen? Well, RetroPie is the perfect package to help you build your dream Game Boy Advance game collection into a tidy package, alongside a wealth of other retro systems.

RetroPie serves as an all-in-one solution for Raspberry Pi owners but combining the might of EmulationStation, a visually striking and slick front end, with RetroArch, the tried and tested daddy of the emulation world, delivering a huge range of emulator cores and emulation tools.

This RetroPie GBA setup guide will show you the best way to quickly get your GBA games loaded onto your Raspberry Pi and ready to enjoy from the comfort of your favourite chair!


  • Download and Install RetroPie – Download RetroPie Here
  • A keyboard and mouse – If you plan on using your Raspberry Pi to download BIOS files and ROMs
  • Have at least one GBA game ROM ready to test – The lr-mgba core accepts the following file extensions – .7z .gba .zip
  • To play games on RetroPie you will of course need a controller – The 8bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller is one of the best RetroPie controllers and an excellent all-arounder for emulation and can also be connected by USB for even better performance in terms of latency

Step 1 – Boot Your Raspberry Pi

The GBA emulator ‘lr-mgba’ typically comes preinstalled as part of the prebuilt RetroPie setup, so you should not have to install it manually.

Should you find that for some reason the lr-mgba is not installed, then follow the below steps:

  • Go to the RetroPie options menu and select ‘RetroPie Setup’
  • ‘Manage packages
  • ‘Manage main packages’
  • Scroll down and select ‘lr-mgba’
  • Finally, select ‘Install from pre-compiled’ binary’
  • RetroPie will then download and install the GBA emulator
  • Navigate back through the menu and then select ‘Exit’
RetroPie Manage Main Packages
Select Manage Main Packages To Manually Install The GBA Emulator

Step 2 – Copy GBA ROM File To ‘roms’ Folder

Now you will need to copy at least one GBA game to the RetroPie ‘roms’ folder.

RetroPie with lr-mgba will be able to boot games stored in .zip files as well, so you can either place the game files directly into this folder, or within a .zip file.

Using Your Raspberry Pi To Move ROM Files

To get desktop mode up and running on your Raspberry Pi RetroPie setup, it’s important to have the ‘Pixel’ desktop environment installed. Don’t worry, it’s a breeze!

Just head over to the RetroPie options menu and choose ‘RetroPie Setup’.

  • RetroPie Setup (Access this from the RetroPie options menu
  • Configuration / Tools
  • Raspbian Tools
  • Install Pixel desktop environment
Install Pixel desktop environment RetroPie
Install The Pixel Desktop Environment

After installing the Pixel desktop environment, restart your Raspberry Pi. In RetroPie, simply navigate to ‘Ports’ and pick ‘Desktop’.

This action initiates desktop mode, allowing you to explore your Raspberry Pi’s folders and files as you would on a typical computer.

Next, transfer your GBA ROMs to the below location:


Remotely Accessing Your Pi From A Windows PC

For those using a Windows PC, transferring files to your Raspberry Pi is very simple.

First, verify that your Raspberry Pi and PC are connected to the same network. Next, open the Windows file explorer and enter ‘\\retropie’ in the address bar.

Give your Pi a minute or two to become visible on the network, as it might require some time to appear.

Copy Files From Windows PC To Raspberry Pi RetroPie
Copy Files From A Windows PC To Raspberry Pi

This will then connect to your Raspberry Pi and you will be able to see the ‘roms‘ folder.

Next, copy your game files from your PC to the /roms/gba/ folder on your Raspberry Pi.

Copying Game ROM Files To RetroPie
Copying Game ROM Files To RetroPie.

Once you have copied your games across to the roms folder, reboot your Raspberry Pi or EmulationStation so the games can be indexed and visible for you to select.

Step 3 – Select A GBA Game & Play

After EmulationStation reboots, navigate to the Game Boy Advance section, which will display the number of available games.

Simply head to the Game Boy Advance menu and choose a game to enjoy!

This RetroPie Game Boy Advance page provides details on the state of GBA emulation on the Raspberry Pi as well as further configuration details for RetroPie GBA emulation.

RetroPie Game Boy Advance

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