7 Best GBA Emulators For PC Retro Gaming

The Game Boy Advance is one of Nintendo’s most successful handheld game consoles. With more advanced graphics than popular SNES and marquee titles like Pokemon FireRed, the GBA became the best-selling gaming console upon release.

But like all consoles, it was eventually replaced by newer options, leaving your old game cartridges full of dust in the attic. Even if you copy the ROM files to the computer’s memory, it can’t play the game, because GBA’s hardware works in a completely different way.

You need an emulator. GBA Emulator is an application that can create a virtual Game Boy Advance device on your PC, allowing you to play GBA games using the keyboard as a joystick. There are other options for games like Pokemon, but official games only work using this method. Here is a list of the best GBA emulators for PC to get you started.

1. mGBA – Overall Best

Not long ago, the title of best GBA emulator would go to Visual Boy Advance or perhaps No$GBA. After all, those emulators have been around for a long time and can run most games out there.

But their age also poses a problem. Over time, the development of those projects has stalled or slowed down significantly. While any game running on them should work, you may experience minor fidelity issues or even graphics glitches. Says nothing about not being optimized for modern processors.

That’s where mGBA shine. As a relative newcomer to the GBA emulator, it quickly gained popularity due to the amazing performance and beautiful reproduction of the handheld console. It’s also easy to use and is in active development, with new features added every few months.

2. No $GBA – Easiest to use

No $GBA as simple as emulator. No need to tinker with settings and no fancy options you have to turn on. Just launch the app and start playing the game.

One great feature of No$GBA is its multiplayer functionality. You can even run multiple instances of the same game on your PC, assigning different controls to play it with a friend (or trade Pokemon with yourself). While other top emulators have also copied this feature, the No$GBA implementation is still one of the easiest to use.

Also, it’s one of the few GBA emulators capable of running even Nintendo DS games. Yes, you can play NDS games on the same emulator you use to play your GBA ROMs without changing the control scheme or finding a new emulator.

3. Visual Boy Advance – Best Feature

Visual Boy Advance is one of the most famous and oldest GBA emulators. Many will recommend it as the best GBA emulator on the market, and for a good reason: its feature list is second to none.

Its long development lifecycle has allowed the emulator to add advanced features not found in other alternatives – joystick support, GameShark cheat codes, etc. In addition, there is a degree of customization Incredible tuning is provided. From DirectSound to various graphics filters, a surprisingly large number of advanced settings are available.

The only problem was that development on the Visual Boy Advance halted in 2004. This meant that there were no more officially updated versions. Many source code branches have appeared, the most prominent of which are Visual Boy Advance-USAbut it is known to crash on some systems.

4. Boycott Advance – The best MacOS

Mac users always get the short end of the stick when playing games. PC games don’t launch for the system, but even most emulators don’t support macOS.

Luckily, the GBA emulator has enough options that you can find one for Mac as well. Boycott first is a streamlined emulator for GBA games that works well on macOS, allowing you to play your favorite titles on your Macbook.

While the emulator is somewhat new to the scene, its list of features is quite comprehensive. Joystick support, sound effects, optimization for modern processors – you’ll find everything you’d expect from a GBA emulator.

5. BizHawk – The best TAS

Engine-assisted acceleration (TAS) is one of the most popular reasons to play old GBA games on PC. After all, these games are often designed for children and are too easy to play. Speedrunning adds an element of challenge to these classic titles, and powered speed games are a fun puzzle-solving exercise.

And Bizhawk is the emulator of choice for speed runners. This is because, in addition to simply emulating games, it also provides useful features like rewind and input recording. With Bizhawk, treadmills can generate engine-assisted speed runs through a game using pre-recorded inputs. You can even write Lua or C# scripts to play a game through code.

Interestingly, Bizhawk is more than just a GBA emulator. It emulates many classic gaming systems, using the “cores” of other emulation projects. For example, Bizhawk uses mGBA as its core to emulate GBA games, which gives it a similar level of accuracy and reliability.

6. RetroArch – Best Cross-Platform

If you’re a classic game enthusiast, chances are you won’t be satisfied with GBA titles alone. There are many other consoles with iconic games that defined the era. It is possible to play all of them on your PC using emulators.

Usually this will involve installing a bunch of different emulators for different consoles and learning their respective interfaces. But with a common user interface like Retroarchyou can do it this way easier.

Retroarch uses cores adopted from other emulators to run games, packing it all in a streamlined interface for easy navigation. Constantly updated and packed with features, Retroarch is the best way to emulate multiple retro consoles on your PC.

And the best part? It not only runs on Windows but also on Mac and even Linux.

7. Higan – Best Accuracy

Handheld game consoles like the Game Boy Advance have completely different hardware than a PC. This is exactly why you can’t just copy games to your computer and play them.

The emulator works by creating a virtual version of the console, which can then run the ROM files normally. However, this simulation is not completely accurate.

While most emulators will run games fine, they won’t give you an immersive experience. For example, the colors will look a little different, sound a little odd, and so on.

That’s where Higan appear. This is a multi-system emulator developed to exactly recreate the original experience instead of just making it playable. Either GBA or SNES, you won’t get more accurate emulation with Higan.

On the other hand, it can be complicated to use, so it is not recommended for beginners with simulator scenes.

Which GBA emulator should you play?

All the emulators in this list can smoothly run most GBA games. They differ only in feature set and user interface.

If you want a no-frills emulator that plays smoothly and accurately, then mGBA is your app. For those looking for a range of advanced features developed over many years, try Visual Boy Advance Replace.

Then there are the multi-system emulators. Without $GBA, RetroArch, Higan, and BizHawk are all capable of emulating multiple consoles, including GBA. Which one to use depends on how familiar you are with the emulator and the user interface you prefer.

What are you waiting for? Go get a ROM, pick an emulator and start playing those childhood favorites on your PC.

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