5 Best GBA Emulators for PC Retro Gaming 2022.
The Game Boy Advance was one of Nintendo’s most successful handheld consoles. With more advanced graphics than the famous SNES and famous games like Pokemon FireRed, the GBA has become the best-selling game console upon release.
But like all console devices, it was eventually supplanted by newer options, leaving your old game cartridges to gather dust in the attic. Even if you copy the ROM files to your computer’s memory, it won’t be able to play games because the GBA hardware works completely differently.
You need an emulator. The GBA Emulator is an application that can create a virtual Game Boy Advance on your PC, allowing you to play GBA games using your keyboard as a joystick. There are other variations of games like Pokemon, but the official games only work with this method. Here is a list of the best GBA emulators for PC to help you get started.
1. Visual Boy Advance â€“ Best Features
Visual Boy Advance is one of the most famous and oldest GBA emulators. It is recommended by many as the best GBA emulator on the market, and for good reason: its list of features is second to none.
The long development life cycle has allowed the emulator to add advanced features not found in other alternatives – joystick support, GameShark cheat codes, etc. An incredible level of customization is also offered. A surprisingly large number of advanced settings are available, from DirectSound to various graphic filters.
The only problem is that Visual Boy Advance development was halted in 2004. This means that the current official version no longer exists. Many forks of the source code have appeared, the most famous of which is Visual Boy Advance-M, but some systems are known to have problems.
2. Boycott Advance â€“ Best MacOS
Mac users always fail when it comes to gaming. PC games won’t run for the system, but even most emulators don’t support macOS.
Luckily, GBA emulation has enough options that you can find for Mac as well. Boycott Advance is an optimized GBA game emulator that runs well on macOS and lets you play your favorite games on your Macbook.
Despite the fact that the emulator is something new, the list of its functions is quite extensive. Joystick support, sound effects, optimization for modern processors – you will find everything you expect from a GBA emulator.
5. BizHawk â€“ Best TAS
Tool-Assisted Speed â€‹â€‹Runs (TAS) is one of the most common reasons you play old GBA games on PC. After all, these games are often designed for kids and are too easy to play. Speed â€‹â€‹runs add an element of challenge to these retro games, while tool-assisted speed runs are a fun puzzle-solving exercise.
And Bizhawk is the best emulator for speedrunners. This is because, in addition to simple game emulation, it also offers useful features such as rewind and input recording. With Bizhawk, speedrunners can create high-speed runs with tools that sweep through the game using pre-recorded inputs. You can even write Lua or C# scripts that run the game through code.
Interestingly, Bizhawk is not just a GBA emulator. It emulates many retro gaming systems using the “cores” of other emulation projects. For example, Bizhawk uses mGBA as the core for GBA game emulation, which provides a similar level of accuracy and reliability.
4. RetroArch â€“ Best Multi-Platform
If you’re a retro gaming enthusiast, chances are you won’t be happy with GBA games alone. There are many other consoles with iconic games that defined the era. All of them can be played on PC using emulators.
This usually involves installing many different emulators for various consoles and learning their respective interfaces. But with a generic front end like Retroarch, this path can be simplified.
Retroarch uses cores taken from other emulators to run games, packing it all into a streamlined interface that’s easy to navigate. Retroarch is constantly updated and contains many features. This is the best way to emulate multiple retro consoles on your PC.
And the best part? It works not only on Windows but also on Mac and even Linux.
5. Higan â€“ Best Accuracy
Handheld consoles like the Game Boy Advance have completely different hardware than PCs. That’s why you can’t just copy the games to your computer and play them.
Emulators work by creating a virtual version of the console which can then run ROM files normally. However, this emulation process is not entirely accurate.
While most emulators run games just fine, they won’t give you an authentic experience. For example, colors will be a little different, sounds will be a little strange, etc.
This is where Higan comes in. This is a multi-system emulator designed to faithfully recreate the original experience, not just to make it playable. Whether it’s GBA or SNES, you won’t get better emulation than with Higan.
On the other hand, it can be difficult to use, so it is not recommended for those new to scene emulation.
Which GBA Emulator Should You Play On?
All the emulators on this list can run most GBA games without issue. They differ only in their feature set and user interface.
If you want a no-frills emulator that runs smoothly and accurately, mGBA is the app for you. For those looking for a lot of advanced features developed over the years, try Visual Boy Advance instead.
Then there are multi-system emulators. No$GBA, RetroArch, Higan and BizHawk are capable of emulating multiple consoles, including the GBA. Which one you choose depends on your familiarity with emulators and your preferred user interface.
And so, what are you waiting for? Grab a ROM, choose an emulator and start playing your favorite childhood games on your PC.
5 Best GBA Emulators for PC Retro Gaming 2022
5 Best GBA Emulators for PC Retro Gaming 2022