How to download and play GBA games on Android using the My Boy! Emulator


 Back in 2001, the Gameboy Advance (GBA) was introduced as the latest installment in Nintendo’s line of handheld gaming consoles. It was considered the successor to the original Gameboys, offering more processing power, a larger screen, and two shoulder buttons. Fortunately, there are ways to load up those GBA games without even having a physical copy of the system. In this piece, we have detailed a guide on how to play GBA games straight from an Android phone for free.

The GBA was home to some classics like Super Mario Bros 3, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and Pokemon Emerald. The handheld gaming industry has hit different levels recently, with reality-like graphics and ridiculous amounts of processing power. However, the nostalgia of going back to the first games of our childhood just feels different. For many, the GBA was the home of some of these games.

How to play GBA games on Android for free

An emulator is just a bit of software that can virtually mimic another device. They are completely safe to download and can be found straight from the Google Play Store. On an Android device, the emulator will be nothing more than just another app.

Step 1: Download a GBA Emulator (My Boy!)

There are many emulators available which can mimic the GBA system. In this guide, we will be using the My Boy! Lite emulator, created by Fast Emulator. The app has amassed over 10 million downloads and got a 4.1 rating at the time of writing, so we can assume this is a reliable app.

The emulator has two choices – one is the free Lite version which is what we’ll be using for this guide. The other is a paid program and it comes with additional benefits such as no ads, multiple code lines for when using in-game cheats, options for quicker fast-forward, etc. For basic casual gaming, the free version has enough to give a complete experience

Step 2: Download some GBA games

The emulator will not come pre-installed with games. We have to find and download these ourselves and websites are a good place to look. It is easy to get tangled with shady websites so make sure to only use those that are completely trustworthy. A safe site for GBA games is, they should have almost all the GBA games available. From a legal standpoint, just ensure you own a physical copy of the game before obtaining a ROM file of that game.

For any emulator, the game files to download are called ROMs which stands for Read-Only-Memory. Put simply, an emulator ROM is just a digital copy of one of those physical game cartridges you would put into the machine to play the game. Each GBA ROM has an average file size of a few megabytes, so storage room shouldn’t really be a worry.

Step 3: Extract and Organise the game files

When saved, the file will be in an archived format, so we need to extract the file first. To do this, first, download a file viewer app such as ZArchiver. Your device may already have one pre-installed as well. Navigate to the archived file on the file explorer, then select it and click the choice to extract.

The file of interest is the one ending in “.gba“. This is what the emulator will recognize and run as a game. It is a good idea to create a folder on your Android phone, especially for GBA games. This makes it easier to find where GBA games are stored if needed later and keep GBA games separated from other ROMs you might have for other emulators.

Step 4: Loading up the games

Now, open the “My Boy!” simulator downloaded from Step 1. The menu is quite simple and consists of a file navigator. Use this to find the game file we extracted in Step 3. When using a folder for all GBA games, this step is easier since that folder can be instantly updated whenever a new game is added. Just click on the 3 dots in the top right corner and click reload,

To load up a game, just click on the file that ends with “.gba” and the game should quickly load up by itself.

Step 5: Getting comfortable with the controls and settings

The emulator offers on-screen controls to interact with the game, and they are pretty alright to work with. It’s possible to play the game in landscape and portrait, in the latter choice, the top half of the screen will show the game, and the bottom will be the controls. If the on-screen controls are hard to deal with, it’s also possible to connect a remote via Bluetooth as well.

here is a settings option that allows changing of various things such as video quality, audio, key mappings, and on-screen control layout. It’s better to leave the more technical features as they are to avoid making any drastic changes to the emulator functions. This emulator also offers a save/load state feature, fast-forward, use of game-specific cheats, and linking of two local devices for game features like trade.

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