If you have been a Pokemon fan like me for years now, you probably want to revisit the classic Pokemon Emerald or such titles that made your childhood better. However, getting your hands on a GameBoy Advance is next to impossible these days, and that is exactly where a list of the best GBA emulators for Android comes to the rescue. We have already covered a list of the best GBA Emulators for iOS, so if you’re on an iPhone, you can check that out. Now, without wasting any more of your time, let’s get into it.
1. MyBoy! Lite
I find myself revisiting the GBA Pokemon titles every now and then when I want to get some wholesome retro gaming in. Whenever I do, MyBoy! is the number one emulator I always go with and install. The reason is, that th e free or Lite version is more than enough to get through titles smoothly. There are basically no bugs, and once you download the ROM for the game that you want to play, you are gold. Then, all you have to do is browse and tap on the ROM. That’s it. Your game will start in milliseconds and you will be able to play hassle-free. Besides, it barely takes up any storage space on your device, being so lightweight at roughly around 10 MB.
To further elevate your experience, you could always get the Pro version of the emulator. Personally, I never felt the need for it because one slot was mostly enough for me. In addition, the Pro version also brings up to 16x fast forward to the table. Fast forwarding through the long dialogues of the games is surely a savior of a feature to have. However, I always found the 2x fast-forward limit on the free version to be adequate. Overall, MyBoy! will remain one of the best GBA emulators for me for a long time to come.
PROS CONS Seamless emulation Free version can’t load states from multiple slots Free version has a lot of features Fast forward to speed limited to 2x in the free version Clean UI with no ads Super lightweight
Don’t get me wrong. Yes, John GBAC and all the other emulators on this list are great. But, when it comes to sheer versatility, I will have to hand over the crown to RetroArch. The overall feel of RetroArch is, well, pretty Retro. In other words, it’s not exactly something that the average user will get easily. It takes some time to understand RetroArch mechanics and how emulation works with it. However, once you do get it, nothing beats it. While other emulators on this list are mostly straightforward, RetroArch is a tad complex.
At first, I couldn’t understand what the deal with Cores was. Then I worked my way through the application and realized how you had to download the GameBoy Advance Core first and then you load the ROMs into it. If you are successful in getting past the not-so-aesthetic and non-intuitive UI, you will have a fun time. There’s pretty much no end to all that RetroArch can do and that is what makes it one of the best GBA emulators for Android to exist today.
PROS CONS All-in-one emulation software May seem very confusing No ads and a 100% free Heavy Open source with a lot of customization options
Download RetroArch (Free)
3. John GBAC
If you have been looking for good GBA emulators for quite some time now, you have surely come across the Johh GBA or John GBC emulators. While one works solely with GameBoy Advance ROMs, the other uses GameBoy Classic ROMs. Now, if you want to play only GBA ROMs, that’s great. However, if you want to throw some occasional GameBoy Classic into the mix, you will have to shift to John GBC. Let’s admit it, that’s cumbersome.
So, John GBA and GBC developers came up with a solution and created John GBAC. With this, you will be able to play ROMs of both worlds. In addition, if you take a look at the PlayStore page, you will see that John GBA and GBC will “not be actively updated in the future”. So, if you want a more optimized and supported experience, GBAC is the way to go from now on. Besides, this is free as well, so you won’t have to fall back on John GBA Lite either.
PROS CONS Features both GBC and GBA emulation capabilities Can’t read files at times Actively updated for betterment Straightforward UI
4. GBA Emulator
For us seasoned GBA emulator users, downloading ROMs off of the internet and playing them is second nature. However, for those who are not used to the overall GBA emulation experience, it can get tedious to search for ROMs, unzip, and play them. The best thing about GBA emulator is that you get an all-in-one GBA emulator which not only allows you to play compressed files without having to unzip them, but also has an in-app game library that gives you access to unlimited GBA titles.
Moreover, unlike ClassicBoy which doesn’t allow you to download the titles, you can download it quickly in GBA Emulator which is great. That is something that I really liked. A no-nonsense, straight-to-gaming emulator. You also get features like 2x fast-forward, quick save/load, and more. However, there is a catch. The emulator is riddled with ads. Now, if you are looking for a free tool to emulate your GBA games, this is the best emulator out there for sure.
PROS CONS In-built GBA game library Intrusive ads Snappy No restrictions on saving and loading a game
Download GBA Emulator (Free)
5. Pizza Boy GBA
If you are someone who is into aesthetics a lot, this one won’t appeal to you. What makes PizzaBoy GBA stand out is the fact that it is so easy to get into. There’s basically nothing going on in terms of UI and just by tapping on the three-dot menu at the bottom left, you can load a ROM and play it. Additionally, I really liked the fact that you can use cheats in this emulator. I mean, I’m pretty sure that when you have played a gazillion times through a game, cheats allow you to spice things up. So, that’s great.
Other useful features include the ability to fast-forward, set your own customized control layout, and more. Getting the Pro version of the game unlocks a bunch of other things like accessing Multiplayer modes, Quick Saves, and more. If you find the need for these features, you can always get it. Overall, PizzaBoy GBA is a great emulator to use for your ROMs. Plus, the fact that there are no ads makes it an even better option to use out there.
|No ads and free||UI feels cluttered|
|Free version offers most of the features you need|
|Saving and loading is not a problem|
Nostalgia is another amazing emulator that you can use on your Android device. Yes, you get to see ads, but if you really like the UI and are willing to push through a couple of ads, not a big deal really. The user interface is unique and there is this blue retro gamer-y styled text and theme going. It is minimalistic and gets straight into loading and playing your games.
The free version does not provide you with features like fast forward, but you can rewind back to around 10 seconds. So, in case you make a mistake, that is something that can save your day. I found myself rewinding a lot (noob here, I know), so came in very handy. You can also use cheats, take screenshots, and depending on your device, set the Emulation Quality to Low, Medium, or High. A good experience overall, and something I would highly recommend using.
PROS CONS Well-placed controls Ads Quick loading speeds Importing individual games may get tedious Decent UI No fast forwarding
7. GBA Emulator – Classic GameBoy
Although not a whole lot of effort went into naming this emulator, it is far from being a disappointment. In fact, it does a couple of things that no other emulator does for your Android device. For example, the fact that it offers a variety of different themes to choose from. This immediately enhances your overall gaming experience on the emulator. Aesthetic features play an important role in emulators, especially since all that there is on your device is a screen. That, this emulator totally nails.
Moreover, another thing that I really liked was how as soon as I installed and opened the emulator, it showed me where exactly I can download ROMs to load onto it. That is a nifty little hint for folks who have never downloaded ROMs before and are unaware of how it works. Super easy to use and the user interface is very attractive too. All of that comes at the cost of ads. Either way, surely one of the best GBA emulators to use for Android devices.
PROS CONS In-built ROM download guide and sites Intrusive ads Multiple themes to choose from Sync save files to your Google Drive
Download GBA Emulator Classic GameBoy
Next up, we have Lemuroid, which is actually one of my personal favorites. The reason being, the overall default alignment of the controller and screen. It is just perfect. The controls are nicely placed and the screen falls comfortably in between, which in my opinion, is the best of any of the default HUDs you get on other emulators. Moreover, there’s nothing else going on here to confuse you unnecessarily. You get what you want, that is, play GBA games.
In terms of features, you don’t get rewind and other such elements, but for a free software, it offers more than you could ask for. The best thing is that there are no intrusive ads in here, so, you get a completely clean experience. What did bug me a little was how I had to place all the ROMs in one folder for the emulator to detect them easily. Once I got past that, the rest was buttery smooth.
PROS CONS No ads and free Requires you to move all ROMs to one place Excellent interface Very easy to use
9. ClassicBoy Games Emulator
ClassicBoy is another amazing emulator that just had to be added to our list. The emulator in itself is lightweight but brings support for not just GBA, but PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Nintendo SNES, DS, and more. You may get confused at first because you will have to install plugins to run ROMs of the respective emulators. GBA came pre-installed. However, if you want to emulate DS ROMs and a couple of others, you will have to install the plugin. The ClassicBoy Lite is alright if you don’t have issues with having to start a game over, which I don’t think is the case. So, getting the ClassicBoy Pro is surely worth it. However, the free version does offer you a fast forward of over 12x.
Cherry on top was the Gaming Library which gives you access to thousands of games for each of the plugins. However, do note that ClassicBoy does not allow you to download them and just gives you a list from which you can choose a ROM and get to know its file size alongside a couple of gameplay screenshots if available. You can then manually go over the web and download the ROM for the game you like. Overall, this is a seamless emulator to have on your Android.
PROS CONS Plugins for several other consoles Can’t resume games Quickslot and 9 save slots for each of these plugins It extracts and runs the ROMs for you
Most of the premium GBA emulators out there mostly have a free version too. However, that is not the case with VGBANext as it is a standalone premium emulator. If you are on the lookout for a premium tool that does not dent your pocket as much and allows you to carry out all the functions of a good emulator, this is it. For starters, you can save your progress at any time, as many times as you want. Additionally, the emulator allows you to rewind and replay a game.
There’s also Network Play support which allows you to enjoy classic GBA games with your friends. Not to mention that the emulator also brings support for Google TV, Android TV, and several gamepads to the table. Overall, this emulator sure does seem worth it if you don’t want to feel restricted when playing your favorite games.
|Can run GB, GBC, NES, and GBA ROMs||No free version|
|Good user interface||Doesn’t allow cheats|
|Gets actively updated|
Download VGBANext ($4.99)
So, that was our list of the best GBA emulators that you can play on your Android device right now. With the emulator part of it sorted you may want to go through our extensive guide to the best GBA games of all time. This will help you download and play those that are worthy of your time instead of having to plow through a never-ending list of titles. Let us know in the comments which emulator ran the best for you and which are your go-to GBA games to play.