How To Play Game Boy Advance Games on Your Computer
EMULATOR and ROM are the two terms you need to know when dealing with playing Game Boy games on your computer.
So what’s an emulator?
An emulator is a program that acts like your Game Boy when you’re playing your games. The most popular emulator is Visual Boy Advance for it’s ease of use. Other emulators will provide specific functions, however. No$GBA is currently the only Game Boy Advance emulator that allows running several games at once, which makes linking easier. Obviously there are other free emulators–don’t ever pay for one, free downloads can be found on Google. Currently there are no emulators that combine all the special features of all the emulators. Of course, Visual Boy Advance has a separate part that allows linking too. It’s called VBALink, but it’s not integrated into Visual Boy Advance at the time of the download.
What’s a ROM?
A ROM is a program that imitates a Game Boy cartridge game. The information was converted from Gameboy cartridges into computer files. The nice thing about ROMs is that you can save as many files as your computer will hold in it’s storage, as opposed to limiting the storage to the cartridge itself.
ROM cartridges come with extensions such as .gb, .gbc and .gba. When you save a file, however, it saves with the extension .sav (that’s your saved file). If you want to create several files between many people, be sure to create new folders with each person’s name and the Game Boy game name, copying the ROM file, and it will automatically copy the .sav file to that folder.
(Eg. John, Rob, Dan, Mario and Sam all want to save files on their computer. They will create one folder with the name of the game, and in that folder create seperate folders with each of their names. In each folder they will copy the .gba file, then open their own .gba file in the emulator. When they save their game, the .sav file in their own folder will be updated.)
Things to Keep in Mind
1) Downloading commercial ROMS is illegal (not to say that people don’t do it). If you’re an upright, law-abiding citizen, keep in mind that some people have created their own Game Boy games that are available for download all over the net–all you have to do is search Google. If you’re like me, you don’t mind cheating the honest, hard-working video game developers out of their hard work and $20 or $30 for a game (just being silly here-I honestly only use ROMS to check out a game to see if I like it).
2) Someone, somewhere put their time and effort into creating every game you download, so if you download a ROM and like the game, show some appreciation and buy the game for your real Game Boy instead of continuing to play it for free.
3) Although it’s frowned upon by government officials, it is legal to own a ROM if you own the actual game, because it’s classified as a back-up copy, and you’re allowed to have a certain amount of back-up copies of everything you own, with that amount being different according to where you live.
Opening Your .gba Files Quicker
When you’ve downloaded the emulator of your choice and have picked out your Game Boy game files, it’s best to set the emulator as the default program for opening your .gba files.
To do this, first locate your Game Boy emulator if you don’t already know where it’s at (this might be done by going to Start– gt;Search and typing the name of the emulator). Once you’ve found your emulator, for all practical purposes I am suggesting you store the emulator in the My Documents folder. Be sure to copy ALL the files along with it, and perhaps give it a folder of it’s own within My Documents.
Once you’ve got the exact location of your emulator, DO NOT move it anymore. Instead, right-click on one of your ROM (.gba) files, and on the menu go to Properties. Find “Open With:” and click on “Change”. If the emulator is already on the list, select it and press OK. Press OK again to exit Properties, and all ROMS of that extension will automatically open your emulator when you double-click on your game. (Note: only defaulting your .gba files to open to your emulator will NOT automatically do the same for your .gbc and .gb files… you need to do the same thing for each one.)
From here, there’s not much else to do except play, so play away!!