How to Play Gameboy and GBA Games on Your Computer (VBA)

The Gameboy and Gameboy Advance handheld systems are probably one of the more well-known old school style handheld gaming consoles around. This guide will show you how to play both Gameboy and Gameboy Advance games on your computer using the emulator Visual Boy Advance emulator (VBA).

The first thing we need to do is track down a copy of the latest version of the emulator. For that, we can simply go to the official SourceForge page and download it from the files section. Click on the link, wait the 5 seconds and save the zip file.

Now, you need to find a convenient place on your hard drive and create a folder there for all of your Game Boy and Game Boy Advance needs. In that folder, create another folder for the emulator and a separate folder for your ROMs.

Now, take the contents from the zip file you downloaded and extract it to the emulator folder. When that is done, place all of your ROMs in the ROMs folder.

Now, go into your emulator folder and open the emulator by double-clicking on the “VisualBoyAdvance.exe” file.


The first thing we need to do is figure out our controls. For that, we click on the “Options” drop-down menu and hover the mouse over “Joypad”, then “Configure”, then click on “1…”:


You’ll get a window that looks something like this:


Click on the text box you want to chance and press the key that you want it to change to (sometimes, you’ll have to press it 2 or 3 times to get it to register). Wen done, if you’ve made changes, click on “OK”, otherwise, click “Cancel”.

Now to find out where the save and load states are located. This seems to be hard-wired and cannot be customized. Still, they can be found in “File”. They are the sub-menu’s “Load Game” and “Save Game”:


More convenient is the speed keys. To save a state, use “CTRL+F1” – “CTRL+F10” (each F key from 1 – 10 is a particular save slot). To load a save state, just use “F1” – “F10” (again, each F key is it’s own save slot from 1 – 10).

Finally, to open a ROM in the emulator, click on either “File” and “Open” or “File” and “Open Gameboy” (they seem to be meant to separate opening a Gameboy ROM and a Gameboy Advance ROM, but both will work regardless of whether you are opening a Gameboy or Gameboy Advance ROM). Browse to your ROM directory and open any particular ROM you want to open. By the time the ROM opens, the emulator will remember the directory your ROMs are located in.

To exit out of the ROM, click on “File” and then “Close”. To exit out of the emulator, click on “File” and “Exit”.

That’s it!

Happy gaming!


The window seems so small when I’m playing a game. How do I make it bigger?
Try “Options”, then in the “Video” sub-menu, click on an #x size you feel comfortable with (you can have 1x, 2x, 3x, or 4x sizes).

1 Comment

  • Paul Brown says:

    This feeling in my chest is brutal, to consider DKC anything but a top 3 game let alone the best game on the system. Then again, I realize I’m on the outside looking in when it comes to Zelda. I do like Link to the Past, but it never had that feeling of pure joy, awesomeness from literal minute 1. That, and it has one of the best overall soundtracks ever. Visually the game was stunning back then, and it still holds up well today with a very good art style.

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