The Game Boy Advance changed everything when it debuted. It showed audiences that handheld consoles had more potential than they realized. But then it went away. But GBA games are still available.
And fortunately, you don’t need a GBA to play them. Just get one of these emulators. They are the best the market has to offer:
Best Emulator to Play GBA Games on iMac and MacBook
1. VisualBoy Advance
People love the VisualBoy Advance because it has been around for a while. This is one of the oldest GBA Mac emulators on the market. As such, it has a strong reputation among GBA gamers.
The emulator’s age worries some people. They think that modern emulators are superior because of all the advanced features they bring to the table. And that is partially true. However, VBA’s age works in your favor because it can run on older, slower, weaker devices.
You don’t need expensive hardware to replicate the smooth gameplay of a console.
- Runs smoothly on older devices
- Joystick support
- Save function
- Great compatibility
- It plays Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Advance games
- It doesn’t play every GBA game
- A little tricky to use for emulator newbies
- A little buggy
- Some games perform better than others
You will be hard-pressed to find a more complete Gameboy Advance emulator than this one. The brainchild of endrift, runs on Windows, macOS, and Ubuntu. It will also play Gameboy, color, and advanced games.
You can access it via RetroArch. Now that it has Dolphin compatibility, you can take advantage of the connectivity features that some games offer. mGBA has a multitude of functions, including cheat code support, solar and tilts sensor emulation, game overrides, and save states, to mention but a few.
The developer is making a new NDS emulator called medusa. If they succeed, medusa will replace mGBA, creating an application that can run Gameboy color, advance, and NDS games.
But until that happens, you have no reason to abandon mGBA. It performs well on most machines because of its efficiency. The application uses very few resources.
The developers are constantly updating it, adding new features, and fixing bugs where necessary. Many emulators use few resources because they are very weak. But that is not the case with mGBA.
- Save function
- Cheat code support
- Connectivity features
- You can run Gameboy, Color, and Advance games
- Simple controls
- Supports game controllers
- You can take screenshots and record gameplay
- Limited features
If you can only download one emulator, you should make it RetroArch because it can outperform most other GBA emulators. First of all, it has an incredible library of vintage titles that continues to grow.
Secondly, it has many features, including the ability to change game controls. You can save your progress, use cheat codes, adjust the interface, and more.
Speaking of the interface, you may see it and wonder why it looks so old. But that look is intentional. RetroArch is trying to mimic Gameboy’s classic user interface, which is why older GBA fans love it.
The interface allows these gamers to recreate the joys of their childhood. If you don’t want to run GBA games on your Mac, you can still use RetroArch because it works on other platforms, including Linux, Windows, iOS, and Android. This is why it attracts so much attention. You can use it on most devices.
- Runs on multiple platforms
- Supports joystick controls
- You can save and load games
- Fast forward
- The developers update the library regularly
- Open Source
- Configuration is complicated
- Takes time to set up
- The user interface is old fashioned
4. Boycott Advance
The Boycott Advance deserves all the attention it gets. The list of games it can play is impressive. If that wasn’t enough, the performance on macOS devices is equally impressive.
Boycott Advance offers all the features you find in modern emulators, including scaling, rotation, keymapping, and the like.
You can use joysticks and gamepads, adjust the audio, and enter full-screen mode. Some newer titles won’t work on the Boycott Advance, which is unfortunate.
Experienced gamers can overcome this challenge by tweaking some of the settings. But if you’re new to emulators, some games simply won’t work.
That being said, the Boycott Advance is still a decent MacOS emulator. The application is lightweight and can run on slower computers. You don’t have to invest in high-end machines to play your favorite GBA titles. The gameplay is smooth. It doesn’t have those annoying glitches you find in older emulators.
- You can save your progress
- The emulator uses few resources
- The gameplay is smooth
- Decent library of games
- Some games won’t work
5. Open EMU
This is another popular emulator that attracts attention because it runs on multiple platforms. It has a simple user interface that is welcoming to newcomers.
You have all the standard emulator features, such as key mapping and support for external controllers. The application can run most GBA games. It will organize all the games you have in storage in alphabetical order.
The emulator is compatible with Gameboy Advance, Color, NES, and Atari. Rather than downloading multiple emulators, you can use one application to play games from different consoles.
- Friendly user interface
- Supports multiple controllers
- It has a decent library of games
- It can run Atari, GBA, NES, and GBC games
- Screen recording
- The emulator has some bugs. There have been cases of the emulator shutting down unexpectedly
This is a great time to rediscover your love for the Gameboy Advance. As you can see, there are several emulators on the market that can play GBA games efficiently.
All the options on this list are lightweight. You can run them on slower machines, which is good because some people cannot afford to upgrade their computers to play classic games.
Additionally, these emulators can replicate the functions of multiple systems. Therefore, you don’t have to download all of them. Just pick any application from this list that suits your needs.
If you have a Windows machine, choose an emulator that runs on Windows and Mac.