Top 5 Game Boy Advance (GBA) Emulators for iOS

Game Boy Advance Emulators Cover Image

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Advance, and Donkey Kong Country are just three titles that many gamers remember when they think about the iconic Game Boy Advance. These and many other games can have a lot to offer, even in the age of photorealistic graphics and $100+ million development budgets. In fact, they can remind us that gameplay is what matters the most. And thanks to the following Game Boy emulators for iOS, you can enjoy them right on your iPhone, with no original hardware required.

1. Afterplay

Price: Free with premium option

Afterplay is my favorite Game Boy Advanced emulator for iOS, as it lets me revisit my favorite game, with many of the same quality-of-life features I’ve become accustomed to from modern games.

Afterplay Gba Emulator Playing A Game

For example, the emulator automatically saves your game every 20 seconds, which means you’ll never have to replay sections over and over again due to a missed save point. You can also fast-forward or cheat through the boring parts, take screenshots, customize touch controls, or enable a low-pass audio filter to reduce sound harshness.

Afterplay Gba Emulator Add Game Button

As Afterplay is a Web-based emulator, you can start using it right away without the hassle of jailbreaking your iOS device. Just add it to your home screen. The basic version, which includes support for Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance, is completely free. For avid gamers looking for more, the Premium plan, priced at $5.99 per month, unlocks a plethora of additional features.

Pros

  • Automatically saves progress every 20 seconds
  • Completely free
  • Many quality-of-life features
  • Easy installation and access on iOS devices
  • Not limited to GBA games

Cons

  • Premium subscription is required for some features

2. Delta

Price: Free

Delta, the spiritual successor to the widely renowned GBA4iOS, stands out as an all-in-one classic video game emulator specifically designed for non-jailbroken iOS devices.

Delta Emulator Playing Harvest Moon

Developed with a focus on modern iOS features, Delta extends its capabilities beyond the Game Boy Advance to include systems like the NES, SNES, N64, and even the Nintendo DS. Delta is celebrated for its accurate and full-speed emulation, courtesy of established emulator cores, like VisualBoyAdvance-M for GBA and melonDS for Nintendo DS.

Delta Emulator Game Selection Screen

One of Delta’s strongest suits is its versatile controller support. It accommodates various controllers, including PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, and MFi game controllers. If you prefer, you can also use Bluetooth or wired keyboards. Unfortunately, it can’t be installed from the App Store – you need to use AltStore instead. (Delta and AltStore share the same developer.)

Pros

  • Designed specifically for iOS
  • Compatible with numerous controllers and allows customized mappings
  • Syncs your games, saves, and settings across devices via Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Includes save states, fast forwarding, cheat codes, and more
  • Completely free and open-source

Cons

  • Requires AltStore for installation

3. Eclipse

Price: Free

Eclipse is another Web-based emulator that makes it easy to play Game Boy Advance games on iOS – right in your browser. The emulator has been around since 2017, and the team of enthusiastic developers behind it has been perfecting it in their free time ever since.

Eclipse Emulator Playing A Game

Despite running in a web browser, Eclipse can play local ROM files without an Internet connection, so your gaming doesn’t have to stop when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere.

Eclipse Emulator Game Selection

In addition to GBA games, Eclipse supports a range of systems, including the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Nintendo Entertainment System, and more. You can play using customizable touch controls or connect a physical controller to your iPhone.

Pros

  • Easy to access and use on any modern browser
  • Play games from local files without needing an Internet connection
  • Not limited to GBA; supports NES, SNES, and more
  • Supports touch, keyboard, and controllers with customizable bindings
  • Convenient selection of homebrew games

Cons

  • Pokemon ROM hacks usually don’t work well with this emulator

4. RetroArch

Price: Free

RetroArch is a well-known multiplatform frontend for all kinds of emulators, including GBA. It’s a comprehensive solution for retro gaming enthusiasts, whose biggest strength lies in its versatility and depth.

Retroarch Main Screen On Ios

You can play GBA games on RetroArch, using multiple cores, including mGBA, gpSP, and Beetle GBA. Out of these, mGBA is widely considered to be the best choice, so that’s what I recommend starting with.

Retroarch Core Selection On Ios

To experience the full power of RetroArch (not just what the limited online version has to offer), you need to install it on your iOS device, and that’s where things get complicated. Since Apple doesn’t allow emulators in the App Store, you’ll have to use alternative methods to get RetroArch up and running. I, personally, install RetroArch using AltStore, an app store designed for sideloading third-party apps.

Pros

  • Not limited to GBA; supports a wide range of systems
  • Includes shaders, netplay, and accessibility options
  • No hidden costs or premium versions
  • Excellent performance
  • Online version available

Cons

  • Requires jailbreaking, building from source, or using a tool like AltStore to install
  • Complicated to set up and use

5. gbaONLINE

Price: Free

gbaONLINE is a great choice for those who value simplicity above everything else. This open-source project, built on technologies like particles.js and XAudioJS, brings Game Boy Advance emulation to your browser with an incredibly user-friendly approach.

Gbaonline Emulator Playing Advance Wars

Visit the GBA.js.org website to find a selection of popular GBA games ready to play. Tap on any title, and the emulator will automatically load the corresponding ROM. It’s that straightforward – no need to fiddle with ROM files or downloads.

Gbaonline Emulator Game Selection

Unfortunately, the provided selection of games is everything you can play using gbaONLINE – there’s no way to load your local ROMs. But despite this limitation, the emulator offers an incredibly user-friendly and straightforward way to revisit some of the most beloved GBA titles.

Pros

  • Just visit the website and start playing
  • Ideal for casual gamers and those new to emulation
  • Solid performance
  • Completely free and open-source

Cons

  • Only preloaded games are available – no option to load your own ROMs
  • Lacks advanced features found in other emulators

The above-recommended Game Boy Advance emulators prove that you don’t need the latest console or a big-budget game to have a fun gaming experience – all you need is a mobile device. And if you’d also like to embark on a similar nostalgic journey on your Android phone or tablet, check out our similar article on the best Android GBA emulators.

All images by David Morelo.

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David Morelo

David Morelo is a professional content writer in the technology niche, covering everything from consumer products to emerging technologies and their cross-industry application. His interest in technology started at an early age and has only grown stronger over the years.

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