As the popularity of Apple’s IOS devices continues to grow, many users are looking for the best GBA emulator for their iPhone or iPad. Unfortunately, a search through the App Store will not yield any results due to Apple’s policy against publishing emulators. However, with the proper tools and guidance, we can bypass this limitation and install VisualBoyAdvance – also known as a Game Boy Advance (GBA) Emulator or GBA4IOS – on our IOS operating system.
RetroArch is an easy-to-use front-end emulator that makes it straightforward to install and run VisualBoyAdvance on our iPhones or iPads. With RetroArch and VisualBoyAdvance installed, you’re all set to enjoy your favorite Gameboy classics in no time!
Start by downloading and installing Sideloadly on your computer, depending on your host OS, download either the Windows or MacOS version. Once you have finished the install, open Sideloadly and use a USB/Type-C cable to sync your iPhone or iPad with your desktop. Finally, move Sideloadly into the Applications folder to complete the setup process.
After right clicking Sideloadly and opening the app, you will be presented with a different popup. Click on Open to launch Sideloadly. On first launch it will try to initialise anisette.init locally and if it does fail, don’t worry. Proceed by clicking on OK.
We can now begin the installation of RetroArch. From the list of iDevices, select your iPhone or iPad and click on the IPA icon to load the RetroArch.ipa file you previously downloaded in the requirements stage. Enter your Apple ID and press ‘Start’ when prompted and a pop-up will appear requesting your Apple ID password – accept it from your device to proceed with Sideloadly successfully installing RetroArch onto your Apple device.
Now let’s locate RetroArch on our mobile device and open it. A new screen will appear notifying you that your Apple ID is an untrusted developer. To resolve, go-to settings > general > VPN & Device Management > Developer App (your Apple ID) and then tap on Trust “[email protected]” to verify RetroArch.
After trusting RetroArch with your Apple ID as developer, we need to enable developer mode for your iDevice, also known as Xcode.
To enable developer mode on your IOS device, go-to Settings > Privacy & Security. Scroll down to the Developer Mode item and navigate into it. Now toggle Developer Mode on by tapping the switch.
After you do so, Settings presents an alert to warn you that Developer Mode reduces the security of your device. To continue enabling Developer Mode, tap the alert’s Restart button.
After the device restarts and you unlock it, the device shows an alert confirming that you want to enable Developer Mode. To acknowledge the reduction in security protection in exchange for allowing Xcode and other tools to execute code, tap Turn On, and enter your device passcode when prompted.
At this point, your device is ready to install and run apps from Xcode. Now locate and open RetroArch on your iPhone/iPad to launch the emulator.
To install VisualBoyAdvance within RetroArch, click on Load Core and scroll down until you find Nintendo Game Boy Advance (VBA-M).
Now we only need to install GBA roms. (You can browse and download from our GBA ROMs section)
To transfer your downloaded ROMs to your mobile device, simply use the USB/Type C cable connecting your PC or Mac to the device. For PC users, iTunes will be necessary for transferring files between devices; MAC users can use their Finder app for this purpose. Once you’ve found the RetroArch application on your phone, simply drag and drop the downloaded ROM file into it!
With the ROM copied to your device, we can open up RetroArch again and tap on Load Content. Tap “Start Directory” > then tap the first and only folder. All ROMs copied as above will be listed in this folder.
In our case, we will open the Pokemon Emerald ROM on our iPhone as per below.
And there we go! Successfully installed VisualBoyAdvance on our IOS device. Rinse and repeat by adding and loading new GBA ROMS and enjoy playing Game Boy Advance games on your iPhone or iPad!
Make sure to check out our knowledge base in the left pane to know more about cheats, roms, controls and much more.
Yes, VisualBoyAdvance has full support for IOS devices, making it possible for users to install VBA on their iPhone or iPad via third party tools such as sideloadly and RetroArch.
GBA4IOS or Game Boy Advance for IOS, as its name implies, is a Game Boy Advance emulator for IOS devices. GBA4IOS allows users to play Game Boy Advance rom games on their iPhone or iPad.
The best GBA emulator for IOS devices is Visual Boy Advance (VBA-M).
You can install it following our extensive guide here.