iPhone Games: iPhone Hackers Release Game Boy Advance Emulator

GameBoy Advance Emulator for iPhone

Though we have seen a good amount of activity from the iPhone hacking community with respect to the release of native iPhone applications, we haven’t seen much or any activity in the iPhone games after the release of Nintendo Emulator for the iPhone.

In fact, I just realized that it has been almost two months since I had written any article on iPhone games so the release of gpSPhone by the iPhone Hacking community is indeed welcome news to take us away (for a bit) from the series of news with regards to iPhone firmware v1.1.2 which was officially released by Apple earlier in the week.

Hackers over at ZodTTD and the iPhone hacking genius NerveGas have released the gpSPhone v0.0.5 which is a Game Boy Advance (GBA) emulator for the iPhone and iPod Touch which means that you will be able to play the variety of Game Boy games on your iPhone.

gpSPhone v0.0.5 comes with improved GUI and sound making it probably the first native iPhone application to output sound. However, it is still in its early days so do not expect it to work as smoothly as other iPhone applications, however the iPhone hackers are working hard to make it even better.

The current version of gpSPhone is only for the technically inclined as to get it to work you need to do quite a few things and isn’t as easy as installing it using the cool Installer.app.

You need to first run gpSPhone from /Applications and also need to either supply your own GBA BIOS.

In case you are lost like I was, here is some information on GBA Bios:

GBA BIOS is a set of low-level subroutines used by GBA games to perform such operations as square roots, trigonometry, data decompression, and the like. These subroutines are stored on a 16 kilobyte mask ROM inside the GBA CPU.

Here is a link for the instructions on how to dump your own GBA bios. The other option which in my opinion seems like a easier option would be to download one instead and place it in the .app folder. Like most things you should be able to find it by searching for it on Google.

Once you have the GBA emulator for the iPhone installed, you will still need to copy the GBA ROMs just like you needed to do with the Nintendo Emulator. If you are wondering what GBA ROMs are? Then here is some information:

In cartridges produced by Nintendo, the games are stored in a memory that can only be read and cannot be erased or rewritten. ROM – Read Only Memory. That’s where the name Game Boy Advance (GBA) ROMs comes from.

You need to add your games to /var/root/Media/ROMs/GBA. You should be able to find the game ROMs too by searching for them on Google. The iPhone hackers are claiming that many games are playable.

As for me I would wait for it to be available through Installer app along with the GBA ROMs.

If you have got this running on your iPhone or iPod Touch or looking to give it a shot do let us know your feedback in the comments below.


thehitman, g-rod and David, readers here @ iPhone Hacks, were to quick to point out in the comments below that the GBA emulator is available via the Installer and isn’t that difficult to install especially if you have installed NES before. In fact, g-rod has been kind enough to provide more details such as the link to the bin and the ROM files and even uploaded a video and image of GBA emulator running on his iPhone.

David also points out that GBA emulator might not be the first native iPhone app to have sound.

I have made the necessary changes in the original post. Thank you folks for correcting me, you guys are my stars!

[Tuaw via gpSPhone]

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  • thehitman

    I downloaded this via Installer.

  • g-rod

    this is cake to install. first use installer.app program to install gpSphone

    then visit this site… http://files.filefront.com/gba+biosbin/;6021104;/fileinfo.html download the bin file.

    use ibrickr and click files. then clip the applications directory. find gpSphone.app and upload the bin file you download there.

    then visit the roms site…


    download your roms to your pc and upload them via ibrickr to your iphone after you create a ROMs/GBA directory under var/root/media (anyone who installed NES understands this simple process.

    tested and works great!

  • g-rod

    here is a link to picture the installed emulator.


    and a video


    all in all the emulator runs pretty smooth…. no widescreen support yet…. controls work decent… sound is great

  • As for the first app to have sound.. Doesn't nes have sound too along with a bunch of other apps?

    I also did install it from installer so… It really isnt that hard.

    Also it is just as hard to this to work ad it is for nes too also because you have to find your own roms for both. The only difference is you do need to find the GBA BIOS which you dont need to do for nes.

    I have tested many games such as pokemon emarld and it works very well (except for a little bit of lag, and how the game gets cofused between right and B in many
    menus). Everything seems to be good enough to play almost all games.

    The one thing that is needed is more ability to save games.

  • g-rod
  • raffi

    can you put the games into the folder without ibrickr? i have 1.1.1, so ibrickr doesn't work..

  • Aaron

    all good worked fine for me sound gose a bit funny dut ok apart from that updates should sort that out 🙂

  • Lowryder

    I downloaded this application a few days ago. I installed it through installer app. I use windows so i ran winSCP, typed in my id, password and opened my applications folder on my iphone on the computer and then opened gpsphone and googled a gba bios file dowloaded it to my computer. I then drug it into my applications folder and created a folder for gba roms, var/root/media/ROMs/gba. Everything works fine.

  • Slim Boi

    its a little laggy, like i cant play mario car cuz it freezes every 2 seconds for like 1/2 of second so its annoying, is it supposed to be like that? or am i not doing something right? I drop the Bins folder, and added roms, thats all i had to do right?

  • Guille

    I can't get this to work, tried 2 different roms.
    Perhaps my bios is no good?
    the link in the article doesnt work anymore.
    My Iphone is 1.0.2

  • dna

    there is an update to this, version 0.7.

  • Louis

    Re: Slim Boi

    1.0.2, I remember that version. Why don't you try updating? The bios goes into the gba folder not into the folder where all your apps are located…You can do this using sendspace…

    I got space invaders…cool it's like the first version of emulators a bit choppy but I can't wait for the update so I can play Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance..


  • sokcheanich

    I then drug it into my applications folder and created a folder for gba roms, var/root/media/ROMs/gba.but ican't play

  • iMike

    gpSPhone is an awesome app. I can play my favorite games on my PC and continue on my iPhone when I'm outside. The recent upgrades had made the emulator look nicer and more features, but one HUGE PROBLEM, it lagggggggggggggggggs so bad that it kicks me out of the game every time when i play my RPG games. Verison 0.0.8 have not lagging problem, starting from 0.1.0 it lags really bad. Please fix this problem. It's nice to have it look nice and lot of features, but we can't play if it LaG like this. I love your work, please fix it… OR post the 0.0.8 version back.

  • J Mas

    How do i play the games i saved on my iphone on my computer?

  • Gohans

    Is hard to play with the controller all over the screen, where can i get the version of this app that looks like the screenshot above.


  • helpmeplz

    I dragged gba bios into my GBA folder, but i am still getting an error that says i have an incorrect IOS image????

  • This application is working fine and its fine

  • Dahlia Hawthorne

    does this app work with the latest version of the iPhone?

  • Needshelp

    what do i add to source to be able to get this? I think i may have deleted it.
    can someone help?

  • Ryan

    I have gpSPhone on my iphone and it reads the ROM's but when I try playing games it says I have an Incorrect BIOS image… i've downloaded the gba_bios.bin file and placed it where it needs to go. But it still doesn't work

  • Stephen

    I have this problem too, any help ?