How to play Pokemon Rom Hacks (GBA) - 2017

How to play GBA Pokemon Rom Hacks

Note: GBA refers to Game Boy Advance


First you must obtain a GBA Pokemon Rom Hack. You probably already have one, but if you don't find one here. A GBA Rom Hack will have a .gba extension. If you have a .rar, .zip, .7z, etc. file, extract it to get the .gba one. (Note: Some emulators can play .zip files directly)
Note: This tutorial is mainly for .gba files. If you have a DS game (.nds), you will need a DS emulator. If you have a GBC game (.gbc), you may need a different emulator. If you have a patch file (.ips, .ups, .aps, .xdelta, etc.), check out this tutorial.


Next, in order to play the Rom, you will need a GBA emulator. An emulator allows you to play GBA games as you would on the console, but on your device. Here are some recommendations-
Windows - Visual Boy Advance (VBA)
Android - My Boy!

If you have an emulator you use that isn't here, please mention it in the comments section to help everyone out.
Note: The recommended emulator for most hacks and the one I use is Visual Boy Advance 1.8.0 Beta 3. Get it here.


Next, open the .gba (or possibly .zip) file on your emulator. The game should load up now. A Pokemon Rom should show a similar screen-
pokemon gba start screen
In case you are getting a white screen, skip to step 5.


If you are on a touch screen device, your buttons should show up on the screen (A, B, Start, Select, L, R and the direction pad).
If you are using VBA, the controls are usually Z=A, X=B, Enter=Start, Backspace=Select, A=L, S=R and the arrows for direction. View/Change this by going to Options->Joypad->Configure->1


At this point, if you get any of these errors-
White screen
The 1m sub-circuit board is not installed
Internal Battery has run dry
Or some other error that I might have forgotten, apply these settings for VBA (try to find similar settings to steps 5, 6 and 7 if you're using a different emulator)-
  1. Turn VBA off.
  2. Delete the .sgm, .sa1 or .sav files for this game in your folder(if they exist).
  3. Turn VBA back on.
  4. Go to Options -> Emulator -> Save Type -> Flash 128k
  5. Options->Emulator->Real Time Clock
  6. Options->Gameboy->Automatic
  7. Turn VBA off again.
  8. Then turn it back on and load the rom once more.
Note: Even if you do not see any error, it would be beneficial to apply these settings if possible.


That's it. You can now play the game as you would have on a Game Boy Advance console.
You can either use the in-game save mechanic to save your game (Start->Save while in the game) or use save states (some emulators like My Boy! Free do not support this).
In VBA, save states are used by clicking Shift+F1 to save and F1 to load. (Replace F1 by F2, F3, ..., F10 for more save states)

If you have any further questions or suggestions, feel free to ask in the comments section or via the contact page.


  1. Replies
    1. Sorry for the late reply. You must have foind out by now but- you simply close the window as you would normally. Saves can be loaded when you open it again.

  2. I can't extract the files. It says decompression error

    1. That might be due to a corrupted download; try redownloading. If it still doesn't work, there may a problem with the file. Also, which file are you talking about?