Pokemon GBA ROMs: Everything You Need to Know

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This post was last updated on November 1, 2023

There are all sorts of reasons you might opt to play on an emulator rather than a classic console and to do so you’ll need ROMs. If you’re looking to “catch em’ all” and become the best there ever was, well, then Pokemon GBA ROMs are probably what you’re searching for.

Before you go downloading every .gba file you can get your hands on, you should probably know what ROMs are, what Pokemon ROMs are out there, and how to play them. Luckily for you, we absolutely love retro gaming and have plenty to teach you.

What are Pokemon GBA ROMs?

Pokemon GBA ROMs are digital copies of Pokemon games released on the Game Boy Advance. The term ROM stands for Read-Only-Memory, which basically just means it’s part of a game disc or cartridge that stores the game’s actual code.

You might be asking, why should you use Pokemon GBA ROMs in particular? Well, if you’re looking to play classic Pokemon games, your best option is the Game Boy Advance. This popular Nintendo handheld system is home to the third generation of Pokemon games and it can also be used to play the older games originally released for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color.

Why Should You Use ROMs and Emulators?

The decision to play retro games with ROMs and emulators rather than real gaming consoles and gaming cartridges (or discs) is a very personal one. There can be a lot of pros to either side, but no one can deny that emulators often bring higher performance, improved graphics, and much more due to their more powerful hardware.

Typically, you’ll be running emulators on a modern computer, whether that computer is a desktop, laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone. Improved processing is just the tip of the iceberg here. The fact that these computers can do more often means that they do.

In fact, many emulators often include quality-of-life improvements that will make you wonder why you ever considered buying a $300 used Game Boy Advance from eBay in the first place.

Not having to worry about battery life and outdated hardware while reveling in the beautiful graphics that can be achieved by an emulator really is a serene experience, and it’s one that we hope more nostalgic fans can enjoy on their journey to relive childhood memories.

Are GBA ROMs Safe?

This is where things can get a bit tricky. Playing games on an emulator with a ROM is completely legal. However, distributing ROMs is piracy, something we don’t support. The exact legality of downloading ROMs for GBA games is something we can’t speak to since we’re not lawyers, we’re just nerds who like to game.

Of course, we can say that emulators are perfectly legal and, if you download them from a reputable source, safe. We highly suggest mGBA or VBA for all of your GBA emulation needs, but there are plenty of other options out there if you want to come to your own opinion.

Then, if you have old cartridges lying around collecting dust, you can cough up a few shiny pennies for a ROM extractor like the Retrode. With one of these devices, you can create your own legitimate ROM library and play games without downloading free ROMs from any number of sites out there on the internet.

Much like anything on the internet, ROM file downloads are as safe as the source. On their own, they’re not dangerous (aside from the risk of becoming a pirate) but if you download them from a suspicious site, you might end up with a zip file full of malware and other things you definitely don’t want to be messing around with.

How Many Pokemon GBA ROMs Are There?

This question is a bit difficult to answer. Technically, there are 18 official GBA ROMs, since there were 18 Pokemon titles released for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance.

Those games are as follows, with the main series games listed first:

  • Pokemon Red
  • Pokemon Green
  • Pokemon Blue
  • Pokemon Yellow
  • Pokemon Gold
  • Pokemon Silver
  • Pokemon Crystal
  • Pokemon Ruby
  • Pokemon Sapphire
  • Pokemon FireRed
  • Pokemon LeafGreen
  • Pokemon Emerald
  • Pokemon Puzzle Challenge
  • Pokemon Pinball
  • Pokemon Trading Card Game
  • Pokemon Card GB2: Team Great Rocket is Here
  • Pokemon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire
  • Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team

Of course, these are just the games that were released by Nintendo. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ROM hacks out there that bring entirely new content to your fingertips.

What are ROM Hacks?

A huge part of the retro gaming community is creating new content for old systems. Pokemon GBA ROM hacks do this by using official ROMs as a framework to build entirely new games.

The Pokemon ROM hack community is absolutely huge, and they’ve had more than 20 years to learn all about what makes a great Game Boy Advance game.

Thanks to them, you’re not limited to games from the first three generations or their spin-offs. You can embark on journeys through new regions, take on versions of classic games that reinvent difficulty, or just play through your favorite region with some new Pokemon.

We really can’t begin to come close to listing everything the community has to offer. However, we can definitely point you to some of our favorites.

Check out our list of the top 10 Pokemon GBA ROM hacks or our list of the best Nintendo DS Pokemon ROM hacks if you’re looking for something more modern.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to enjoy some classic retro games without the need for old gaming consoles, then playing some Pokemon GBA ROMs is the best way to do it. With an emulator, you can play all the best Pokemon games with ease and you can do all of it from the comfort of your computer or phone.