GAME BOY HACKS
Games, music, movies, photos, and eBooks, all
on this versatile little device. By Phillip Torrone
The old-school Game Boy Advance is great for of the freeware homebrew titles on gameboy-
plane rides and DMV queues. But hauling a bil- advance-roms.tk and pdroms.de.
lion cartridges around wastes precious man-bag To copy GBAs into the flash cartridge, drag
space — and I tend to lose them. I looked for a them into Little Writer’s ROM window, and click
way to put all my games on one cartridge, and Flash. Booting up with this cartridge will then
found a cool solution that also lets me play music, offer a menu with all the games. Freeware games
view photos and movies, and even run UNIX. are typically smaller than licensed cartridge
The key to it all is a piece of hardware called the titles, so you can fit more of them into flash.
Flash Linker & Card Set ( gameboy-advance.net/
flash_card/ gba_X-ROM.htm). It costs $89 but it’s Game Emulators
worth it. Compatible with the Game Boy Advance You can play games written for other platforms by
and GBA SP, it’s based on a special cartridge translating them from their original formats into
that fits into your Game Boy, holds 512MB of compatible .GBA ROM files, using an emulator. I’ve
flash memory, and connects to your PC via USB. tried free GBA emulators for games from Sega
The flash cartridge can carry up to 32 of your Master System (SMS), Nintendo Entertainment
cartridge games, and lets you access thousands System (NES), Super Nintendo Entertainment
more as downloadable freeware. With free emula- System (SNES), the original Game Boy, and
tors, you can translate and play games from other even the old Sinclair ZX computer from 1982.
systems, and the cartridge can also hold videos, (I’m especially fond of Super Metroid, from the
music, eBooks, and photo albums. SNES.) You can find emulators for these and
other machines linked from gameboy-advance.
Getting Started net/gba_roms/ emulated_on_gba.htm.
Before you plug anything in, download and install
the software that controls the communication ...And Other Delights
between the Game Boy and the PC. You’ll need The emulator principle extends to other media
the X-ROM driver and Little Writer, both available besides games, and free converters have sprung
at the website listed above. up that let you convert a variety of files types
Use the cable to connect your Game Boy to into .GBA files, including video clips, music,
your PC. (The instructions say you shouldn’t slideshows, and text-file eBooks. The site above
plug into a USB hub, but it worked for me.) Then, links to these as well. For music, you first need to
power up the Game Boy and hold down both Start convert the file(s) to .PCM format in your favorite
and Select. The Little Writer app on the PC should sound editor. The sample rates can be 16,000,
detect the Game Boy, and once it loads, you can 11,025, or 8,000 Hz — 11,025 worked fine for
back up your game cartridges to the PC, or trans- me. Stereo doubles the file size, so use mono for
fer new games stored on the PC over to the flash spoken word.
cartridges. The games are all stored and accessed Meanwhile, there’s even a UNIX project for the
as GBA (a.k.a. ROM) files. It took me about an Game Boy Advance. I didn’t have the proper files
hour to back up all of my game cartridges. to compile the ROM to get this to run, but here’s
a guide: kernelthread.com/publications/gbaunix.
Free Game Boy Games
A Google search of “Gameboy Advance ROMs”
[sic] will yield thousands of games. I like a lot