A curated list of development resources for Game Boy Advance.
Contribute adding resources or providing feedback through Pull Requests, Issues or joining us on Discord. You can find a web version of this list here.
Table of Content
- Software Development
- Emulator Development
- Dumping the GBA BIOS
- Reverse engineering
- Historical links
- Technical introduction to the GBA
GBAdev Forum – Our new hub for announcements and long-form discussion. It’s a good place to ask questions and share progress on your projects.
GBAdev Discord – This is where everyone hangs out to chat nowadays. Come say hi!
Info for IRC users
All rooms are bridged to IRC channels on EFnet.
Main channel #gbadev – general chat
Additional channels #gba-meta – community feedback/discussion #gba-help – help & support #gba-emudev – emulator development #gba-asm – ARM/Thumb assembly and CPU architecture #gba-showcase – share what you’re working on! #gba-music – listening, composing and audio programming #gba-offtopic – off-topic chat #gba-docs – community documentation projects (tutorials, technical docs etc.) #gbajam – hang out with other GBA Jam participants & share your progress
Project-specific channels #gba-toolchain – gba-toolchain, agbabi, and gba-hpp development & support #butano – Butano engine development & support #natu – Natu toolkit development & support
- GBAdev.org – The longstanding homepage of the scene. Still updated with news and releases (but the forums have been broken for a while).
- GBAtemp – The site carries the GBA name, but nowadays the console is relegated to the backbenches. It’s a good place to talk about gaming and hardware though.
- GBATEK – Programming specs for the GBA and NDS hardware
- CowBite Virtual Hardware Specifications – Older GBA hardware documentation
- The Audio Advance – Audio hardware documentation and basic test ROMs
- Tonc – Complete programming tutorial
- Compile C++ for GBA in under an hour – Cinemint’s video for getting started with C++/Butano
- Sound on the Gameboy Advance – How to write your own sound mixer / MOD music player
- Gameboy Advance Resource Management – Allocation techniques for the GBA’s various memory regions
- Managing Sprite Cel VRAM on the Game Boy Advance – Analysis of the VRAM streaming approach for animated sprites
- Using Beepbox for GBA Music Composition
- devkitARM – C/C++ cross-compiler toolchain, which includes libgba, libtonc, maxmod, and various tools and example projects.
- gba-toolchain – GNU Arm Embedded Toolchain based alternative to devkitARM.
- gvasm – Stand-alone assembler and disassembler (WIP) designed specifically for GBA homebrew
- TinyGo – An alternative Go compiler for embedded systems, that supports GBA compilation
- rust-console – GBA programming in Rust, plus tutorial.
- natu – GBA programming in Nim (provides wrapper around libtonc, maxmod and more).
- gba-modern – Write GBA games using modern C++.
- ZigGBA – WIP SDK for creating GBA games using Zig (Inspired by Tonc).
- Butano – Modern C++ high level engine for the GBA.
- BPCore Engine – Create GBA applications with the Lua programming language
- GBA Dlang – WIP SDK for GBA development using D, using LLVM toolchain. provides fully functional TONC, GBFS, Maxmod.
- dusk – Simple, lightweight, intuitive framework for GBA game development
- gbsenpai – GB Studio player GBA port with some enhancements.
- meson-gba – Meson-based GBA toolkit with support for many different libraries and tools.
- sdk-seven – (WIP) Modern C libraries, runtimes, and tooling for GBA development.
- rath – Forth programming environment for the Game Boy Advance
- ada-gba-dev – A build system, libraries, and tools for producing programs for the Game Boy Advance using the Ada programming language.
- agbabi – Drop-in application binary interface library (context switching, division, irq, memcpy, sine).
- gba-hpp – C++20 header-only library for GBA development.
- HeartLib – Comprehensive C library inspired by the classic HAMLib.
- libseven – Modern, from-scratch replacement for libgba and libtonc.
- GBAdv – High level utilities on top of libgba.
- Maxmod – Music and sound library (supports .mod, .xm, .s3m, .it)
- Apex Audio System – Music and sound library (supports .mod only, but very good performance)
- Krawall – Music and sound library (supports .xm, .s3m)
- Pimpmobile – Music library (supports .mod, .xm)
- GBT Player – Music library that uses the DMG sound channels (close to 0% CPU usage).
- posprintf – An sprintf routine written in Thumb assembler.
- GBFS – Practical filesystem
- agb – Rust library. It attempts to be a high level abstraction over the internal workings of the Game Boy Advance whilst still being high performance and memory efficient.
- gbaLib – Library for programming the GBA with TinyGo
- mGBA – Actively developed GBA emulator. Runs on a bunch of platforms. Text debugger through GDB stub.
- No$gba – Venerable GBA emulator. Windows only, but runs well under Wine. Not very actively maintained but still gets updates now and then. Sports graphical debugger.
- NanoBoyAdvance – GBA emulator with high accuracy, especially in timing and CPU emulation. Does not have debugging features.
- SkyEmu – GB/GBA/NDS Emulator with built in debuggers, REST API for scripting, and high accuracy.
- MiSTer FPGA implementation – Needs MiSTer setup to run.
- mGBA test suite
- GBA Suite
- 240p-test-mini – video signal tests
- NBA hardware tests
- Goodboy Advance – Made in 2018, and has a nice bit of information on how it’s made.
- Celeste Classic – 2019 port of Pico8 version of Celeste.
- GBADoom – 2019/2020 GBA port of prBoom version of Doom.
- BlindJump – Adventure game, developed in 2020. Implementation of link-cable multiplayer, fully digital audio.
- Tigermoth – Bullet hell game, developed for the GBAJam 2021
- Duster – A sleek strategy board game for the gba
- OpenLara – Classic Tomb Raider open-source engine
- GBA Jam 2021
- GBA Winter Jam ’21
- GBA Jam 2022
- GBA Winter Jam ’23
- gba_bios – WIP disassembly of the Game Boy Advance BIOS
- GBA bare metal code – Various experiments by Krom, such as video playback and 3D, written in ARM Assembly
- dkarm_gba_docker – A Docker image that includes DevkitARM and other GBA SDK tools, packaged together to allow a consistent toolchain configuration and reproducibility in builds. Also can be helpful in ensuring a consistent build environment for continuous integration.
Dumping the GBA BIOS
- Software interrupt $1F / MidiKey2Freq, canonical method
- Cracking the GBA BIOS by endrift
- Dumping the GBA BIOS, another method by MerryMage
- Reverse Engineering a GameBoy Advance Game – A series of detailed posts and talks about developing a level editor for Klonoa: Empire of Dreams
- Pokemon Ruby – C programming language annotation of a Pokemon Ruby disassembly
- HEL – GBA C library built on top of HAM (a classic SDK from back in the day)
- Headspin’s Guide to Compression, Files Systems, Screen Effects and MOD Players for the Gameboy Advance