Why the Switch needs its much-rumored official Game Boy Advance emulator

The Game Boy Advance is home to some fantastic games. In fact, many of my fondest childhood memories stem from playing the best GBA games on my indigo-colored handheld. I still remember being entirely enraptured by Pokemon Sapphire during a long drive home from a trip to France – despite the dim non-backlit screen of the handheld, which was impossible to see in a certain light. As well as spending days pouring over the likes of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, and Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games, there are still so many Game Boy Advance games I never did get my hands on. With the passage of time, many of these games cost a pretty penny to pick up in their original form, which is why many turn to unofficial emulators. 

Doing so is a bit of a murky area with regards to ownership, but a recent leak suggested we might see a selection of Game Boy Advance games arriving digitally on the Switch – along with past rumors that said Game Boy games could also be added at some stage. While nothing has been confirmed on Nintendo’s end, such official additions make perfect sense, and there are many reasons why I hope it comes to fruition. 


Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

(Image credit: Nintendo)

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Nintendo 3DS

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Over the years, Nintendo’s lineup of consoles and handhelds has offered up so many different memorable games. With plenty that passed me by for one reason or another, I still dream of being able to access them all in one place and experience games I never did get the chance to play. The Switch, as a hybrid console, is such a great home for the older games, and I can’t help but hope to see them become more readily available across the board. 

We’ve steadily started to see a selection of games from past generations arrive on the Switch. Nintendo Switch Online members can play a collection of SNES and NES games, and most recently, the more expensive Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack subscription offers up a helping of N64 and Sega Genesis games – some of which are still being added to (with Mario Golf on the N64 being one of the latest additions). This is certainly a step in the right direction, even if it puts them behind a paywall and only includes a limited number. 

Since nothing has been confirmed and we only have a leak to go on, we don’t yet know if Game Boy Advance games would follow in the footsteps of the N64 additions, but it seems like a pretty safe bet. It would certainly help Nintendo make the more premium and, at this point, rather lacklustre expansion pack membership more appealing and worthwhile. And if rumors suggesting that Game Boy games could be added down the line also do turn out to be true, the Switch would have a robust library of old and new. 

Best GBA games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

“The Game Boy Advance is one machine I’ll always hold dear, and it would be so great to once again appreciate and re-discover just fantastic and enjoyable so many of its games still are.”

At the moment, it feels especially important to see such games come to the latest console in light of the news that the eShop on the Nintendo 3DS will be closing down for good as of March 2023. It’s thanks to the 3DS’ virtual console that I can still revisit some classic Game Boy games like Kirby’s Dream Land after misplacing my cartridge. While we can still purchase them as of right now, it’s still such a shame that it’s going away – even if the 3DS is an older handheld. When it does, it will once again be harder to access some of the older handheld games officially, which is why the possibility of seeing more emulators on Switch really matters. 

After all, many of the classic Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games are a part of Nintendo’s history, and should be readily available for players to experience and enjoy. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, for example, is one game I’ve always wanted to try out, and if it does come to the Switch, I can finally do that without having to shell out for it on a cartridge. It also feels like there’s a renewed interest in all things retro these days, with the reboots of classic series and more remasters. With generations of players who perhaps missed out on the Game Boy and GBA back in the day, the Switch presents an opportunity to open up the door to those games. 

I still think about many of the GBA and Game Boy games I tucked into during my younger years, and the thought of potentially being able to revisit some of them on the Switch is more than appealing. What excites me the most, though, is the possibility of trying out games I never played before without having to invest in a copy if I don’t especially enjoy it. There’s every chance this emulator news may not amount to anything, but I’ll be holding out hope we see a bountiful selection of games from the classic handheld consoles down the line. The Game Boy Advance is one machine I’ll always hold dear, and it would be so great to once again appreciate and re-discover just fantastic and enjoyable so many of its games still are. 

With Nintendo closing 3DS and Wii U digital stores, where does that leave video game preservation?

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