The GameBoy Emulator iPadOS was one of the most popular handheld gaming consoles ever created. First released by Nintendo in 1989, the GameBoy sold over 118 million units worldwide during its lifetime. With its simple graphics, classic games like Tetris and Super Mario Land, and revolutionary portability, the GameBoy paved the way for future handhelds like the Nintendo DS and Switch.
Even decades after its discontinuation in the early 2000s, the GameBoy still has a strong fanbase of retro gamers who love revisiting those classic 8-bit games. Thankfully, with iPadOS, you can easily get a GameBoy emulator on your iPad and relive all your favorite childhood games. In this guide, we’ll cover two methods for getting a GameBoy emulator on iPadOS.
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Overview of Emulation on iPadOS
Before we get into the specifics, let’s briefly go over what emulation is and how it works on iPadOS.
An emulator is a piece of software that mimics hardware in order to run programs and games designed for that hardware. In this case, a GameBoy emulator mimics the hardware of the original GameBoy, allowing you to run GameBoy games on other devices like the iPad.
Apple’s iOS and iPadOS have pretty strict policies when it comes to emulators and other unsanctioned apps. But there are still a couple straightforward methods you can use to get GameBoy emulators without jailbreaking.
The two main options are:
- Using AltStore and a computer to sideload an emulator like GBA4iOS
- Downloading an emulator app like Emu4S4 directly on your iPad
Both methods have their pros and cons which we’ll cover.
Method 1: AltStore and GBA4iOS
One popular GameBoy emulator for iOS is GBA4iOS. To get GBA4iOS on your iPad, you’ll need to use a program called AltStore along with a computer running iTunes or Finder.
Here are the steps:
First, download the AltStore app on your iPad. You can find the latest version at altstore.io.
Once downloaded, open AltStore and follow the on-screen instructions to connect to a computer running iTunes or Finder. This allows AltStore to install the necessary companion apps and extensions for sideloading.
With AltStore set up, you can now install GBA4iOS. Open the Safari web browser on your iPad and go to GBA4iOS.com to download the latest version of the app.
Once it finishes downloading, you’ll see it appear in the AltStore app. Tap the + icon in the top right corner and select GBA4iOS to begin installing it.
After a minute or two, GBA4iOS will be successfully sideloaded onto your device through AltStore. You can now open it and start using it like any other app!
Get GameBoy Emulator iPadOS games
GBA4iOS comes preloaded with a handful of open source GameBoy games. But you’ll likely want to load your own classic GameBoy and GameBoy Color ROMs.
Some options for getting GameBoy ROMs:
- Transfer from computer: Connect your iPad and computer to the same WiFi network. Then on your computer, open GBA4iOS through AltServer and use File Sharing to transfer ROMs.
- ROM sites: Search for and download GameBoy ROMs from ROM sites through GBA4iOS’s built-in browser.
- Google Drive / iCloud Drive: Upload ROMs to cloud storage like Google Drive or iCloud Drive, then access them through GBA4iOS.
Once you’ve obtained GameBoy ROMs, navigate to the ROMs tab in GBA4iOS and import them. Then you’re all set to play!
Advantages of the AltStore Method
Using AltStore to sideload emulators offers a few advantages:
- No jailbreak required – AltStore works without needing to jailbreak your iPad, making it very simple and reversible.
- Multi-emulator support – You can use AltStore to install other emulators beyond just GameBoy, like NES, SNES, Genesis, etc.
- Easy computer file transfer – AltServer makes it easy to transfer ROMs from your computer to your iPad emulator.
- Refreshes apps automatically – AltStore will re-install and refresh sideloaded apps automatically before they expire.
The main downside is the need for a computer with iTunes or Finder each time you re-install or refresh the apps. But otherwise, it provides a smooth emulator experience.
Method 2: Emu4S4 App
If you don’t want to bother with a computer, you can also download emulator apps like Emu4S4 directly on your iPad through Safari or other web browsers.
Here are the steps for the Emu4S4 method:
Open Safari or another web browser on your iPad and go to emu4ios.net/install/emus4u.php. Tap the download button to begin downloading Emu4S4.
Note that direct download links for Emu4S4 and other emulators frequently change due to app revocations. But a quick web search will usually turn up working links.
Open with Extensions Menu
Once downloaded, don’t open Emu4S4 directly from the home screen. Instead, go to Settings > General > VPN & Device Management and find Emu4S4 in the list.
Tap on the app and hit “Trust” to verify it. Then go back to the home screen and long press on the Emu4S4 icon until the “Extensions” menu pops up. Select “Copy to Emu4S4” to complete the installation.
Get ROMs and Play
Inside Emu4S4, search for and install the GBA4iOS emulator. Then browse for and import GameBoy ROMs into GBA4iOS the same as the AltStore method.
Advantages of Direct Install Apps
Using unofficial app installers like Emu4S4 offers some advantages as well:
- No computer required – You can install emulators directly without touching a PC.
- Large emulator selection – Apps like Emu4S4 have download sections for tons of different emulators.
- ROMs available in-app – Some apps provide access to ROM files and libraries within the app.
- Web app access – If native apps get revoked, you can often access them through web apps.
The issues with direct install methods are potential revocations and the need to re-download new versions at times. But overall it provides a simple way to quickly get emulators.
Best Games to Play on GameBoy Emulator
With your shiny new GameBoy emulator set up, here are some of the best classic games to relive on your iPad:
- Tetris – The iconic puzzle game that launched the GameBoy to success. Still endlessly playable.
- Pokemon Red/Blue – The original Pokemon games that started a decades-long franchise. Catch ’em all on GameBoy!
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – One of the best portable Zelda adventures ever created. Recently remade on Switch but still great in its original form.
- Super Mario Land 2 – Platforming perfection with Mario in his own unique world outside the main Mushroom Kingdom series.
- Metroid II: Return of Samus – Side-scrolling action as bounty hunter Samus explores SR388 and takes on the Metroids.
- Kirby’s Dream Land – Run and float through Dream Land as Kirby inhales enemies and copies abilities.
- Donkey Kong – The original arcade port that started it all for Mario and DK. Challenging platforming and ladder climbing.
- Wario Land – Take control of Mario’s twisted rival Wario on his treasure-seeking adventures.
- Game & Watch Gallery – Classic LCD-style minigames from Nintendo’s Game & Watch portables.
That covers two straightforward methods for installing GameBoy emulators on your iPad running iPadOS. With apps like GBA4iOS and Emu4S4, you can easily enjoy all your old-school GameBoy favorites on the go. From Tetris to Pokemon to Zelda, relive classic portable gaming without dusting off that giant brick of a GameBoy.
Whether you want the stability of sideloading through AltStore or the simplicity of direct install apps, iPadOS makes it easy to emulate the GameBoy Emulator iPadOS library. Just grab some ROMs and let the nostalgia wash over you. Game on!