The world of portable gaming isn’t what it used to be. Before the era of mobile phones, on-the-go gamers had to get their fix from something like Nintendo’s Game Boy. And while mobile games may have quietly killed the portable console market, Game Boy games are still great to play while out and about. Here’s a look at the best Game Boy emulators for iOS 14, allowing you to enjoy your favorite old-school games on your thoroughly modern mobile device.
The Best Game Boy Emulators for iOS 14
There are a number of Game Boy emulators available for the iPhone. Many of them support the entire Game Boy family, while others focus on a variety of classic consoles. Not all iOS emulators are built equally, of course: Some are free, some are paid, and others fall somewhere in between.
It’s worth noting that Apple does not allow emulators on the iOS App Store. This means you can’t simply download an emulator to play all of your old ROMs straight from the store. Most emulators floating around the web require you to jailbreak your iPhone, while others need to sidestep Apple’s regulations regarding trusted apps. To get these emulators to run, you’re going to have to put in some work.
One more thing: Since emulation is something of a bad word, we can’t help you find the ROMs you need to start playing Game Boy games. Even if we could, legally speaking, you’re supposed to own the games you emulate. As far as download and installation are concerned, you’re on your own. Still, we can at least point you in the direction of the best emulators for iOS 14.
GBA4iOS is frequently cited as the best Game Boy emulator for iOS devices, but it’s now defunct. In its place we have Delta, a successor created by Riley Testut, the same developer behind the original GBA4iOS. It’s a full-featured application, offering support for the entire Game Boy family as well as Super Nintendo and N64.
Chief among its features are touch-screen controls as well as gamepad support with integrated vibration. It also offers cheats, a customizable UI, DropBox sync, and even the ability to freeze or fast forward through gameplay. Best of all, it doesn’t require root access to run — no jailbreaking required.
There is one caveat, however. Since emulators aren’t allowed on the iOS App Store, developer Testut had to come up with a workaround to get his Game Boy emulator on iPhones. To solve the problem, he created AltStore, a third-party storefront that isn’t officially sanctioned by Apple. To learn more about how to install Delta, head to the AltStore website.
When it comes to classic game emulation, RetroArch is king. It’s not so much a Game Boy emulator as it is an everything emulator, allowing users to choose which systems to emulate by installing various cores. It’s free, it includes a suite of features for organization and customization, and most importantly, it opens access to a vast amount of retro games.
Of course, there has to be a catch. In many instances, running RetroArch requires jailbreaking your iPhone. If you don’t know what that is, then it’s not something you should attempt. However, it is possible to install RetroArch without jailbreaking by using a third-party app store such as TweakBox or Altstore, which we mentioned above. Both of these apps dance around Apple’s terms of service, so again, you’ll have to sort out the specifics yourself. Luckily, the development team has provided detailed instructions on how to install RetroArch on iOS devices.
If you don’t want to jailbreak your iPhone or install third-party storefronts, all you’re left with is web-based emulation. Fortunately, developer Brian Blakely has created a web-based Game Boy emulator called Atlantis. It runs entirely from internet browsers, with specific support for the Safari browser used in iOS devices.
Since it runs from the web, performance may not be as smooth as with software-based emulation. Plus, you’ll need to fiddle a few options for video and controls. Still, it’s free, and it allows you to upload and play your very own ROMs or choose from a few homebrew games offered by default. Beyond that, Blakely has mentioned that support for the NES/Famicom is coming in the future.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of every Game Boy emulator on iOS 14. There are loads of them on the market, even if they aren’t available to download on the iPhone App Store. Still, these are the best iPhone Game Boy emulators available in 2021, with options for users who either are or aren’t comfortable with jailbreaking or side-loading apps. At the very least, they should tide you over until Nintendo finally does something with its Game Boy phone case patent.