August 15, 2019

Pokemon On GBA Is Getting Popular Again

For most GBA fans, the reason to buy the console was Pokemon – the legendary franchise that would just glue you to your seat. Modern-day phenomena like Pokemon Go have shown that the series is just as attractive for today’s generations. Still, the old-fag fans of Pokemon can’t possibly be satisfied with the recent Go version. It just doesn’t feel as good as the original.

That’s where the emulation comes in. It turns out, you don’t need to have a retro-console r original game collection. Some of Pokemon games are available online while others can be downloaded as ROMs.

Of course, it’s no surprise that when GBA emulators became popular, Pokemon quickly got to the top of the list of the most popular ROMs. If you take a look at any game catalog’s ratings of the most popular downloads, you will see Pokemon occupying the top spots.

So, we took a look at those most popular free gameboy advance ROMs to see whether emulation of Pokemon series is worth it. We reviewed the most popular ripped files, player reviews, and the quality of user experience.

So, the leader of emulated ROMs is…

Pokemon Fire Red

The first and foremost reason for such popularity is that Pokemon Fire Red was, for many, the first game ever. It was also the beginning of an era – with this title, the series started gaining its great gameplay. The original Red version was already similar to what we’ve seen as a sequel, but not anywhere as well-tested and written.

Let’s also not forget that Pokemon Fire Red features many rare pokemon. Obtaining them remained a dream for many collectors. So, it’s natural that many want to return to the challenge and finish what they started back then when the game was at its peak.

Is the emulated version good? Shortly, yes. There were several ROMs releases made by different fan communities. They are mostly similar, differing only by the distribution of the functionality and the interface quality. Usually, the more significant is the file, the more high-quality visuals you’ll get.

The interface is no different from the original; however, specific characteristics like brightness and contrast might slightly differ. The ROMs are connected between each other, so the collections that you’ve assembled in one game can be transferred to another – although that requires additional work and experience.

However, these massive files require a lot of computing power and put a tremendous load on a CPU. Still, you can get the full experience even with an average computer. After all, FireRed is an old game, and its technical characteristics aren’t nearly as demanding as those of new releases.

Pokemon Dark Rising

This is one of those games that’s getting more popular with the development of emulation than it was back in the days. Pokemon Dark Rising became a hit as an Android game, but its’ PC versions are just as popular.

The game’s main advantage is its elaborate plot and interesting obstacles. The majority of Pokemon titles never cared much about the writing aspect. Sure, it’s on point on almost any franchise’s release, but Dark Rising truly takes it to another level.

Of course, while other users are madly in love with the game, others point out issues. The first problem is the game’s difficulty – you will have to grind a lot. ‘So, you just fought a boss, won a battle. Having a possibility to recover would be nice, but another boss shows up in no time’ – this is a typical user experience. The second typical problem are bugs: killed bosses sometimes have a tendency to resurrect.

Is emulation worth it? ROM enthusiasts know that making an emulated version is hard work, and finding a high-quality completed rip off is quite a challenge. Luckily, Pokemon Dark Rising has nailed this part. Actually, Pokemon Dark Rising online emulator might be the best one out there.

Pokemon Emerald

Naturally, the third-bestselling Pokemon game would hardly lose its immense popularity years after. This game adds a range of pleasant additions to core series’ functionality. The graphics re already much more detailed and modern, considering that the game was released not such a long while ago, in 2004. The soundtrack, in our opinion, is the best of all Pokemon.

Pokemon Emerald Version is the best game for introducing people who didn’t get a chance to appreciate the original version. IT’s already much faster than early Pokemon releases – meaning that battles don’t drag on and are smoothly animated. It also delivers a fair share of that original nostalgia – something that the modern adaptations are not very good at doing.

The game has its drawbacks, of course, like the cancellation of day and night cycle. Also, some players didn’t enjoy this version’s rare Pokemon, finding that it wasn’t worth the thrill. Still, there were a lot of positive changes as well – like the addition of magical shoes that speed up running, and HM ‘Dive’ for underwater exploration.

Is emulation good? ROMs for Pokemon Emerald are slightly less popular than for a FireRed version. Still, there is quite a choice – the differences are noticeable in settings, additional features, and mode support.

If you are lucky, you’ll find a ROM that’s even more enjoyable than the original version. In some, users can look up into a ‘Help’ tab if they are confused about the map and don’t know where to go – and that’s a common issue in Emerald. Other versions allow multiplayer modes and even host online services. Long story short, it’s entertaining.

Pokemon: Ruby Version

This fantastic edition is unfortunately frequently overshadowed by more popular releases. Still, now players have come to recognize this title and its full potential. There is much to see, starting from fast battles and perhaps one of the most comfortable controls, to detailed gameplay.

At the time of its release, it was one of the most detailed and beautifully drawn RPGs out there – and the reviewers on Metacritic confirm this, too. The number of thought developers put into preparing detailed battles and writing rules for Pokemon collection is simply astonishing.

Is the emulation worth it? 100% yes. Even by the measure of modern technical standards, this game still offers a lot of reasons for enjoyment. The side-characters are well-written, and the worldbuilding improved a ton compared to the previous versions. Even by comparison with later releases (like the Emerald version), Pokemon Ruby still stands a fair competition.

If you are introducing a new player to the franchise, you can start with Emerald, and then go back to Ruby, or begin with this one, and then move to later versions. In our opinion, both Emerald and Ruby versions make a perfect starting point for a potential Pokemon fan, as they show the franchise in its pure beauty. The rules are not yet overly complicated, but already elaborate enough to intrigue newcomers.

Pokemon Leaf Green

Although a lot of players enjoy FireRed version more than this one, it doesn’t mean Lead Green doesn’t have its unique features. In fact, many consider it to be one of the best games of the first Pokemon generation.

The game is more straightforward than FireRed and even less elaborate than previous releases. The map’s complexity was reduced in exchange for higher speed. While fast gameplay makes the game a joy to play, the overall experience is slightly more inferior compared to previous releases. Some players even felt that Nintendo could’ve been cutting corners on this release, equipping it with a less powerful engine and deleting bits and pieces from the storyline.

This game is a perfect opportunity to get kids into the franchise. Its simplicity makes it very accessible for players of different age – the title doesn’t require additional explanation. Slightly more experienced gamers might find it less engaging than Ruby or Saphire, let alone Emerald.

Is emulation worth it? Due to its simplicity, Pokemon Green Leaf makes for a perfect low-budget emulated game. Even poorly-equipped PCs will be capable of handling the workload on this game. So, if you are looking for long and hassle-free experiences, this is a great pick. The best part is, you don’t need to invest in a new CPU or clean the storage space. The game isn’t, by all means, a demanding one which is also what makes it an excellent fit for beginning gamers.

Pokemon Sapphire

The GBA’s bestselling game – Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire is usually divided into two separate parts – Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Saphire in emulated versions. If you want to replicate the original experience fully, you can fight a wholesome version, but it’s going to be slower and somewhat cluttered. We’d recommend instead downloading both Pokemon Ruby ROM and a Pokemon Sapphire ROM, and simply synchronizing them with each other.

This version, as you can expect, is not much different from emulated Ruby. IT covers slightly different regions of the map and has other rare pokemon. The overall functionality and design benefits are all the same as in Ruby. The only distinction is, the Ruby version is slightly fuller whereas Sapphire feels somewhat stripped down.

Is emulation worth it? Yes. Similarly to the Green Leaf version, this simplicity is a unique advantage for emulation. You PC has yo process workload both from the emulator and the ROM, which requires a powerful CPU. So, the simpler is the ROM, the less power it’ll need. As a result, you can quickly get by even with a low-performance processing unit.


The reason why Pokemon remains popular even without retro Game Boy Advance consoles around is that the beauty of the game was never about controls or design. IT was all about the concept and the thrill of catching rare pokemon. As one of the user reviews put it, ‘the more you come back to the Pokemon franchise, the more you understand how little has changed.’

We think that this adherence to set standards is the main reason for Pokemon’s popularity even now. Whenever you come back to the series, be it an emulated ROM or a hyped Pokemon Go version, you see similar challenges.

It doesn’t matter whether you start with the first generation or jump straight to the third. The game is simple enough to be understood from any title, and the technical characteristics were always on a high level, even in the very first releases.

Emulated Pokemon games are more than just nostalgia. Even now, they are still appealing to new players as much as it’s so for die-hard fans of original versions. It’s just a fantastic game that shows its full potential on PC just as fine as it did on legendary GBAs.

About the author 

Anu Balam

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