I do a fair amount of gaming, but despite the bevy of awesome games dropping every week, I often go pretty old school. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Game Boy Advance titles. Why, you ask? Well, it’s a fantastic console, and one which I picked up for $1 at a yard sale a year ago, complete with “Wario Land 3” for GBC. The fact that I can throw it in my backpack and play on my lunch break makes it perfect. Plus, I’ve got ClassicBoy installed on my LG F3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition tablet.
Recently, I stumbled across a great tutorial by Joe Savage on how to write a Game Boy Advance game. Savage’s article goes into GBA hardware details, chronicles setting up a development environment, and even offers a few code snippets for creating a game like Pong. The tutorial links to a few other resources on creating GBA games, such as a Nintendo AGB Programming Manual, CowBiteSpec, and Tonc.
So, why would you want to develop a Game Boy Advance game? With the countess emulators floating around for platforms ranging from PC to Android, and Raspberry Pi, there’s no shortage of gamers with the means to play. Plus, it’s accessible to casual players and hardcore gamers alike. Then there’s the retro appeal. A few years ago, there was an Angry Video Game Nerd episode reviewing AVGN fan-made games, one of which was made for the Commodore 64.
Retro enthusiasts abound in the gaming and development communities, no doubt perpetuated by the popularity of emulators, and even consoles like the Retro5 N by Hyperkin. A big trend in game dev is making retro-style games, and there are some neat tips on how to capture this old school aesthetic. Granted, ROMs on a cartridge and emulator don’t always operate the same way, and Joe Savage includes a disclaimer that while his Pong-esque creation should operate the same way on a GBA console as it does in an emulator, it wasn’t tested. For more Game Boy Advance development resources, and some games and demos, check out GBADev.org.