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Gameboy Advance Emulation: Visual Boy Advance (VisualBoyAdvance-M) Tutorial

About Visual Boy Advance

This tutorial is to help you with Visual Boy Advance. Visual Boy Advance is considered by most people to be the #1 emulator for Game Boy Advance. It's emulation quality is practically perfect. It comes equipped with all the usual features we expect emulators to have.

The original VisualBoyAdvance was last updated in 2005. Luckily, others have since picked up the torch and continued updating the emulator as “VisualBoyAdvance-M” (or “VisualBoyAdvance Merged”). This tutorial focuses on VisualBoyAdvance-M. There is very little difference between the original VisualBoyAdvance and VisualBoyAdvance-M, so this tutorial can still be used for either version.

*If you would like to download VisualBoyAdvance-M, I have it in my emulators page.

Extracting & Placement

I suggest you make a new folder called "Game Boy Advance" within a folder called "Emulation". You don't have to, but it makes things a little easier for you if you're not too computer literate. Extract all the contents of this emulator's zip file into the Game Boy Advance folder. If you don't know how to extract files from a zip file then read this. Put all of your Game Boy Advance ROMs into the Game Boy Advance folder too. VisualBoyAdvance-M has zip support, so you do not have to extract ROMs from their zip files. Double-click on "VisualBoyAdvance" (the file with the purple GBA icon) to open it.

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Setting up the keyboard or gamepad

1. Go to Options > Input > Set > Configure 1..., as shown here.

2. You will arrive here. By default, automatic reconfiguration is enabled, so just press away and all your keys will be reconfigured. It starts at the top left where the highlight is, at "Up". When you're done click Ok.

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Loading a game

Click on the File menu then Open GBA for Game Boy Advance games, Open GBC for Game Boy Color games, or Open GB for Game Boy (Classic) games. If you placed VisualBoyAdvance-M in the same folder as your games then you will see them there. Double-click on a game to play it.

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“d3dx9_41.dll is missing” error

Upon opening VisualBoyAdvanceM for the first time you might get the following error:

The program can't start because d3dx9_41.dll is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem.

This is an easy fix. Just install the full DirectX package. You can download it here: DirectX End-User Runtime Web Installer (284 KB). This installer promises to install all the legacy files that correct issues such as this.

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Save states

Save states is a feature that saves the exact spot you are in a game.

• Once a game is open, go to File > Save Game > 1, as shown here. Or you can just press Shift+F1. VisualBoyAdvance-M allows you to save up to 10 different states per game.

• When you wish to recall your saved state, go to File > Load Game > 1. Or you can just press F1.

Side Note: All the RPG shrines in my FantasyAnime offer complete collections of periodical game saves so that you can continue at any significant point in the game. If you'd like to learn more about how to use somebody else's saves or transfer saves between emulators, check out my Game Saves Tutorial.

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Screen Filters (Pixel Filters)

My favorite part! Screen filters makes the graphics looke nice and smooth. Filters are a separate download for VisualBoyAdvance-M (they're included in the original (and outdated) VisualBoyAdvance-M). However if you download VisualBoyAdvance-M from my emulators page then they're included.

Anyway, once the filters are in VisualBoyAdvance-M's folder then you can proceed with these directions:

1. Go to Options > Pixel Filter > Select Filter Plugin, as shown here.

2. Choose a filter from the list and click OK, as shown here.

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Full screen mode

To enable full screen mode:
1. Go to Options > Video > Select fullscreen mode, as shown here.
2. This window will appear. The default settings should be sufficient. Just click OK and you'll enter fullscreen.
3. Press the Esc key to exit fullscreen. To quickly re-enter fullscreen, press Esc again (this only works after following steps 1 and 2).

*If VisualBoyAdvance-M seems to be lagging in fullscreen, try choosing 720x480 as the fullscreen resolution. And if you have a screen filter enabled then try disabling it to speed things up.

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Screen capture

Simply press F12 and VisualBoyAdvance-M will drop a screen shot into the same directory where your video game ROM resides. By default it saves the screen shot as a PNG image.

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VisualBoyAdvance-M lets you cheat using your favorite Gameshark or Codebreaker codes. It's easy. To put in Gameshark codes:

1. First go to Cheats > List to bring up the cheats window.

2. Next click on the Gameshark button. In the little window that pops up, fill in the "Description" and "Code" boxes.

3. Click OK when you're done. Then click OK to exit the Cheats window. Then restart the game so the cheats can take effect.

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Finding cheats

Just go to :) If you don't find anything worthwhile there, maybe Google can help. Search with keywords like "golden sun gameshark".

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Sound & movie capture

VisualBoyAdvance-M has the ability to capture sound as WAV or capture your game play as an AVI movie clip.


To record sound:

1. Go to Tools > Record > Start Sound Recording...

2. Choose a filename, then click Save for the recording to begin. Expect VisualBoyAdvance-M to lagg a little bit. But rest assured that the sound it's recording won't sound nasty and skippy.

3. When you're done recording what you wanted, go to Tools > Record > Stop Sound Recording.... To edit the sound you can use this free sound editor: Audicity. And to convert it to MP3 use WinLame (it's 1.50 MB).


To record a movie:

1. Go to Tools > Record > Start AVI Recording...

2. Choose a filename, then click Save for the recording to begin. Expect VisualBoyAdvance-M to lagg a little bit. But rest assured that the movie it's recording won't come out nasty and choppy.

3. When you're done recording what you wanted, go to Tools > Record > Stop AVI Recording.... To edit the movie you can use Windows Movie Maker.

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Q: I get the error “Saved data is corrupted”

Upon loading a game (particularly a Pokemon game) you might get this error: “Saved data is corrupted”. Here's how to resolve this:

1. Delete any SRM or SAV files associated with the game that is giving you this error. For example, if your ROM is called “Pokemon Leaf Green (U).zip” then you'll see “Pokemon Leaf Green (U).srm” or “Pokemon Leaf Green (U).sav” in the same folder where the ROM resides. Delete them.

2. Click here to download vba-over.ini (1.91 KB)

3. Extract “vba-over.ini” from the zip file you just downloaded and place it in the same directory that Visual Boy Advance resides.

4. Move the ROM of the game you're trying to play to Visual Boy Advance's directory.

5. Open Visual Boy Advance (if it's already open, close it and re-open it) and go to Options > Emulator > Save Type and make sure Automatic and Flash 64k are selected; as shown here.

6. Load the game and you should no longer see that error.

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