The Best Gameboy/GBColor Emulator for Nintendo DS: Lameboy

The Best Gameboy and Gameboy Color Emulator for the Nintendo DS

Just because we have a DS doesn’t mean we don’t want to play some older portable Nintendo games.  While we could play the original Gameboy cartridges on our Gameboy Advances, the Nintendo DS doesn’t afford us that luxury.  However, with a little emulation power, we can resolve that issue and make your portable gaming life even better.

What Is The Best Gameboy/Gameboy Color Emulator?

While GNUboy DS (aka DS_GBC / DSBoy) was the first Gameboy emulator for the DS that had sound support (there was also the GBA-based Gooba Color), Lameboy quickly rose to victory as the superior emulator for the classic Nintendo portables.   Lameboy is constantly being updated (last update as of this writing was just a few months ago) and has excellent compatibility, sound emulation, and save state support that its competition can not boast of.    There is still some slight room for improvement, but I think you will be pleased by how polished Lameboy actually is. Along with nesDS, it is on the top of the Nintendo DS Emulation family.

Easy Installation

After some of my frustrating experiences getting some of my GP2X emulators to run, I was very happy with the simplicity of the Lameboy installation. Assuming your homebrew cart doesn’t require patching, all you do is download the executable file and put it in a folder with some Gameboy ROMs. (Actually, you don’t need folders, and your ROMs can be elsewhere, but folders usually help keep things organized)

For my CycloDS Evolution cartridge, I just copied over a folder (named “GB”) that had the executable and my ROMs on to MicroSD card, popped it in my DS Lite, and I was good to go. No configuration is required to get things up and running.  If you have an older homebrew solution, you may need to patch the executable before use.
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Video Tour of Lameboy

To get a better feel for how Lameboy handles, I’ve recorded a quick video that walks through some of the menus and shows a few games in action.

Lameboy’s Best Features

  • High compatibility
  • Full speed for most games
  • Support for large games greater than 2 MB in size
  • Zipped ROM support for games smaller than 2 MB
  • “Fast Mode” with L-trigger
  • Auto save on exit to menu
  • Pseudo bilinear upscaling mode
  • Super Game Boy borders and coloring support
  • Rumble emulation with slot 2 devices with rumble
  • Green color scheme option emulating original Game Boy color palette (green to very light green)
  • Configurable X/Y Keys
  • Save states

Complaints & Limitations

  • I can’t seem to exit out of Lameboy and go back to my CycloDS menu (like I can with regular games)
  • Some games like Shantae have some minor audio processing issues (see video above for Shantae example)
  • Would be cool to have a rewind feature like nesds

Download

Note: Special thanks to Ivo for helping me explore all of the emulators for the DS — you should see more of these posts from us in the future.

47 Comments

  1. kevinski says:

    I kinda wish that you could use actual cartridges.

  2. Pulstar says:

    Good choice to start with Lameboy as it’s a superb emulator. As for the lack of ‘soft reset’ it’s a common issue with most homebrew apps.. even DSOrganise lacks a soft reset (at least on my R4)

    And the Youtube is a good idea, but couldn’t you use a DS emulator since some emulators lack a snazzy interface?

  3. Mozgus says:

    Wow, I was just about to search through the archives for some emulation on DS to get familiar with, and this is right on the front page. Good job.

  4. racketboy says:

    Thanks Mozgus :) I’ve been meaning to do more of these, but kept procrastinating. Ivo keeps reminding me at least ;)

    Pulstar, thanks for the comment on soft resets. I was kinda thinking maybe it was a homebrew limitation, but I’m sure somebody could figure it out.

    Not sure what you meant about using a DS emulator, however…

  5. SaurianOverlord says:

    Good article, Racket. Is there something in the archives comparing the different DS card adapters? CycloDS looks pretty awesome, but I’m seeing R4 and others much cheaper. What are the major differences between all of these?

  6. Ivo says:

    Racket, I’m not sure it’s fair to include “can’t exit” on the cons – that is a CycloDS centric feature for games, that doesn’t work on any applications I believe. I think it’s up to the CycloDS team to include support for that rather than for the devs of each emulator (I may be wrong here).

    In my opinion, Lameboy and nesDS are the cream of the crop as far as emulators on the DS. There’s other nice ones, but these give the PC emulators a run for their money with the portability factor.

  7. racketboy says:

    I know what you’re saying. But it seems a little odd that I can exit out of commercial games, but not homebrew…

  8. jeffx says:

    I guess this means a “Best GBC Games” article is in order, since I’ve never paid any mind to that generation of portable gaming. How many games were made, anyway?

  9. racketboy says:

    Actually, I’m planning on publishing the GB/GBC Hidden Gems piece in the coming weeks :)

    Not sure about the number of games….

  10. Pulstar says:

    What I meant about DS emulator is a PC-based one. ie record footage directly from a win32 emulator for DS. I know I’ve watched footage of games on Youtube with decent quality that couldn’t be recorded the ‘analog way’ :D I tried one on my PC a few months ago but it’s too slow. Just a thought anyway :)

  11. racketboy says:

    Ah — I see.
    Not sure if my PC has the power for that.
    Also, I’m not sure if it would give as accurate as a representation of the emulator as the “real” thing.
    Interesting idea though!

  12. Covarr says:

    The latest CycloDS Evolution firmware has soft reset for homebrew, just like with commercial games. It’s not perfect, but it works for most homebrew.

  13. racketboy says:

    Awesome — Flashing firmware makes me nervous though :)
    Thanks for the tip!

  14. andymol21 says:

    Really nice article, I just got an original GameBoy from my school, so I’m playing some of the classics right now. I never got into Lameboy until 0.10 which fixed the Super Mario Land 2 bug where you couldn’t get into the Pumpkin Stage. Still, there’s no substitute for that grainy green and black goodness!

  15. GeorgeR says:

    You know I’ve been apprehensive to pick one of these up, but I’ve had an urge to play things like Gargoyle’s Quest and Metroid II again, but didn’t want to be on my PC.

    Thank you for the information I think I’ll be putting it to good use.

  16. racketboy says:

    Glad I could help :)
    It does feel very natural playing GB/GBC games on the DS…

  17. racketboy says:

    BTW, just to let everyone know, I have stumbled across a couple games that have some sound issues. Luckly they were ones that the music wasn’t very good/crucial. So I just turned the volume down for them. (can’t remember what games off the top of my head)

  18. tylerbgood says:

    Great article, it’s good to see some great DS emulators getting press. The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive emulator JenesisDS and the accompanying ApprenticeMinusDS (for Master System & Game Gear) are both excellent as well.

    Racketboy, flashing your Cyclo is a simple process, and doesn’t involve the actual DS firmware at all. I’ve updated to various firmware revisions, and never had an issue. It’s absolutely worth it too; homebrew soft reset, native GBA support (with slot-2 device), improved compatability, and many other new features. When you pay the extra money for a Cyclo over the other flashcarts, you are paying for the great support and constant improvements being made by the Cyclo Dev team.

    I look forward to more great DS emulation articles, and maybe even some posts regarding emus on the Wii someday?

  19. racketboy says:

    Thanks for the comment – I’ll definitely look into upgrading it then.

    We will have more DS articles — I’ll probably finish those out before other system. I don’t have a Wii, so I won’t personally be able to do those. If somebody volunteers (or gives me a Wii :) ), that will work…

    Otherwise, I’ll probably do some more on the Dreamcast, GP2X, and maybe PSP. Portable emulation is my favorite area of the subject.

  20. El Gherkin Es Grande says:

    pal, you really oughta do a write-up on jEnesisDS and NeoDS. the teams behind both emulators really push the hardware to its limits and provide speed, compatibility and accuracy that many people within the homebrew community previously stared were impossible to achieve.

  21. Ineedhelp says:

    How do I put it on Games n Music?

  22. racketboy says:

    You might want to ask in the forum. Do you usually have to patch stuff for that?

  23. boydota says:

    Wow Lameboy virused my R4

  24. ibdnds says:

    I want to say the this is best GB emulator I have found for the DS but it will not run the Gameboy game Logical. Neither will dsboy. It was one of my favorite games back in the day and I hope it gets fixed soon.

  25. Darius Blackthorne says:

    Looking at the DS itself, wouldn’t it be ideal for SNES emulation? Super Metroid on-the-go would be awesome.

    Why don’t you look into SNES emulation on the DS next?

  26. racketboy says:

    There is an SNES emulator, but it’s kinda hit-or-miss in term of compatibility — and even then it requires a lot of manual settings tweakings to get a lot of the compatible ones to work,.

  27. Kricku says:

    There’s not a word about link support. >:(

  28. tuddy says:

    I dunno if another commenter mentioned this, but the very latest version (0.11) has support for the internal clock functions (RTC) used in Pokemon G/S/C. Sure, other emulators on the PC can do this, but I think this is the first emulator for a portable console with RTC support.

  29. xio says:

    the save game on all the pokemon games doesn’t work correctly. It saves only sometime. is there any update for this problem?

  30. dan says:

    shuld make a gba 1 for dsi peeps

  31. dan says:

    shuld make a gba 1 for dsi peeps

  32. Random Guy says:

    does the lameboy support gba? if it supports the previous gameboy systems why not the Advance…I really don’t want to buy a second device…and I have high hopes for the lameboy!!…someone should make an emulator where you could play all the gameboy games on the DS, without a freakin second device,…also does the lameboy support cheats?(maybe as an option)…

  33. secred says:

    hey i think this emulator sucks you better have lameboy

  34. Steve says:

    I have a problem with 0.12, Pokemon Yellow, Silver, Gold, and Crystal don’t save. Red and Blue do though.

  35. dave says:

    Can anyone recommend a good device like a supercard or m3 to put lameboy on?

  36. Ben says:

    hey, just wondering.. how do i download it, and if i do will i still be able to exit and go to the main ds menu where i can select my gba game or ds game?

  37. Accident says:

    nesDS misses a lot of sounds in the NES games, examples RBI Baseball 2 it tells you when ur out, or striked but the emulator missed all that. Mike Tyson Punch Out is garbled.
    Super Mario 1 starts off in level 0-1 and you have to press A and press start to get the game to work properly for some reason.
    Jenisis faired a little better but the problem with it was that it didn’t play any x32 games first one i tried was star wars. lol Although im looking for nhl 95 and defender of rom 2
    anyways tried the snes emulator and it kicked butt!

  38. MR_Schell says:

    @”Random Guy” GBA Emulation on the DS is imposible. In order to emulate someting the speed of the device has to be about 5-7 times the speed of what your emulating. The DS is 67mhz and the gba is 30 something so, the DS is only twice the speed.
    Note: 67mhz is only the speed of the ds original and light.
    The DSI can run around 120mhz.

  39. MR_Schell says:

    Correction to what said:
    The DS Original and Lite each have 2 CPUs “One 67.028 MHz ARM9 and one 33.514 MHz ARM7TDMI with 4MB of RAM”(from wikipedia).
    The DSis stats however are more vague.
    “a 133MHz ARM Processor with 16MB of RAM”.

  40. shredder says:

    myne is broke its now al in a map dat’s cald some kind of + help wat can I do?

  41. poo man says:

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  42. Lori says:

    I have a DS lite and am playing Zelda II Adventures of Link. I found the Hammer but it dosen’t show up in my inventory to use. Is there something I need to do to make the game play correctly on my DS. Please help!

  43. Kashmir says:

    OMG! Thank you Nintendo for such a great handheld.

    Now I got most NES, GB, GBC, GBA and some DS Titles on one Module and I can even add some Master System oder Genesis Roms. HOW COOL IS THAT?!
    Hope there will be a better SNES Emulator in the future, any rumors?

    3DS suxxs =)

  44. r4 says:

    I wish we could use the regular cartridges too. I also with that they left the GBA slot on the DSI (and put it on the 3DS… ) but, the system is old, and they supported it with the slot 2 port for a long time, so I guess it is all good. I know the supercard dstwo has the built in emulator for GBA, and lameboy seems to be pretty good for GBC games. But I would love to be able to soft reset it, and load different games / get back to the ds card menu instead of having to power down each time.

  45. Mexamilian says:

    I wish there was a way to add gameshark/action replay/game genie codes and enable disable function. :(

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