Gameboid Lite is a Gameboy Advance emulator created by yongzh; he has created a couple of other emulators for various platforms and this current iteration does not dissapoint. For those of you unfamiliar with what an emulator is, it is basically a program designed to simulate the functions of one device on another. In this case, you are in essence running a Gameboy Advance on your Android phone. This application allows you to access a large quanitity of the vast Gameboy Advance library and play these games whenever you have your Android.
(Also read the section on compatibility prior to doing any downloads!)
First things first you have to download the application to your device. This is done like any other app where you go to the marketplace and then in the search type in "GameBoid" In the results there should be two applications both with GameBoid in the name. The very top one is simply called GameBoid with an associated $3.99 cost and the other is GameBoid Lite which is free. This review deals with the second choice, GameBoid Lite and that is the one you will want to download for now. I will go into detail at the end of this review the key difference between the paid and free version but for now the free one is all you need.
Once you have the application downloaded and installed go ahead and launch it up. At this point what you should be seeing is a menu like this:
As I stated previously, GameBoid Lite is simply an emulator for GBA it does not come with any games preinstalled. Fortunately all GBA games or in this case, "roms" are very very easy to find and just as easy to upload to your device. What you are going to want to do now is download a working rom of your preference and then transfer it to your device.
Roms can be easily found on the internet simply by heading to Google and doing a search for something like "Gameboy Advance Roms" You will find numerous websites all listing a vast selection of different roms. I have personally used the website http://www.rom-freaks.net/gba-roms-0-desc-name-.html
and have had no trouble finding and downloading the roms I desired. No signup or fees are required for download. However, like I said before roms are easily found and any website of your preference is acceptable.
The key requirement for roms is they all must be Gameboy Advance roms. Gameboid Lite is an emulator for Gameboy Advance and thus only GBA roms will work. Do not try downloading and running roms for a different platform as they will not work.
Once you have a GBA rom downloaded, plug your android device into your computer and then mount the SD card for transfer. Following this, locate where you have saved the rom you previously downloaded and then right click on it and select copy. You will then want to navigate to your phone's SD card.
If you are running windows 7 (it is relatively similar for other windows platforms) I have demonstrated how to access the SD card below:
Prior to plugging in phone:
After phone is connected and SD card is mounted:
After doubling clicking and entering that "Removable Disk" you should create a new folder to store any roms on your phone; something like GBA roms would be sufficient. After creating a folder enter into that and then right and paste your rom into the folder.
Now go ahead and disconnect your phone and then reopen GameBoid Lite. The black screen that we see here is simply a view of the folders inside your SD card. You should see the folder that was previously created which contains your rom; upon opening that inside should be the rom you downloaded. If the rom is not displayd upon opening the folder that means you did not download a GBA rom and you need to go back and download a Gameboy Advance rom. Otherwise if you have started your rom up, it is time to start playing. :)
GameBoid Lite is designed to work with Gameboy Advance roms however, unfortunately, not all roms are compatible. A group of users here at phandroid have collaborated together to discuss and list out a compatibility list showing which titles work no problem, which titles have some glitches and which titles do not work at all. Compatibility list
In game there a variety of settings which can be toggled or adjusted. Game music/sounds can be completely muted with the check of a box. The scaling of the screen can be changed so the game screen size can be made larger or smaller. It is also possible to toggle the orientation of the game; whether you want it locked in portrait, landscape or set it to auto rotate according to how you orient your phone. Framerate can be played around with (though I recommend keeping this set to automatic). If you have a physical QWERTY, its possible to play using that and keys can be assigned to different buttons. Otherwise the virtual controls remain for those with just a touch screen. Your notification bar can also be toggled on and off.
One of the more interesting settings is the option to set your trackpad or trackball as the D-pad for the game. For most phones this is not immediately appealing because the trackball or pad is on the right side. However, Gameboid also allows you to flip the game screen upside down so that you are able to flip your phone and thus have your trackpad/ball on the left.
The application is absolutely fantastic. If you pick and run a rom that is shown to be compatible then the game is completely smooth and fantastic. There was no stuttering, no framerate dips and no lag for the titles I have played. On my Nexus One the game resolution is crisp and clear, words are easy to read and audio comes out without any distortion.
As far as I can tell the app does not use up any more battery life than a typical Android game. Since I have gotten my Nexus One I have had to charge it at the end of each day usually with a charge of about 10-15% remaining. This is with regular use, phone calls, texts, watching videos and playing games. Using Gameboid has not caused me to have to charge more frequently so its about equal in usage to the other Android games it replaced(things like Robo Defense or Bonsai Blast)
In terms of multitasking with Gameboid running, I have also not had any issues or problems. Getting a call while playing pauses the game, I take the call and then when I hang up I just go back to the game as if nothing happened. Same thing with browsing or texting with gameboid running in the background, I have had no issues.
The only complaint I have had with this app is the current implementation of the on screen, touch controls. In the previous build for the app, the controls were off the screen and were opaque, colored buttons as shown below:
In the most updated version of the app, the controls have been tweaked so they are now transparent and the screen has been adjusted so it fills a larger portion of the screen. These transparent controls partially overlay the game screen and the result is this:
While the controls do not obscure viewing of the screen, as soon as I touch or play the game my own hands proceed to block the corners of the game.
Difference between paid and Lite version
The paid version, for $3.99USD, has one distinct advantage over the lite version. The paid version allows you to save states. Basically what this means is it allows you to save the exact state of the application(including your game progress) whenever you choose to at a single push of a button. This state can then be loaded up again whenever you like and you can continue on from where you left off.
The Lite version still allows you to save, however the saves can only be done through the in game save system. Some games (such as pokemon) will allow you to save whenever and wherever you like through the in game menu. Others however(such as FFVI) will only allow you to save when you reach a save point thus making it so you might go a long long time in between saves.
Thats the only difference between the two versions so its up to you to decide whether being able to save whenever you like is worth the price of $3.99
- Lite version is a free download
- Large selection of compatible GBA roms(future updates will only expand compatibility)
- Smooth playback with no framerate dips or screen issues
- Not a huge drain on battery
- Does not suck up all the processing power of your phone(I'm playing on a Nexus one though)
- Hours and hours of fun :)