Nintendo Gameboy Advance Emulation for the iPod Touch

As part of the recent Cybersonica 09 Road Trip I was in Liverpool for Interface Amnesty organised by SoundNetwork.


“Inspired by a trade fair scene in the 1974 Francis Ford Coppola film “The Conversation”, jumble sales and the excellent Make magazine maker faires, Interface Amnesty plays with the conventions of interface design, music technology products and the presentation of interactive art.“

It was an enjoyable and entertaining (if noisy!) day – highlights being the chance to see ”Internationally renowned chip tune musician“ Pixelh8 perform live (and likewise Stretta) – and to take home a FREE BETA release of his Tech Pro Performer Synthesiser for Nintendo DS and Nintendo Gameboy.


”The Pixelh8 Music Tech Master Stroke DS is a real time synthesizer for the Nintendo DS system it allows for extensive sound design and is the natural evolution of the Music Tech Series allowing for the classic chip tune sound on a modern device.

The new system allows for keyboard style play by pressing “X” to bring up the 2 Ocatve Xylophone or classic Music Tech mode by using the directional pad to control the sounds in the same way as the Music Tech Game Boy and Pro Performer Game Boy Advance.

Loads of new combinations are possible as you can now combine interval settings with time based effects as well as using the noise channel instead of tone and the easy change between menus allow for quick change during performance.

All sounds are produced via the on board sound chip and no samples or sample manipulation is used, this is a real time chip tune synth for the DS.“

The software is great fun – but definitely more than that too.

Unfortunately I don’t own a Nintendo DS – so I started looking into emulation… and was indeed my ”first stop for Nintendo DS Emulators“ it being ”a website entirely dedicated to one thing and that is Nintendo DS emulation and working NDS emulators.“ 😉

DeSmuME has a version for OS X – now v0.95 – which works perfectly well with Pixelh8’s software on my OS X 10.6.2 unibody MacBook and seems well supported and documented through the website, wiki and desmume manual.

But what I really wanted was an emulator for my iPod Touch 2G…

I did find a couple of gadget/technology blogs claiming that DS emulation on the iPhone was underway… oodles of forum posts about whether it would be a good idea (yawn)… the lack of buttons, the single screen etc… and a few slightly more in-depth tech blogs arguing that the iPhone hardware isn’t actually capable of it – the Nintendo DS having 2 ARM processors and being significantly more powerful – but in the end I started to loose the will to live…

I did find and install DS Double Sys via Installous for my Jailbroken iPod Touch – but although it sort of looks and behaves like a Nintendo DS it isn’t actually an emulator.

So I looked to the Homebrew community… and via ZodTTD ”Home of Homebrew“ found gameboy4iphone – a free Gameboy and Gameboy Colour emulator (though I can’t actually get it to work) – and the $4.99 gpSPhone – a fast Gameboy Advance emulator – which I promptly bought and installed and had up and running with Pixelh8’s MusicTechProPerformerFreeVersion.gba file (admittedly with the CD-ROM version and not the download which seemed to add the .txt extension as it copied across to the /var/mobile/Media/ROMs/GBA/ folder using the very useful PhoneView) – once I’d found a version of the gba_bios.bin file – required but not provided with gpSPhone – on my current favourite place to search for anything… FilesTube.

Now to have a good old play and get ready for the Nintendo DS Orchestra organised by Ross Dalziel of SoundNetwork for the Space Invaders: Art And The Computer Game Environment Private View and after-party I’m helping to produce at FACT on the 17th December. 😉

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