A few years ago, I made a video showcasing 6 amazing GBA ports and Demakes, since that video, I’ve found another 15 amazing examples!
The first one we’re going to take a look at today is one you’ve probably already seen a lot online recently, this is:
an incredible port of the original Tomb Raider games, this open source project runs on a range of different consoles and computers, with even more to come in the future. There’s a great video by Modern Vintage Gamer which details how this seemingly impossible port was made. It was so interesting to hear how the developer has written this new engine from scratch to take full advantage of the GBA hardware. It really is mind blowing to see this running on the original the original console! If it had come out back in the day, I’m sure it would have been one of the best selling games on the system, and really blown people away at the time!
Next is a really impressive tech demo made by 3DSage, MineCraft for the GBA, known as GBA Craft. it’s a little awkward to control, and of course very limited compared to actual Minecraft, but for a 3D demo of what’s possible, this is fantastic! You can basically build anything you want with a selection of blocks, but honestly, like a lot of these games, I find the development process behind them even more fascinating than the games themselves, so definitely check out his YouTube channel after this to see how it was made, as well as some other really impressive projects he’s worked on for the GBA too!
Lumines is not just one of my favourite games not he PSP, but one of my all time favourites! I even did a full length documentary about the developer a few years ago! So when I found out that the GBA had it’s own homebrew version, I had to download it and check it out! I’m really impressed by how fast and responsive this is to play! It almost feels just like the PPS game! The music and sound quality in general is really impressive too, and it’s just as much fun to play here as it ever has been! In this release there’s also a few other interesting game modes that really make this unique as not just a port, but as a standalone game in it’s own right. You can also play a timed version of minesweeper, and a really interesting combined game of both lunies and mine sweeper on the same playfield, which gets hectic pretty fast! Super impressed by this one, and definitely worth checking out for yourself!
The dreamcast is a console I really want to collect more games for, and one of those games is Cosmic Smash, a really interesting breakout style game with an into the screen perspective and cool graphics! Well, until I get the dreamcast game, this is the next best thing! Cosmic Smash, programmed by the famous game designer Jim Bagley, this is a really competent port of the game for GBA, it’s missing a lot of the polish of the Dreamcast game, but the concept still works! It’s quite twitchy, and sometimes the hits don’t register properly., but as a tech demo, this is really cool, and makes me wish that Sega did release a port of it on the GBA! It was a late release for the Dreamcast and the GBA was already out by the time it came out, so it would have been great to get this as a kind of companion to the main game back int he day! Another really impressive bit of programming!
Tyrian is a game that’s been ported so many times over the years to pretty much every computer and console imaginable! It began life back in 1995 as a DOS game, ad was actually one of the first games I ever played! In 2007, an open source port of the game was made, and the flood gates opened! There’s actually both a gameboy color, and gameboy advance version of Tyrian, and the GBC one was actually going to be released officially before the publisher pulled the plug at the last minute, luckily though, both versions of the game have been preserved online, and what is here for the GBA is a great recreation of the PC original, but it used the new level layouts of the gameboy color port. It still looks and plays great though, and it’s such a shame it never got an official release, as the GBA wasn’t really the best console for shoot em ups! Surprisingly, this isn’t the only shoot up up on this list though! So keep watching to see another amazing example of the genre a bit later on!
Now, although this one is called Quake GBA, it really only bears a passing resemblance to the actual game, instead this is another interesting 3D tech demo, which lets you move around this small 3D environment, not much here int he way of gameplay, or even really an attempt at recreating the game it’s based on, but it’s still always impressive to see proper 3D rendered and textured polygons running on the GBA! You can also manipulate the camera and zoom in and out to see the character in 3D as well, pretty impressive, but it’s a shame there’s not more “game” to this one..
Bust A Move
While this one may not look that impressive compared to the other games on this list, this one is actually one of the best ones I’m showing off today! There was an official Bust A Move game for the GBA, or puzzle bobble if you want to use its… proper name. But that in that version, everything was so small and lifeless compared tot he arcade original, so this homebrew port by Russ Prince is a faithful recreation for he graphics and gameplay, and is in my opinion, so much better than the official release! What’s even more impressive, is that this homebrew potrt was actually made all eh way back in 2002 when the GBA was still quite new! Apparently this only took him two months to program and includes all the levels from the original Neo Geo Release and even a link mode option with extra game modes! Really impressive stuff!
I’ve never actually played the original Trailblazer, in fact, the first time I ever played any kind of port or remake of this game was on the Gizmondo! And I loved it! This GBA version looks and plays really well, I imagine it’s pretty much the same as the older home computer versions from the 80’s, the controls are nice and responsive and the game has that addicting one more go factor! I really need to try and track down the Commodore 64 version now I have one! this GBA port was made in 2007 by Diddy, and it features all 21 levels of the C64 game. It looks like Diddy has made a few other GBA games over the years, so I might try and track those down to show off in a future video too!
Now for a game that everyone around my age will have put hundreds of hours into back in school, yes, this is the helicopter game, preserved here in GBA format! This one really takes me back to my IT class where I would just have this open in the corner of the screen and play while pretending to do work! It plays really well on the GBA and is definitely a good bit of programming, even if it doesn’t really push the system much.. Let me know int he comments if you played this one at school like I did!
Here’s a sad example of a completed Demakes that was actually going to be released officially, but the publisher pulled out at the last minute. This is a really impressive and faithful recreation of the classic cinematic platformer, Another World. This GBA port retains all the impressive video sequences and super smooth animation which made the game famous back in the early 90’s! I would have loved to be able to play this game portably back in the say, so it’s such a shame that it never got a release. Luckily the rom has been released online by the developers so it’s now free to play for everyone with a GBA and a flash cart!
Thunder Force 3
This is a very early tech demo for a port of one of my all time favourite shoot em ups, thunder force 3! The orignal on the Megadrive is such a good game, so seeing it running on the GBA was pretty exciting at first, unfortunately though, this is a really early proof of concept with nothing more than a few enemies and the sprites imported. There’s no real game here, but it is a glimpse into what could have been. Don’t worry though, the next few games are much more fleshed out!
This is such an amazing achievement to squash down the epic PC game Elite into a GBA rom, this port seems to include all he features of the original, including loads of menu’s that I have no idea what they do! This is a game that I’ve always been interested in, but never really given a proper chance, so I don’t know much about what to do, but seeing it run on the GBA, with a well thought out new UI and intuitive controls was pretty cool! I can imagine that this took a lot of programming to get woking! According to the PD Roms page for the game, this was made by reverse engineering the original BBC Micro code and contains code form various members of the GBA dev community!
Super Star Shooter
This one is a kind of fan made spin off of Hudsons Star Soldier games, but I included it on this list because it was actually originally made all the way back in 1995 for the amazing Japan only PC, the Sharp X68000, which I’d love to get my hands on one day! The game it’s self is a really fast and fun vertical shoot em up! A genre that you don’t really see a lot of on the GBA, especially ones as competently programmed and payable as this one! It’s a short time attack style game, so although there’s not that much to it, what is here is fantastic! And definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of shoot em ups, especially the star soldier games!
This, like Thunder Force 3 before it, is another proof of concept demo of a 16 bit console game being ported natively to the GBA, the sprites and backgrounds look fantastic on the GBA screen, but unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of actual gameplay yet, you can do two different types of kicks and punches, but the opponents don’t have any AI, so it’s very much a tech demo and nothing more. Still interesting though and an interesting look into what Mortal Kombat could have looked like if it did receive a GBA port!
Sonic The Hedgehog
And finally, ending with another really impressive one, you might be thinking that Sonic already got a port for the GBA? Well it did, in the form of Sonic The Hedgehog Genesis, which released in 2006 to coincide with the 15th anniversary. Unfortunately, that port was full of bugs and glitches and terrible physics. So, the version you’re looking at here was a fan made creation that was programmed form scratch and much more closely resembles the physics and gameplay of the original! and looking at the two side by side, the difference is immediately apparent!
That would be impressive on it’s own, but what makes this fan made port so interesting was that it was made by Simon Thomley, who goes by the name of stealth in the sonic fan game community… Yes, the same Stealth who would later create his own game studio, head cannon, and work alongside another member of the sonic fan game community, Christian Whitehead, to make the amazing Sonic Mania!
It’s always really interesting to look back at the history of Sonic fan games and projects, and I’m so glad that SEGA eventually took notice of their talents and hired them for an official project! I’d love to cover more Sonic games and stories like this in the future, so subscribe if you’d like to see that!
There’s so many talented people making brand new original games for the GBA as well, and this was just a small taste of the amazing projects that are out there in the GBA scene and I’ll definitely be highlighting more in the future!
If you haven’t already seen it, definitely check out my last episode on this topic where I covered 6 other GBA Demakes, including some really impressive games like Virtua Fighter and Celeste! Thanks for reading.
If you want to try these games out for yourself, here’s links to download the rom!
Luminesweeper – https://pineight.com/lu/#download
Minecraft – https://www.gbadev.org/demos.php?showinfo=1527
Cosmic Smash – https://www.gbadev.org/demos.php?showinfo=1395
Another World – https://www.gbadev.org/demos.php?showinfo=1279
Thunder Force 3 – https://www.gbadev.org/demos.php?showinfo=599
Bust A Move –https://gbadev.org/demos.php?showinfo=376
Hellicopter game – https://pdroms.de/files/nintendo-gameboyadvance-gba/sputter-dash
Mortal Kombat – https://www.gbadev.org/demos.php?showinfo=1548
Tomb Raider(Open Lara) – http://xproger.info/projects/OpenLara/files/gba/