Play Nintendo Classics On Mac Via Emulation Part 1: Handhelds

Mac Gameboy Emus

Are you a fan of old school gaming? Did you own some Nintendo consoles or handhelds years ago and now you wish you could go back to them and play some of your

favorite games

? Well, nowadays it is perfectly possible to play games from Nintendo and a variety of other systems on your Mac via emulation, which is exactly what we are going to show you in this entry.

Let’s start with emulators for Nintendo’s most cherished handhelds of old: The Gameboy and the Gameboy Advance.

Important Note: Of course, to use these emulators you need actual games. Now, since physical cartridges simply won’t do, games for all these platforms are available online as ROMS (which you can search for in Google). Be aware though, these and any other emulators out there exist for game owners to be able to play backups of games they own and not to foster piracy, which is illegal.


Easily the most iconic handheld in history, the Nintendo Gameboy sold millions during its time and was home to some truly classic games. One of the best native Gameboy emulators for Mac is KiGB, which its developer claims is compatible with virtually all Gameboy and Gameboy Color titles.

Gameboy Emu Donwload

You download and install KiGB just like any other app on the Mac. When you open it, it asks you to choose a ROM to load, which usually has the file extension shown in the picture below.

Gameboy Emu1
Gameboy Rom

You can also adjust a series of important settings, although most of the default ones should be ok.

Gameboy Emu Settings

You can even map the buttons of the Gameboy emulator to anywhere on your keyboard.

Gameboy Emu Keys

Once the ROM loads, you can start gaming right away. However, in most cases you will find that the regular window size of the emulator is too small, but thankfully you can resize it moderately without losing too much image sharpness.

Gameboy Emu Small Window
Gameboy Emu Large Window

Gameboy Advance

Standing over the shoulders of the its predecessor, the Gameboy Advance is still considered by many as perhaps the greatest handheld console of all time. The reason for this is the amazing variety of titles that were developed for it, and most (if not all) of them can be played on your Mac via Visual Boy Advance, one of the best native Gameboy Advance emulators for Mac.

Gameboy Advance Emu

Once you download and install the emulator, you can chose to adjust some of its options through its Preferences.

Gameboy Advance Rom

The Video Size option in particular is very useful, allowing you to have more screen real estate when playing. Being a generation ahead than the Gameboy, of course, means there are more options to tweak, and even though the default ones are ok, feel free to play with them to find the ideal setup.

Gameboy Advance Emu Small
Gameboy Advance Emu Large
Gameboy Advance Emu Settings

On the downside though, Visual Boy Advance’s controls are fixed, and I couldn’t find a way to customize them, so you are stuck with the control scheme the app provides you with.

And there you have them. Two simple apps that you can use to have really a lot of fun and relive memories of all those handheld Nintendo games you enjoyed before. All without leaving your Mac.

Last updated on 03 February, 2022

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