GBA games running on DS flashcards is a reality

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PogoShell it to me ™
Former Staff
Dec 22, 2002
GBA games running on DS flashcards is a reality
possible, but would take a lot of work

*UPDATE* These has been a big misunderstanding between Normmatt and his friend. To clarify this theory has not been achieved already, it is simply just that, a theory. I apologize for the confusion caused and will always endeavour to keep you up to date on the latest happenings. The original story (now incorrect) follows:


Not only are DS flashcards capable of playing GBA games, but it has already been done, programmer and GBAtemp member Normmatt says.

GBA games can be played from the DS’s GBA slot, however it was long thought they could never run from a DS flashcard in the DS slot due to hardware restrictions.

A friend and fellow programmer has already created a proof-of-concept demo which can run commercial GBA games without sound but at full speed from the DS slot, Normmatt said.

The anonymous programmer is concerned about the implications of piracy so the concept demo will not be released, however it is now known to be possible, Normmatt said.

“The way my friend did it was he loaded in pages of the GBA ROM into RAM, say in 2MB pages.”

“[the demo] loads in the seperate pages when needed. So to start off it'd load in the first 2MB of the GBA ROM, then when it reads from near the end of GBA ROM it will load in the page and redirect the read to read from the main RAM where the new page is located.”

Loading times when changing the data held in the DS’s RAM ‘shouldn’t be that noticable’, Normmatt said.

A hypervisor, used to translate the GBA graphics and sound hardware to work on the DS hardware, would need to be created for this approach to work.

“Using the hypervisor approach you can get full speed, maybe even faster, not to mention you could potentially add things such as save states etc, but first someone would need to create a hypervisor and release it to the public.”

It is impossible to use a software emulation approach (like SNEmulDS, nesDS or Goomba) to emulate a GBA game from the DS slot at a solid frame rate.

“I did port a GBA emulator awhile back which did everything in software and it ran a very simple demo at like 2fps.”

Creating a hypervisor for release to the public is not a quick and simple job and would require a lot of work.

“It is technically possible it’s just no developer has the time or patience to redo something the hardware does natively.”

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