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New developers bring Nintendo emulators back to Windows Phone 8

As November and American Thanksgiving drew to a close, Windows Phone classic gaming fans experienced a bit of a shock. Indie developer M.k’s three Nintendo console emulators SNES8x, VBA8, and VGBC8 all disappeared from the Store. Naturally Windows Phone Central stepped in to reveal why the emulators had been delisted. It turns out that M.k had passed development duties on to a new programmer, who would soon be relisting the emulators.

Less than two weeks later, all three emulators are now back on the Store (yes, we’re a tad late on this). The new developer has big plans for these Nintendo emulators. Learn about them (and a competing GameBoy Advance emulator called GBA8) after the break!

A new developer enters the fray


SNES8x, VBA8, and VGBC8 all return to Windows Phone 8 under the care of an individual named Duc Le. Duc (who goes by illidanx in our forums) appears to be relatively new to Windows Phone development. He first published a financial management app called Loan Book+  last month.

The three emulators, which previously existed as paid apps with free trials, now come only as free versions. In order to support development, the apps display advertisements during menu screens. Luckily the ads don’t appear during gameplay. Paid versions of the emulators will also come in the future.

Emulators evolved

Turtles in Time on SNES8x

Duc hasn’t just brought the popular emulators back from the grave; he also plans to continue advancing their development. Besides the introduction of banner ads, here are the changes he’s made to all three apps so far:

  • No more oversized header.
  • No more rotation anywhere except inside the game.
  • Add tilt effect when taping and holding a ROM

The reduction in header size is a welcome change. The emulator UIs can now display more games on-screen than they did during M.k’s run. And they especially show way more game titles than Andre Botelho’s emulators. Hopefully Andre follows Duc’s example and makes some UI improvements to EmiPSX and EmiGens Plus in the near future.

What advancements can we expect from Duc in the future? Why, MOGA Pro Controller support of course! He actually bought a MOGA controller for testing, which is more than any other emulator developer for Windows Phone has done. Someday soon we’ll be able to enjoy Super Nintendo, GameBoy Advance, and GameBoy Color games on our phones with the comfort of physical buttons!

Other planned improvements include proper support for importing ROMs from email attachments and support for importing ROMs from SD cards. I'm crossing my fingers for prettier and more authentic on-screen controls, too.

  • SNES8x – Windows Phone 8 – 1 MB – Free – Store Link
  • VBA8 – Windows Phone 8 – 1 MB – Free – Store Link
  • VGBC8 – Windows Phone 8 – 1 MB – Free – Store Link

Competing emulators

Curiously, when M.k stepped away from Windows Phone development for good he also released the source code for his emulators. That means other enterprising Windows Phone developers can step in and release competing versions of SNES8x, VBA8, and VGBC8 as well.

Another developer named MobWi (who has published a couple of little aquarium apps) has done just that, releasing a new version of VBA8 called GBA8. MobWi’s version comes in paid and ad-supported varieties. Other than that (and the too-high $2.99 price), it’s identical to M.k’s final VBA8 release and lacks Duc Le’s improvements.

On the other hand, MobWi has some improvement plans of his own (text and errors quoted from Store page):

  • Re-layout the UI
  • Fix the bug that games in non-English language crash when catching pets.
  • Disable the lock screen when downloading games
  • Add in-app searching for games to download game from web(granted that you already purchased the game before)

Disabling the lock screen is something Andre Botelho needs to work into his emulators. But what’s this crashing when catching pets nonsense?

  • GBA8 – Windows Phone 8 – 1 MB – $2.99 – Store Link
  • Free GBA8 – Windows Phone 8 – 1 MB – Free – Store Link

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Yay! Golden Sun here I come!
  • Golden Sun is so awesome.
  • I second this. Need to finish the 3rd game. Cant recall how many hours i sunk into the first 2. :-).
  • +1 for Golden Sun!
  • Mike Tyson, I'm going to punch you out!
  • And none of them install to the games hub as usual!
  • They aren't games. Would be silly to put them there
  • What kind of silly logic is that? If I'm going to play a game, I expect to find it under the games hub. Going through the emulator should effectively just be a folder under the games hub. It makes zero sense to list them as an app, especially since most emulators don't start with the same letter, making them scattered all over the app list.
  • Don't even bother. If all these emulators were in the games hub, these same people would be arguing about how it makes so much sense to be that way.
  • I always think of emulators as their own Games Hub...
  • It would make more sense if you though of them as subfolders in the games hub.
  • They aren't games... They just play games.
  • Is not one of the tags to this article "games"? They should be categorized thusly.
  • I'd buy a controller for this
  • Does the new VBA8 interfere with the old one?
  • No, they have different productID. You can install both.
  • What I am waiting for is an N64 emulator like they have on Android. Im not sure how difficult it would be, or if it is possible on WP8 but I would pay big bucks (~$20) to a developer for one.
  • Eh, I wouldn't have high hopes. I don't see how it could take more power than PSX, but there was never N64 for WM6 or the HD2, so there must be some obstacle.
  • WP8 has more access to graphics than even WM had.  WP8 has access to the full Direct3D 9.3 version of DirectX, instead of a mobile version.
  • It's also more restricted than WM ever was, and emulators don't benefit from better directx. The dev of the new PSX emulator almost didn't even bother because the restrictions in place prevent him from making the emulator properly efficient- so a slower, worse implementation had to be put in place, and it's a miracle it works even though the hardware we have is more powerful than the HD2... which could run any PSX game at the full 60FPS with no troubles.
  • Talk about battery drain...yikes!
  • I would be thrilled to bits if there was a N64 emulator for Windows 8/RT... But I can settle for a Windows Phone version, even though playing SNES is already kinda tricky... :P
  • There is a guy working on porting mupen64plus to wp8, he has a thread on here I can't wait either :)
  • Love mah emulators!
  • Whats the difference between VBA8 & VGBC8? Doesn't GBA play GBC games?
  • Actual GBAs does play GBC games. But M.k separated GBA and GBC support into two separate apps for some reason.
  • Ah cool thanks!
  • The reason being that the GBA and GBC are completely different hardware. Yes, the GBA can play GBC games but only because nintendo put in the GBC Hardware as well. GBC cartridges trigger a switch inside the device that shuts down the GBA CPU and makes the device use the GBC CPU instead (In fact, afaik that is not true for the Mini GBA Nintendo released last, afaik that one can not play GBC games).   So it's natural to split these emulators :)
  • Any chance for an N64 or is that beyond the ability of many of these phones? Would be great if some of the used the Moga Controller.
  • This Gameboy Color emulator is just AWESOME! Been playing Pokemon Blue for a while, and god it's so nostalgic and super! Just, could the virtual joystick be buttons instead... Would be even better to control!
  • You can change it in the settings
  • Hope these come to windows store for windows 8
  • I want an N64 emulator
  • I'm the developer. Here is the walkthrough video I recorded. Sorry for crappy quality and my English but hope it helps.
  • Nice, so we only need Moga pocket controller :)
  • I'll stick with EmiNes. I'm much satisfied with it. ;)
  • NES != SNES ;) Here's what I use: SNES = Snes8x GBA = VBA8 GBC = VGBC8 NES = Vnes Light
  • When I first got my wp8 I was using PurpleCherry  - not sure if that's still a go? Rember being pretty impressed with it though. Might have to get the VBA8 and have a jam on some pokemon
  • If only Windows Phones had autostereoscopic displays... did someone say 3D Sonic 1?!?