The Dolphin emulator now has an integrated Game Boy Advance for compatible games. (Image via Nintendo, Dolphin w/ edits)
The latest version of the GameCube emulator Dolphin includes an integrated Game Boy Advance, allowing players to enjoy games that rely on a connected Game Boy Advance. These include bonus features in games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker as well as Game Boy Advance-controlled titles like Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures.

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In many ways, the Nintendo GameCube was ahead of its time. The compact Nintendo console included a bevy of unique features; one of these was the ability to hook up a Game Boy Advance (GBA) to control some games or unlock bonus content in others. Now, the latest update to the popular GameCube and Wii emulator Dolphin allows players to emulate that experience.

Dolphin version 5.0-14690 can integrate an instance of the mGBA emulator directly into the emulator. The developers behind the emulator call the feature “Integrated GBA,” and it works fairly well.

Certain games (like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Animal Crossing, and Pokemon Colosseum) unlock extra features when a Game Boy Advance is connected to the console. Others (like The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles) require a connected Game Boy Advance to control and play the game. Naturally, this presents a problem for GameCube emulation: how do you imitate a connected Game Boy Advance and make the emulated GBA talk to the GameCube emulator?

There have been solutions to this problem in the past, but they all came with caveats or were generally buggy. Dolphin’s new Integrated GBA feature seems to iron out almost all of those wrinkles by directly integrating the GBA emulator instance into Dolphin itself. The result is a tiny pop-up on the side of the game window that replicates a connected Game Boy Advance with astounding accuracy.

The new software unlocks popular features that were previously locked away, like Wind Waker’s Tingle Tuner. It also allows players to enjoy multiplayer games like Four Swords Adventure and Crystal Chronicles. Better yet, the Integrated GBA works with Dolphin’s netplay feature so that friends can play these games with each other across the Internet.

The Dolphin team has detailed the development of the feature over at their website (linked below). Give it a read if you’re interested in the technical story behind the feature.

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What do you think of Dolphin’s new Integrated GBA? Let us know in the comments.

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