Reflashing GBA Bootlegs with an NDS or NDS Lite

Recently I stumbled across a piece of homebrew called GBABF, it allows you to reflash GBA bootlegs with whatever ROM you like. In the past, we have written two articles on making GB Studio GBA formatted ROMs (one using GB Senpai and another using Goomba Color Emulator). What is great about GBABF is that an NDS or NDS Lite are fairly accessible to most people and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Here is what you will need:

  • NDS/NDS Lite
  • R4 or similar device
  • GBA Bootleg
  • Your GBS ROM formatted for GBA (see above links)

An NDS or NDS Lite can be picked up pretty cheap but price may depend on your regional location. An R4 can be picked up for under $10 on aliexpress and so can GBA Bootlegs.


Simply copy GBABF and your GB Studio GBA formatted ROM to the SD card, insert it into your R4. Then place your R4 into slot 1 and your GBA Bootleg Cart into slot 2 of the NDS. When you boot GBABF, you are given a number of options. You want to start by selecting “Detect Flash”. This is going to tell you if your bootleg is supported. From my testing of a small sample size of 5 bootlegs, 3 of them were detected.

GBABF testing the cart type of the Bootleg GBA Cartridge

If your bootleg is detected you can then flash your ROM. Now choose “Flash Rom”. This will detect any GBA ROM on the flash cart so you don’t even have to remember where you put it. Select your ROM and flash your bootleg.

Easy as that!

GBABF is not the fastest, so if your ROM is on the bigger side it may take a little while, but when it’s done you will have your new GBA bootleg to give to your friends, play on a GBA or even sell!

GBABF opens up flashing carts to a wider variety of users on a budget. Sadly, its incapable of flashing GB bootlegs, as GB carts don’t physically fit into the cart slot. It’s on native hardware but it is still another option for the broader homebrew community.

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