I was wondering, who created the ROMs for GBA and GBC emulators? Are they "converted" from the actual games or are they created from scratch trying to recreate the game? I think the first one, otherwise it would be insane.. And if it's the first one, who could do that? Some engineers inside Nintendo or just some random dude?

P.S.: I'm not interested in a guide or how-to, just a general information to understand the situation.

  • The data is pulled from the cartriges. Who could do it? People with the correct equipment and software to allow it. Can we help you do it? No, because doing so is almost certainly illegal. We have a post on the meta site that goes into a little more detail - but not the "how".
    – JonK
    Jun 20, 2015 at 13:11
  • A guide might be the only thing we can help you with. Figuring out where existing roms come from is a complete lost cause; there's no data, usually, to help you backtrack it.
    – Frank
    Jun 21, 2015 at 1:10
  • 7
    @JonK - The act of pulling a ROM from a cartridge is not illegal - it is covered by the 'backup/archival copy' clauses of the DMCA. Making that copy available for download by other people or otherwise distributing the game is illegal.
    – Robotnik
    Nov 18, 2015 at 23:44

2 Answers 2


The information will be kept general and unlinked here for obvious reasons, but there are pieces of equipment that can accept a GBA cartridge, and then connect to a PC. That would allow read access to a cartridge, and depending on the cart you can write to some as well. You might imagine it a bit like an SD card reader, except cartridges only contain one large blob of data, not any filesystem or such. ROMs are usually just dumps of the cartridge contents to disk using such a device, but it is also possible to write and compile your own, and with a "blank" cart to write to you can use one to test and develop your own games for the GBA as well.

  • Since the question toes the line (but hasn't yet been closed), please advise if the answer does as well, will be removed if it does.
    – Radhil
    Jun 20, 2015 at 14:04
  • 1
    Depending on the ROM, there may also be some "recreating from scratch" involved; back in the day it was not uncommon for cartridges to include additional processing chips in addition to the game data itself. This added expense but let developers do things that the console on its own wasn't powerful enough to handle. For games using these chips, just dumping the ROM contents isn't enough; these addon chips have to be identified and reverse-engineered, a process that can take years.
    – ToxicFrog
    May 23, 2016 at 19:35

I have seen videos on Youtube of people who make custom ports of games for cartridge based media. In this case it was called an eprom chip inside the bare cartridges that the person would remove and read/write to this chip itself. I would presume a similar chip may be found inside Gameboy carts and making a dump of such chip may be one way that a ROM could be created.

This could also in theory explain why flashcarts are able to function presuming they are primarily redirecting and redistributing data which would otherwise be located at this storage media chip to an externally mounted sd card.

  • You know, if you want to remove your answrs, there's an actual delete button for that.
    – DJ Pirtu
    May 23, 2016 at 9:26
  • im using the app and dont see such an option
    – Firobug
    May 23, 2016 at 9:30
  • 1
    Seems that the Android-app doesn't have that implemented yet. Never the less, this is a wrong way to delete an answer. We'd perfer if you'd wait untill you can access the site from a browser and delete your answers through the site proper.
    – DJ Pirtu
    May 23, 2016 at 10:10
  • @Firobug - if you could supply one of these YouTube videos you mention it would go a long way into improving the answer: as it currently stands it's very speculative with not a lot of facts/references backing it up.
    – Robotnik
    May 23, 2016 at 10:24
  • 2
    Downvotes are by other users. Nobody's required to explain them (altough this is encouraged if there's a chanse the answer may be improved). Downvoting for frivolous reasons is discouraged by downvotes costings 1 rep each.
    – DJ Pirtu
    May 23, 2016 at 10:43

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