Pokemon on Ubuntu


After obsessively watching some of the twitch plays pokemon stream I was inspired to play some Pokemon again. To play Pokemon on Ubuntu there are only a few steps you have to follow:

  1. Install Visual Boy Advance Express. visualboyadvance is one of the main Gameboy advance emulators for Ubuntu. Express is the visual configuration frontend you can use to customize your experience. To install it, simply enter the following command in your terminal:
    sudo apt-get install vbaexpress
  2. Get the ROM for Pokemon version you want to play. To play Pokemon using an emulator you need a ROM for the game, which is just an image of the actual game. There hundreds of sites that host Pokemon ROMs (and others) like Loveroms. The pages for these sites come and go due to takedown requests/copyright claims so linking them here is not very useful.
  3. Start VBA. You can do this either through the VBA express app icon or by entering the following command in your terminal:
  4. Switch to 128k save type (blank white screen). A lot of people have reported that starting the rom will result in a blank white screen. The fix to this seems to be changing your save type to 128k under (options>emulator>save type>flash 128k)
  5. Press Play, and load the GBA ROM you downloaded. The ROM file should have the extension .gba

That’s it! You’ve just followed the absolute basic steps needed to play Pokemon on Ubuntu. Since the documentation seems to be pretty sparse for vbaexpress here are some essential default controls:

Arrow keys - ←↑→↓
z - A
x - B
enter - Start
backspace - Select
spacebar - Speedup game
(f1-f10) - Load game save state from specified slot
ctrl+(f1-f10) - Save current game state to slot

Screenshot from 2014-03-09 22_21_57Screenshot from 2014-03-09 22_22_16
If you’ve followed the above steps and are still having issues running Pokemon on Ubuntu, please post in the comments below. To increase your chances of a solution being found include as much detail as possible (which version of the game you’re running, what operating system you have, what video card you have and steps to reproduce the issue). Screenshots are also very useful!

    March 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    How do I get the .gba I can only get .zip

      The .gba should be included in the .zip file you downloaded. Either double click on it to open it and extract the .gba file OR from terminal, navigate to the directory containing the .zip file and run unzip filename.zip

    March 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Oh i’m on ubuntu 12.04

    March 27, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I got the .gba but now it won’t run… i get a small black screen that says Pokemon Sapphire then it closes. Help!

      March 27, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Actually it says VisualBoyAdvance

        Can you try Emerald instead? Perhaps there’s something wrong with the sapphire gba. Are you getting any error messages? If so what do they say exactly.

          I had this same problem. Pokemon Fire Red worked on Mednafen but I want to switch to VBA to fix the saving issue in the games. Any ideas? I guess I’ll try Emerald too

          Emerald did the same thing. I’m on Lubuntu if that opens any ideas.

            Hmm, have you run any games on the emulator before? I would consider resetting VBA settings to default to start with.

            Another suggestion I found was to make sure that under the ‘Other’ tab that RTC is checked. Most Pokemon games require the real-time clock.

    I actually use the much better VBA-M GTK fork of Visual Boy Advance on any Linux Distro. (Currently Ubuntu 14.04); Installed from an Debian Package, I downloaded from the Official SourceForge page.
    “vbam-gtk_1.8.0.1001-1_i386.deb”, It works way much Better than the Original VBA, and VBAExpress is just an Graphical Frontend. I also use VBA-M on Windows, Best GBA Emulator around!

      Thanks for letting me know about this. I’ll have to check it out!

          VBA-M Is the Best GBA Emulator; It’s a Fork of the Discontinued VBA project, Works Flawlessly on Windows and Linux Ubuntu, With every Game too. And No need to Install Graphical Frontends, like VBAExpress, I highly recommend the GTK version on Ubuntu 14.04. VBA-M supports: Cheats, Screenshots, AVI Video Recording, and Much more Built-In to the Emulator!

    April 23, 2015 at 9:00 am

    They are all removed due to copyright any other places?

      June 24, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      i dont know

    January 16, 2016 at 4:14 am

    I am trying to get Pokémon Ruby to work. It starts, but when I’m at the scene where I start my game, nothing happens! I am using Linux 14.04 maybe… Sorry if you didn’t understand my problem… I am very bad at English….

    February 28, 2016 at 4:29 am

    On Ubuntu I got the same white screen problem. I made a huge facepalm when I figured out the problem. I downloaded a rom name smthg like: 1695 – Pokemon – smthing smthing. I removed the numbers, and the whitespaces, so I renamed it to pokemon_firered.gba and it worked. Maybe Ubuntu still don’t like whitespaces and stuff in filenames. Good penguin *pets on head*. It worked for me, I hope it works for you too.

    August 24, 2016 at 3:15 am

    where can i get these roms ?

    August 25, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    mam pytanko jeśli to juz wszystko zrobione to jak mam włączyc gre ????

    June 30, 2017 at 3:04 am

    visualboyadvance doesnt open. I am left with a screen thatis white after a put in emerald. i use 16.04 ubuntu.

      I’ve seen some suggestions that you have said switching to Flash 128k for save type will fix this (options>emulator>save type>flash 128k)

    May 5, 2018 at 9:48 am

    When I try to start Pokemon a window open. I get a white screen with a black cadre.
    At the left bottom a percent display shows numbers between 90% and 110%.
    But the game dont start. I already tried to download another pokemon version but the same problem.

      I’ve seen some suggestions that you have said switching to Flash 128k for save type will fix this (options>emulator>save type>flash 128k)

    I get a white screen that has 90-110% in the bottom left hand corner I have tried Pokemon FireRed. LeafGreen, and emerald so I don’t believe that its the game any help?

      I’ve seen some suggestions that you have said switching to Flash 128k for save type will fix this (options>emulator>save type>flash 128k)

        August 7, 2018 at 9:16 pm

        There is no options menu in the vbaexpress

          October 4, 2018 at 8:48 am

          It saves your configurations in a .cfg file. For me it was just in my home directory. Scroll down a bit and you might find the flash type. Put a 1 instead of 0 and your good to go.

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