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Not to be confused with the Pocket Famicom.

PocketNES is an NES emulator which runs on the Game Boy Advance, written by Neal Tew (Loopy) and Fredrik Olsson (Flubba). It can run on a GBA through use of flash cartridges, or with the GBA Movie Player. The emulator has been released into the public domain, yet it remains under active development.

More than a year after the first release of PocketNES, Nintendo re-released several of their NES games on the GBA through the Nintendo e-Reader accessory, Animal Crossing GameCube game link feature, or Classic NES Series collection. Since PocketNES predates all of Nintendo's efforts, it is believed that PocketNES was the inspiration for Nintendo to create their own similar emulator.[1]

NES gameplay issues[edit]

The GBA screen has a lower vertical and horizontal resolution than the NES's display. PocketNES compensates by either scaling the image down vertically, or by scrolling the image up or down. Such scrolling can either happen automatically, following the position of a sprite or value of a memory address, or manually using the GBA's L and R buttons. Sound is reproduced via the "classic" Game Boy PSG channels, rather than a software emulation of the NES's sound hardware; this is done to reduce CPU usage. As a result, it does not sound exactly like the original NES, although it is a close approximation.

Commercial use[edit]

PocketNES's source code is in the public domain, which means that it can be used for any purpose, without any royalty or permission necessary (as it purposely has no copy protection). As a result, it has been used by game publishers and pirates alike. None of the companies have credited the original authors of the program, with exception of Wayforward Technologies in Contra 4 published by Konami.[2]


Jaleco used PocketNES in Jajamaru Jr. Denshouki - Jaleco Memorial to emulate five of their Famicom games:


Atlus (or more specifically, Million) used PocketNES in the Kunio kun Nekketsu Collection series to re-release Technos's Famicom titles on the GBA.[3] They released three different volumes, each containing two games.

  • Volume 1 contains Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu (Super Dodge Ball overseas) and Nekketsu! Street Basket - Ganbare Dunk Heroes.
  • Volume 2 contains Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundōkai and Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu - Soccer Hen (Nintendo World Cup overseas).
  • Volume 3 contains Downtown Special: Kunio-kun no Jidaigeki da yo Zen'in Shūgō! and Ike Ike! Nekketsu Hockey Bu: Subette Koronde Dairantō (the unreleased Crash 'n the Boys: Ice Challenge in North America).


Hudson Soft used PocketNES for their Hudson Best Collection series.[4] There are six volumes available, each containing 2-4 games.


The credits in Contra 4, by developer WayForward Technologies, thank the authors for the "original PocketNES software core". It was most likely used to emulate the NES versions of Contra and Super C included within the game as bonus content.[5]

Bootleg use[edit]

PocketNES has also appeared on many bootleg GBA cartridges. Usually the pirate cartridges combine one or two Game Boy Advance titles with many pirated NES games to create multicarts.


PocketNES has been ported to Nintendo DS and is called nesDS. This version uses the DS touch screen as a menu, allowing players to touch the screen to go into the menu.

Patent issues[edit]

Nintendo filed for and was granted a patent on the vertical scaling method used in PocketNES in 2002, despite PocketNES's using it in 2001.[6]


  1. ^ [1] Claim that PocketNES inspired Nintendo's NES on GBA rereleases with timeline evidence
  2. ^ [2] Contra 4 credits via Moby Games
  3. ^ [3] Pocket Heaven thread on Atlus's use of PocketNES
  4. ^ [4] Pocket Heaven thread on Hudson's use of PocketNES.
  5. ^ [5] Discussion on the use of PocketNES in Contra 4 and using the Contra 4 ROM to emulate other NES games
  6. ^ [6] Pocket Heaven thread about the Nintendo patent