Dumping ROMs from GBA Cartridges: A Primer

#1

Hey, you! Have you ever found yourself wanting to play a ROM hack, but every download site for the ROM you need has been shut down? Do you ever feel the need to do everything in the most convoluted manner possible? Do you own a physical copy of the game you want to patch? Well, do I have the solution for you!

While not directly related to ROM hacking, obtaining ROMs from cartridges is a useful skill to have, and once obtained these ROMs can be used for whatever you please. Dumping a GBA ROM off of the cartridge, while it may seem daunting at first, is actually not only incredibly simple, but you most likely already own most of what you would need to do it. There’s a few methods here, all inexpensive (if you own the consoles they use) and all working equally well. For this tutorial I’ll be using the same FE8U cartridge through each method to show you that they all work.

Note that, although this tutorial won’t show you how directly, each of these methods can also be used to dump save files in .sav format. Each of these programs is fairly intuitive to use, so it shouldn’t be too hard to figure it out.


Method 1: Using the GBA slot in a DS or DS Lite

You’ll need the following:
-A DS or DS Lite
-An R4 or other DS flash cart
-GBA game you want to dump
-Rudolph’s GBA Backup Tool

This method is probably the simplest and fastest, and possibly also the cheapest depending on whether or not you already own a DS with a GBA slot. If you’re looking for a flash cart, you can get an original R4 card for very cheap on the company’s website. It’s what I use and it works wonderfully. Note that the older models of R4 cards are not compatible with any hardware DSi or newer, however that’s not an issue in this circumstance, since we need to use a DS or DS Lite, of which it is compatible with both.

First, you’ll need to set up your flash cart. With an R4 card you’ll need to install the firmware, then you can place the GBA Backup Tool on the root of the microSD card and you should be able to load it from the menu.


Your R4 root should look something like this.

In GBA Backup Tool, press R twice to go to the ROM Backup menu, and press B to dump the ROM. If for whatever reason you’re dumping a ROM you’ve previously dumped before, press A to overwrite your old ROM dump with a new one.



Method 2: Using the GameCube’s Game Boy Player

You’ll need the following:
-GameCube
-Game Boy Player
-GameCube SD Media Launcher
-Game Boy Interface

This method is potentially the most expensive, but at the same time has use outside of just dumping ROMs. It’s a bit slower than the previous method as well, but it’s by no means a bad option.

If you don’t already have this set up, it’s even simpler than the last one. Just download the Game Boy Interface, put it on the root of an SD card, put the SD card into the SD Media Launcher, insert the boot disc, and launch it.


All of these files should be on your SD root.

To boot into the Game Boy Interface, run GBI.DOL from the media launcher menu.

Game Boy Interface itself is designed as a replacement for the Game Boy Player boot disc. Unlike the actual boot disc, it won’t crash on you occasionally and it won’t butcher the image quality. Overall, if you have component output (or an HDMI-modded GameCube) this is by far the best picture you can get out of a GBA game. However, there’s one more feature not related to this that GBI has. Start it up without a game in the Game Boy Player and you’ll go to this menu after the GBA BIOS startup. Press the X button to hide the overlay.

From this menu you can dump GBA ROMs to the SD card. Insert the game you want, Press the buttons as prompted, and it’ll dump the ROM. A 16mb ROM dump will take upwards of 5-10 minutes to complete, a 32mb ROM dump would theoretically take twice as long.


Method 3: GBA to GameCube Link Cable

You’ll need the following:
-GameCube or Wii capable of playing GameCube games
-GBA to GameCube Link Cable
-GameCube SD Media Launcher (Optional)
-GBA Link Cable Dumper

This one probably takes the least amount of effort to do, but definitely takes the most time to do. Know that dumping through this method is incredibly slow, taking about 48 minutes to dump a 32mb ROM.

The Link Cable Dumper is incredibly simple to use. For the GameCube version of the app, load it onto the SD Media Launcher and launch it from there. For the Wii version, if you softmod your Wii you should be able to launch the app from the Homebrew Channel, no SD Media Launcher required.

The app will walk you through exactly what you need to do, but the one thing it doesn’t tell you is that you should not have a game in you GBA when you connect it and turn it on; it’ll load the link app through the GBA BIOS and only when it tells you to should you insert your game. For reference, all button prompts are on the GameCube controller, not on the GBA console; you won’t be using the GBA console for anything besides housing your cart.




This should appear on your GBA once the dumper is ready for a cart to be inserted.


If you see anything wrong with this guide, please let me know so I can update it.

5 Likes
The Grand Library of FEU [UNDER CONSTRUCTION]
#2

Don’t u fucking patronize me

no

no

no

just build lol

2 Likes
#3

This is 100% legit helpful for people who would rather avoid the risks involved with going to ROM sites (lots of ads, chances of malware, etc.)

2 Likes
#4

Thanks for this, great tutorial!

1 Like