how to play pokemon on android

How to Play Pokemon on Android to Catch Them All On The Go

Are you aching for a quick game of Pokemon with your friends? Do you miss the days when you could whip out your Game Boy Advance and scour the world for the coolest new Pokemon?

The world of Pokemon is far from dead, and although most people play games on their Android devices nowadays you can still bring those memories back on these devices. There’s really no Pokemon game you can download on the Google Play Store, but there is one battle game and a few emulators that give you the exact Pokemon games you know and love.

Let’s learn how to play Pokemon on Android so you can bring back some memories and put together your favorite team of Pokemon to battle other people.

Method 1: Gameboid

This method requires you to download an emulator and then open up the program on your Android device. It seems a bit technical at first, but if you follow the steps I know most beginners can walk through it quite easily.

Step 1

Since Gameboid isn’t available on the Google Play Store we have to make sure your device allows unknown sources. To do this go to Settings>Security and make sure the Unknown Sources box is checked off. Click OK for any warnings that might pop up.

unknown sources

Step 2

Take out your android phone and navigate to the Gameboid download page in a browser. Click on the Download button to put it on your device.

Step 3

In order to play a game on this emulator you have to download ROMs. In short, these ROMs are the actual games such as Pokemon and Zelda. You can find any ROMs you want by going to Google and typing in the name of the game. Include “ROM” at the end of your search and you should be able to find what you need. Just download the games you want to your phone. The ROMs that work are .gba files, so if you see any other type of file extension then steer clear of it.

Step 4

Connect your device to a computer using a USB port. Go to Finder or Windows Explorer so you can see files on your computer. Locate your phone’s files and create a file called Gameboid on your computer and transfer all the ROM files into this folder. You also need to put this file into the folder. It’s a BIOS file that ensures the emulation will work properly.

gameboid file

Step 5

Run the Gameboid program on your device and wait it to ask you for the proper directory. This basically tells the program to locate your games and everything you want to do with the Gameboy. Select the file that we created earlier so that you can start playing. That’s it! You can always download and transfer over more game ROMs if you want.

gameboid sd card

Method 2: John GBA Lite

There’s quite a few Game Boy emulators on the Google Play Store and elsewhere online, but this one seems to work the best. An emulator mimics the Game Boy system and allows you to play your own games on the phone. So it doesn’t come complete with games, but you have to download the game files and install them on the emulator in order to play.

Step 1

Download the John GBA Lite emulator on the Google Play Store below.

Download on Google Play

When you first try to play or find a game on the emulator it will tell you nothing can be found. This simply means that you need to transfer over your desired games into the emulator. The John GBA Lite emulator app supports GBA and ZIP files.

emulator download

Step 2

To download a GBA or ZIP file you can go to Google and search whatever Pokemon game you really want to start playing. Since there are dozens of Pokemon games to choose from we are going to use the Pokemon Fire Red Game Boy file as an example. If you are interested in a different game then you can simply go to Google and search the name of the game and include “GBA file” at the end of your search.

Step 3

Select a website and download your desired file from that particular website. For this example we typed in Pokemon Fire Red Game Boy file in Google and it gives us this page. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page it gives you a button to download the file. Every website is different so some will give you their own download engines. In this case the website asks us to download three or four other software when downloading the Pokemon file. Make sure you decline these offers so you don’t bog down your computer or device.

Step 4

Find and download the files you want to play on your GBA emulator. These files are the actual games that need to be installed on your phone in order to view a list of games and get them started.

Step 5

Place the GBA or ZIP files you download into your SD card. Go to the /sdcard/games/gba/ file and drag all of these files in there. If you can’t find these files in your SDCard then you can always create your own files. Just make sure the files are named exactly as listed above or the emulator will not recognize them as a real game. If you download a ZIP file then you will have to unzip it into the GBA file before the emulator recognizes anything.

You can also start a game from any folder, as long as it’s unzipped and on your device. All you have to do is click on the GBA file in your file manager and the emulator starts the Pokemon game. Unfortunately if you are in the emulator it won’t recognize the file ZIP or GBA file unless it’s in the /sdcard/games/gba/ location , so we recommend just moving everything there.

fire red file

Step 6

Now you can play whatever games you download and place in the GBA folder. You can pretty much add as many as your phone allows. When you open the emulator it should search your phone for any recently installed Pokemon games. Click on your favorite Pokemon game and start playing the game. The emulator works nicely because you can always just press the Back button and it saves your progress. Simply come back to the app whenever you want and you can start where you left off.

The emulator also provides buttons that look like the traditional Game Boy buttons, so you get the full experience. Just click through the initial instructions and you can start playing Pokemon!

pokemon start screen

start pokemon game


What are you waiting for? Get started with your Charizard or Jigglypuff and battle your friends on your own Android phone or tablet. Use one of the methods above to collect your favorite Pokemon and bring back memories from when Pokemon was the most popular game in the world. Break out your old Pokemon cards and think about your favorite Pokemon back in the day and beat your opponents with them on your Android device.

The Android system is filled with opportunities to play some of your favorite games. Unfortunately these games are often designed for different gaming consoles, and they don’t get their own separate gaming apps. This happens for various reasons like if the game isn’t produced anymore or if it’s designed for another console like an XBox or Game Boy. If you love games and would like to get some older games on your Android device then check out some of our other guides such as how to run Java games on your Android. Also view our roundups of top gaming apps such as the best strategy Android apps or the top puzzle apps.

Now it’s your turn to share your knowledge. Let us know in the comments if there are any other easy ways on how to play Pokemon on Android devices. Let us know if you have any questions about the methods above and tell us your favorite Pokemon!

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  1. Great instructions thanks Joe, this will keep us pokemon fans addicted, while we wait for an official android release, please tell me there IS one coming?

    1. TTorpede,

      I don’t think Nintendo will ever release a Pokemon for Android or any other mobile device for that matter. Not until their own 3DS is still in business.

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