File Under: Browsers, HTML5, JavaScript

Building a GameBoy Emulator in HTML5 and JavaScript

Like Flash before it, HTML5 is where programmers are turning to experiment, and nothing seems to make developers experiment quite like the desire to recreate the classic video games.

We’ve already seen Pac-Man, Astroids and Conway’s Game of Life come to the browser in standards-friendly forms, and now Nintendo’s classic GameBoy platform is getting similar treatment.

The Mozilla Labs gaming blog has a guest post by developer and gamer Imran Nazar, who is hard at work building a GameBoy emulator using JavaScript. As Nazar points out, “HTML5 now offers the Canvas element for easily controlling a two-dimensional graphical display.” Couple that with the improved JavaScript speeds in modern browsers and you have the perfect platform for an emulator.

Nintendo’s GameBoy was the first portable gaming system most of us ever encountered, so the nostalgia factor is high. But the real point of this experiment is to help your understand the processes behind the scenes — how emulators work and how JavaScript can be used to build them.

The emulator isn’t quite finished yet, but Nazar has a great series of posts on his blog covering the various aspects of what he’s done. Not only is it a fascinating look at how emulators work, it also gives some great insight into what JavaScript is capable of doing. You can see the latest version of the emulator on Nazar’s latest post.

If you’re not interested in how it works and just want to get your nostalgia fix by playing some GameBoy games, check out this earlier emulator from programmer Pedro Ladaria.

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