Figuring out the Assembler
If you didn't read the intro before you got here, you may be wondering if
we are going to use the assembler that came with GCC. Short answer: NO. Long answer:
we are going to use the Goldroad Assembler that you can get at GoldRoad
The assember version that I have and use is 1.6F. You should download the most recent version
of the assembler and unzip it to a path with no spaces in it. Having no spaces in a path
always makes things easier.
Alrighty, you got the assembler unzipped where you want it. Now, I have a little
file to make everything a little easier. It's the screenmode.h file from the Pern Tutorial
converted by hand (by ME) to Goldroad Assembler syntax. Get it here.
Put it in the same directory as Goldroad.exe.
Now, you will want to try it out. But first, we need an emulator. Go and get
VisualboyAdvance, because I know for sure it'll work from the commandline.
To try it out, copy the following into a file called first.asm in the same folder as
;start copying here
;stop copying here
The alternative in C is approximatly:
vram = 0x0FF;
However, as you probably know, the compiled C code will be HUGE. Only assember
coding will let you have small binaries. Let's run through this line by line:
This line acts just like the #include statement in C.
This line just defines where the code starts.
Oh, gee wiz, our first actual assembly(asm from now on) statement. Here I go.
In ARM (gba's processor) asm there are 16 registers r0-r15. r15 is like
the IP (Instruction Pointer) in the Intel processors, LEAVE IT ALONE! I tend to
work with just the first 10, r0-r9. If you know Intel or x86 assembly, then you
ALMOST know the MOV and LDR statements. These instructions let you move 32bit
numbers around. The last number/register gets moved into the first number/register.
The MOV statement only works in special cases. We will only concern ourselves with
the LDR statement which stands for LoaD Register. It loads the specified register
with the other register, memory, or number specified. Let's get back to our line o
* Is the LDR instruction.
* Is the first operand or parameter specified. In our case the register r1.
* REG_DISPCNT is defined in screen.h and is the screen control memory location.
The '=' sign isn't always necessary but it we'll always use it.
NOTE: Follow the stars upward to find the part they are pointing to.
This is the same as the last line, but this time it ORs two(2) values together ('|' operator)
to get the result. BG2_ENABLE and MODE_3 are defined in screen.h and when ORed together make
0x0403. This value is put into the r2 register.
Wow, our second type of instruction, the STR instruction puts the first register specified
into the memory location specified by the second operand. STR stand for STore Register.
In this case, our program has r1 pointing to REG_DISPCNT and r2 has the value 0x0403 in it.
Remember the  blocky braces around the second one  is sorta like telling that the register
is a pointer. Guess what? Those last 3 instructions do what SetMode(MODE_3|BG2_ENABLE) in C
did for us. The screen is enabled now in bitmap mode number three (3).
You should get this now, this moves (loads) r1 with 0x0FF (255).
You should get this too, except for something which I'm going to explain. First of all
just so you know, vram is also defined in screen.h and it the memory that you'll want to
write to, to get stuff on the screen. vram is defined as the location 0x06000000.
Now, our instruction adds 2,410 onto vram when loading it into r2. Why? because to put a
color value into vram you have to define x and y values, right? So here's the formula
for Mode 3:
y * 240 + x
So adding this to vram gives an x,y location of 10,10. and further more, that 0x0FF we
put into r1 earlier is going to be our color value of a bright red when we put a dot on
Here it is again, except this time we are putting the value of r1 into the memory location
pointed to be r2, in this case r2 should point to screen coordinates 10,10 and r1 is bright
red. So storing bright red into screen memory at 10,10 while the screen is on will...
I'll let you see the result later. But for now, more code.
Defines a label that you can jump back to like a goto statement in BASIC.
Equivalent to Goto label1 in BASIC. These 2 lines make an infinite loop.
The B statement is like the Jxxx statement of x86 assembly, it branches depending
of the results of other operations, more on this later.
Gives the assembler a safe place to put some of the numbers we've defined
and used. ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.
Tells the assembler that the code section is over.
HEY, we just finished our first GBA assembly program!
Patater GBAGuy Mirror
Assembling our file
I'm assuming you are working in Windows, oh and some advice, GET XP!
Now, use the Run option from the Start menu. Type cmd and hit enter. If you don't
have atleast NT or 2000 you will have to type command. Now, a DOS window should pop
up. Type the following:
cd directory path to goldroad.exe and hit enter
goldroad first.asm and hit enter
If you see any error messages, try again, check to see you copied correctly.
If you see "Assembled successfully" or something close to that, Congrats!
If everything went as planned, there should be a first.gba file in goldroad's folder.
Now, it might just be easier to . . . yeah, copy an emulator (visualboy advance) into
goldroad's folder and drag first.gba onto it to start it up. After, it starts a bright
red dot should appear somewhere near 10,10. Congratulations! You have passed Day 1.
Intro - Day 2