RetroPie: turn your Raspberry Pi into a retro-gaming machine

RetroPie logo

If you are passionate about retro video games, those wonderful classics that never go out of style, then surely you are on the lookout for all those interesting emulators and projects that are emerging around the Raspberry Pi. Another of those projects to enjoy retrogaming is RetroPie, and of which I will reveal all the keys.

The truth is that there is more and more interest in this type of project, since the ccommunity of users passionate about these videogames from past platforms does not stop growing. In fact, even some manufacturers such as SEGA or Atari have decided to give some of their past machines a second chance to meet this huge demand ...

You may also be interested in knowing the best emulators for the Raspberry Pi, as well as alternative projects like recalbox y Batocera. And also some gadgets for controllers to create your own arcade machine.

What is RetroPie?

RetroPie is a project of open source specially designed to turn your SBC into a retro video game center, that is, a real retro game machine. In addition, it is compatible with boards such as the Raspberry Pi in its various versions, but also with other similar ones such as the ODroid C1 and C2, and even for PCs.

Since the RetroPie 4.6 version, support for the Raspberry Pi 4 has also been included

This project builds on other well known existing projects such as Raspbian, EmulationStation, RetroArch, Kodi and others many existing. All this is brought together in a single centralized project to offer you a complete and simple platform so that you only worry about playing your favorite Arcade games.

But if you are an advanced user, it also includes a great variety of configuration tools so you can modify and customize the system almost as you wish.

Emulated platforms

Atari console

SONY DSC

RetroPie can emulate more than 50 video game platforms so you can use the ROMs of their games to revive them today. The best known are:

  • Nintendo NES
  • Super nintendo
  • Master Syestem
  • PlayStation 1
  • genesis
  • GameBoy
  • GameBoy Advance
  • Atari 7800
  • Game Boy Color
  • Atari 2600
  • Sega SG1000
  • Nintendo 64
  • Sega 32X
  • Sega CD
  • Atari Lynx
  • NeoGeo
  • NeoGeo Pocket Color
  • Amastrad CPC
  • Sinclair ZX81
  • Atari ST
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum
  • Dreamcast
  • PSP
  • Commodore 64
  • And much more…

How can I have RetroPie?

You can download RetroPie totally free from the official website of the project. But before you rush into it, you should be aware that RetroPie can work in several ways:

  • Install it on an existing operating system, such as Raspbian. More information for Rasbpian y Debian / Ubuntu.
  • Start with a RetroPie image from scratch and add additional software.

balentaEtcher

Apart from this versatility, the steps to follow to install RetroPie from scratch on the SD are the following:

  1. Download the image de RetroPie corresponding to the version of your Pi.
  2. Now you must extract the compressed image in .gz. You can do it with commands from Linux or with programs like 7Zip. The result should be a file with .img extension.
  3. Then use some program to be able format the SD and pass the image by RetroPie. You can do it with Etcher, which is also compatible with both Windows, macOS and Linux. This is the same procedure for all.
  4. Now insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi and start it.
  5. Once started, go to the configuration menu to the section WiFi to connect your SBC to the network. Configure your corresponding network adapter, since you may have an older board with a USB WiFi adapter, or you may have a Pi with integrated WiFi, or you may be connected by an RJ-45 (Ethernet) cable. You must choose your option and connect to your usual network.
If you prefer, although it is not necessary in most cases, you can install additional software or more emulators.

controls

Once achieved, the following is configure your controls or game controllers, if you have them. To do this, the steps are:

  1. Connect the USB controllers that you have. There are many RetroPie compatible controllers on Amazon. For example the QUMOX or iNNEXT.. You can even use some newer controllers.
  2. When plugged in, RetroPie should automatically launch a interface to configure them. In it, it will ask you for a series of actions in an assistant that you must follow. If you make a mistake, don't worry, you can access the menu later to modify the configuration by pressing Start or with F4 and restarting.

After that what you can do is pass the ROMs to have your favorite video games ready to run from your Raspberry Pi. You can do it in several ways, one is through SFTP (somewhat more complicated), through Samba (also somewhat more laborious), and the other is through USB (simpler and preferable by most). For the USB option:

  1. Use a pendrive or USB memory previously formatted in FAT32 or NTFS. Both serve.
  2. Inside you must create a folder called «retropie» without quotation marks.
  3. Now safely unplug the USB and put it in a USB port of the Raspberry Pi. Leave it until the LED stops flashing.
  4. Now disconnect the USB from the Pi again and put it on your PC to pass the ROMs inside the retropie / roms directory. If the ROMs are compressed, you will need to unzip them for them to work. You can also create folders within roms to catalog ROMs by platform, for example, you can create a folder called nes for Nintendo NES games, etc.
  5. Plug the USB back into your Pi, wait for the LED to stop flashing.
  6. Now refresh EmulationStation by choosing Restart from the main menu.

And now there is only Start the game… By the way, to exit a game in which you are immersed, you can use the Start and Select buttons pressed at the same time on your game controller and it will return to the main menu of RetroPie…

Much easier (novice users)

Si you don't want to complicate your life too much with the ROMs or with the installation of the RetroPie, you should know that they already sell SD cards with this system installed, in addition to thousands of ROMs already included ...

Eg Amazon sell one 128GB microSD card capacity of the Samsung brand and that already includes RetroPie, as well as more than 18000 video game ROMs already included.

Find ROMs

Prince Of Persia

Remember that there are many web pages on the Internet that allow download ROMs illegally, since they are proprietary video games. Therefore, you must do it at your own risk, knowing that you may be committing a crime against intellectual property.

Furthermore, Internet Archive you can also find some very old video game ROMs. And of course you also have Totally free ROMs and legal if you want them, like those of M.

Available add-ons

arcade machine

You should know that there are a large number of DIY projects to create your own cheap and miniature Arcade machine with the Raspberry Pi, as well as recreate many other consoles from the past in a simple way. For this, RetroPie also provides you with some interesting documents:

But that is not the only thing you have at your fingertips, they also exist very interesting kits that you can buy to assemble your retro console in a simple way:

  • GeeekPi a retro console shell that mimics the SuperCOM
  • NESPi It is another case that imitates the mythical Nintendo NES
  • Owootecc a case that mimics a GameBoy for a Raspberry Pi Zero

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