I love playing games, however I find myself shorter and shorter of time to actually sit down and play the games i purchase. Most of them takes a serious amount of effort to complete. I am also in to all things retro (stuff from 90’s and earlier) and after reading Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” I got the urge to play some of the games I grew up with. This started the mission called “Quest to retro gaming”. I know there are several emulators that you can install on your PC but that did not feel retro enough for me so I kept on searching. Then I remembered I had a raspberry pi lying in a drawer just waiting to be loved and used.
Lets introduce the platform that I found to realize my project. Enter RetroPie
Setting up RetroPie
Retro Pie is an open source project and It builds upon Raspbian, EmulationStation, RetroArch and many other projects to enable you to play your favourite Arcade, home-console, and classic PC games with the minimum set-up. RetroPie supports over 50 systems!!
To get started head over to the brilliant Retro Pie installation guide it has step by step instructions for most scenarios.
- raspberry pi model 2 or 3
- A controller
- USB flash drive
- Keyboard (optional but it makes life easier)
- Wifi dongle if not using a model 3
Be advised RetroPie does not supply any ROMs. Downloading ROMs can be illegal!
Note: This blog post is using Windows 10
Once you have RetroPie on your raspberry pi, then its time to boot it up and check it out. On first boot, if you have the controller plugged in it will ask you to configure it. RetroPie support a plethora of controls straight out of the box.
I have a Raspberry pie 3 with ethernet so I connected the Pi with ethernet cable but you can follow the setup guide for wifi. Connectivity between your computer and the pi is required for the steps below.
Next step is to set up your system so that ROMs are on a USB stick rather than on the SD card. The benefit of this is that you do not require a massive SD card to store your ROMs as USB memory sticks are much cheaper. It is also a good idea to separate the ROMs from the system in case that you get a system corruption. This saves you installing all the ROMs again.
To set the USB drive follow these steps or this guide Note that the format needs to be FAT32
I found that the easiest way to get ROMS on and off the system is trough SSH and SFTP to set this up we need to enable SSH as it is disabled by default.
All the set-up script can be accessed from the RetroPie menu in emulationstation by scrolling to the RetroPie logo. and selecting the Raspi Config menu.
Once we are in the setup we will do 2 things. First is to change the default user (default user name is “pi”) password which is set to raspberry
Change user password
Then we will enable SSH by selecting the Interfacing options
Now we should be able to connect to the raspberry pi via SSH. I installed PuTTY to connect and it works a treat.
Now you can interact with the raspberry pi directly, which is required if you want to modify any of the scripts for e.g. start-up and shutdown.
Okay so far so good now we need a smooth way to get ROM’s on to the USB. Naturally you can plug it in to your computer and transfer that way, but I set up SFTP to connect directly to the device. For this I used WinSCP. Once connected you can now easily transfer stuff to and from the RetroPie.
Adding additional emulators
I found that not all emulators are active/installed in the default installation. However RetroPie makes installing additional emulators a piece of cake (or pie).
Here is an example of how to enable an amiga emulator. However this guide complicates it a bit. I simply used the built in “Mange additional emulators” in the RetroPie configuration. and selected install from binary. However you need to follow the steps where you add the kick starter files to your ROM folder. I have not had time to set up scripts so that you can launch the games directly from emualtorstation rather than going through the Amiga workbench. Once I have tested it I will update this section.
Hope this helps some of you getting your retro gaming station on the go. Next post will be about building a custom case for your RetroPie