Desktop computer, media center an integral part of the budgetary space program Is there an end to the versatility of the Raspberry Pi?

It seems not — because it also makes games.

Of course, not the most modern games with high resolution and amazing graphics. Rather, the Raspberry Pi can be used as a retro gaming hub — a standalone device that can be used to run amazing games on any platform from the Apple II to the PlayStation I thanks to its emulation software.

When I first suggested this article, the idea was to find some really good Raspberry Pi emulators and show them off. Now, however, this is not necessary, since there is software for bulk installation of all emulators. Using the EmulationStation software, you can turn your Raspberry Pi into RetroPie, the most compact all-in-one game emulation solution you’ll find…

What You Need to Make a Retro Pie

You will need all the usual Raspberry Pi basics to create a RetroPie cable — HDMI or RCA. SD card , USB keyboard and mouse, Ethernet connection — and, as with the installation of media centers and other Raspberry PI operating systems, you will need to prepare the software on the desktop. computer first.

Raspberry Pi game emulators

The RetroPie software is basically EmulationStation and a cut down version of Raspbian (the Raspberry Pi Debian distribution). This is useful as it means you can use a graphical file editor to edit configuration files.

Go to the petRockBlog site to download the RetroPie SD card image and grab the Win32 Disk Imager to «burn» the image to your SD card as described below.

You’ll also need a few discs of your favorite retro games…

Installing RetroPie

With both files downloaded, insert a blank, formatted SD card into your computer’s card reader. The RetroPie image is about 1.4 GB in size, but it is downloaded as a ZIP file, so it needs to be unzipped.

raspberry pi emulator

Unzip the file and after that open the destination folder to find the file win32diskimager.exe . Right click on this, selecting Run as administrator .

Now that the tool is running, choose the correct drive letter for your SD card; you may need to check Windows Explorer to confirm. Then use the option » Review», to find unzipped file RetroPieImage_verx.x.img (the «xx» part of the filename will display the current version number), and, choosing it press » Recording» . Writing the image may take some time so you should find something else to do as you are waiting.

The process for copying an image file to an SD card is slightly different on Linux and Mac OS X, but you can find some quick steps on the RPi Wiki.

Download and setup

The first time you start your RetroPie system, you will be prompted to set up the controller. Now, this isn’t the kind of calibration needed to control the various games you’ll be playing, it’s setting up a retro controller, joystick, or even keyboard to navigate the EmulationStation software.

You will see in the screenshot above that you need to set up various commands. Write them down, as very soon you will find one or two of them useful.

Once you are done, press the button or key you have set as Menu and select Exit . This will exit EmulationStation and into the command line.

From here enter


This will launch the Raspbian GUI, allowing you to make the necessary changes to your controller configuration. In the file manager, open RetroPie\Configs\all and run retroarch.cfg in a text editor such as LeafPad.

raspberry pi emulator

There are so many different types of controllers available that you will need to do a Google search to find the best configuration for your device. However, if your controller does not have analog sticks (such as the small joysticks found on Xbox 360 controllers), you need to find and remove the following line:

  input_player1_l_x_plus_btn = "x" 

The retroarch.cfg file is extremely useful and you can edit it often, so make copies whenever you’re going to make changes so they can be easily reverted.

When you are ready to restart the EmulationStation, open the X main menu, select Sign Out and when prompted, type


This will return the computer to RetroPie mode.

Adding new games

With your Pi set up to run retro games, you’ll be able to start playing the included ROMs. They appear at the first limited choice of emulators.

Choices are limited at first because the wide variety of included emulators can only be run with the right ROM to play. Therefore, you need to «activate» your emulators with a ROM by copying them to the appropriate folder on your RetroPie.

There are many websites offering retro ROMs for games to download. However, make sure you have the original disc, cassette, or cartridge of the downloaded game.

To add a ROM, perhaps the fastest way is to connect to your Raspberry Pi via SFTP (this is similar to standard FTP, but using an SSH connection) from your main computer and navigate to the RetroPie\ROMs folder. Here, all subdirectories will contain the ROMs you downloaded and are labeled accordingly. All you have to do is download them to their respective folders and then update the EmulationStation by restarting the device or by navigating the menu for a while using the controller configuration you set up earlier.

config completed? Start the game!

I’ve used my Pi so far as a desktop and media center, but RetroPie is the most fun thing about this mini computer that just keeps on impressing.

Raspberry Pi game emulators

In minutes, you’ll be playing classic retro arcade games from your favorite classic platforms powered by the Raspberry Pi.

The possibilities with this setup are also good. You can invite your friends to enjoy multiplayer games, or simply use your mouse and keyboard to enjoy classic DOS-emulated PC games.

Above all, make sure you have fun!

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