Have you landed on the new PlayStation Classic, dreaming of nostalgia for retro games from the 1990s? Well, you don’t have to wait for Sony to release a repackaged compact version of the PS1. Forget pre-order and build your own «PiStation» with Raspberry Pi 3.

What to expect from the PlayStation Classic

The PlayStation Classic, scheduled for release in December 2018, is a miniature version of the PlayStation 1. Down 45 percent, the device has an HDMI port and is powered by a micro-USB port. Supplied with a pair of PlayStation controllers (pre-Dualshock), the console comes with 20 pre-installed games.

At the time of this writing, there is no indication as to whether you can add your own game ROMs. The console starts at $99 (UK £89).

A Raspberry Pi 3 kit will cost you even less. It can also work with over 20 PlayStation games and you can even buy a PlayStation case. In short, the Raspberry Pi is a much better option than waiting and paying for the comparatively expensive PlayStation Classic.

Raspberry Pi PlayStation Emulator: What You Need

If you’re missing the true gaming wonder of the original PlayStation (released in 1995) or you’ve never played the console for the first time, you’re in for a real treat. Surprisingly, the Raspberry Pi can run PlayStation emulators, which means classic games from 1994 to 2006 can be played.

For best results, you will need:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 or 3B+
  • Suitable microSD card (8 GB or higher)
  • Ethernet and HDMI cables
  • Reliable power supply
  • Retro game controller (keep a USB keyboard handy though)
  • Etcher software from etcher.io
  • Your choice of Raspberry Pi in retro style

You may also need a PlayStation-style case and even a real controller. We will talk about it later.

Step 1: Install the retro games package

While many Raspberry Pi retro gaming systems are based on RetroPie, this is not the only option. Other suites are available such as RecalBox and Lakka. Our guide to retro gaming on the Raspberry Pi explains the differences. Obviously, you need to choose one that supports Sony PlayStation emulators.

RetroPie home screen

Once you’ve downloaded the image of your chosen game kit, you’ll need to burn it to a microSD card. The process is simple and explained in detail in our Raspberry Pi Operating System Installation Guide.

In short, insert a suitable microSD card into your computer. Having done this, open Etcher and click » Select Image» then navigate to the (unzipped) disk image for the set of retro games you selected. Make sure the microSD card is selected under » Select Disk » then click » flash» .

Wait for the image to be written to the microSD card, then safely remove it. Plug into your Raspberry Pi and turn it on. Retro game software will be uploaded soon!

Don’t want to overwrite your current microSD card? It’s not a problem! Just follow our guide to install RetroPie on Raspbian

Step 2Setting Up the PlayStation Emulator

First, you need to set up your controller. Multiple controller profiles can be used, so follow the on-screen instructions to assign buttons, etc. You will need to do this so you can navigate the EmulationStation UI where your games are launched from.

Next, click the » Menu» and select a wireless network connection option. (Ethernet is fine if you want to skip this.) Just select the SSID and enter the password (which is why you might need a keyboard). Once connected, the IP address will be displayed.

In the menu, find the «Package Management» option and use it to install PlayStation emulators. Make sure at least one of the following is selected:

  • L.R.-PCSX-Rearmed
  • PCSX-Rearmed
  • L.R. beetle-psx

With all three installed, you’ll be more likely to be successful when running the PlayStation ROM.

Copy the PlayStation BIOS to your Raspberry Pi

However, before proceeding, you will also need the BIOS files. Visit the PlayStation pages on the RetroPie Wiki to find out which BIOS files are needed for which emulator. By default, you will need either scph101.bin , scph7001.bin , scph5501.bin or scph1001.bin .

However, like game ROMs, we can’t link to BIOS ROMs, so you’ll need to find them through your search engine. Once downloaded to your computer, copy them to the BIOS folder on your Raspberry Pi (see below).

Step 3: Install the Retro Game Discs

When the PlayStation emulator is ready to use, you need to copy some suitable ROMs to your Raspberry Pi. Due to copyright law, we can’t tell you where to find them, but your friendly neighborhood search engine should be able to point you in the right direction.

Copy game ROMs over SFTP to your Raspberry Pi

Once the ROMs have been downloaded to your computer, you need to copy them to your Raspberry Pi. Saved in the correct directory, the ROMs will enable the addition of the PlayStation emulator to the RetroPie menu.

To copy a ROM from your computer to your Raspberry Pi, do one of the following:

  • Transfer files via USB storage
  • Move data with a portable hard drive
  • Copy the ROM to the /boot/Raspberry Pi directory
  • Transferring your ROMs using an SSH-enabled FTP program (such as FileZilla)

For more information on these options, please refer to our guide on transferring data between PC and Raspberry Pi.

Note that whichever option you use, you’ll need to copy the files to the correct /psx/ directory. The easiest way to do this is to copy the data over SFTP. Please note that you need to enable SSH for this. The fastest way is to open the «Configuration» menu and select » raspi-config» which will open the Raspberry Pi Configuration screen. Here select » Interface Options» > «SSH» and select » Turn on» .

Restart RetrpPie after enabling SSH.

After that press the button » Menu» and select » Exit» > «Reload Retro Pie» and confirm the action. When the Raspberry Pi reboots, SSH will be enabled, ready for remote access.


Several users of PlayStation emulators have reported that they work better with NTSC (US version) ROMs rather than the PAL (European) variant. So, if you’re having trouble, try the NTSC version of the game you want to play.

It’s worth noting that if the ROMs added in RetroPie don’t show up, you’ll need to update your EmulationStation. Do it by clicking Menu > Exit > Restart EmulationStation .

Step 4: Play Your PlayStation Games

Tekken 3 runs on Raspberry Pi 3

You have an emulator, BIOS files, and game ROMs. All you need to do now is browse the EmulationStation menu, open the PlayStation screen and select a game to launch it!

If you need to select a different emulator, simply press and hold on the game name to adjust launch options.

Within minutes, you should be re-living the serene days of the PlayStation on your Raspberry Pi. Who needs a PlayStation Classic?!

How to make your Raspberry Pi look like a PlayStation

Once everything is installed and the games are ready to play, you can finish the job properly. This is best done by taking a suitable Raspberry Pi case and disguising it as a mini version of the console you are emulating.

So just like the official PlayStation Classic, you will have a smaller version of the original PlayStation, only yours will run on the Raspberry Pi.

Various options are available:

You will also need a genuine looking USB controller. Several options are available, but for quality and value for money, this collection of five classic USB controllers is not to be missed.

Inside, you’ll find a PlayStation 2 style controller, perfect for enjoying a PlayStation game on your Raspberry Pi. If you’re looking for a more authentic option, try the original PlayStation controller USB adapter.

Now you are ready to play!

So many great games have been released on the PS1, from Final Fantasy VII to Tekken 3. You can get started with these and thousands more using your Raspberry Pi and the PlayStation emulator as described above. When you’re done with that, why not get another fix of 1990s retro gaming by installing a Sega Dreamcast emulator on your Raspberry Pi?

If you love games, you might want to know how to play Steam on Raspberry Pi Here’s how:

Image Credit: kolidzeitattoo / Depositphotos

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