Retro games are surprisingly popular. As a fondness for classic rock music and 80s TV, it’s nostalgia we can attribute to the longevity of recorded media, and like old music and TV, retro games have taken a good hit thanks to digital technology. But while it’s fun to play emulators on your desktop, you’ll have even more fun using your Raspberry Pi.
It’s easy enough to build an arcade-style case for a full-fledged PC… but much easier with a compact and lightweight Raspberry Pi.
These days you can buy the Picade kit, a well-made desktop arcade box for your Raspberry Pi. It’s a small kit with an 8″ LCD, but it’s not the only way to build an arcade cabinet for your Raspberry Pi.
What should you use for a retro game project?
All of our previous Raspberry Pi retro game projects use the RetroPie system, but we actually now have a few alternatives to choose from. Along with RetroPie you can also try:
PiPlay — Formerly known as PiMAME, this is another Raspberry Pi dedicated image with 13 emulation systems. Here is the taste:
Ignition.io — Currently in beta, focuses on all Pi games (retro and online) and adds modern features like friend lists and achievement registration.
The following Raspberry Pi slot machine projects can use any of the above operating system images. Do you find a project to copy or inspire you here? Let’s find out.
Full size Raspberry Pi Arcade machine
While you’ll probably decide that a cocktail arcade or bar solution is more achievable, you’ll probably want to learn how to build a full-sized Raspberry Pi arcade cabinet first.
Portable Arcade Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is so compact and portable; it makes sense to take a PiCade-style portable project with you. The following four DIY Raspberry Pi arcade cabinets should give you some good ideas in this area.
Porta Pi Arcade
A portable Raspberry Pi arcade machine that comes in kit form (starting at $75), the Porta-Pi Arcade is a good option if you want an arcade machine that doesn’t take up much space in your home.
The problem is, if you’re into gaming on this small device, you’ll probably need a full size copy!
Go Portable with NaCade Solar
The «naked» NaCade is a similar device, this time built from 3mm acrylic sheet rather than wood. This Instructable also uses a Pi Cobbler cutting board, but the entire build costs over $300. This may not be the route you want to take your build!
Micro Pi Desktop Coke Cabinet
With a 2.5″ LCD and mini joystick, you’ve probably already guessed that this project is a little on the small side. Using 3D printed parts, design observers «I’ve always wanted a tiny arcade machine for my desk, I decided to build it as small as possible.»
Since it’s about the same size as a soda can, it’s fair to say that if it were any smaller, this Raspberry Pi mini gaming cabinet would be unplayable.
Mini Galaga Arcade
Unusually for a Raspberry Pi arcade build, this project uses a CRT display for a total retro effect. In the spirit of this section, however, this is a very small CRT! This video describes all the steps required to create a similar project and the end results are certainly impressive.
Making a themed arcade machine is a good idea, which we’ll take a look at below.