You have installed RetroPie on your Raspberry Pi and have tried out some classic games. But something is wrong — it’s not the way you remember. Perhaps the game is slow or jerky; perhaps the controller is not working quite the way you expect.

The truth is that installing RetroPie is easy, you can do even more to get the most authentic retro gaming experience. Use these five tips to get the most out of your Raspberry Pi’s retro gaming package.

No Raspberry Pi Retro Gaming System Is Perfect

If you are looking for a way to run retro games on your Raspberry Pi, you have several options.

Retro video game on Raspberry Pi

First, you can use separate emulators. Secondly, you can use platform specific builds of Raspbian. For example, you can run an Amiga-based Amiga on a Raspberry Pi.

However, if you’re looking for a more in-depth experience, perhaps the retro games suite will suit you better.

Some of them are available:

  • retropie
  • RecalBox
  • PiPlay (formerly known as PiMAME)
  • Lakka
  • Pi Entertainment System (PES)

You can use each of them to control the emulation of several retro platforms, from the classic Atari 2600 to the Sony PlayStation. Our take on everything you need to know about retro gaming on the Raspberry Pi explains more.

While the following tips are primarily for use with RetroPie, they should also work for alternatives.

1. Are you using the correct Raspberry Pi model?

Raspberry Pi 3B, Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Zero

The first item to check is if your Raspberry Pi is up to the task.

In particular, consider these two points:

  1. Can the emulator work reliably on your Raspberry Pi?
  2. Is the platform you’re trying to emulate a Pi capability?

For example, the original Raspberry Pi can easily emulate MAME and other 16-bit platforms. The same goes for 8-bit systems. But it can’t emulate later devices, limiting the games you might want to visit.

Conversely, Raspberry Pi 2 and later can emulate the Sega Dreamcast thanks to the Reicast emulator, while the Raspberry Pi 3B+ can run on the Nintendo 64 and Sony PSP, albeit with some performance issues.

The takeaway is that you shouldn’t expect too much from the Raspberry Pi when it comes to emulation. Stay within your computer’s hardware limit: Currently, emulators for platforms are released before the year 2000.

Make sure your Raspberry Pi computer is set up to emulate the games you want to play.

2. Use the right emulator

Choose an emulator for your Raspberry Pi

Sometimes games that you think should run (even if the online check confirms it) just won’t run. Various problems can cause this. The game ROM may be unstable or built with additional software (or requirements) that the emulator cannot handle.

While many emulators are included, you don’t have to stick to the platform-specific default option.

In most emulation packages, you can switch to a different emulator. For example, in RetroPie you can open RetroPie Setup > (P) Package Management > Manage Additional Packages and view a list of alternative emulators. Use the option Install from Source, when you find an emulator you want to try.

Running multiple emulators for the same platform shouldn’t be a problem. This, however, will give you an extra option if the software refuses to load.

3. Find a genuine controller

Enjoying classic games isn’t just about downloading them with an emulator. You wouldn’t play a Nintendo Wii game with a keyboard, would you? No, you would love to see the Wii Remote experience the gaming capabilities of this console again.

The same applies to titles from 20- th century. MAME arcade games will play better with a joystick and six buttons; The Commodore 64 name is best used with a standard one-button joystick.

While some classic gaming platforms have been equipped with USB versions of their classic controllers, others have not. Your best bet is to check online for a suitable converter to allow classic joysticks and joysticks to connect to your Raspberry Pi via USB.

Or you can simply build your own classic style joystick using this kit from SJJX.

Your best bet is to rely on USB controllers as well, especially older versions of the Raspberry Pi. If you need to use a Bluetooth controller, make sure your Pi has built-in Bluetooth (like the Raspberry Pi 2 and later). Check out our list of the best RetroPie controllers for some ideas.

4. Is your pi’s power supply suitable for work?

So many people suffer from general poor performance on their Raspberry Pi due to a bad power supply. Forget about grabbing the nearest charger and hope for the best. Emulation often requires a lot of power, which means plugging your Raspberry Pi into a reliable AC adapter.

There are many alternatives available, but you’ll get the best results with the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s official power supply.

Power issues can cause freezes, forcing you to manually reboot and inadvertently corrupt your SD card. Avoid this with a reliable 5V supply.

5. Overclock your Raspberry Pi

Overclock your Raspberry Pi

Finally, if you want really good performance and maybe a frame rate boost, overclocking your Raspberry Pi is your best bet.

Unlike other computers, the Raspberry Pi has a built-in overclocking feature. All you have to do is update it to the latest version and then edit the file config.txt in the download directory. Fix it with the new computer clock speeds, save and restart your computer, and you’re done.

However, after overclocking, you may encounter additional performance issues. That’s why cooling is so important. You have several options for cooling your Raspberry Pi from heatsinks and fans to liquid cooling.

Checklist of RetroPie Performance Issues

As long as you’re using a Raspberry Pi-supported emulation platform, these tips should help you get the most out of RetroPie (or whatever package you’re using).

Keep the following as a handy checklist when you run into problems with retro gaming on your Raspberry Pi:

Once you resolve these issues, you’ll be ready to install the Raspberry Pi in your retro gaming hub. Not sure where to start? Our look at building slot machines for RetroPie will help you.

Remember that you are not limited to retro games. You can even play almost any video game on your Raspberry Pi ! See how to build an NES or SNES Mini with RetroPie for one cool idea.

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