One look at the Raspberry Pi shows that miniaturization touches every facet of life — even retro gaming! Almost every retro gaming platform can be emulated with the Raspberry Pi 3, so why not create a dedicated retro gaming station to put it on?

«RetroPie»? What’s this?

If you want to play retro games on your Raspberry Pi, you have several options. The first is to install a separate emulator, load the ROM and play.

Another way is to play games that actually run on the Raspberry Pi games ported from Windows. Classic FPS doom can be run like this.

A third possibility is to install an emulation package, a set of emulators available as a disk image. There are multiple retro gaming platforms available for Raspberry Pi retro gaming Among the most popular are RetroPie, RecalBox, and PiPlay (the Raspberry Pi-based version of MAME).

Below we are going to show you a collection of retro gaming stations that mainly use RetroPie to download classic games. However, most of these examples will work exactly the same with RecalBox. PiPlay, or whatever emulation package you want to mention.

Note: Downloading a ROM that you don’t already own in physical form is illegal, right?

Before proceeding, learn how to build your own NES or SNES Mini with RetroPie

1. RetroPie Bartop Arcade Cabinet

Let’s start with this more traditional build. While all the designs on this list are fantastic, you probably want to at least consider a traditional-style arcade cabinet.

Essentially a half-height Raspberry Pi arcade cabinet, this build is arguably the most complete we’ve seen. Using a slit trimmer for some T-Trims is especially nice. And if you don’t need a drawer cabinet, it can be easily adapted to a full-size standing cab.

Find the complete guide at In the meantime, I developed a similar Weekend project to build a RetroPie countertop.

2. Retrobox All in one arcade joystick

What if you don’t need a static gaming station? You may not have the skills or materials to create something that big. You have many alternatives, including this one, Retrobox. It’s basically a Raspberry Pi in a box with an arcade-style controller and buttons.

The idea is simple — you plug it into your HDTV, turn on the Retrobox and start playing! It doesn’t end there, as the box provides access to the Pi’s USB ports. Add Multiple USB Game Controllers and you have a multiplayer gaming system in your hands! And if you want to use the controller on other games, you can. The Retrobox has its own USB cable and can be connected to other consoles.

Find the complete steps on Howchoo, including a link to the details and very helpful drilling templates.

3. MintyPi: mobile games in a tin!

Raspberry Pi portable gaming machine in an Altoids tin! This assembly really has everything, including the battery. For best results, you’ll need a Raspberry Pi Zero W (however, it should work just fine with the non-wireless version of the Pi Zero).

This is a lengthy build requiring some custom items which can be ordered online (see link below). You’ll also need some 3D printed components, a 2.4″ LCD, and an important jar of Altoids. The result is a fantastic little retro handheld gaming console small enough to fit in your pocket. I mean what don’t you like?

Don’t miss the full set of instructions for building your own MintyPi. If you prefer, try making a Raspberry Pi Game Boy kit instead of this.

4. Raspberry Pi arcade table

At one time, there were several types of arcade machine cases. While the variety in racks has persisted for decades (predating the digital age), seated machines, mostly tables, have been popular for a while. These are basically tables with glass surfaces and an upward facing monitor, with a joystick on each side for two player action.

Some great original «cocktail arcade» machines have been built to use RetroPie (working originals sell for thousands on eBay), such as this example from Instructables.

Cocktail arcade tables are a great way to start a car in your home without arousing suspicion. There are many ways to create them, from grabbing decrepit originals from eBay to repurposing an existing table!

5. Arcade in a briefcase

Unfortunately there are no instructions for this, but we are sure you can make your own version. After all, it doesn’t take much to build — all you need is a display and a suitcase!

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to run on battery power due to the size of the screen. However, if a power source is available, opening and handing out controllers makes for a great portable gaming party.

You will probably find that this requires some sort of internal structure, so you need to make some detailed plans.

6. Cupcade: micro arcade machine

If you want to go small then Cupcade is the way to go. This is a micro arcade machine sold in kit form that you can find online at the Adafruit website (not available at the time of writing). But even if you can’t get your hands on one of these sets, there’s enough here to prove that a RetroPie play station doesn’t have to be a six-foot cabinet!


Think Cupcade is small? Think again! The world’s smallest MAME arcade cabinet was the result of a hacking session and is incredibly small… about the size of a Pi Zero.

While it’s not available for purchase, it should give you a lot to think about. In a word, the possibilities of Raspberry Pi retro gaming machines are endless!

7. RetroPie in a portable DVD player!

Another awesome Raspberry Pi portable gaming project! This gaming station is basically a Raspberry Pi crammed into an old portable DVD player. After all, building an arcade game station with RetroPie has to mean more than just using wood. Repurposing existing devices is only part of the fun!

The portable DVD player’s form factor is compact and lightweight, making this fantastic laptop-like design. Unfortunately, it does not have a battery, so you need to plug it in to enjoy the game.

This project is challenging and not recommended for amateur builders. Following the example in the video, you will need a good knowledge of electronics. However, the results speak for themselves. If you don’t want to go through the build process, you can still emulate the Amiga on your Raspberry Pi.

And just like you can install your RetroPie device, you can install the software itself. Using Alternative RetroPie Themes you can also give the software a stunning new look.

Feeling inspired by these builds? Or have you built your own Raspberry Pi based gaming station? Share your own RetroPie gaming station (or PiPlay, RecalBox, etc.!) in the comments.

Image Credits: Roger Brownstein Via Flickr

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