How to build an old school game emulator using the Raspberry Pi

This is such a fun and easy project for anyone born in the 80’s or 90’s.  It can also be a great gift for someone born during that time. It does not take a long time to put this together and you will be playing your old favorite video games from when you were a kid.

This walk through will get you setup with the emulators you do need to supply your own ROMs which is the images for the video games.

Here is a list of systems you can emulate.

  • Amiga (UAE4ALL2)
  • Amstrad CPC (CPC4Rpi)
  • Apple II (Linapple)
  • Atari 2600 (Stella) (lr-stella)
  • Atari 5200, and Atari 8 bit series: 400, 800, 1200XL, 600XL, 800XL, 130XE, XEGS(Atari800)
  • Atari 7800 (lr-prosystem)
  • Atari Lynx (lr-handy)
  • Atari ST/STE/TT/Falcon (Hatari)
  • Commodore 64 (Vice)
  • FinalBurn Alpha (PiFBA), (lr-fba)
  • Genesis/Megadrive (DGEN), (lr-Genesis-Plus-GX), (lr-picodrive)
  • Game Gear (Osmose), (lr-Genesis-Plus-GX)
  • Game Boy (lr-gambatte)
  • Game Boy Color (lr-gambatte)
  • Game Boy Advance (gpSP), (lr-gpSP), (lr-vba-next)
  • Intellivision (jzIntv)
  • Macintosh (BasiliskII)
  • MAME (AdvanceMAME), (MAME4ALL-Pi), (imame4all-libretro)
  • MasterSystem (lr-Genesis-Plus-GX), (lr-picodrive), (Osmose)
  • MSX (lr-fmsx)
  • Nintendo 64 (Mupen64plus) (lr-mupen64plus)
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (lr-fceumm), (lr-nestopia)
  • Neo Geo (GnGeo-Pi), (PiFBA), (lr-fba)
  • PC (DOSBox), (rpix86)
  • PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 (lr-mednafen-pce-fast)
  • Ports
  • PlayStation 1 (lr-pcsx-rearmed)
  • ScummVM
  • Sega 32X (lr-picodrive)
  • Sega CD (lr-picodrive)
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (PiSNES), (snes9x-rpi), (lr-armsnes), (lr-catsfc), (lr-pocketsnes), (lr-snes9x-next)
  • Vectrex (lr-vecx)
  • Zmachine (Frotz)
  • ZX Spectrum (FBZX), (Fuse)


Supplies you will need

Step One: Download and Install RetroPie on a SD Card

How to Build a Raspberry Pi Retro Game Console for $35 

Because of the work of PetRockBlock, the process of installing all of these emulators on your Raspberry Pi is incredibly easy:

  1. Download the RetroPie Project SD card image for your version of the Raspberry Pi. For this guide, we’re using the 3.0 Beta
  2. Once it’s downloaded, extract the image to the SD card the same way you would a normal Raspbian image. Windows users can do this really easily with the Win32DiskImager, and Mac users can use the RPI-sd card builder. Linux users have to a pretty simple command line trick. Either way, check out our beginner’s guide to DIYing with the Raspberry Pi and follow the same instructions you would with Raspbian
  3. When it’s done, remove the SD card and put it in your Raspberry Pi

As far as the initial setup, that’s all you need to do. In fact, if you plan on using a keyboard and mouse instead of a controller you’re basically done and can skip to step five to transfer over your ROM files.

If you’d prefer to manually install the emulators, you can do that as well. The RetroPie Github page has a guide for doing it, but be warned: the manual process takes around six to nine hours to download and install everything. The benefit is that you get the newest versions of emulators and you can select what gets installed. For our purposes though, the above method works great and is incredibly simple.

Step Two: Boot Your Raspberry Pi and Set Up EmulationStation

How to Build a Raspberry Pi Retro Game Console for $35 

Next up we’ll boot up your Raspberry Pi. Plug in one of your controllers and your keyboard to the Raspberry Pi. Insert the SD card you just burned, and turn the Raspberry Pi on. It will boot directly into EmulationStation, the interface wrapper with all your emulators on it. Here, you’ll set up your controller and do a few other tweaks to get the system set up.

On its first boot, follow the onscreen prompts with your controller to set it up (up, down, left, right, etc). When you’re finished, you can navigate through EmulationStation with just your controller. These controls will not work with the emulators—that takes an extra step we’ll get to shortly.

Step Three: Tweak Settings On Your Raspberry Pi

How to Build a Raspberry Pi Retro Game Console for $35 

The newest version of RetroPie has a built-in system where you can access all your Raspberry Pi settings, tweak your memory, and more right from EmulationStation. While you can get through the graphic interface with your controller, you will need a keyboard hooked up to tweak these settings.

  1. Navigate to the RetroPie menu in EmulationStation
  2. Scroll down to Raspberry Pi Configuration Tool
  3. Here, you’ll see the familiar raspi-config menu. Using your keyboard, select “Expand File System” and press Enter
  4. Select “Advanced” and then select “Memory Split”
  5. If you have a Raspberry Pi 2, enter 512 in the field and press Enter. If you’re on an A+ enter in 128. If you’re using a B+, enter in 256
  6. Scroll down to “Overclock” and press Enter. If you’re on the Raspberry Pi 2, select “Pi2” and press Enter
  7. When you’re done, press ESC to return to the EmulationStation menu

That’s it for the base setup.

Step Four: Configure Your Controllers for the Emulators

How to Build a Raspberry Pi Retro Game Console for $35 

The newest version of RetroPie makes it very easy to setup your controller and only takes a few minutes to do. The best part is you don’t even need to bother with the command line:

  1. Go to the RetroPie menu in EmulationStation and select “Configure RetroArch Keyboard/Joystick”
  2. Using the keyboard, select the first option, “Configure Joystick/Controller”
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to set up your controller. If your controller doesn’t have the buttons it’s asking you for (like if you’re using a digital controller with no analog sticks), wait a few seconds and the setup will move on

Note: If you want to use an Xbox 360 or PS3 controller, you need to download drivers first. This is easy in the new version of RetroPie:

  1. Head to the RetroPie menu in EmulationStation and select “RetroPie-Setup”
  2. Use the keyboard to scroll down to the option to install PS3 controller drivers or Xbox 360 drivers

That’s it, your controllers are all set up and ready to go. You can do this with as many controllers as you want and RetroPie will save the configuration and automatically load it when you plug the controller in.

This screen has a bunch of other options, but most are more advanced and most people won’t need to mess around with them. That said, if you like to tweak your settings, you can do so for your audio, netplay, and more.

Step Five (Optional): Transfer Your Roms from Your Primary Computer

How to Build a Raspberry Pi Retro Game Console for $35 

For this step, we’re going to assume you already have a bunch of ROMs on your primary computer. We’re also assuming your Raspberry Pi is connected directly to your router. If not, you can follow the directions to set up Wi-Fi here. However, if you have them on your Raspberry Pi you can just move them over to the correct folders and you’re all set.

  1. Make sure your Raspberry Pi is on, and connected to your router.
  2. Now head over to your primary computer and connect to your Raspberry Pi with Cyberduck.
  3. Navigate to RetroPie > roms.
  4. Copy over any ROMs on your computer to the corresponding system folder and you’re done.

From here on out, you’ll be able to easily copy ROMs to the Raspberry Pi remotely through this method, so don’t worry if you want to add more down the line. Once the file transfer is done, go ahead and reboot the Raspberry Pi with your controllers connected and everything should be good to go.

Source: Lifehacker  Please visit for full article.

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