Raspberry Pi as retro gaming console

In some previous articles I mentioned already, that the Raspberry Pi can be used as retro gaming console. The Pi is not a good solution if you want to replace a standard bureau PC. For this his resources are too limited, but on the other side, the resources are far better than many older gaming console. For the Linux systems there already many emulators for nearly every possible hardware architecture. With emulators this hardware is simulated on the computer, so that you can execute old programs and games also from gaming consoles (for example: C64, Amiga,…).

Retro Pie project

The Retro Pie project does a good job and made a summary of all good gaming console emulators which already configured. You can download this fully configured project on GitHub and install it with a setup script on your own system. If this is too difficult for you, you can download a ready to use disc image. You only need to copy it onto an SD card.


Currently Retro Pie supports the following emulators:

  • Atari 2600
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Game Boy Color
  • Game Gear
  • MAME
  • Megadrive/Genesis
  • NES
  • SNES
  • Playstation 1
  • PC Emulation mit DOSBox

All these emulators are preconfigured and ready to execute programs and games. The only thing that is missing are those programs or games! Because of copyright reasons it is not allowed to download them. But you will find different sites with lots of ROMs for these consoles if you search for ‘ROM’ and the name of your gaming console. A ROM is the data that is stored on the media device of that gaming console.

Install ROMs

If you already downloaded a ROM file for one of the available consoles, you have to install them on the SD card with the Retro Pie on it. For this, the image has preconfigured SAMBA shares. All you have to do is to open:

You connect to your Raspberry Pi (replace the IP address with your IP address) with the SMB protocol. There you will find directories for every emulator installed. You only need to copy the ROM into this folder. Then you are ready to start.

Play retro games

After installing the ROM files into the correct directory it is simple. You should start Retro Pie. The Image doesn’t boot into the normal graphical mode, it starts in the terminal mode and opens some programs to display the Retro Pie logo and to show a menu to select an emulator. An emulator is only visible, if there are ROMs installed. Normally this works without any configuration.

I have tested this with many ROMS for the SNES emulator like Super Mario of Mario Kart. The SNES emulator will not be displayed till the first ROM is installed. You can also organize your games into different directories, this works nice with Retro Pie. All tested games worked without a problem, fast and stable.

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