My Sort of Portable Retro Gaming System

Starting Up Emulationsation running RetroPie 4.2.
Using a Pi Zero W
2.8 capasitive touch screen
pocket juice
Powered by a 4000 mAh PocketJuice portable charger with 5 volt 2.4 amp output.
And an 8Bitdo mini bluetooth gamepad.
Ready to play!

Emulationstation Pixel Desktop Shortcut No Command Line

How to create a emulationstation desktop shortcut to get to back to RetroPie from the Pixel Desktop, without going to the command line!

You can easily install the Pixel Desktop from the RetroPie setup menu (Configuration / Tools >> Raspbiantools >> Install Pixel Desktop Environment). It takes a while, but once installed and after restarting Emulationstation, it will be in the Ports menu on RetroPie.

Enter the desktop with whatever button you setup to enter the games with, on your controller.

*Note: You will need a keyboard and mouse to navigate the desktop!

Once you are at the desktop, right click somewhere on the background and choose, “create empty file” and name it, emulationstation.desktop.

Then download the icon below (right click and save as), and move it into your /home/pi directory.

emulationstation desktop shortcut

Then right click the new empty file and choose, “Text Editor” from the list. Then in the editor, copy and paste or type this information below in the box and save.

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Games
Comment=EmulationStaion
Icon=/home/pi/emulationstation.png
Exec=pkill Xorg
Type=Application
Encoding=UTF-8
Terminal=false
Categories=None;

I found this code here.

The icon should change to the ES icon, once saved. Then test it by double clicking the icon. It should take you back to the Ports menu on RetroPie. You may have to reboot for some settings to take effect.

And there you go, you can now exit the Pixel Desktop with the emulationstation desktop shortcut! Fun!

8Bitdo Zero How to Setup in Retropie 4.2

8Bitdo Zero Gamepad on Retropie 4.2!

this is how small this 8bitdo isThe 8Bitdo Zero gamepad is a cute little (as in tiny) wireless Bluetooth gamepad, that has a similar button layout of a Super Nintendo game controller. You can use it for playing games on your Windows PC, Mac, Android tablet, Android Smart Phone, iOS devices and Raspberry Pi. You can also connect it to your smart phone and use it as a shutter button to snap pictures, hands free. And, it also connects as a keyboard.

I bought my gamepad from here.

8bitdo zero

Here is a how to setup the 8Bitdo Zero Bluetooth Gamepad, on Retropie 4.2.

my raspberry pi 3Note: I have only connected the 8Bitdo Zero to my Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi Zero. I have not tried it on anything else yet. And so far, it works decently on Retropie 4.2. As long as the games you are playing don’t require more buttons, than a Super Nintendo controller would. Works well on Nintendo and SNES games!

But at 1st I had a little bit of trouble figuring out how to get it set up correctly. If you have it turned on to connect as the wrong device, it will not set up the buttons to work correctly in the games.

Step 1. Charge the 8Bitdo Zero Gamepad

Plug it in with the included short usb cable and charge it on a usb port of your computer or with a phone charger. It will blink green until it is fully charged and then shut off when done.

Step 2. Getting the Gamepad Ready

8bitdo zero layoutPush and hold the start button for 2 seconds. Then you should see it blink. If it blinks more than once in a row, the controller needs to be reset. To reset it, hold down the select button for 2 seconds. Then hold down the start button until it shuts off (8 to 10 sec).

Step 3. Retropie Configuration

With the controller off, enter the Retropie configuration menu and using another usb connected gamepad or keyboard (need to configure the keyboard in the main menu controller configuration, if not already). Then select BLUETOOTH in the menu.

select bluetooth

Step 4. Connecting the Gamepad to Bluetooth.

 register bluetooth device

On the next screen, select “Register and Connect to Bluetooth Device” and press OK. You should see a screen saying it’s searching, and then press and hold the start button for 2 seconds. It will start to flash on/off with a blue light, as the Pi searches for a Bluetooth device.

Once found, it should display the mac address and the name of the controller. Then press OK.


(If it doesn’t find it, try it again. If it continues to not find it, you may need to restart retropie. The Bluetooth on the Pi 3 isn’t really good but works most of the time.)

The next screen should show this above with 1. DisplayYesNo at the top selected. Then just choose OK.

If it connected successfully, you should see “Successfully registered and connected to”, and the mac address of the game pad. The blue light should not be blinking at all now.

Note: On the Retropie Github 8Bitdo setup guide, it shows to setup the udev rule for joypad, as described in step 12, found here. I did not do that. I also left the 8Bitdo mapping hack (OFF – new firmware)!

Now press OK and then Cancel on the next screens to get back to the the configuration menu and use the correct button to on the keyboard or other gamepad to exit and get back to the game system screen.

Step 5. Configure Gamepad

Then you will need to go to the main menu and configure the controller buttons.

configure 8bitdo controller

I just set mine up like a snes controller (used the a for the b button and b for a button and used the L and R buttons as left and right triggers).

Then you should be good to go!

Reconnecting

If the gamepad sits idle for a while, they will disconnect. You should be able to reconnect them by holding down the select button for a second or 2. It will flash really fast and then reconnect. If you restart Emulationstation, when you see the Emulationstation screen, press and hold the select button a couple of seconds to reconnect.

Sometimes when it reconnects, it will go haywire and make the system screen scroll fast. Just push any button to make it stop, usually. I have had some issues where it wouldn’t stop and had to do a shutdown or restart by way of ssh (or just unplugged the power).

Also, you may have to go through the Bluetooth setup again, once in a while if you have problems. And, the charge lasts a long time, but if you continue having connection issues, try recharging it.

Anyway! Enjoy playing your games!

Super Nintendo – How to play the SNES on your PC!

How to play Super Nintendo games on your PC!

Do you miss playing those old Super Nintendo games? My wife and I use to have a Super Nintendo game system console (SNES). We bought it a long time ago when we were dating and engaged, and kept it at my house to play on those evenings when we really couldn’t afford to go out somewhere. Sometimes, it was just as much fun as going out.

We liked to play Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and a few other games together, and then one I played by myself was Tecmo Super Bowl (she didn’t care for the sports games). But I guess we wore the thing out, because one day it just stopped working. So we trashed it but we kept the games and still have them somewhere in a box in our storage. I don’t know why we kept them, because you couldn’t play them without a console. I think I planned to buy another console, but I think by the time I wanted to, they stopped making new ones, and the only ones you could get were at the pawn shops and garage sales. But, good luck on getting one that still worked in good shape. I have seen where you can buy a console on Amazon or ebay! And yes, you can now download and play them on the Nintendo Wii and Wii U! And also on a PC!

To play them on a PC though you will need an emulator program and some ROMS, downloaded to your computer. I am not going to go into details on how all that works, but in a nut shell, an emulator and a ROM is the software version of the game console and game, that will run on your PC. There are several SNES emulators online you can download and install that work well. You can do a google search for Super Nintendo Emulators and a bunch of sites will pop up. But be careful, there are some sites with downloads that can contain viruses, and spyware. Be sure and use your antivirus to scan the file 1st before opening or installing. WARNING!!! There is a legal gray area with the downloading and playing of ROMS. Many sites say it’s legal if you already own the game cartridge.

super nintendoI actually found a Super Nintendo app that is easy to install and use on the google chrome webstore that will run the ROMS, called snes9x. You then have to download the ROMS to your computer and extract them from a zipped file, for them to work in the app. Most newer operating systems for Windows (like Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10), Mac and even Ubuntu (and it’s many Linux flavors), have programs built in, that will extract the zipped archive file, by right clicking on the file and choosing “extract” in the list. If for some reason your Windows PC or Mac doesn’t have the program installed, google Winzip or 7-Zip (I recommend 7-zip) and install it. For Ubuntu, you can probably find one through the software center. But all the newer updated versions usually already an archive manager installed. But, you will need the Chrome browser with flash or other browser with flash, to run the chrome app.

super nintendo

Then once you have installed the snes8x app, launch it, then click “choose file” at the top and find your unzipped ROM file where you extracted it on your computer, to load it and play the game. If you did it right, you should see the game start up. You can use the keyboard, or plug in a USB game pad to your computer, to move around in the game (there is a key map below the output screen). I actually created a separate folder in my downloads folder to extract the ROMS to, so they would be easy to find.

Anyway! Enjoy! It’s a fun way to pass the time, just don’t do it while cooking or you will burn the food, like I did the other night!

Starting Emulationstation Installed On Raspbian

How to start Emulationstation, that was installed manually from the RetroPie script, on Raspbian, for Raspberry Pi 2/3 (updated 7/26/16).

This post is in reference to my post on installing a Retro Gaming System on the Raspberry Pi 3. Click Here to read it.

So let’s say you are a beginner like me and you installed RetroPie on your Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, through Raspbian using the manual setup script. And, you are trying to figure out how to start it up so you can play some games. Well, you would think that after installing it, there would be some sort of icon or way to launch it from the desktop on Raspbian. Or you could go to the LX terminal, located on the desktop, and type “sudo” something, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like many other programs you installed on your Pi through the terminal. RetroPie is built on a program called Emulationstation (ES), and you have to start ES to run RetroPie. But, ES can’t be started through the LX terminal on your desktop either with “sudo something”. I tried that, it will give you an error and say you must stop X, and there is no launch icon. It can only be started from root. And no, not the root folder on your desktop. I mean, outside of Raspbian, through the command line interface (CLI or short).

Here is how to get to the command line interface, so you can run ES.

Go to the Start Menu-> Preferences->Raspberry Pi Configuration.start emulationstation from raspbian desktop

Then look for “Boot” under the System tab (what it automatically opens to). Switch the “To Desktop”, to “To CLI” and then click ok, then choose Reboot.

start emulationstation from raspbian desktopThen it will reboot (you will see all the script stuff like in the pic below) to the command line prompt (you may have to log in with your username and password. if you haven’t changed the default username and password, it would be username: pi and password: raspberry).

cli prmpt

Then here is where you will type in “emulationstation”. Then you should see the ES logo load up and start RetroPie to a screen to setup your game controller.

emulationstation

To get out of ES and back to your desktop, you can push whatever button on your controller you chose to setup as the “start” button, and select Quit. Then at command prompt type, startx, and it will load the desktop.

That’s It! Took me a while to read between all stuff on all the forums, scratching my head, but I eventually got it. If there is an easier way, please share it with me in a comment, below!

Now, you can get it on like Donkey Kong!…..never mind….sounded good in my head! lol! Have fun playing those old games!

P.S. Once you change the setting under the preferences to boot to CLI, it will boot to that, until you manually change it back. You can just go to your preferences again and change it back to boot to the desktop.

Retro Gaming on the Raspberry Pi – Simple to Install!

How to Turn the Raspberry Pi into a Retro Gaming Machine!

retro gamingI am a big fan of many of those old video games I use to to play on my old Atari and Nintendo consoles. One of my favorites has always been Donkey Kong. I actually still have a few of the old Atari 2600 and Nintendo cartridges. But, unfortunately my Atari and Nintendo consoles stopped working a long time ago. But, I have a raspberry pi 3 and I was really exited to learn that you could emulate these old consoles on it and basically turn it into a retro gaming system!

So, how do you turn a Raspberry Pi into a retro gaming system? One way is by installing emulators. 

What is an emulator?

I don’t know all the technical details behind how it all works, but in short, an emulator is a software program that emulates the hardware of a game console. But you can’t stick a cartridge in your computer (actually I wouldn’t doubt there is a way). You will need something called a ROM image, of the original game.

What is a ROM image?

A ROM (read only memory) image is like a data copy of the original cartridge or disk. It utilizes the emulator program code, to play the game. It’s sort of like a virtual cartridge.

WARNING: There is a legal gray area surrounding the use of ROMS. Some will say, If you own the original game cartridge, it’s ok to be downloaded and played. Some say, it isn’t legal at all. Then there is the adage that it’s preservation of history and nostalgia. If these games are no longer being sold in circulation for a current console and you’re not selling them, then they are perfectly legal. So play at your own risk. You can google all this, to find out more information.

Several Emulators to Choose From

You can install several different emulators on the Raspberry Pi. I won’t go into detail on how to install them, but the Raspberry Pi Pixel desktop does contains an Add and Remove software GUI utility. You can search from there to find emulators to try. Some of them run ok on the Pi, and some don’t. Or you can install a whole operating system (OS) that contains already installed emulators, all in one place. You can also add more!

Retro Gaming OS’s for the Raspberry Pi.

Two OS’s I have tried are called Retropie and Recalbox. Both were built on a platform called Emulationstation, and are very similar with about the same functionality.

To install these retro gaming OS’s on your Pi, you simply download the SD card image and burn it to your SD card (recommend class 10 16gb or higher), using your favorite SD card writing utility. Then pop the SD card into your Pi and then follow the prompts to get it going.

Download the RetroPie image, here.

Download the Recalbox image here.

They are both pretty simple to get started. Recalbox however is probably the easiest for the novice, that requires less configuration. It almost works “out of the box” so to speak. But more experienced Linux users will probably like Retropie, because you can configure and tailor things the way you like them. There is plenty of documentation found online, to help you get started.

As far as where to get ROMs, google is your friend. I will not tell you were to get them. But, they can be found on this planet among the emu and caught with a dot net. However, they don’t speak English! You can use the google translator to figure out what they are saying.

Note: Retropie and Recalbox does not contain or authorize the use of any copy righted game ROMs, that you do not own! And, will not be distributed with any copy righted games. Use at your own risk! Also, neither system is for resell!

Build Your Own

There have been many people build their own retro gaming cabinet, tables, and gameboy type hand held devices. The possibilities are endless with a Raspberry Pi! You can see many examples on Youtube.

retro gaming arcade cabinet

Sounds like a fun weekend (or over 3 or 4 weekends maybe) project!

By the way, you can do a lot more than play games with a raspberry pi! You can also use it as a second hand desktop computer, a media center pc, or to create many other neat projects.

Anyway! Enjoy your retro gaming! Good luck and have fun!

If you are looking to get started with a Raspberry Pi, I highly recommend this kit below!