Retro Gaming on the Raspberry Pi
I am a big fan of the original Donkey Kong, Galaga, Pacman, Defender, Space Invaders, Dig Dug and Frogger games, that I played on my Atari 2600/7800. And, while I still have some of my original cartridges in storage somewhere (doubt they still work). I can’t play them anymore because I no longer have the consoles, because they simply quit working or were sold in garage sales. But, all is not lost because now I can relive my old gaming days, by turning my Raspberry Pi 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 and code of a game system, that made the cartridge or disk, playable on the 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, of the original game. What is a ROM? A ROM, in short, is the data part of a cartridge or disk, that is loaded through the emulator, to play the game. And, you can even set up and use a joy stick or game controller (game pad) to play them with. 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. So play at your own risk. You can google all this, to find out more information.
Anyway! There are a few emulator programs available that can be installed and run on the Raspberry Pi, that emulates several gaming systems or consoles like the Atari, Nintendo, PlayStation and Saga, all within the same program. They have guides on how to install these on your SD card, on their websites, and you can find articles all over the net on how to tweak them a bit, to get it the way you like it.
I have tried two of these emulator programs and liked them both and they functioned very well! One was called RetroPie and the other is called Recalbox. Both were built on a platform called Emulationstation, and are very similar with about the same functionality. (I actually installed RetroPie two different ways. I installed the image and ran it on it’s own SD card. And, I also installed it manually through the Raspbin OS, but there is a little trick to starting Emulationstation from command line when you install it this way! Click Here, if you are having trouble) So check those out by clicking on the names above. As far as finding games (ROMS) to play on them, you will have to find those through searching the web, yourself.
And, who remembers the old MS DOS computer games? You can actually download a program called DOSBOX directly through the Raspbian terminal, to play them (you can also play DOS games in RetroPie or Recalbox). To find game files to play, you will have to do an internet search, just like you did to find the ROMS I talked about earlier. But, the way you install the Dosbox on your Raspberry Pi, is simply by typing in the terminal, sudo apt-get install dosbox (by the way, you should probably do a Pi update 1st before that, by typing in the terminal, sudo apt-get update and enter). To play the games, they are usually downloaded as a zip file. You will need to extract them to a separate folder. Once extracted, you should be able to right click on the EXE file and choose open with and choose “DOSBOX”, under “Games” in the list. If it doesn’t show it under Games, you can click the Command Line button in the “open with” box and type dosbox, and click ok and it should run.
Anyway! Enjoy your retro gaming! Good luck and have fun!