Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Gaming

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is a powerful single board computer (SBC)! The CPU is a Quad core 64-bit processor running at 1.5GHz. It comes in configurations of 1, 2, 4 and now 8GB of RAM! It has many more features, including: USB 3.0 ports, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc. To read more about the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B itself, please see this.

I’ve been using Raspberry Pi’s for several years, primarily with RetroPie. I’ve also used it in a custom robot and various other projects including a few custom Arcade cabinets, with my modular OpenCADE Arcade console (3D printed and free). Now with the power of the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, we have the ability to play more games –even better! If you’re interested in playing light-gun games on your Raspberry Pi 4, please see this section as well.

The content below will assist you with the information to help you get started Retro Gaming on the Raspberry Pi 4, in a short amount of time. If you have questions, please comment in the videos and I’ll do my best to answer them, or try to point you in the right direction for an answer. Now that RetroPie 4.6 (official beta release) is available, I will be creating additional videos and expanding this page substantially in the coming days/weeks. Subscribe to Wagner’s TechTalk if you don’t want to miss the new content. I appreciate that you’ve read this far and hope the content below is helpful to you! –Jon

Common Questions

Below are a few questions that I’ve received so far with my answers/recommendations. I’ll expand on each of these in a later video but for now wanted to help try to answer them:

  • Should I get a 2GB, 4GB or 8GB Raspberry Pi 4? Answer: For the emulators, CPU performance is more important than RAM. If you plan on using your Raspberry Pi 4 as a Linux desktop and RetroPie on occasion, a 4/8GB Pi 4 may be ideal. However, if you’re only planning on using it for RetroPie, 2GB is plenty.
  • Do I need a case for my Raspberry Pi 4? Answer: IMO, yes for a couple of reasons: 1) The Raspberry Pi 4 can get hot and active cooling (a fan) is a good idea. In addition, you’ll want heat sinks to dissipate the heat away from the chips. 2) If you drop something on it or spill something, you will likely damage it quicker than if you had installed it in a case. There are a number of options for a case, including some that look like retro consoles (see below). If you don’t care for a retro-style case, I do recommend the CanaKit Starter Kit but don’t forget to pick out a controller or two.
  • What size microSD card should I get? Answer: Really depends on the type of games and number of games you want to run. microSD cards are pretty cheap these days, my recommendation for most would be a 64GB128GB microSD card. If you want to install a lot of PS1, Dreamcast or CD/DVD-based games then I would recommend 256GB512GB microSD cards.
  • Does RetroPie update the firmware on the Raspberry Pi 4 automatically?  If not, how do I update it?  Answer:  Yes, the underlying OS (Raspian) will update the firmware on the Raspberry Pi 4 automatically.  You can use the following command to check the version of the firmware that your Pi is currently running if you want to check (from a shell/SSH):  sudo rpi-eeprom-update
  • Should I get an SNES style controller or an Analog controller? Answer: Both work, it depends on the type of games you want to play. If you don’t care about playing N64 or Dreamcast, then the SNES style controllers will work fine for most emulators. You can add a different controller at any time if you change your mind. Here is one kit that you may prefer that includes the Pi 4 (4GB) and Analog controllers (See description for coupon codes to save even more).

Hardware

The first thing you’ll need is the hardware. By hardware, I don’t mean just the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B itself, but everything that goes along with it.

Such as :

Links added for reference, may find better prices with other options or bundles.

You could certainly order each of the above separately or if you prefer the convenience at a good price, you might consider the Vilros Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Gaming Kit (<$90 for 2GB); minus the HDMI TV and USB Keyboard). You can check out the Vilros website to see what other options they have here. See video below for setup and review.

Kits with SNES-Style Controllers & case

Kits with SNES-Style Controllers & NES-Style case

Kits with NES-Style Controllers & case

Analog Controller

If you want to be able to play N64 or Dreamcast, you’re going to need an analog controller. There are plenty of options available to choose from, I’ve only purchased and tried one so far. I purchased the Logitech F310 Gaming Controller (Renewed – Amazon will get more May 6th). This controller worked great for those consoles/games that utilize analog controls. This might be something to consider as well.

Keep in mind, on the bottom you’ll see a switch for “X” and “D”. The switch will need to be toggled towards the “D”. Then map the buttons in Emulation Station, then flip it to “X” and repeat. Flipping the switch to “X” allows dual-stick gaming in MAME, great for Robotron (among others).

Logitech Gamepad F310

Software

The RetroPie team has recently released the official RetroPie image for the Raspberry Pi 4. In the following sections, I’ll describe the basic steps and what you’ll need to get started using your Raspberry Pi 4 for Retro Gaming.

Official RetroPie

The RetroPie 4.6 Image Setup Guide (OFFICIAL RetroPie image)

Woohoo! It has been a very long wait, but the RetroPie team has officially released RetroPie for the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (on 4/27/2020). I’m so excited to be writing these instructions. See the links below and instructions to help you get started quickly.

Important links

  • Download for RetroPie – Click the button for Raspberry Pi 4. The size is ~826MB.
  • RetroPie Forums – Great place to get answers to questions or interact with the Retro gaming community.

Software Setup

The following will describe how to install the image to a micro SD card. It is recommended that you use a microSD card larger than 16GB. Otherwise, you won’t have much room for games. See Hardware Setup (above) if your Raspberry Pi 4 has not yet been setup.

  • Download ~826MB image from here.
  • Unzip the archive using a zip utility, such as 7-zip.
  • Download/install balena etcher from here.
  • Install the microSD card into the SD sleeve and into your computer.
  • Launch etcher and click the Select image button.
  • Select the location of the extracted retropie-buster-4.x-rpi4.img file.
  • Click the Select target button and select the microSD card by clicking the checkbox associated with the correct drive letter. Then click the Continue button (*NOTE: Make sure you selected the correct drive, everything on it will be erased in the next step!)
  • Flick the Flash! button to burn the image to the microSD card.
  • Once complete, eject the micro SD card from your computer and install it into the Raspberry Pi 4.
  • Power-on the Raspberry Pi 4 by flipping the power switch to the “1” position (if your kit included an on/off switch).
  • The RetroPie image should begin to boot!

Controller Setup

  • After the image boots, if you haven’t done so already, insert the USB controller you wish to use into the USB 2.0 port on the Raspberry Pi 4.
  • You will be prompted to setup the controller, press and hold a button for a few seconds.
  • Press the corresponding buttons for up / down / left / right / start / select / A / B / X / Y / L / R (more buttons may be available for different controllers) and then hold down any button for a few seconds when asked for buttons that you don’t have on the controller unless your controller includes analog buttons. Once you see HOTKEY ENABLE, press the Select button for that. Then press the A button on the OK.
  • Your controller is now setup!

Wi-Fi Setup

  • Using the controller, select the RetroPie tile. Then, press the A button.
  • Press the down button and highlight RASPI-CONFIG from the menu.
  • Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, move down to Localization Options and press the ENTER key.
  • Select I4 Change Wi-fi Country and select your country using the up/down arrow keys and press tab to the OK button.
  • Select Localization Options again and then Change Timezone (this is optional). Select the area where you live and press TAB and enter.
  • Next, select your timezone. Then TAB and ENTER.
  • Press TAB and then arrow to the right to the Finish button and press ENTER.
  • Using your controller, move down to the WIFI option and press the A button.
  • Using the keyboard, press enter on Connect to WiFi network.
  • Select your network name or SSID and press ENTER.
  • Enter the password for your network.
  • Make note of your IP Address, so that you may easily transfer games to your RetroPie image.
  • To exit the sub menu, press the ESC key.
  • Press the tab key twice to highlight Finish and press ENTER.
  • Your Wi-Fi is now setup!

Troubleshooting

  • I have no video or audio, what’s wrong? Double check that you have the HDMI cable on the Pi connected to the port nearest the power (i.e left port).
  • I still have no audio, help! Please see this from the RetroPie team.
  • Whenever I click anything after the RetroPie configuration, the screen blacks-out. Why? If you are using a 144Hz monitor, try one that is ~60Hz instead.
  • I can’t get the WiFi to connect, why? Could be a number of reasons, make sure you’re using the correct passphrase for the SSID (WiFi Name). If you are, I’ve found at least with my router, that including any special characters such as “!@$%” as part of the passphrase wouldn’t allow me to connect from the Pi. Changing it to a passphrase that doesn’t include special characters worked for me.

Installing ROMs

First, please don’t ask me or anyone where to get ROMs. We can’t, or shouldn’t answer you. It’s not an appropriate topic for discussion. There are places where you can download legal ROMs for installation to your Raspberry Pi 4. My recommendation is to search google (or your favorite search engine) and locate whatever it is you want to install. Once you do that, here are some basic instructions:

  • Once your Raspberry Pi 4 has been connected to your network, you can open File Explorer on your computer and type “\\[your ip address here]” or “\\lakka” (for Lakka) to access the Raspberry Pi 4. From here, you can double click on the roms share and copy/paste the files to the appropriate sub-folder.
  • For NeoGeo games, make sure you also copy the neogeo.zip file in the same folder as your games.
  • After you’ve copied the roms to the appropriate location, then press the Start button on your controller and move down to Quit and press the A button. Select the option to Restart Emulation Station, the emulator should show up in the list now with the games you’ve added.
  • Most of the problems users have installing ROMs has to do with the fact that the ROM they downloaded didn’t match the correct emulator version they tried to run it under or the rom copied is dependent on another file that was not copied/missing. For example, there are many different versions of MAME and the roms/romsets you use must match the emulator version. Otherwise, when you start the game it may return back to the RetroPie menu.
  • This is the most help I can provide on this topic.

More RetroPie Tips

Video companion for the tips you’ll find here

NEW RetroPie Tips page is now available! There you will find tips to help improve and enhance your experience with RetroPie 4.6. This page complements the video above.


Official Batocera

In this video, we’ll setup the OFFICIAL image of Batocera on a Raspberry Pi 4 along with a few helpful startup tips! I’ve been testing this build for a little while and really enjoying it. It’s a great option for Retro-Gaming enthusiasts. The games all play well, setup is simple and well… it’s Fun!

Big thank you for the recommendation from LIAC that I should give Batocera a try!

Helpful Links

Controllers Shown

Kits to Consider

These are some great kits that include the Raspberry Pi 4, though without a controller.


Building a Modern Retro Console (MRC)

Build a Modern Retro Computer

If you’re interested in building your own Modern Retro Computer, you may want to visit this page.


Light Gun Support with Mayflash DolphinBar & Wii Remote

Setup Video

In this section, we’ll discuss how to setup the Mayflash W010 Wireless Sensor Dolphin bar to a Wii Remote on our Supreme Pro RetroPie image (the official release of RetroPie wasn’t available at the time of filming this video). This allows you to play light-gun games on your Raspberry Pi 4. If you already have a Wii remote available, adding this setup to your existing Raspberry Pi 4 setup will be pretty inexpensive. Let’s first go over the hardware you’ll need:

In this section, we’ll discuss how to setup the Mayflash W010 Wireless Sensor Dolphin bar to a Wii Remote on our Supreme Pro RetroPie image (the official release of RetroPie wasn’t available at the time of filming this video). This allows you to play light-gun games on your Raspberry Pi 4. If you already have a Wii remote available, adding this setup to your existing Raspberry Pi 4 setup will be pretty inexpensive. Let’s first go over the hardware you’ll need:

  • Mayflash W010 Wireless Sensor DolphinBar for Wii – This bar plugs into a standard USB port, like the one on your Raspberry Pi 4 and pairs to a Wii Remote. The documentation may be found here.
  • Wii Remote Plus – White (Renewed) – If you don’t have a Wii Remote, you can pick up a renewed (refurbished) Wii Remote on Amazon. Also, you might be able to find them on ebay or elsewhere.
  • Wii Gun – Ideally, you may want to try to find a Wii Gun that has dual trigger buttons. I wasn’t able to find one with with 2 buttons, so opted instead to buy 2 guns with a single trigger. Some games may require 2 triggers, so something to keep in mind.

Hardware Setup

  • Setup your Raspberry Pi 4 with RetroPie (instructions here)
  • Plug in the Mayflash Wireless Dolphin bar into an available USB port on your Raspberry Pi 4.
  • Set the mode on the sensor bar to 2.
  • Sync the Wii remote to the Sensor bar by pressing the Sync button on the sensor bar, then remove the battery cover to your Wii Remote and press the red sync button. The two will be paired after this step. Once paired, you’ll see LED’s 1 & 4 light up on the Wii Remote.
  • Insert the Wii Remote into the Wii Gun.
  • Set the sensor bar above/below your TV/Monitor. If you set the sensor bar below the TV, be sure to flip the back switch to Bottom or Top if it will be positioned on top of the TV/Monitor.
  • That’s it for the hardware!

Game Install

I used the MAME 2003 0.78 Romset for the following instructions. At this time, I don’t think this setup will work on other emulators. If I find out differently, I’ll update this statement.

  • Copy your light-gun games to the Raspberry Pi 4. To do this, make sure your RPi 4 is connected to your network. If it isn’t, see this.
  • On a PC right-click the Windows icon (lower-left) and select Run.
  • Type \\retropie and press ENTER.
  • Select the roms share, followed by mame-libretro.
  • Create a sub folder called GunGames or similar.
  • Copy /paste all light gun games in the GunGames sub folder as well as any directories and/or .chd files required by the game(s).
  • On the Raspberry Pi 4, press the Start button on your controller and select quit.
  • Select Restart Emulation Station.
  • You should now see a GunGames subfolder when you select the option for MAME.
  • That’s all for this section!

Software Setup – Wii Remote

  • On a secondary controller, press the Start button.
  • Move down and select Configure Input and select Yes.
  • On the Wii remote, hold down the Home button.
  • Now press the up/down/left/right d-pad buttons on the Wii Remote.
  • Start button to button 2 on the Wii Remote, Select to button 1.
  • Map the A button to the Home key on the Wii Remote.
  • There will be no B (or Back) button, so hold down the Home button and repeat for all until you get to the Hot Key Select (button 1).

Software Setup – In-Game

You may want to do the following for all of your light-gun games at one time, so you won’t need the keyboard later.

  • After launching a game, press the TAB key to bring up the MAME menu.
  • Using the keyboard, move down to Input (this game) and press ENTER.
  • This step only needed if nothing happens when you press the trigger button: Move down to P1 Button 1 and press the trigger button (repeat if you have a P2 button).
  • Select Player 1/2 Coin and map it to the “-“ button.
  • Select Player 1/2 Start and map it to the “+” button.
  • You can also press the ESC key on the keyboard to go up one level and move down to Analog Controls.
  • Within the Analog Controls sub-menu, you can also adjust the sensitivity and speed to your preference.
  • Press TAB to hide the menu and return to the game to check it out!

General Light gun Tips

  • Use a second controller to Start/Exit a game rather than rely on the Wii remote for that. The reason is that you’ll have to remap the UI Quit setting in-game which can easily become problematic.
  • If you change the light-gun mode in-game, the light gun will stop functioning until the game is restarted.
  • Keep a distance of 3-8 feet away from the sensor bar for optimal performance.
  • For games that require re-loading of ammo, I’ve found moving the light gun to the left/right of the screen sometimes works better than pointing down. Really depends on the game and some games seem to have a delay in picking up the reload (Area 51, as an example).

Troubleshooting

  • I’ve completely hosed up the mapping for my Mame 2003 light gun game(s), how do I fix it? Answer: If you used the above instructions on your PC, navigate to the \\retropie\roms\mame-libretro\GunGames\mame2003\cfg and delete the problematic .cfg files and then re-map the buttons. The [gamename].cfg file will be re-created the next time you launch the game.
  • I pressed the Mode button on the Sensor bar, now my game isn’t responding, how do I fix it? Answer: Toggle the mode setting back to 2, exit and restart the game. Should work now.
  • There is a lag/delay when moving the light gun that makes the game difficult to play, can I fix this? Answer: Maybe. For testing, I used a John Will portable 1080p monitor and it did great, very responsive. I moved the setup to our game room which had an older Vizio TV (~2007) and the lag was so bad I scrapped using that TV. If the TV has a “Game Mode”, try setting it to on. Otherwise, you may find that some TV’s just aren’t going to work well.

LABISTS Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Retro Gaming Kit: Play your favorite Retro Games!

In this video we’ll take a look at the LABISTS Raspberry Pi 4 (4GB of RAM) Retro Gaming Kit! We will unbox, assemble and check it out by playing a few quick games running RetroPie. At the end, I’ll let you know what I like about this kit and things that could be improved.

Items shown in this video

LABISTS Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Gaming Kit Setup

Raspberry Pi 4 Gaming Kit (by Vilros) + Setup of Lakka and Supreme PRO RetroPie controllers & Wi-Fi

In this video, we’ll check out the Vilros Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Gaming kit and fully set it up. We will then install the recommended Lakka distribution, setup one of the controllers as well as connect to our WiFi network, then copy a few games. After that, we’ll check out a more impressive Raspberry Pi 4 image by the Supreme Team and configure that too!

*NOTE – now that the RetroPie team has officially released RetroPie 4.6 (beta), I recommend installing that image. You can find full instructions here.

Video for setting up the Vilros Retro Gaming Kit and Software

Hardware Setup

  • Install the 4 heat-sinks to the Raspberry Pi 4 Model b. Remove the backing to the heat-sink and align to the appropriate chip. The two smaller heat-sinks should be applied to the two chips near the USB 3.0 ports. See below.
  • Insert the black wire from the fan into pin 14 (GND) and the red wire into pin 1 (3.3v). See below.
  • Place the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B into the case and make sure all screw holes line up. Apply the other half of the case on top of the Raspberry Pi.
  • Install the 4 small screws and tighten using the screwdriver included with the kit.
  • Insert the Micro SD card into the slot. If you use the micro SD card that came with the kit, it has NOOBS pre-installed. You can use this to install Lakka for Retro gaming.
  • Make sure the power switch is off on the power cord, attach the USB-C cable to the power port on the Raspberry Pi. Plug the other end into a power outlet.
  • Connect the USB Controller and Keyboard to the USB 2.0 ports (left ports).
  • Attach the micro HDMI cable to the port near the power input on the Raspberry Pi. Connect the other end to your HDMI input on your TV/Monitor.
  • Power on the Raspberry Pi 4.
  • See Software above. There are two options, currently. They are: Official RetroPie or Supreme RetroPie (Facebook group).