Pretendo Entertainment System

Or “what I did on my Christmas vacation”. So, my first SBC (single board computer) project was a fairly simple one. I got a Raspberry Pi B+ for Christmas and made a retro gaming system with RetroPie.


This was such a basic project that I won’t describe it in too much detail.

In a nutshell:

1. assembled the hardware
2. burned latest retropie image to my MicroSD
3. booted the Raspberry Pi with MicroSD inserted
4. used raspi-config to a) expand disk to full size b) set the localization and keyboard settings to American (‘merica! Heck ya!) c) set overclock
5. booted startx and used the XWindows tool (wpa_gui) to configure my wifi
6. copied all my ROM’s over via the default SAMBA share
7. used RetroPie-Setup/ to a) update everything b) setup the default RetroArch controller for c) change the flash screen to the cool one with Mario and Luigi
8. created my controller settings in a file using the command line configuration tool:
cd /opt/retropie/emulators/RetroArch/installdir/bin
sudo ./retroarch-joyconfig -j 0 > /opt/retropie/configs/all/controllers.cfg
sudo ./retroarch-joyconfig -j 1 >> /opt/retropie/configs/all/controllers.cfg

9. Cleaned up my /opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch.cfg file, removing keyboard controls and other junk
10. cat /opt/retropie/configs/all/controllers.cfg >> /opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch.cfg
11. reboot
12. BOOM! Play games. My four year old son and I have been playing a lot of Ken Griffey Jr’s Winning Run and NBA Jam.

This probably is missing a couple of steps and ignores all of my mistakes. Seriously, there are better tutorials out there than this one!

My hardware includes copper heat sinks, but no fan. This is enough to support overclocking on “High” in retropie-config without the Pi ever getting hot, even after long gaming sessions. NES, SNES, and Genesis games all run smoothly for the most part. 90% of games just work.


Occasionally I try a ROM (usually not a major title) doesn’t work quite right, and very occasionally one won’t even load. I chalk this up to emulation optimizing the 90% case to get these running on Pi’s relatively limited hardware. SNES sound seems a little off on some titles (not broken but… off). But most of the time the games work as well as they would on the original systems. And the gaming world of 20+ years ago is brought back to life!