Set up a retro gaming system in 8 easy steps

Rediscover old classics and keep yourself busy while self-isolating by building and then playing your own 8-bit entertainment system.

Are you going stir-crazy because the internet is so slow with everyone working from home? Take a break from the cliché of first-person shooters and rediscover the joy of 8-bit classics. It's not too difficult to assemble an 8-bit gaming setup, but if you'd prefer a more self-contained solution, you can always go for a two-player console with built-in controllers. All you need to do is slot in a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie software, then load up some ROMs as below.

Simple steps to set up your system
Step 1. Insert the RetroPie SD card into a Raspberry Pi single-board computer (SBC).
Step 2. Install the Raspberry Pi into a suitable casing, aligning the ports with the openings on the case.
Step 3. Connect an HDMI monitor or TV, and a USB keyboard and mouse for initial setup.
Step 4. Plug in a game controller and a suitable power supply. The Raspberry Pi will power up and the OS will auto-install on startup.
Step 5. Configure the controller by following the onscreen instructions and pressing the buttons in sequence as indicated. Restart the RPi.
Step 6. Connect the Raspberry Pi to a Windows or Mac computer by configuring its Wi-Fi, or simply connecting it via Ethernet cable.
Step 7. Download game ROMs to your Mac or PC from one of the many emulator sites available, then simply navigate to retropie/roms and copy the Rom files to the relevant directory (for example, NES games will go in the NES folder).
Step 8. Reboot your new gaming console, and you’re ready to play!

More options for gung-ho gamers
Want a standalone unit? Install your Raspberry Pi 3B+ SBC in a mini arcade machine with a 10in screen and built-in speakers, plus included power supply. Just install the RetroPie operating system, and follow the instructions in the manual to download the current version of GPIONext. For those looking for a programming challenge, simply assemble a handheld 8-bit gaming console and have a go of creating your own Arduboy game. Alternatively, there are plenty of user-created games you can simply download and install.

Click here to learn how to set up a home recording studio.


- January 2022

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