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Videos / How to Configure RetroPie and Install ROMs

If you, like us, sometimes long for the local multiplayer experience that only 007 Goldeneye can produce, or the thrill of achievement after unlocking a new level on Super Mario Bros, then you’re in luck. In this How To, we take a look at setting up RetroPie and installing ROMs.

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Hey guys, how’re you going? My names Sam from Core Electronics and today we’re going to be taking a look at setting up your very own RetroPie System with our Gaming Kit for RetroPie.  Now if you ever want to get back to the vintage days of gaming, maybe multi player Mario Card or 007 on the Nintendo 64 or just something like Mario Brothers then RetroPie is awesome.  So what is RetroPie? Well it’s an operating system that is designed to run on the Raspberry Pi and that has a whole bunch of different emulators on it.  Now emulators are bits of code that are designed to emulate vintage gaming consoles or platforms so you might have a Nintendo 64 Emulator or a SEGA Emulator or a Playstation Emulator or other different things then virtual games called ROMS can be loaded onto those emulators and you can play them. Just like the originals which is pretty cool except with RetroPie you get access to heaps and heaps of different emulators and you can play what ever you want without having to change physical consoles which is really cool. The Raspberry Pi which is about that big and you get all of that in that size which is really cool. So that’s RetroPie and if you’re interested a bit more about the hardware set up side of things then check out our ‘How to Build a RetroPie Console Tutorial’ but today we’re going to be taking a look at setting it up for the very first time, the software, configuring your controller and how you can put ROMS on there which is really really cool.

Today I’m using my Pi K console, well OUR Pi K console!!!  It’s  kind of an office Pi K console :-) but it’s really really cool.  If you haven’t taken a look at it yet I really encourage you to. It’s vintage gaming arcarde console with joy stick, buttons, display, mounting for a Raspberry Pi, it’s rad and we love it but I’m going to be using that for today but you could be using any Raspberry Pi you’ve got lying around with the power supply and the most important thing is a RetroPie SD Card. Now in your gaming kit you’ll also get controllers, you’ll either get NES style controllers or SNES like controllers like I’ve got here or you can also get wireless 8BitDo Bluetooth Controllers in both styles as well as the just landed Nintendo 64 ones. They’re really really cool so check those out.

First of all let’s get everything set up and then we’re going to plug in power.  Make sure you’ve already got the SD cards and HDMI Cable connected up. Now it’s going to take a few moments to boot up and after its done that we’re going to be confronted with controller config setups screen for the first time. If you’ve already gone through that screen it won’t appear again but the first time you boot it up it’ll appear with this config screen and it allows us to map buttons on our controller or keyboard or USB device to the controls to navigate the RetroPie system. Then those get mapped to the emulators for the various controls form which is cool. Now what I always recommend is to take a keyboard, it just needs a USB dongle or anything like that, USB keyboard, wired Keyboard, whatever and map your controls with that first because if you use a gaming controller setup and you accidentally get those mixed up because you get two, the other one isn’t going to be mapped by default and then you’re not going to have anything to map it after that. So take a keyboard and map that first which is really cool. So we’ve got here the welcome screen, now hold a button on your game pad, so I’m going to hold a button on my keyboard and it will come up with keyboard, cool cool. Now here’s where you want to be a little bit careful because whilst you can remap things so say you rush through and you accidentally map start as any random key.  When you go to  hit the start menu to configure another controller it’s not going to work and you are gong to have to take a while to find out which one is the start key so just take your time with this first one so you’ve got a really good guaranteed game pad set up. So up and down, left and right , we’re just going to use the arrow keys, press them, go map start, enter, select, and I’m just going to map these as A, B, X, Y. Now there is going to be a lot of controllers here that you may not be able to map depending on your game pad and that’s ok because it’s designed to work with a huge variety of different game pads from your classic SNES or even the simpler NES style controller to your confusing trident style Nintendo 64 controller, Xbox 360 controller, whatever it is with analogue joysticks and a D Pad its designed to account for all those so if you if you want to skip past something, like left trigger, we don’t really have a left trigger so lets just hold the button and it will skip past it. Now here’s a button you’ve already defined or configured it won’t let you refine something so its not going to let you accidentally configure it if you let it go and don’t hold it in for long enough.  Keep going down, down down down, and you’ll get to the end eventually now press A and after a moment it will say ‘Yep’ cool and we go into RetroPie, fantastic :-)  It’s a little bit bland, there’s nothing on here, there’s no games there’s no emulators and that’s because it will only display emulators when it detects that there is an available ROM for it, so we’ll get to ROMs in a second. First we going to configure our game pad because playing with USBs is kind of fun but that’s not what we want, we want a vintage gaming experience so take this guy and plug it into the USB port and now you can hear start, go down to configure input, gidday! now we can configure another device so we’ll hold on here, USB game pad, fantastic (05.32) oops I have stuffed this up and accidentally configured something twice which is not what you want so I’m going to skip all the way through. So thats a good example of being really careful.  If that was with the USB keyboard straight up I would have had all kinds of issues, I wouldn’t have had anything configured. So I’m just going to hold down buttons that have already been defined and it’s a bit of an ordeal because it doesn’t have auto skip, you have to press again for each setting which is a bit of a pain. But when you actually do it properly it works pretty well.  So we’re going to map that again, configure input and we can re-map that by holding a button down. So we want to press up, down, left, right, so I had accidentally mashed those two buttons in without being careful. So start select, A, B, X, Y left shoulder right shoulder and that’s all we have on our NES style gaming pad. We’ll skip through these and now this is going to be configured correctly and today we’re going to load up Super Mario Brothers and we’ll get to loading ROMs up in just a moment. There’s a bit of a grey area here where it’s up to you to decide how you want to interpret copyright infringement but at Core Electronics we like to do everything as best as we can so we have purchased the physical game hardware for any game that we load up onto our RetroPie consoles so you only see us using these ROMs that part is up to you. We’re not going to show you where to find ROMs but a quick Google search will give you a hand. But now that we’ve got that set up let’s take a look at loading these ROMs up.  You can go into the RetroPie settings menu if you want to configure Bluetooth, Audio and WiFi settings, you don’t really need to do that to get started straight out of the box but if you are setting up 8BitDo Bluetooth Controllers and more advanced stuff you will need to go into that.  For now what you are going to need is a USB, now why we are doing this is we are actually going to use the USB Drive and the USB ports on the Raspberry Pi and we load the ROM up on to it and create a folder and then insert it and it actually copies that ROM over on to the SD card so you don’t have to have everything on the USB, you just use that to transfer it over. But you can keep the library on the USB so that if you want to set up another RetroPi Console then you can just pop the USB in and away you go.

So, first of all you’re going to want to open up your File Browser, it works for Windows and Mac. Go to your USB port and the top level of the USB, the top directory create a new folder and we’re going to call it retropie one word, no capitals.   Now we’re going to unplug our USB,  there’s nothing on there, it’s cool and we plug it into our Raspberry Pi, one of the USB ports and what this does is it recognises that there is a folder in the top level of the directory called retropie and it will take that and it will create a whole bunch of nested structures inside that folder that we can then put our ROMs into which is cool. When it detects a ROM in there it will automatically copy it over to the SD Card. You can take it out, it only takes a few seconds because its just creating empty folders and if you don’t believe me let’s take a look at what our retropie file contains now.  So we’ve got BIOS, configs and roms so we want to click on ROMS and its got all these folders for the different emulators that we can run. Now it’s important to note that whilst, well, let’s take a look here, Nintendo 64, I love Nintendo 64 so don’t mind if I keep going on about it. But the 64, there’s not just one emulator for the Nintendo 64, you’ve got Rice, Glyde there are lots of different emulators that run slightly better on different games but you can play around with that.  Thats for another time, optimising RetroPi, take a look at it but for now…..

We’ve got a file structure, so go to where you’ve got your ROM and now I’m going to copy Super Mario Brothers, now it’s a NES game so i’m going to copy it into a NES folder. Copy it over, it’s a very small file and away we go. Unplug your USB and now bear in mind we’re only going to need to plug it in to the RetroPi system for a few moments but if you have aa lot of games you are going to have to leave it for a lot longer because there’s obviously more content to transfer over. SO plug it in, leave it for a few seconds to transfer over  and it will do it’s thing which is really really cool. You don’t have to reboot although you can if you like. Now we should be able to unplug it. Now that the activity light has stopped I’m going to go to our system and now here’s where we need to reboot, quit, we’re going to go restart system and now you can see what I’m actually doing. Now give it a few moments and its going to reboot and when it does its going to come back with the ROMS on there and its just going to display the NES system. Now I have actually been caught out before but plugging it in and thinking yeah, fantastic and unplug it and there’s nothing in there. That generally is just means you’re going to have to plug it in and give it another go, you didn’t leave it plugged in long enough or whatnot but its no harm done.  So we’ll go through the RetroPi set up and then we can play some Super Mario Brothers.  So that is really all there is to coping ROMS over, and as I said the ROMS not gone from the USB, it only copies it not cuts it. So you can keep your USB, keep that folder and build up your ROM library as you go and then just pop it in to a new RetroPi system and away you go. Now you can see here for example, we actually haven’t got the Nintendo Entertainment System there, perhaps I didn’t leave it in for long enough or something else but a sure fire way, I’ll show you here is to pop it in, now go down and hit restart again, yeah, restart system. Now I’ve had it work both ways sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t or it might already be halfway through something but if you put it in and give it a few moments and then restart the system it’ll boot up and it should have that ROM there if you give it it’s due time.

The beauty of post production, we’ve cut out that sequence and alright, so it hasn’t copied over again so lets take a look at what’s going on. First of all let’s make sure that we’ve got it in the right spot….. so go to your computer and plug it back in again and we can take a look at why that hasn’t copied over and it’s a good lesson in trouble shooting. Alright, USB drive, RetroPi, roms,  we put it in the right folder, NES, Super Mario Brothers, yeah so it’s definitely there so lets plug that in and leave it for a good few seconds and wait for it to transfer then.  Alrighty and we’re back, so leaving it in for that few extra longer did the trick and we have got it, so you’ll see now the options are for RetroPi which are our settings, menu, audio, bluetooth etc. We have Nintendo Entertainment System because it has detected a valid ROM for that. Now bear in mind that it’s not going to copy duplicates over so if I insert the USB again and take it out with extra games on there it’s not going to keep copying that, just look to see if there is already a game matching that title if not then it copies that over and if there is it doesn’t bother. So lets go in, that is all there is to copying ROMS over, a couple of false starts, mostly my fault, just leave it in there for a good 30 seconds or so, restart it and away you go.

Now let’s take a look….. I used to be really good at this game, and I get the feeling that I am now terrible, it will only let me play one player because there is only one controller detected at the moment. Away we go :-)  Straight up dead :-(  But it’s really cool, that is how yo can set up your own RetroPi Console, I love it, it’s really really awesome and I hope this encourages you guys with how you can set up a RetroPi gaming system with your gaming kit for RetroPi. I’m Sam and that’s all for now guys, I’ll see you next time :-)

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