RetroPie

Hot damn! I didn’t know she smoked!

Dad

Once upon a time I fancied myself a maker. I learned that I am not. What began as trying to learn electronics with my son, quickly fell to the wayside. He wasn’t as interested and my life became complicated soon after. With the move toward a more simplistic life, all those failed projects were purged. Now that I am settled, happy, and efficient, I decided to take on something new. After a fairly careful consideration, I decided to get back into electronics, specifically Arduino. But Arduino is not sexy. I decided to add on a Raspberry Pi 4 too. Might as well accomplish what I had failed to do before.

The idea came about a week and a half ago. The children talked about video games. I am not a gamer. I never was. I never will be. I tried. I purchased a Switch last year thinking I would be able to bond with The Boy. I suck so much at video games. The one thing I did get out of that experience, however, was a realization that the old Nintendo games were far more my speed the current high definition and complicated games.

The children seemed to think a gaming console here at the apartment would be a good addition for when they visit. 🙂

They have an Xbox. They have a Playstion. They have Switches. They have DS. They have iPads. They have iPhones. I don’t want to replicate what they already have.

That is where RetroPie entered the equation. RetroPie is software with emulations of the old gaming consoles. If I could find ROMs of those old games, this seemed like a neat project.

As I researched it I discovered that the 8bitdo sn30 pro+ controllers were the preferred controller. Again, I am not a gamer, but these look like the pro controller I got with the Switch last year. These would prove problematic for this inexperienced gamer/lame Linux user. These controllers are Bluetooth and Bluetooth is an extra headache in that they do not work right out of the box. Well, they do, if you know what you’re doing, but if you don’t, they don’t. 😉

I got RetroPie installed without issue. I had to wait for Amazon to deliver my micro HDMI cable . . . nine days. All the other stuff arrived in three. Then I realized, d’oh! with the case I bought, I needed a regular HDMI, not a micro.

I got everything installed save the ROMs. But I couldn’t do that, it seemed, until I connected a controller. And that I couldn’t figure out. I read. I watched. I prayed. Nothing. I finally asked for help. Nada, at first. Then I went to the actual RetroPie site. I posted there and basically got a RTFM respose. But I did. And that lead me to something else, which led me to something else. I kept opening tabs in the browsing researching. I eventually got the controller installed. I finally saw someone pair the controller with the Raspberry Pi. Oh, that makes sense. No one else even mentioned that. And that I kept dropping to the command line and had to type setup scripts, it was something.

Then it was getting the ROMs on. While the Pi was on my home network, I couldn’t touch it from other devices. I grew tired. As I lay in bed, it dawned on me what I needed to do. First thing this morning I got up, did what needed to be done, tansferred some ROMs and actually played a game of Crackout (Breakout rip-off).

After work today, I sat down and finished the set up. I paired the other controller. I mapped both to make certain they worked the way I needed them to. I then went through about 1,000 games and picked out the ones I thought would be most fun for the children and me. I left off the Sesame Street stuff. 🙂

All works splendidly! I am proud of myself. I am so grateful to all the folks who have worked to make this available and the others who write and make videos demonstrating different aspects of this.

Christmas, when the children arrive, will be a blast! They have no idea this is going to be waiting for them. In the meantime, I need to get better.

And, of course, there are plenty of tweaks and customizations I can make. One thing I want to do is get the old Apple II and DOS games on this. That seems to be possible but a little more involved.

Here’s to learning!

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