After waiting for MONTHS for the NES Classic to become available, I finally gave in and built my own. The freedom of not having to check Brickseek daily worth every penny.
To get started, I did some research and quickly found some great resources for building your own gaming system on a Raspberry Pi. What's a Raspberry Pi you ask? Well, I've affectionately named mine Strawberry to be cheeky. A Raspberry Pi is a small computer that fits in the palm of your hand. It's used to build all sorts of cool projects beyond playing Sonic and Mario including robotics, machine learning, learning to code and so much more. The sky's the limit with this powerful piece of hardware and it's relatively cheap (~$50 depending on the setup you buy.) You can even get certified to be an educator for Raspberry Pi. This thing is just so darn cool and I wish it had been around when I was in primary school.
So it was settled: time to buy a Raspberry Pi. I poked around the internet some more and figured out exactly what I would need and headed to Fry's:
- Raspberry Pi
- A micro SD card (I went overkill and got a 64GB, which I'm sure I'll never need)
- A USB controller OR an Xbox One controller if you're willing to do some additional setup.
- A USB keyboard. You'll need it to run the Raspberry Pi and to get Retro Pi set up.
- A TV or Monitor and the necessary cables (HDMI and power cables)
- A computer to set up your SD card and transfer the ROMs for RetroPi.
- Micro USB power supply -- the Raspberry Pi kit I bought included this and the SD card but not all kits do, so be sure to look for one with the power supply included.
All-in-all, I spent about $70 for everything I needed. OK, so what's next? You'll need to set up the Raspberry Pi, which you can learn about here:
Then, it's time to download RetroPi, which is free and enable you to play your ROMs. Here's RetroiPi's official website: https://retropie.org.uk/about/building/ They have plenty of recommendations for customization. But this will enable you to play systems that have long gone and would be otherwise unplayable on current HD TVs. Importantly, RetroPi says you don't actually need a Raspberry Pi to get ROMs going -- it also works on PCs. I have not tried it, but the official website has setup details on PCs too.
Once you have RetroPi installed, it's time to plug in your SD card of downloaded ROMs. As other bloggers have noted, I'm not actually encouraging you to break the law by downloaded illegal ROMs. Do you own Googling and make smart choices. There are many ROM sites out there but I'm not going to point you to a place where you'd be breaking the law. Content == IP.
Now that you have an SD card loaded, you can launch your Raspberry Pi with RetroPi installed and it will launch to "Emulation Station". If it doesn't, then just navigate to your terminal from the Raspberry Pi desktop and type emulationstation. It should launch to your systems and begin adding your ROMs into proper folders. Relaunch your Raspberry Pi and, voila, you have your very own retro gaming setup.
Now, invite all your friends over, break out the Surge and Gushers and have a good time reminiscing about the simpler time when games "required skill" and "two-player games were standard".