Build your own retro console with a Raspberry Pi

I occasionally hanker for the classic games of years gone by. Games like Gauntlet II on the SNES, Golden Axe II on the Sega Genesis, and Micro Machines on the Playstation. So, when Nintendo released the NES Mini, and more recently the SNES Mini, it peaked my interest. But I didn’t want just one console…

RetroPie is a fantastic project that provides custom Raspberry Pi firmware’s pre-configured with console emulators for the NES, SNES, N64, PSX, Arcade, and a lots more. By default, the interface is powered by Emulation Station, allowing you to control the Pi and load ROMs using only a controller – perfect for home use, connected to a TV.

Image result for pi zero fresh prince

For this build, you will need…

  1. Raspberry Pi 3 starter kit w/16Gb micro SD card (£49.69 on Amazon at the time of writing)
  2. USB controller x2 or this bluetooth retro controller (recommended)
  3. RetroPie
  4. Some game ROMs (for the games you already own)
  5. HDMI cable
  6. About 30 minutes of your time

Note: the choice of controller is entirely your call. Although I like the retro-style of the USB controllers listed above, and they work fine, I much prefer to play with the Playstation or XBox controller.

Once your kit arrives, download the appropriate RetroPie image for your Pi 3 and follow the instructions to unzip and write the image to the SD card.

Put your Pi into its case, insert the SD card, connect HDMI and power, and a controller. Watch as the boot sequence begins. After a minute or so, you’ll arrive at the emulation station where you can setup the controller and set audio out over HDMI (if you’re using it on a TV).

Getting game ROMs onto the device couldn’t be easier. You can either copy them directly to the SD card, or do as I do, and connect the Pi to the WiFi and navigate to its shared folder over the network (\\retropie is the default hostname). Full setup instructions here. Once you’ve copied the ROMs, don’t forget to restart Emulation Station so they appear in the menu.


Image result for golden axe 2

Golden Axe II on the Sega Genesis

2 thoughts on “Build your own retro console with a Raspberry Pi

    1. Both the NES and SNES work great out of the box with the retropie images (, or alternatively, there’s a fantastic image specifically mimicking the NES mini and SNES mini (YouTube… | Magnet download… magnet:?xt=urn:btih:81E65E592649C5D056B217FE3FB28BE5AEBC17B5&dn=snesmini.img&

      Once booted, you can configure a USB drive (thumbstick, external drive, whatever), and store your ROMs there. I’ll probably write a tutorial on this, as that’s my preferred configuration now.

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