I’ve always been a fan of using a Raspberry Pi as a dedicated MAME emulation device, however the last few years have been a bit awkward: The significantly faster RPi 4‘s weren’t compatible with all software OS/frontends and compatibility with analog output hardware varied. That’s all changed and my two favorite software frontends have just gotten some pretty major updates! Here’s links, then read on for more info:
RGB-Pi OS4 Alpha: https://www.rgb-pi.com/
RecalBox OS8: https://www.recalbox.com/recalbox-rgb-dual/manual/
Locate RPi4’s at cost: https://rpilocator.com/
Main RGB / RPi Page: https://www.retrorgb.com/rpi240p.html
You can also find RPi4’s on Amazon and eBay scalped. While I’m never shy about posting affiliate codes, I can’t bring myself to post those. I’ll update this page when a seller has stock at a reasonable price, but until then, I recommend checking the RPilocator link above daily.
Overall, the RPi gaming experience is back to the simplicity of the RPi3 days, but with the power of RPi4. On top of the hardware speed boost, the OS’ have been tweaked even further and the gaming experience is excellent for RGB users: Both of those softwares can start each console or arcade game in their original resolution and refresh rate. This essentially means no screen tearing or stutter, making it much closer to the original experience. The teams are also working on light gun options, as well as some other really unique features. Please keep in mind, the latest versions of both are still in beta, so there’s still some hiccups now and then…but far less than there were at the beginning of the RPi gaming era, which is why I’m comfortable sharing them. If you wanted to get into RPi gaming – and can find one cheap – now’s a good time to start testing!
One thing that’s still important to mention is controller support: While both of the OS’ I tried did an excellent job with easy controller setup, software emulation is still pretty terrible at in-game button mapping. Good news though! If your focus is original consoles from the pre-32bit era, there’s almost nothing to worry about: Setup your controller in the main interface and all the buttons should be mapped automatically. The trouble starts when using arcade games, each requiring their own button mapping. While this isn’t the fault of the software frontends, it’s still something we need to deal with. There’s really nothing you can do to “fix” that in the short-term, other than teach yourself how to use the frustrating in-game menus, but you can solve some potential issues by getting a controller with all the buttons you’ll need. Here’s some chosen from personal experience and verified with the MiSTeraddons latency sheet – Pick the top two if you need analog controls (like with arcade driving games) and the others for a more classic experience. Modern Xbox controllers connected via USB should be good as well:
Logitech F310: https://amzn.to/3DtYr5S
SN30 Pro Wired: https://amzn.to/3qYFwuP
Retroflag SNES USB controller: https://amzn.to/3LBPw4W
Retro-Bit Genesis USB controller: https://amzn.to/3NGe2ny
Retro-Bit Saturn Clear USB controller: https://amzn.to/3J1g4v0
Retro-Bit Saturn Black USB controller: https://amzn.to/3DusrOZ
I recently did a livestream demoing the software, but I don’t think it’s something most people would be interested in. First and foremost, it’s a real-time test of everything, so you’re sitting through all the MicroSD loading and hiccups of a standard test day; Basically, this is the boring stuff I spend days going through that results in the short, fun videos and posts.
Also, both pieces of software are in beta…and one of the “bugs” has already been fixed: The MK scrolling example was fixed the day after I tested and what I said no longer applies. Still, it’s here for reference in case anyone feels like watching: