How to build your own arcade console [Raspberry Pi + Retropie]

For those of us who grew up with a Super Nintendo (or Mega Drive) instead of a 6.2-inch touch screen glued 24/7 to random TikTok profiles, going outside sometimes feels weird.

If you are one of those who like to reclaim the good things from your past, you might be interested in this guide to build an arcade console.

If you’re not, you might be interested anyway.

We also have a selection of the best retro consoles, in case you need to go for it.

Step 1: The hardware

By bad luck, the arcade console will not materialize in front of our eyes so much imagining it. You have to buy some components.

Fortunately, it is not as high a budget as the one you would have to consider for a gaming PC or a console

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a mini-PC the size of your ID that was born as an educational project. Today it has become a platform with many utilities and the best of them is to be an arcade machine.

The latest model that is currently available is Raspberry Pi 4, and the Operating System that we will talk about already has support for this model also taking advantage of the power of this new version 4.

Casing + Power Supply + HDMI Cable + Controllers

One of the things I like about Raspberry is its high degree of customization.

That said, you will need a case for your Raspberry, a power supply, an HDMI cable and of course, one of the most important parts, some good controllers.

In order not to saturate this guide, the part of the gamepads we analyze more in depth in this article of Raspberry controllers.

Micro SD + Micro SD Reader

The last missing components would be the Micro SD card, which will act as a hard disk and the SD reader to write the files from our PC.

Before buying take a look at your setup and check that you do not already have an SD card or a reader, as they tend to be quite common in digital cameras, if this is not the case, here are some of the most used ones:

Step 2: RetroPie, the arcade Operating System

Once we have spent all the money we had to eat this month in buying the necessary components, it’s time to see what to do with them.

Now we have to install one of the Operating Systems designed to turn our Raspberry into an arcade machine.


Retropie is the Operating System that we are going to install on our machine. There are others like Recalbox or Lakka that are similar, but for me, this one works very well and also has a very nice menu design.

In addition it is free and it is updated every 2×3.


The first thing we have to do is go to the official Raspberry website and download Raspberry Pi Imager.

Once installed, go to Operating System, GameOS and select the version of Retropie compatible with our Raspberry model

Then we select the unit where we have the microSD card.

This software will download the latest version of Retropie and install it on the microSD card.

Mapping the controller buttons

With RetroPie installed on our microSD, we introduce it into the Raspberry and we can do the first power up, which usually takes a little longer because it is initializing the processes.

We find the welcome message that invites us to press any button to start the mapping of the buttons, a fairly intuitive process that should not cause you much trouble.

Loading the ROMs

Now we have the console running and the controller operational, only the most important thing is missing, loading our ROMs. Here is the official list of emulators supported by Retropie.

A ROM (Read Only Memory) image, or simply ROM, is a computer file containing a copy of the data on a read-only memory chip, often from video game cartridges or the control panel of an arcade machine

Wikipedia –

There are several ways to do this, but here we’ll stick with the simplest:

Get a USB flash drive and format it to FAT32

  1. Create a folder called retropie inside
  2. Connect the USB to the Raspberry (powered on) and wait for the LED to stop flashing
  3. Plug the USB back into the PC and you will see that a series of folders have been created (as many as supported platforms) inside the one we had created in step 1 (retropie)
  4. Copy the ROMs in the respective folders according to their platform
  5. Plug the USB back into the Raspberry (powered on), and wait for the LED to stop flashing
  6. Restart the Raspberry

BONUS STAGE: Scraping the library

There is one optional feature of RetroPie that I can’t overlook and that is the scraper.

Retropie Menu
Scraped Retropie menu

What this function does is to add automatically to all our games the cover and a description with the year of release and the synopsis of the title.

  1. Click the start button
  2. Choose the scraper option
  3. Choose the database (I use the default THEGAMESDB)
  4. Click on SCRAPE NOW
  5. Leave selected the option “Only missing images” (to avoid repeating the process in the games in which we already have the information) and also the option “User decides on conflict”
  6. Press start

From here a menu will open in which game by game the database will propose you an image and a description related to the title of the file and we choose the version of the title.

This database is incredibly large and sometimes it will propose us the information of the European, American or even Japanese version of some titles that came out with differences in each region.

If you search for RetroPie information you will see that there are a lot of possibilities. There are some very interesting ones, you can install Kodi as if it were another platform.

Kodi adds a very cool feature to your arcade machine, the multimedia station able to play Youtube videos, Netflix or read movies from a pen drive.

And that’s all for now, I hope you have taken advantage of this little guide, see you in the next installment.

Última actualización el 2021-06-13 / Enlaces de afiliados / Imágenes de la API para Afiliados

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