Build a Retro Gaming System on the Cheap
Recently, Nintendo released the NES Mini Classic and the SNES Mini Classic. If you were able to get your hands on one, congrats. Nintendo made these sought after items in limited quantities. I was able to secure a SNES Mini, however when the NES Mini was released, I was under the impression that there would be a huge amount available. Luckily, I own cartridges of most of the games included on both systems, however I still the the “fear of missing out” feeling that Nintendo, no doubt, created to sale these machines.
So, I said to myself, “I can build that!”. Of course, I had been looking at doing this with the Raspberry Pi since it was released for this very reason. I had previously used the pi as a small, home Linux computer, and set up digital signage with them as well. So I figured, this should be just as easy.
Coming at this as a computer technician, who does this stuff everyday, I did not want to spend a lot of my spare time on this. So, I began the hunt for an all-in-one kit to build a retro gaming system quickly with the new Raspberry Pi 3.
I landed on a kit that was available from amazon and put together by a company named Vilros.
I was pleasantly surprised by the simple setup of the kit. They included a pre-installed Debian Raspberry Pi operating system as well at Retropie (the emulator) already on the SD card included in the kit. The emulation software was setup with one click and in a matter of minutes. Physically installing the Raspberry Pie into the case, included adding two small, stick-on heat sinks, and the pie was held in place with 4 screws. It was setup and ready to add roms in about 10 minutes.
After I had added some roms to a flash drive, and starting the retropie up with the flash drive in the system, they had all moved over and were very easy to access. If you pull the flash drive out, the roms will remained saved on the system.
The controller included had a very nice feel to it, and was reasonably responsive. It is a usb controller, so don’t expect the same response that you would get with your old Super Nintendo controller. Also, I very much miss the indented buttons that are not included on this one. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it felt.
Your options are amazing as far as gaming system emulators are concerned. I added NES, SNES, Genesis, gameboy, N64, and PCEngine roms to my build. I absolutely love it.
This became my go-to Christmas gift for my friends and family who weren’t able to get their hands on the classic minis from Nintendo. You wouldn’t believe the excitement that I saw in the eyes of these 30-somethings as they cranked up Super Mario 3 for the first time in years.
Over-all, this kit is a great idea for anyone with very little background in setting up and working the Raspberry Pi, or in my case, people who are extremely lazy and don’t have time for it. There are tons of uses for the the Raspberry Pi, but in my opinion, this was the most fun. You can totally buy all of these parts separately, but for myself, this was just more convenient.