Play Arcade Games on a Simple Setup at 2021 (October)

 You have the crave to play some quick arcade games, and you want to satisfy it when it comes without fussing with emulators, downloads etc.

Just setup a basic small arcade home environment which you can jump to whenever you feel the need.


Raspberry pie (the brains of the system)

SD card (storage of the OS + Roms)

HDMI cable

USB cable (power for the RP [or use the RJ45 for POE if you use RP 4 or later])

LAN (rj45), keyboard - needed for first setup


Joystick of your choice (8bitdo?)

Supposing you have cables (hdmi, rj45, usb) lying around, and a screen to use as well as an SD card, then the only needed purchases are the actual raspberry pie and joystick, which don't accumulate to a lot of money.

Raspberry pie

Unless you want to emulate more modern systems (playstation 2 and up) then you can use a raspberry pie 3 (not even the plus version) and it will satisfy your needs without compromise.

Please note that I do recommend buying the RP 3+ as if you will need it for other projects later on then the plus has much better networking (much faster lan and wan) and the price difference is really minor.

I do recommend buying a case for the RP as well as a power cable (micro usb) with a switch so you will be able to shut down the RP without the need to disconnect it


The current software contenders are:

  • Recalbox (All over winner)
  • Batocera
  • RetroPie (Winner in case of needed granular configuration)

The winner is Recalbox which made the whole installation and usage dumb simple without losing any major feature (Just look at their so active Github project!), RetorPie seems to lose ground over the years, although still good, but it is less simple to handle (although it has the most granular configuration if you care to take the time).

That's it really, just follow the instructions in the software site and you will be good to go.


As a side note, I will recommend not copying too many games to your new arcade machine, as when I did so, it made it harder to find a decent game and finally it made me not play any game, I recommend installing only several good games (10 games per 3-4 systems ?), which you will actually play - and let those be the best games of each systems, hopefully, games you already recognize and cherish.
From my experience in this one: More is actually less

Let me just add here a recommendation to try one of the premade images by ArcadePunks, these are already preloaded with all settings, additional scripts, beautiful metadata for each game and of course 
lots of games!

Changes since 2015

Comparing this setup to the setup I did at 2015, not much has changed, the raspberry pie boards are better which gives us built in wifi (needed only at setup time) and built in bluetooth and in the software side, the updated Recalbox really does make things simpler, but all in all the change isn't so significant


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