Introduction: How to Turn Your Raspberry Pi 2 Into a Retro Console

Picture of How to Turn Your Raspberry Pi 2 Into a Retro Console

This is how to you can turn your Raspberry Pi 2 into a pretty powerful retro console. It runs emulation station and can emulate over 20 consoles right up to the n64 era.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

A raspberry pi 2
A micro sd (I recommend at least 8 gb)
Micro sd reader
Micro USB power supply (a Standard phone charger will work fine)
HDMI cable
Usb controller (optional but makes gaming more comfortable)
Ethernet cable (again optional but essential for putting your own games on the device)
Monitor or tv

Step 2: Getting the OS

Picture of Getting the OS

I got the OS from a website called recalbox, as it was quick and easy to set up and get going.

To download it go to and download ''

This could take a while (it did for me anyway) but be patient.

Once the zip has finished downloading go ahead and plug your SD into your reader, and then your SD reader into your computer.

Step 3: Formatting the SD Card

Picture of Formatting the SD Card

Before you do anything you need to make sure that the SD has been completely wiped, to do this you can format it using a variety of different programs. For mine I used once it has been formatted you can move on to the next step.

Step 4: Extracting the Zip File

Picture of Extracting the Zip File

To extract the zip file you need to right click the file that you downloaded earlier.

Click extract all.

And then change the location so it will extract onto your SD card.

Click 'Extract'.

Step 5: Plugging It All In

That's the hard part done so now just stick the SD into your PI.

Plug the HDMI cable, Ethernet cable, controller/keyboard and power supply into the PI.

Turn your monitor or tv on.

Turn your PI on (make sure you do this last as the PI needs to be able to sense everything upon booting up)

Step 6: Adding Games

Picture of Adding Games

Once the PI has booted and the program has finished its initial set-up you should be greeted with a controller config tab, go ahead and set up the controller. Then you should have be able to begin playing the preloaded games.

But if you want to put your own games on, you need to make sure that your Ethernet cable is plugged into your PI and its hooked up to the same network as your PC.

Step 7: Adding Games 2

Picture of Adding Games 2

Make sure your PI is on and connected to WiFi.

Open up the network tab on your pc and you should see your PI underneath the name 'RECALBOX', double click it.

Open 'user data'

Then open the 'roms' file.

Open the console that you have downloaded the games for (if you haven't got any you can get them from )

Drag your chosen ROM file/s into the correct folder.

Go over to your PI and grab the controller.

Hit start, games settings, reload games list.

Your game/s should be on your PI and ready to play.

Step 8: Done!

Picture of Done!

If you have any problems at all with the program or have a question feel free to drop a comment below.


docman100 (author)2017-10-24

I have a few questions, first are you able to use a battery and a portable screen and make it portable? second could you use raspberry pi 3? and third, how many games could you put on, and can you do NES gaming? (nice instructable)

elirant1 (author)2016-03-14


first, i want to thanks about the easy and quickly Guide!!

Second, i have few questions:

How i can add more games without to using WIFI connection ?

And I'll be happy to know about recommended games and when i can find them.

Thanks! :)

salextwenty5 (author)elirant12016-12-02

I use an 8gb micro sd just for the operating system (emulation station) then I use a 16 gb mini 3.0 flash drive just for games..just transfer games to rom folder on flash drive when you plug into computer..but don't forget to change storage to any external in your settings.

I'm not sure about adding games without the wifi connection, apparently if you plug in a formatted usb Stick itl create a Roms folder which you can put games in but I haven't attempted it yet.

As for recommended games I'd suggest

Super ghouls and ghosts
F zero
Zombies ate my neighbours
Super r type
Super Mario world
And battle toads
There are a lot more brilliant ones but these are my favourites.

You can download them from

Thanks !!! :))

salextwenty5 (author)2016-12-02

I've noticed when transferring roms to their respected emulator rom folder you have to let it finish without backing out or closing window or it will cancel everytime.also make sure a check mark appears showing rom is compatible not a red X..just some tips for you out there.

danallen82 (author)2016-03-18

I successfully added ROMs through the network, however it always deletes them after powering off. I even tried doing the shutdown method to safely power off. RecalBox is so much easier to setup, but it doesn't want to save my ROMs.

I don't know why, whenever I add Roms they're always there the next time I use it, il have a poke around the forums to see if there is a solution.

You have to reboot so the game list can refresh

It says in the Recalbox FAQ section you have to reboot after you add roms

TonyK60 (author)2016-03-29

Does anyone know where to find a good list of instructions that adds MAME to RECALBOX? Including the ROMs. It's weird (and honestly it's been awhile since I've looked) to add the games and I never could find a good set of instructions. TIA

Sm3cK (author)TonyK602016-03-30

Have you tried the wiki ? That's how I've done my recalbox configuration, and it works very well!

Kaedin2004 (author)2016-03-22

hey, 2 questions:

1: what is the operating system called? want to look for updated versions


2: does it have N64, and Gamecube emulators?

Jseppa8245 (author)2016-03-20

Thanks for all you help??

Jseppa8245 (author)2016-03-14

This is amazing. Will the raspberry pi 3 work as well?

Turns out it will work, and better as the pi 3 has wireless internet so you don't need to use an Ethernet cable.

As far as I know there has been versions released for raspberry pi 1,2,B and B+, but not 3 just yet.
I think they are working on it now though so it shouldn't be too far away.

Barneybp (author)2016-03-19

great instructable. Only thing I can't get working is the n64. I've downloaded a few games into the n64 folder but they don't show up on the pi. Its a pi3 if that makes any difference. Thanks again

AdrianoM3 (author)2016-03-14

muito bom fiz e deu certo.

Obrigado :-)

iEnthusiast (author)2016-03-16

What gamepad works with this emulator?

Any standard USB controler will work

I used a 'CSL USB snes gamepad' and it worked fine

Kaedin2004 (author)2016-03-16

Can you give me an estimate on how much this will all cost?

For the
Raspberry pi 2
Micro usb
8gb micro sd
HDMI cable
Usb controler
Ethernet cable
Itl be about £40-50 GBP or $56-70 USD
The most expensive thing is the pi itself

Alright, and, do I need to set up an operating system first? Like Linux or WindowsX? DO I need to set anything up beforehand? Oh, and thanks.

No, you just follow the instructable with a blank sd card. Instead of running Linux or Windows it runs the emulation program

Kaedin2004 (author)2016-03-15

Amazing! Can't wait to make it!

Thanks :-)

gdawgtuk (author)2016-03-14

This is nit picky, but you say "Right up to the PS One Era" but the Nintendo 64 came out after the Playstation.

Thanks, il change it now

tabatj (author)2016-03-10

How well does it run N64 and GameCube games? Are there any framerate or performance issues?

N64 and GameCube games can be a little stuttery when playing, not so it's totally unplayable just a little annoying at times.

I can find nothing showing GameCube games are supported. How are you able to get them to play? Even a fairly beefy computer running Dolphin stutters when playing GameCube games, so the Pi would be far worse off.

To be able to play n64 games you need to add the games into the Roms folder, then it will give you the option to play them. If it can't sense any games then it won't give you the option.

I can find nothing showing GameCube games are supported. How are you able to get them to play? Even a fairly beefy computer running Dolphin stutters when playing GameCube games, so the Pi would be far worse off.

Adam PCzarnecki (author)2016-03-13

can this be used for multiplayer games?

It can be used for local multiplayer games, you can just connect more controllers.

BenF47 (author)2016-03-12

Hi, I just had a few questions before I dive into this project. First thing you should know is that I'm a huge chump when it comes to computer projects. So question 1. The materials list says 1 micro usb charging cable. Does that cable actually charge the setup/how long is the average charge? Question 2. Does the setup support a screen made specifically for a raspberry pi ?ie:

Question 3. Is a wireless usb adapter a possible substitute for downloading games w/o an ethernet cable?

Question 4.( and final question lol) Once I complete this project, can the pi be used for anything else, like a laptop, or can it only be used for retro games?

Sorry for all the questions, I just like to know what I'm getting into. Thanks in advance.

mi1ez (author)BenF472016-03-13

There's a list of known working USB WiFi adapters here:

1.the cable does not charge the pi, it only powers it but I think you can buy battery packs for the pi if you were looking to make it portable.

2.It should support the pi screen, its pretty much a downsized computer monitor

3.Yes the wireless usb adapter should work fine, as long as its connected to the same network as the computer that your roms are on

4. i have heard of a way to do this. I think you can run emulation station through raspbian and but i haven't tried it yet so i don't have a full understanding of how to do it,.

Couldn't you just use a second sd card to utilize the pi as a computer? So one sd card for the emulator and one for something else, or does it not work that way?

StratosVX (author)BenF472016-03-13

Yes, you can have a separate SD card set up to use as a computer and you just use the same Pi hardware you already have. Multiple SD cards means multiple uses for the Pi.

abertuola (author)2016-03-13

Great. Looking forward to having a go at doing it.

Midcrane (author)2016-03-13


MinistOOn (author)2016-03-10

Like HerbF2, I confirm that RetroPi and Recalbox are 2 different project. A third one is Happi game center but i didn't try this last one.

They all turns your Rpi into a game station with variation of console system supported and options. Recalbox and happi have Kodi included. Retropi don't when i try it. As I know, Happi is the fisrt to propose steam game streaming with a nvidia video card on the pc host.

Recalbox is the easiest to install. Only one file to dowload. Happi and RetroPi make you choose a iso. Not very hard but a little bit selective.

Only few last word "Heaven or hell? Let's Rock!" - Guilty gears since ps1.

BigdaddyukB (author)MinistOOn2016-03-13

retropie does have kodi you can activate it in the retropie setup under experimental packages

Yeah I get that they are different I just didn't word it correctly

rpotts2 (author)2016-03-11

Dang. I hate taking away from my Pi contest chances, but you made a good ible, so I voted...

Thanks, I appreciate it :-)

rpotts2 (author)2016-03-09

Nice ible. you should take your email off here. any questions asked should be from this site and you will get notified anyway.

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