My Own Emulator

Ok, maybe not my own.  It’s a gift for the kids for Christmas.  My eldest played a bit of the SNES at our friend’s place a few weeks ago, and her face was something to behold.  I want to see how that works out.

Ever since I’ve had a computer, I’ve had emulators.  I modded my XBOX way back when to include an emulator.  My tablet has a SNES and PS emulator… It’s the way to go.  I’ve owned a lot of consoles and games, and having them all accessible makes a world of difference.  Having the save battery die in an NES game…or SNES game for that matter… not fun.  Doesn’t happen with an emulator.

So for this project, I wanted to build something with controllers that my kids could enjoy.  It had to be relatively mobile to transport, and it had to be relatively cheap.  So either a cheap tablet with a mini-HDMI and bluetooth controllers, or…RetroPie

I went the latter.  I started hunting on amazon for a new Raspberry Pi, but remembered that I am cheap.  I was also looking for controllers… again, cheap.  I then remembered that I had a Pi running a Minecraft server and that the entire thing was based on a microSD card.  Off to the store.

Found a 32GB Class 10 card for $12 and two F310 controllers (USB) for $18 a piece.  So all told, less than $50 for all the gear.

The RetroPie config process is almost a joke.  Download a file, load an image, transfer to the card, done.  I think it took 20 minutes to complete all the steps.

A couple quick searched and I had Atari, NES, and SNES games ready to go.  That was about another 30 minutes of work.  Transferring them through SAMBA requires no extra software either.  Even the boot up was a simple thing, as it detects the controllers and let’s you map button presses.  I hooked it up to wifi (needed a USB keyboard for that) and bob’s your uncle.  Even my wife was impressed and took a seat to watch.

Adventure Island, Yar’s Revenge, Super Mario World…my youth in a tiny box.  More specifically, my youth on a microSD card no bigger than a fingernail.

All that’s left to do is wrap up the package and let them unwrap it.  Then a couple plugs and we’re good to go.  I realize I have lofty expectations here, and that compared to today’s gaming options emulators seem ancient.  Still, there’s something to be said about a gaming system with a joytiq, one button, 16 colors and giant blocks and nothing but your imagination.

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