Build Your Own Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Game Console – Retropie

Turning your Raspberry Pi into a Retro Game Console has always been a popular and fun project. With the release of the Raspberry Pi 4, with faster processing speeds and better performance, it has the potential now to run games that were previously beyond Pi’s power!

There are various gaming Emulators out there right now for the Raspberry Pi like Retropie, Recalbox, Lakka and many more. Today, we are going to look at one of our favourite gaming Emulators: Retropie. Through this blog, you will learn:

  • What is RetroPie
  • What do you need?
  • How to install RetroPie on your Raspberry Pi 4
  • Tips on how to improve your Retro gaming system

Do note that currently as of this date, 16th October 2019, where this blog was written, you will have to install RetroPie manually as of this date as RetroPie does not officially support the Raspberry Pi 4 yet. We will be constantly looking out for updates on the RetroPie system and updating this blog as it goes!

There is also an unsupported test build of RetroPie released for the Raspberry Pi 4 by the official RetroPie team. Referenced from Reddit, if you wish to use that:

  • The default login/ssh/ftp/etc for this image is:
    • User: pi 
    • Password: raspberry
  • Download the zipped file which is in .img format and extract the file from the zip (.gz) where the .img file can be written to sd with EtcherWin32DiskImager, etc
  • You can download the most recent build from retropie.org
  • However, the Pi 4 video drivers are not yet optimized for 4k displays
    • Make sure you’re using hdmi 0 (the micro hdmi port next to the usb-c power port).
    • Edit your config.txt and paste this to force it to 1080p with this following command:
hdmi_ignore_edid=0xa5000080

If you do not wish the test version, you can continue down below on how to manually install Retropie on your Raspberry Pi 4!

SALE on Raspberry Pi 4 Accessories!

  • Before you move on, we have good news for you makers! Right now, Seeed is having a sale on Raspberry Pi 4 accessories!
  • What are you waiting for! Use code: ACCESSORIES10 to get 10% off selected Raspberry Pi 4 accessories! Click here to check out what’s on sale!

SALE on Raspberry Pi 3B+ Retro Game Arcade Kit

There is another piece of good news that you guys can’t miss out! Seeed is currently having a big sale on Raspberry Pi 3B+ Retro Game arcade kit for your Retropie Console!

Raspberry Pi Acrylic DIY Retro Game Arcade Kit

  • Through this article you will learn how to build your own retro game console how about building and owning your own Retro Game Arcade Kit!
  • This is acrylic DIY Retro Game Arcade Kit which can run the RetroPie which you can just download the Game’s ROMs and upload to it and make it an arcade in your home.
  • You can now get it at only $49.00 which is less than 40% of the original price using the code RETRO80!

Without further ado, let us jump right in on how to Build Your Own Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Game Console using Retropie manually.


What is RetroPie?

  • For those that do not know what is Retropie, RetroPie builds upon Raspbian, EmulationStation, RetroArch and other projects which allow you to turn your Raspberry Pi not only to a retro-gaming station, but also as an awesome one-stop entertainment system.
    • The Retropie not only act as an EmulationStation where you can launch and play your games, it also features KODI which is a personal media center which means you now, not only have games, but you have access to movies, songs and many more!
  • In addition, the RetroPie has a variety of user-created themes for EmulationStation and also supports over 50 Retro gaming systems for the Raspberry Pi like the Atari Lynx, Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, MAME, Nintendo 64 (N64), PlayStation 2 and 43 more!

What do you need?

We recommend the Raspberry Pi 4 due its processing speeds and performance. You can still use the older versions of the Raspberry Pi but it may not have full game compatibly and speed.

Raspberry Pi 4B – Starter Kit – 4GB($79.80)

  • This starter kit has all the basic essentials like:
    • Raspberry Pi 4 Computer Model B 4GB
    • Wall Adapter Power Supply – 5VDC 3A Type-C
    • Micro SD Card with Card Reader-32GB(Class 10) 
    • ABS H-Type Black Case for Raspberry Pi 4 B (It Contains Fans and Heat Sinks)
    • Micro HDMI to Standard HDMI Male Cable – 1m(Support Pi 4)
    • Cat6 Ethernet Cable – 1 Meter
  • Already own a few accessories and only require some of these accessories? You can get them individually here on our Bazaar!

Mini Wireless Keyboard and Touchpad Mouse – Rechargeable($29.90)


  • Only needed for initial setup but can be used for playing games too

Raspberry Pi Acrylic DIY Retro Game Arcade Kit ($129.00)

  • This acrylic DIY Retro Game Arcade Kit is simple to set up as you just have to download the Game ROMs from internet and upload it to your Raspberry Pi and restart and your controller is good to go!
  • We also offer a retro game kit for double players here($69.99) and Single players here.($36.99)

15.6 Inch 1920×1080 Full HD IPS Touch Screen Portable Monitor($169.00)

  • Take note that any TV or monitor will work fine too!
  • However, if you do not have a monitor or looking for a new one, our Touch Screen Portable Monitor will be a perfect choice for you!
    • It is a high quality but cost-effective multifunction monitor which features an excellent visual experience, supports 1080P FHD @85Hz, and has a wide viewing range of 178 degrees, 400cd/m2 brightness LED backlight, 1000:1 contrast ratio.
    • It is also ultra-thin and ultra-light! With a thickness of 12 mm and weight of 720g, which makes this monitor portable too!
    • Not only can it connect with your Raspberry Pi 4, the display supports notebooks, mobile phones, BeagleBone and other SBC, PS4/Xbox/Nintendo Switch and other game consoles thanks to its multiple video input interfaces.

How to install RetroPie on your Raspberry Pi 4

For this setup, you will have to install RetroPie manually as of this date as RetroPie does not officially support the Raspberry Pi 4 yet. You can follow the guide below to install RetroPie manually.

Step 1: Flash Raspbian Image to SD Card

  • First you will have to download a Raspbian Buster Desktop Image on your Windows/ Mac/ Linux here.
  • You will also need to download Etcher here for you to able to flash the Raspbian image to your SD card.
  • Open Etcher and flash the Raspbian image on your SD card. Do note that your SD card must be inserted into your computer when flashing the image.
  • Once done, transfer SD card from desktop to your Raspberry Pi 4

Step 2: Set up your Raspbian Buster Desktop (Connect Wifi or Ethernet)

  • Set up Raspbian on your Raspberry Pi as per instructions.
  • Remember to connect wifi or ethernet as it will be required in the later steps.

Step 3: Downloading RetroPie on Raspberry Pi 4

  • Firstly, launch a terminal window on the Raspberry Pi 4 on the top left-hand corner of your screen.
  • Next, download RetroPie setup files by keying in:
git clone –-branch master -–depth=1 –-single-branch https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup.git

Step 4: Enter Setup Directory

  • To enter setup directory, key in:
cd RetroPie-Setup

Step 5: Get the fkms_rpi4 branch on Github.

  • To get the FKMS version of RetroPie that works with your Raspberry Pi 4, key in:
git fetch && git checkout fkms_rpi4

Step 6: Execute Setup script

  • To execute the setup script, key in:
cd RetroPie-Setup 
sudo ./retropie_setup.sh

Step 7: Perform a Basic Install for RetroPie

  • After you execute the setup script, you should reach a screen where you can perform a basic install with the very first option.
  • Perform basic install.

Step 8: Open EmulationSystem

  • After Installation, exit and to start Emulationstation, key in

emulationstation

Voila! It should bring you to this screen where you can then configure your controllers and start playing your games!

Here is a video of how your gameplay would go for the Playstation System with RetroPie!

Ref: Ruivo

Tips on how to improve your Retro gaming system

Now you got your own awesome Retro Gaming system but feel that it is not fast or good enough? Well are some tips that you can make your retro gaming experience even better! Not only does it work for the RetroPie, it will work for other gaming emulators like Recalbox, Batocera, Pi Entertainment system, Lakka andPiPlay (known previously as PiMAME).

So without further ado, let us jump right in on ways to improve your Retro gaming system!

Use a reliable power supply

  • Using your mobile phone charger to power your Raspberry Pi 4….? That is probably not the best way to power your Raspberry Pi 4 when you are using an emulator as it requires a lot of power.
  • With poor power supply, your Raspberry Pi performance without a doubt will be affected which means slower games. 🙁
  • How to solve this problem? Use a reliable official Raspberry Pi power supply which you can get here at Seeed!

Raspberry Pi Official Power Supply 15.3W USB-C with 1.5M Cable – UK Plug 5.1V 3A White

Cannot use a UK plug? We also offer various different plugs like the EU plug and US Plug here! We also offer a black version with the US plug here!

Use a controller

  • You can’t possibly play N64 or MAME arcade games with a keyboard right? With an authentic controller, it can elevate your gaming experience and bring you back to the past.
  • With our Raspberry Pi Acrylic DIY Retro Game Arcade Kit, it will bring you back in time and allow you to relive your past joys!
  • Some features of this arcade kit are:
    • Easy setup
    • High performance
    • High integration
    • Sleek appearance
  • Here is a video of the easy setup and in action!
Ref: kevin Deng

Overclock your Raspberry Pi

  • If you want a better and faster performance, overclocking your Raspberry Pi will be the way to go to boost your frame rates while gaming.
  • Will it be troublesome? No! Overclocking your Raspberry Pi does not require any special set up as it is actually built into your Raspberry Pi as a feature.
    • All you need to do is edit the config.txt file in the boot directory where you change your Raspberry Pi clock speed, save and reboot it!
  • Do note that when overclocked, your Raspberry Pi will be very hot and may affect its performance which is why we got the solution just for you with our:

Blink Blink ICE Tower CPU Cooling Fan for Raspberry Pi (Support Pi 4)!

  • It has a tower structure with 5 mm copper tube, multi-layer heat sinks, 7 powerful fan blades, which make this super radiator just for the Raspberry Pi. 
  • In the case of overclocking, it can reduce the temperature of the Raspberry Pi from 80℃ to 40℃. With the help of this super fan, you can now showcase the powerful performance of the Raspberry Pi 4.
  • Here is a video of our Blink Blink ICE Tower CPU Cooling Fan in action!

Summary

That is all for how on how to build your own Raspberry Pi 4 Retropie game console! With tips on how to improve the performance of your Raspberry Pi 4, you can now enjoy your retro games smoothly just like back in the days!

You can also use your Raspberry Pi 4 in many other ways too other than a retro games console! Interested? Check out our blog on the Top 20 Raspberry Pi 4 Projects That You Must Try Now to find out more!

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54 thoughts on “Build Your Own Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Game Console – Retropie

  1. Thanks for the guide! I have it running, but how do I make it boot into emulationstation automatically?

  2. Hey, I did absolutely everything you advised and nothing works for me: everytime “too many arguments”… Can you help me ?

    1. Hi Roiiban,

      Can you elaborate on your problem? Which command did you key in? Which step did you face this problem?

  3. Hello everybody
    the command indicated is the good one but you just need to put a double minus sign before the commands “branch”, “depth” and “single-branch” (I mean –branch, — depth, –singl-branch)

    1. –single-branch
      Those are two different hyphens you have in your post. Likely a copy and paste error because the person writing the guide is using something that is replacing two hyphens – – (no space, but only included the space so you could see that it was two hyphens) with a LONG hyphen (which is a special character. MS Word, for example will replace — with –… that might be hard to see so try highlighting that…. you’ll see that — is two hyphens and – is a single long hyphen.)

      Linux will not recognize –. Replace – with two hyphens in that command:
      git clone –single-branch –branch fkms_rpi4 –depth=1 https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup.git

      and you should be fine. (I REALLY hope this comment software doesn’t automatically replace the two hyphens that I put in with a long one… we’ll see when I complete the post)

  4. I was receiving ‘fatal: Too many arguments.’ after using the git clone command verbatim from the article. I fixed this by using ‘git clone –branch fkms_rpi4 –depth 1 –single-branch https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup.git‘. I recommend anyone getting that error to try this rearrangement of options and see if it will work for you.

  5. Just completed an install on RPi4 with a 256gb micro sdhc and followed instructions perfectly. Worked first try. This was a fresh Raspian Debian install on a 2GB RPi4 (US Version if it matters). PSX and Genesis/MegaDrive work with little loss of frame rate. Did not overclock, using PSclassic USB digital controller. Tried watching a video on how to do the install that was outdated (June 2019) and install failed 3 times over the course of 4.5 hours. 10/10 would do again.

  6. When I got to etcher and click on the Raspbian file; I get this error:

    Error opening image

    Something went wrong while opening 2019-09-26-raspian-buster-full.zip

    Error: end of central directory record signature not found

    Any suggestions on how to fix this?

    1. Hi Tyler,

      This may be a problem with your Raspbian image. Please try using 7Zip (Windows) or The Unarchiver (Macintosh). Both are free of charge and have been tested to unzip the image correctly if your download is corrupted or not unzipping correctly.

  7. The line to clone the single branch to my pi does not work. I just get “fatal error: Too many arguments.” All I did was copy and paste what you have typed up.

  8. when i type in the following:
    “git fetch && git checkout fkms_rpi4” it says permission denied.

    Any fix for this? i’ve tried multiple things and cant figure it out.

    1. Hi Taylon,

      You can try to change into root user and run the following command:
      “git fetch && git checkout fkms_rpi4”.

      For the root user, there is no password set by default. Thus, you will be required to set your password with the following command: “passwd root”

      Lastly, to change into root user simply type the following command:
      “su root”

  9. Hey dude you saved my live, i haved some problems opening emulationstation, but typing this code solved my problem THX!

      1. YIDA, please fix your article / look for a “preformatted” tag option or a “code” tag option and make sure your lines have two hyphens instead of that single long hyphen that keeps showing up: – is wrong – – without a space. Either the blog software or something like MS Word is seeing the – – (without space) and replacing it with the long hyphen which is an invalid character.)

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