A picture of an un-encased Raspberry Pi
Cover Image © Unknown

The Raspberry Pi 4 is the Best “Game Console” I’ve Ever Owned

Yo – long time no see! I haven’t written in a while because of two reasons: 1) My mind has been a little everywhere (I’ll probably write about that at some point) and 2) I have lost days of free time to playing my new Retropie Raspberry Pi 4 build. I have no excuses. I have literally been shirking my blogging duties to game 😅

What is a Retropie Raspberry Pi 4?

All video games run on computers. Whether you’re playing something on an actual computer (think a Mac or PC) or a video game system (think PlayStation or Xbox), all video games require a computer to operate on. A Raspberry Pi is a tiny little homemade computer kit on steroids that people use for multiple reasons.

A hand holding a non-encased Raspberry Pi computer.

Some people learn to build simple computers with it. Some people like to write out little programs and have their Pi perform menial tasks as it executes that program. Some businesses use it to plug into monitors to display important dashboards. Others – and this is where I fall – like to put video game emulation software on it for various console systems and play old games on it.

It is legally frowned upon to package these games on a Pi and sell them (that’s a cool way to run into potential legal issues with big game companies if they choose to pursue you), but people do it anyway (as you’ll see in this post). But it’s also totally a norm for people to store their own ROMs (digital versions of classic system video games) and then install them on their Raspberry Pi systems.

Why old games, though?

Old games are just better to me. They were just challenging enough and have that nostalgic feel of a more innocent time (not to get sentimental). The gameplay on some of those games could be as quick as 30-minutes to an hour! Just enough time for you to get in a quick fix if you were short on time.

I am essentially what’s known as a Retro Gamer at this point…

 A [R]etro [G]amer is someone who likes to play old games instead of the newer, graphically intensive ones. Retro gamers play games like Pac-Man, Tetris, Frogger, Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Bros and other original computer and console games. They may also play remakes of older games and use emulators to play games from console systems, like Nintendo or Sega Genesis, on a computer.

Retro Gamer Definition from the ComputerHope.com Dictionary

I don’t really care for new games. I traded in all of my old “new systems” (back when PS4’s were new) for cash and gave up on games — having ZERO interest in the new consoles coming out or any of their games. But… I love a good game of any part in the “Streets of Rage” or “Metal Slug” franchises.

And while I’ll watch a playthrough of modern games online if I’m curious enough (insert pretty much anything “Resident Evil” here – LOL), I spend a surprising amount of time following Slope’s Game Room on YouTube — so much time in fact that he might be the first Patreon (a place where supporters can financially contribute to their favorite creators) contribution.

A screenshot of the Slope's Game Room YouTube Channel.

What can I say, the games are fun and have a following for a reason. And it’s not just an army of older gamers — these retro games act as great entry points for kids. One of my friends has built out emulator consoles for his kids to play (and they started playing when they were like 3 years old)! Are they good at the games? No. But they’re having fun, and they get better every single time they play.

I wouldn’t (and likely couldn’t) introduce a 3-year old to the world of gaming with “Call of Duty” — not seriously, anyway. They’d just run out there and die very fast each time. But I HAVE seen a little kid get down on a Ninja Turtles game from an old system.

Think of it this way, you know how a lot of people love playing mobile games now? This is that, but a step up with controllers.

Ok, so tell me about what you bought…

I bought this guy about 2 weeks ago…

A fully-assembled Raspberry Pi 4 retro gaming console.

As you can see, the specific one I bought is SOLD OUT as of this posting. But, if you do a search on Amazon for “Retropie Raspberry Pi 4 Console”, there are lots of similar fully-built kits out there being sold at reasonable prices.

It says it has 135,000 games on there – and it’s NOT exaggerating. To be fair, all of them may not function on what you’re trying to play them on without a little set-up on your part – but I find those to be very limited in number and it’s like old floppy-disk-based computer games (which I’m not there for). What I bought mine for are the literal thousands of Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Capcom, Neo-Geo, PlayStation, etc. games on the system.

Again, is it frowned on to fully assemble a system and sell it like this? Yes. But it’s out there on AMAZON like hotcakes and the big game corporations don’t seem to care enough to shut it down fully, so… yeah.

And as far as what games are on there, I think one person put it best in response to a question on the page for the product: “If it’s pre-2010, it’s on it.” I can’t tell you all of the games that are on there in this post (there are waaaaay too many), but here’s a link to a list of all of the supported systems. Pretty much imagine every game in those systems’ libraries all collected on one device. THAT is what you have at your fingertips with one of these emulator consoles.

I have literally been playing games on here with all of my free time and there is NO WAY that I am going to be able to play or beat all of them. The breadth of games on this device, coupled with the way they play in this emulation system, easily make the Retropie Raspberry Pi 4 build the best video game console purchase I’ve ever made (both in terms of bang for my buck and relative quality of gameplay and entertainment value across all of the titles). Period.

The interface is nice, the playback comes with next to no lag unless you put a TON of sprites on the screen (old games – haha), like… I LOVE this thing, and I can’t encourage people enough to snag or build one. If you like older games, shell out the dough and get one — you won’t regret it, and if you’re a parent – your kids will love you to the moon and back for this one.

There are many options out there for these types of systems, but I can vouch for this one. Feel free to do your own research, but again – I am officially vouching for this one. I preferred it for me because I wanted to hook it up to my nice TV and sound system (which this plays GREAT on), but I also bought a group of friends this amazing portable alternative (which I don’t think is running anything on a Pi system, but it’s a similar situation with tons of games). If you want that, I bought those straight from the supplier (it ships from China and arrives very fast).

And that, my friends, is it. My entire spiel about why this system alternative is GREAT for anyone out there with a taste for nostalgic gameplay. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to hit me up in the comment section below. Apologies for being out just goofing off and playing games lately, but a nerd needs a mental break of mindless entertainment every now and then 😁

With that…

Peace, and thanks for reading.

 

The soundtrack for this post provided by…

Image Credits:
– Cover Image © Unknown (found on overclock3d.net)
– Body Image 1 © RaspberryPi.org
– Body Image 2 © Slope’s Fame Room/YouTube
– Body Image 3 © Amazon

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