Gaming on Raspberry Pi

Different ways of playing your favorite games on Raspberry Pi

Set of Weapons for Raspberry Pi games

Who would love Raspberry Pi gaming experience if RPi is a mini PC board with a limited performance? Anyone who really values gaming. So why are we so much in love with playing?

Buying new devices surely results in an instant desire to install favorite games on them. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Most iconic PC games are still not available for smartphones and ARM-based mini PCs. For example, 3D accelerated games for Raspberry Pi, less modern retro PC games (like Might and Magic 6) or other PC games for Raspberry Pi 3 models and above such as Alpha Centauri or Half-Life. And if you are an owner of a Raspberry Pi (the most popular ARM mini PC) and a keen gamer, you might have a hard time. Luckily, there are few different ways to play games on Raspberry Pi (or any other ARM). And we are going to represent them in this article.

You’ll find out:

  1. How to play the Raspberry Pi games installed from the repository
  2. How to get access to all Retropie games by setting up Retropie systems on your device.
  3. How to make a game console and enjoy Raspberry Pi retro gaming with ExaGear Desktop.

Repository Pi Games

Raspberry Pi games list in repository

As an owner of a Raspberry Pi, you probably know that it has some games and applications already installed, like Minecraft, the browser, Mathematica, etc. To find out what Pi games are pre-installed on your device, simply go to the top-bar menu and find “Games” and check this section.

But this is definitely not enough and they are not the best RPI games, which you can really get. You would probably also want to know what else can be installed on your device. For that, you can use the Terminal and the native Raspbian commands. There is a large Repository where a lot of different pieces of software, applications, libraries and games for Raspberry Pi are kept.

Firstly, you can check what games are available in the Repository. Open up the terminal and input:

$ apt-cache search games

You will see the endless list of games as an output. Basically, the first word before the “-” sign is the title of the game. To setup the preferred game you have to scroll the list down, find it in the list and then fulfill the special command to install it on your RPi. For instance, if you wanted to install the game called Funny Boat, the command would be:

$ sudo apt-get install funnyboat

Find more games and instructions on this Raspberry Pi Forums’ thread here.

For those, who don’t like searching on their own we have prepared the list of the most popular and interesting games for Raspberry Pi:

  • Minecraft Pi edition (download)
  • Quake 3 (tutorial)
  • Open Arena – open source version of Quake with different maps (command: sudo apt-get install openarena)
  • Flare – Diablo-like RPG (command: sudo apt-get install flare-game)
  • Battleball – a 3D Tank arcade (command: sudo apt-get install battleball )
  • TINT – a Tetris game (command: sudo apt-get install tint)
  • Freesweep – a console based Minesweeper (command: sudo apt-get install freesweep)
  • OpenTTD – based upon Transport Tycoon Deluxe (command: sudo apt-get install openttd)
  • Gnome Nibbles – a snake game (command: sudo apt-get install gnome-nibbles)
  • Funny Boat – funny arcade game (command: sudo apt-get install funnyboat)

RetroPie

RetroPie SNES, MAME and other Retropie consoles to be emulated on RPI

If you love old-school games and would like to turn your Raspberry Pi into a retro gaming console, you should get RetroPie and you will have your console up and running in less than 10 minutes.

As a retro gamer, you probably know that to emulate an old-school game you need 2 things: the game ROM (a copy of the game that exists on your device) and an emulator to play it. The rule of emulator ethics is that you should have a physical copy of a game if you have a ROM (or you can create your own from your old cartridges). So we’ll leave that on you. Now let’s get to

RetroPie Instructions

What you’ll need to do is to download the suitable RetroPie version on an SD card and install it on your Raspbian with these simple steps below.

1. Download Retropie. Go to the official website and download the proper version of Retropie image, depending on your RPi board model.

Download Retropie image

The best way to setup Retropie is to use some Windows device to form up an SD card image and then use this prepared SD card on your Raspbian device to finish up with the installation process.

2. Make up an SD card with Retropie image. Let’s assume, you have downloaded a Rertropie image on some Windows device and now you have to transfer this image to your SD card (you should use at least a 4GB micro SD). For that purpose, it would be essential to use a special app called Win32 Disk Imager. It usually takes seconds to find it and download from the Sourceforge and the same few seconds to a minute to set it up on your Windows device. The graphical interface of this feature is more than user-friendly and looks very much like a simple file manager. So simply drag-and-drop the whole image to an SD card via Win32 Disk Imager and safely eject an SD card, not to corrupt the Retropie image files.

Make an SD card Retropie image with Win32 Disk Imager

3. Setup the Emulation Station. After that, plug a controller and a keyboard to the Raspberry Pi, insert the SD card and turn your RPi on. The system will boot you directly into Emulation Station. On the first time you are inside the system, wait until all of the automatic set up things are finished and then follow up the prompts that will appear to set up your controllers, “hot keys” and other stuff to get the whole thing ready. As soon as you’re all set with that, you’ll see the whole bunch of emulators available. This list of systems that you can emulate is quite impressive:

  • MAME
  • N64 and Nintendo DS
  • PSP
  • Game Boy and GBA
  • NeoGeo
  • Game Cube
  • Atari
  • ZX Spectrum
  • And many others!

4. Transfer ROMs. However, you won’t see them all at once as ROMs need to be added to respective folders before they become visible. So to see a particular emulator in the list you have to download the ROMs for it. You can do it by transferring the game ROMs from your primary computer to the Raspberry Pi or by getting the ROMs for Retropie from some other sources (like Emuparadise, for example).

5. Reboot Raspbian. As soon as you are done with all that, reboot your RPi device to finish the installation.

As a result, every time you start your Raspberry Pi should boot you directly into the Emulation Station which is controllable with the controllers or a mouse and a keyboard, whatever is more convenient. And now, you are ready for a good old game with this all in one game system!

For your convenience, we’ve made up a top-10 Retropie games. See the infographics below.

Download Retropie image

ExaGear Desktop

Set up your Raspberry Pi for gaming with ExaGear Desktop

RetroPie is good if you want to play old video games. But if you want more, it won’t be able to satisfy your gaming itch. The thing is that RetroPie is (so to say) a bunch of emulators and open-source ported games in one package. And it’s common knowledge that most emulators show low performance. So when it comes to x86 platform, you’ll only be able to run very old DOS games on your Raspberry Pi.

But what should you do if you want to play more modern PC and Linux games on your Raspberry Pi? Luckily, there’s a great option – ExaGear Desktop. It’s a user-friendly software with transparent operation which lets you run x86 software on Raspberry Pi and other ARM-based devices.

The download and installation process will take you just a few minutes. And soon you’ll be able not only play more up-to-date games but also to make up something like a Raspberry Pi game server, all in one console which works as a powerful game gear on your Raspbian.

In previous articles we have already posted the detailed step-by-step instructions on how to run various PC games on Raspberry Pi, So here is our list of all the games ever tired on the RPi, right below.

Download Retropie image

We are now testing more of your favorite games and will soon share the instructions. So stay tuned for more gaming news from us!

Final notes

With ExaGear Desktop you can run much more x86 apps on your Raspberry Pi and other ARM-based devices (such as Odroid, Banana Pi, Beagleboard, Cubox, Jetson, Cubieboard etc.). As to Raspberry Pi gaming, it’s possible to improve your device gaming level much beyond Retropie. We’ve already covered some of them in our previous posts and will soon post more tutorials on your favorite apps and games. Stay in touch and explore the capabilities of your Raspberry Pi mini PC board.

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