Raspberry Pi 4 with Lakka could be the best retro gaming console yet


Last June, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced its brand new single-board computer, the Raspberry Pi 4. This small PC packs a quad-core Cortex A72 SoC from Broadcom and up to 4GB of DDR4 memory at a very attractive price. Although aimed at emerging markets for computer newbies, the Pi really appealed to retro gamers and “manufacturers” in general from the start. The latest Pi has a lot more computing power than the last iteration, but software support hasn’t quite caught up, until now. The LibRetro team released Lakka version 2.3 with a ton of new features, a focus on retro gaming, and perhaps most importantly, official support for the Raspberry Pi 4.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

If you are not familiar with Lakka, this open source project represents the efforts of the LibRetro team to create an operating system dedicated to retro games. Lakka supports many different hardware platforms, from older Raspberry Pi single-board computers to full-fledged PCs with standard x86-64 processors and the usual assortment of graphics cards. If you are using Lakka on a more powerful system, you will have access to emulators for many more systems, including Dolphin for Nintendo GameCube and Wii emulation and, new with version 2.3, a PlayStation 2 emulator that is still in its infancy. his beginnings. Lakka’s website has step by step instructions to download and install the operating system to a bootable SD card or USB drive, depending on your platform.

Lakka scanning
Lakka’s interface is similar to Sony’s XMB on PlayStation 3

Sega’s $ 80 Genesis mini might be hitting stores today, but it only plays a selection of games for a single system, and some people really like the DIY approach. On the other hand, the basic Raspberry Pi 4 kits start at around $ 60, but you will need to provide your own controller and SD card. You can also find bundled DIY kits with the SD card also of course. Either way, once you’ve done that, you’ll have access to a sophisticated interface to emulate tons of systems, from Atari’s heyday with the 2600, to Sony’s PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo 64. ROM images are not included of course, so what to play is entirely up to you, and of course, be sure to respect copyright laws.

We took Lakka 2.3 for a ride on our Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB of memory and it’s pretty impressive. Early beta versions were plagued with issues like huge audio delays and screen tears, and Wi-Fi didn’t work immediately. This has all been resolved with the official release. We also had no pairing issues an8bitdo SN30 Bluetooth controller with the system, although Bluetooth pairing still requires a bit of ssh work through Linux or Mac terminal or with PuTTy on Windows. After defining a keyboard shortcut to return to the menu via the 8-button controller, we went to test some games.

Streets of Rage 2 on the Genesis worked well

SNES games worked great in the current SNES9x kernel. On the Pi 3, SNES9x 2005 was the best mix of precision and performance, but it was really lacking in both areas. The latest kernel, however, ran everything we threw at it at 60fps, including SuperFX games like StarFox. The Genesis games were already running pretty well in PicoDrive and Gens, and they weren’t a problem for our Pi either. Older systems now run full speed with RetroArch in advance, which generates a second instance of the emulator to try to predict performance and reduce input lag, and make the system much more responsive.

While these emulators are expected to work well, we were more interested in newer systems. Our SN30 didn’t have enough buttons to fully play Sony PlayStation or Sega Saturn games, but it did have enough to at least see how they worked. We were rather surprised to find out that Crazy Taxi on Dreamcast was quite playable on the Raspberry Pi 4, but before we knew it we were running from client to client to pick up fares and rack up a lot of money with a D-pad. . If you’ve added an Xbox or PlayStation controller to a Raspberry Pi 4 running Lakka, you’ll have a great time.

Crazy Taxi
While not perfect, Crazy Taxi on Dreamcast was very playable
Smraza Raspberry Pi 4 Case with Cooling
Smraza Raspberry Pi 4 case with integrated cooling and power supply, Only $ 16.99

If you want to make your own retro setup using a Raspberry Pi 4, you can get full kits from Canakit on Amazon. Best value for dollar kits includes the Pi itself, a case, heat sinks, the official Raspberry Pi USB-C power adapter, a mini HDMI cable, and a small fan. You can get a Pi 4 with 1 GB of memory for $ 60 or upgrade to a Pi 4 with 4 GB of RAM for $ 80. While we focused on the ubiquitous single board computer, Lakka 2.3 also adds support for ROCKPro64 and many other features. Check Lakka 2.3 announcement for a full list.

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