The emulation of video game consoles is a sector that never goes out of style, but throughout history there have been so many platforms that to emulate all of them you have to install a large number of applications. To avoid that, there is RetroArch , a universal solution that allows you to cover a number of consoles and platforms with the same application. In addition, it is one of the great prides within free software oriented to the execution of video games.
Today you don’t need a computer to be able to enjoy retrogaming thanks to the fact that mobile phones have gained a lot in terms of power, to the point that many of the low or medium-low range are able to correctly emulate a large number of consoles. In other words, there are many mobiles that are suitable to be retrogaming machines , so we are going to teach you the most basic parts of RetroArch to do the same with an Android device.
It is important to consider the limitations of touch screens when adapting the controls. Solving this is not difficult because Android theoretically supports most of the mainstream controllers thanks to the Linux kernel , although in extreme cases you can look for one more adapted to the circumstances at hand . Of course, a fanny pack will be necessary if you want to take a remote with you, which will most likely end up connected to the mobile or tablet via Bluetooth.
Now that we’re on the subject of controllers, RetroArch has the ability to correctly map controllers for many platforms when the user pairs or plugs one in, so you most likely won’t have to worry about that. In fact, the 8BitDo Pro 2 used by this server has been configured correctly, even the menu button works as such out of the box , while on Linux you have to configure it.
After briefly introducing what RetroArch is and the possibilities it offers in terms of controller support, we’re going to start by laying out the basic parts of the app and how to set it up to emulate Super Nintendo and the early PlayStation.
What is the basic operation of RetroArch?
As we have already said, it can be defined as a universal solution that allows emulating a large number of platforms using a single interface, which avoids the installation of a large number of applications. This is especially appreciated on mobile platforms, where the amount of space to store data is usually not high, especially if the device does not support expansion using a microSD card.
RetroArch is capable of supporting a large number of platforms, including the well-worn NES, Super Nintendo, PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, Game Boy, Mega Drive, MAME, Game Boy Advance, Dreamcast, etc. Come on, many of which have been popular, but it is also capable of emulating various Atari, Commodore and even Amstrad systems. In addition, it makes available some game engines. At this point, the reader may have begun to think that the application at hand is a piece of witchcraft, but nothing is further from the truth.
To emulate all that amount of platforms, what RetroArch does is use kernels, which you have to download one by one through the application interface. Each kernel allows emulating a platform, although it is possible to find several that emulate the same one. For example, for the Super Nintendo there are Snes9x (proprietary) and various builds of bsnes (free software), while for the PlayStation there are PCSX ReARMed and DuckStation.
What a kernel download does is introduce the emulator “engine” into RetroArch . To put them into operation, the steps are the same in all cases, only differing in the kernel to be loaded depending on the console that is intended to be emulated. Of course, some platforms such as PlayStation require the introduction of firmware files to work, which we are obviously going to teach in this tutorial.
For Android there are two versions of RetroArch available: the normal one and the Plus one . Both are free, but the second requires at least the eighth version of Google’s operating system and provides a total of 127 cores compared to 80 for the first. Seeing the dates we are on, the most likely thing is that the user has a device compatible with the Plus version of the application.
We are facing a giant that requires an encyclopedia to be fully covered, so in this article we will focus on the most basic so that a user can put into operation some of the great classics of the past.
Configuring RetroArch to emulate Super Nintendo on Android
Super Nintendo is one of the most emulated platforms within retrogaming . For many years there have been various quality emulators for the legendary console, which for many is the best that the Big N has released in its entire history.
To use RetroArch on a mobile it would be advisable to put it horizontally to make it easier to read the names of the kernels and certain options. Also, the user is likely to be more comfortable using the app with a controller rather than the touch screen, even if it slows down typing through the search tool.
After following the recommendations or not, first you have to click on the option ” Load core ” that appears in the main menu.
Once inside, you have to go to ” Download kernel “, an option that can be reached by going down if you have already downloaded some kernels.
After accessing the mentioned section, the complete list of kernels appears. Because there are dozens of them available and they are not categorized, finding the one you want to install through the list is not very practical, so your thing is to click on the search icon placed in the upper right corner or on the top button of the controller’s main button panel, which is ‘X’ on Nintendo controllers, ‘Y’ on Xbox controllers, and triangle on PlayStation controllers.
As we are configuring RetroArch to emulate Super Nintendo, the most recommended search term is ‘snes’ , the initials for Super Nintendo Entertainment System which first became popular in North America and later spread to the rest of the world. To execute the search you have to press the virtual key of enter.
With the search carried out, the kernels that allow emulating Super Nintendo should appear. In our case we have chosen to download several bsnes compilations, although if the user prefers, the well-known Snes9x is available. Downloading a kernel is as simple as clicking on it .
It is important to note that if the user makes another search based on the results of a previous one, what it does is filter the filtered results. For example, if you search for the term ‘playstation’ after searching for ‘snes’ without backtracking, the result is very likely to be an empty list, as shown in the image below.
With the kernels already downloaded and installed, it is convenient to return to the RetroArch main menu , which can be done easily and directly through the icon of the little house that appears on the right if the device is horizontal and below if it is vertically or by repeatedly pressing the right button on the keypad, which is ‘A’ on Nintendo controllers, ‘B’ on Xbox controllers and circle on PlayStation controllers.
Now you have to proceed to load the Super Nintendo core that you want to use. To do this, go back to “ Load core ”, but now the next step is to click on the core you want to use .
Once the kernel is loaded, the user is returned to the Main Menu, where he has to click on “ Load content ” to proceed to load the ROM.
Personal computers (among which smartphones and tablets can be counted from a technical point of view and if we broaden our sights) have accustomed us to the fact that we can place files wherever we want. Because of this, RetroArch provides various starting points to find the ROM for the Super Nintendo (or the chosen platform) that you intend to run. If what you want is to start with the root of the user data storage, this is located in /storage/emulated/0, a location that could change if you use a microSD card. From there, you navigate in a standard way until you find the ROM.
However, if the ROM is inside a ZIP file, you may have to do some additional steps . After clicking on the ZIP file, two options appear, among which you have to select “ Explore file ”. Then click on the ROM file that should appear to then confirm the kernel with which you want to run (or select another if the user so wishes).
If the user has followed all the above steps correctly, they should see the Super Nintendo game being launched. The quality of the emulation depends on the selected kernel, so knowing which one is best is a trial and error task left to you.
Configuring RetroArch to emulate PlayStation 1 on Android
Sony’s first PlayStation was such a revolutionary console that caused such a sensation that many consider it the first video game console in history, just like that. Beyond the falsity of that statement, it cannot be denied that it made history and that it represented an important turning point within the industry, in addition to being the platform that laid the foundations to consolidate, without being the first to do so, things like optical discs and three-dimensional environments, despite the fact that many of its most prominent games, especially those in series such as Final Fantasy and Resident Evil, were in 2.5D due to the use of pre-rendered graphics.
The enormous popularity enjoyed by the first PlayStation has made it a fairly emulated console, but to do so requires downloading firmware files that are often distributed separately. Luckily configuring that in RetroArch for Android is easy, but you have to know the location, something that we will obviously show in this tutorial.
To emulate the first PlayStation it is necessary to download a kernel corresponding to the console. The user has to click first on “ Load core ” in the main menu of the application.
Once inside, all you have to do is scroll down to “ Download kernel ”, where the complete list of kernels available for the version of RetroArch used will appear (remember that there are two for Android, one aimed at old devices and the other at current machines).
After accessing the complete list of kernels, yours would be to carry out a search to more easily find those that allow you to emulate the first PlayStation. The search is done by clicking on the magnifying glass icon that appears in the upper right corner or the top button of the main button on the controller , which is ‘X’ on Nintendo controllers, ‘Y’ on Xbox controllers and triangle in those of PlayStation.
The logical thing to do is to enter the term ‘playstation’ to search for the modules corresponding to the Sony console. The user can opt for the touch screen or enter the letters one by one with a controller and then press the virtual enter key.
In our case we have chosen to download the PCSX ReARMed kernel, which is free software. Obtaining it is as simple as clicking on it .
We remember that, if the user makes another search from the results of a previous one, what he does is filter the filtered results. For example, if you search for the term ‘snes’ after searching for ‘playstation’ without backtracking, the result is very likely to be an empty list, as shown in the image below.
With the kernel already obtained, we proceed to the firmware configuration, which can be obtained from here . His thing is to place at least the versions that appear in the image in the directory/RetroArch/system in the user’s storage, whose full path is /storage/emulated/0/RetroArch/system(in case of relying on a microSD, the path can change).
After placing the firmware files in the indicated location, the user must return to the Main Menu by clicking on the icon of the little house that appears on the right if the device is horizontal and down if it is vertical or by repeatedly pressing the right button of the button panel, which is ‘A’ on Nintendo controllers, ‘B’ on Xbox controllers and a circle on PlayStation.
After returning to the RetroArch Main Menu , it is time to load the core you downloaded. To do this, the user has to go to ” Load core ” to select the one corresponding to PlayStation that he has obtained, which is done by clicking on it.
Now it’s time to load content (a game), which most likely will be provided by means of a disk image in ISO, IMG, MDF or other format. After accessing “ Load content ”, to go to the root of the user data you have to go to /storage/emulated/0and navigate until you find the disk image of the game you want to put into operation. Once again, we remind you that the routes can change with a microSD.
If all the steps have been completed correctly, the user should see the PlayStation game running.
How to remove touch controls in RetroArch for Android
Touch controls are obviously superfluous if you’re using RetroArch with a controller. Removing them is as simple as clicking on the button with the down arrow that appears in the lower right corner.
RetroArch is an emulation solution that can be a bit complicated to set up, but once you get the hang of it and if you don’t mind the detailed configuration of emulators, it manages to offer a more than satisfactory experience while saving money. installing a large number of applications.
What’s more, this server finds running bsnes through RetroArch more satisfactory than using the emulator’s official application, so in some cases it’s even possible to win.