RaspiBoy vs Android + Bluetooth controller


December 31st, 2017

A while back I posted an article on how to build your own handheld retro emulation setup, using a budget Android phone and an 8BitDo controller.  You have also seen my look at the RaspiBoy.  I would now like to compare and contrast the two so that you can look at strengths and weaknesses of each to determine which setup would best suit your needs.

 

Raspiboy offers an all-in-one setup powered by a Pi Zero.  It runs off the robust Emulation Station/Retro Pie software, which is tried and tested for reliability.  The front end is aesthetically pleasing, more so than most front ends available on Android.  That being said, RetroPie is really your only option for a decent looking front end.  You are also limited to games from the 16 bit era and below due to the Pi Zero being powered by a single core 600 MHZ chip.  Also, I have personally found reliability issues in the hardware of the Raspiboy, having to replace both the custom 8BCraft board due to an error in the first run board not allowing the unit to charge and play at the same time, and having to replace the LCD as well due to a screw going all the way through the plastic and shorting out a transistor.  However, the benefits of having an all-in-one unit that you can repair on your own cannot be ignored.

 

If you were to choose the Android phone/Bluetooth controller route, you have a choice of numerous front ends (RetroX, Gamesome, ARC Browser, and Nostalgia being the leading four).  However, none of these front ends are as robust as Emulation Station.  Both units use RetroArch as the primary emulation source, but the higher power from the phones means that you are able to emulate newer systems.  PS1 is almost guarenteed to work, along with PSP, some N64, DS, and even some Dreamcast games.  Also, my initial build had the Blu R1 HD paired with an NES30 Pro (with XTander clamp), which is still a great, functional setup.  I have since upgraded to the Blu Life X2 Mini for a faster CPU, more RAM, and more storage, and switched controllers to the SN30 Pro (with Xtander).  This setup is slightly more expensive at 150 dollars for everything, but offers an even more comfortable controller and much more storage.  64 gigs internal plus another 128 gigs in Micro SD gives you plenty of room for all the ROM based games you want, plus a decent selection of disc based titles.  However, the setup is still a little clunky, with two pieces being held together by a clamping system, and the front end not being as aesthetically pleasing.

 

If you are looking at primarily 16 bit and below gaming, I would recommend RaspiBoy for being an all in one unit that you can configure however you wish.  Those who wish to play some PS1 and newer games, or those that want the benefit of having access to some Android games plus emulators, are better off looking at the phone plus bluetooth controller solution.  I would push that using the phone gives you access to some great ports of older PC games that are out there as well.  Either way, both solutions make for a nice way of being able to game on the go.

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RoundUp 124 – Millennial Hacker


December 30th, 2017

TOPICS COVERED IN THE SHOW
Hardware Flashback – (00:00)
Dinosaur Pie – (28:00)
Guinness Gaming Records – (1:30:58)
The Piranhas: Space Invaders – (1:33:24)
Top Ten Games On Failed Systems – (1:37:21)
Gaming Trivia – (3:32:30)
Pinball Album: Black Knight 2000 – (3:32:58)
Live News And Listener Views – (3:36:02)
URLs And EMails – (5:43:21)

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RoundUp 123 – Duodenum


November 30th, 2017

TOPICS COVERED IN THE SHOW
Hardware Flashback – (00:00)
Dinosaur Pie – (30:52)
Guinness Gaming Records – (1:37:43)
Desert Planet: Slurp – (1:39:43)
Top Ten Jungle Games – (1:44:19)
David Crane Feedback – (3:11:32)
Gaming Trivia – (3:19:45)
Rob Hubbard: Commando – (3:20:12)
Live News And Listener Views – (3:25:07)
URLs And EMails – (5:38:17)

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Stream the show 24/7 or listen to RGR Radio.

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RoundUp 122 – The O.G.s


November 1st, 2017

TOPICS COVERED IN THE SHOW
Hardware Flashback – (00:00)
Dinosaur Pie – (22:14)
Guinness Gaming Records – (1:05:12)
Linus GH: Night Finds You – (1:07:38)
Mevlut Dinc Interview – (3:57:38)
Top Ten Ghoulish Games With Ghosts – (2:08:03)
Gaming Trivia – (3:57:10)
Asterion: Caer Aisling – (3:57:38)
Live News And Listener Views – (4:03:06)
URLs And EMails – (6:06:53)

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Vote in our Top Ten Poll and suggest a future Top Ten topic here.

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The Ultimate case for your Pi based emulation setup


October 23rd, 2017

The Raspberry Pi 3 has become incredibly popular among retro game enthusiasts for it’s low price and versatility in emulating many classic gaming systems using the RetroPie software.  Many companies have released different cases which all have different price points, features, and extras.  However, one of the cases that offers the best value for what you get has been the NesPi case manufactured by Retroflag.

 

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As pictured above, this case is identical to the classic NES case, however it is smaller than the NES Classic case.  The front features a fully functional power button (with red LED light beside it) along with a working reset button.  Your controller ports now house two USB ports, and under the cartridge flap you will find an additional 2 USB ports as well as an ethernet jack.  The rear features HDMI output, power input, and 3.5 headphone jack output, and your SD card is on the side.

 

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This setup is achieved by using a daughterboard in the front of the case.  The pi sits behind the daughterboard, and you plug a few short cables from the daughterboard to the Pi as pictured above.  There is also room on the top of the case for a cooling fan if you choose to install one.  At an MSRP of 25 dollars, this case is an absolute steal for all the extras it offers.  Also, the case is made of molded plastic instead of being 3D Printed, giving it a very solid feel.

 

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Pictured above is my corner table gaming setup.  Using the NesPi case as the centerpiece, I have added a 19 inch flatpanel monitor, an 8BitDo NES Cube speaker, and an 8BitDo NES30 Pro controller along with a 128 GB SD card running HyperPie for a huge emulation setup.  The underside of the case has a storage compartment for SD cards, and I use mine to hold a 4 GB SD card that copies the user interface of the NES Classic, yet has the complete NES Library.

 

For those of you that want to build your own retro gaming setup, or wish to have something like the NES Classic but with a much larger game selection, the NesPi case is one of the best choices you can make.  Keep in mind some assembly is required, so if you want to just plug and play, an NES Classic is still a better option.  But for a complete customizable experience, this case is a great start for constructing a tiny, yet powerful, retro gaming console.

 

The case can be ordered here.

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