Some notes on the Retroflag GPi Case / Raspberry Pi Zero emulation

This is using Recalbox and the Retroflag GPi Case, which is effectively a Gameboy clone, powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero.

Kinda neat since it can be powered by 3 standard AA batteries, and the “cartridge” case contains the Raspberry Pi Zero – and the screen and controls are very solid.

OK so flashing the Recalbox on a 16GB SD card works fine, then you can format the third partition (even in Windows) as FAT32 in Disk Management, like so:

Upon booting up, Recalbox will detect that partition and set it up with a set of standard folders:

The roms folder is the one you care about, since that’s where you’ll put the games.

Directory of F:\roms

megadrive
pc98
fba
oricatmos
msxturbor
daphne
cavestory
msx2
gx4000
atari2600
sg1000
pcengine
msx1
tic80
satellaview
zxspectrum
scummvm
pcenginecd
mame
gb
lynx
samcoupe
atari7800
supergrafx
snes
o2em
zx81
gbc
fba_libretro
vectrex
virtualboy
nes
gw
x1
ngpc
intellivision
sufami
mastersystem
imageviewer
x68000
wswanc
atarist
c64
lutro
ngp
thomson
amstradcpc
atari800
pokemini
wswan
atari5200
channelf
prboom
fds
neogeo
sega32x
apple2gs
gba
palm
segacd
gamegear
pc88
multivision
neogeocd
psx
dos
spectravideo
colecovision
moonlight
uzebox

It’s sort of questionable how many of these you want to be populated on a Pi Zero, which isn’t going to be able to emulate the fancier stuff anyway.

The ones with default “free” games, which you probably want to remove are:

  • amstradcpc
  • gba
  • mastersystem
  • nes
  • pcengine
  • prboom
  • snes
  • thomson

A system folder with no ROMs won’t show up in the UI, so this is a way to get the odder ones to disappear.

There is also an alternate “cartridge”, the GPimate that lets you put in the much more powerful Raspberry Pi 3+ compute module lite:

It pokes out a bit above the top of the device though

image

The Retroflag GPi Case gets rave reviews and I can see why! It even has hidden shoulder buttons on the back that I didn’t notice – right above the battery compartment on the left and right.

Personally I want to explore the Pi Zero a bit more and see what it can emulate, since that feels more appropriate to this case style.

These posts appear credible, as far as what can reasonably be emulated on the Pi Zero W:

I have one in a handheld build. Here’s what I’ve found:

  • NES/Master System - no issues
  • SNES/GEN - I only have issues on super Fx chip games for the SNES. No issues elsewhere so far as I can tell
  • GB/GBC/GBA/GG- some GBA games are suspect. There’s issues using the in-game saves with some emulators. GB/GBC/GG have not given me problems.

and

From previous posts I believe NES, Master System, GB, GB Color and GBA should be able to run.

I’d add TurboGrafx-16 / PC Engine as well.

So almost Super Nintendo level emulation, with some rare exceptions depending on the game.

Hi,I’d suggest having a look at pre-made images for your gpi case. Then customise from there. I use a supreme team base, then add what I need ontop. I have played psx games on mine, it does stutter occasionally, but it’s pretty good. This does use retropie as a base so might not be what you’re looking for but it’s certainly done the trick for me

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I’ll look at that; mostly I want to remove stuff and limit to the top ~100 games on a handful of platforms.

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In this case I went with retrofw on the LDK (square) but the process is the same for any compatible device, of which there are … many:

It is a bit different in that the SD card doesn’t create multiple partitions, so perhaps a bit simpler?

  • You image the OS to the SD card, then boot it up so it can repartition everything. The resulting folder structure is very simple.

  • After first boot it’s time to remove the SD card again and copy the emulators from the starter packs over. I wasn’t quite clear what folder to put these in, since the folder structure is so simple, so I put them in the same folder as the one app.

  • Next copy the ROMs over in the /roms folder. If you get the subfolder naming right, the emulators will know the right place to look for appropriate ROMs upon launch.

Boot up and remove / hide all the emulators you don’t want. You can do this via the select button with the emulator highlighted. It’s not totally clear to me which emulators are “better” to use because there is some overlap, like there are multiple Gameboy Advance emulators, gbSP and ReGBA for example.

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