Classic story, you bought a Raspberry Pi because you have seen a video in which they explain that you can emulate many games, you install Retropie, and it’s sad but … no game on it 🙂.
So, where to download ROMs for Retropie on Raspberry Pi? That’s what we’ll see in this tutorial.
Many websites, like MAMEDev, are listing ROMs for RetroPie. The ROM file can be downloaded directly and put in the ROMs subfolder of the RetroPie installation folder to play them directly. Other methods include buying a preloaded SD card, or using other sources.
Today we will see:
– What is RetroPie
– How to install Retropie (quickly)
– Where to download the ROMs for RetroPie
– How to install these ROMs on RetroPie
If you are looking for the fastest way to get games on your Raspberry Pi, you can check this SD card loaded with Retropie and over 100k games. It’s available on Amazon, and really cheap for the time it would take to build that kind of library 🙂
What is RetroPie?
Get a list of my 24 favorites games (with links) to play on Retropie, Recalbox or Lakka
RetroPie is a program that allows you to run old video games on your Raspberry Pi.
Available in full distribution or installed as an app on Raspberry Pi OS, it’s pretty simple to set up.
Purchasing one or more controllers and an SD card large enough might be an excellent choice to play comfortably. You can find my recommendations at the end of this tutorial, or in my recommended products pages.
Once your Retropie installed, with the necessary equipment, you will only need to find ROMs to add new games to your emulator.
And this is precisely the purpose of this post.
In this article, I focus on RetroPie, but the ROMs file are the same with other retro-gaming solutions, so feel free to check this comparison if you want to test other options: Best Retro-Gaming OS: Retropie vs Recalbox vs Batocera vs Lakka.
How to install RetroPie?
I will not go into the installation details because I’ve written a step-by-step tutorial on how to install Retropie that you can check if you have any doubt.
And I think you wouldn’t look for ROMs if you hadn’t already installed Retropie 🙂
On Raspberry Pi OS
It is possible to install Retropie on Raspberry Pi OS without losing the rest of your Raspberry Pi OS installation.
For this, I advise you to follow this tutorial from the official website.
And then come back to this page for downloading and installing ROMs.
On a new SD Card
Alternatively, if you only want to use Retropie on your SD card, images are available here.
They allow you to create a new SD card that will start directly on Retropie, ideal for arcade kiosks.
I have a complete beginners guide for Retropie on this website, I would highly recommend checking it for the step-by-step procedure. But here is the short version.
If you are lost in all these new words and abbreviations, request my free Raspberry Pi glossary here (PDF format)!
Once the image downloaded, create an SD card, as usual, to start on this map.
From a Linux / Mac computer, you can use the following command, for example:
sudo dd bs=4M if=/home/pi/retropie.img of=/dev/mmcblk1
Just change the image path and the SD card mount point to make it fit your environment.
You can find your SD card’s name with the following command:
sudo fdisk -l
Your drives will be something like /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, … and the SD card would be something else (like /dev/mmcXXX). More details in this article.
If you don’t want to lose your time with complex commands, you can also find preloaded SD cards here.
Are you a bit lost in the Linux command line? Check this article first, for the most important commands to remember, and a free downloadable cheat sheet so you can have the commands at your fingertips.
Where to download Retropie ROMs?
What is a ROM?
ROM stands for Read-Only Memory.
Generally, a ROM is a computer file, which contains data from an old support.
In our case, it’s often a copy of the cartridges of an old game console, which allows playing the game thanks to an emulator (RetroPie or other).
The video game is a vast market, which is very protected regarding copyrights.
So, playing a licensed video game if you haven’t bought it’s completely illegal and punishable by law.
We are talking here about ancient games, which have sometimes been abandoned by their publishers.
But that does not change the fact that they are protected, and it’s illegal to use them anyway.
Try to be careful about the ROMs you find on the Internet.
Being available on a website doesn’t mean that it is free of rights.
To avoid any problems, prefer free games if possible.
We can not, in any case, be held responsible for the actions you undertake following the reading of this article, this is your responsibility.
Free and legal ROMs
Let’s go to the game now!
If you don’t want to take any risks, there’s a very famous website that lists free games, usable on RetroPie.
It’s called MAMEDev, and the URL is: http://www.mamedev.org/roms/.
You will find the most classic games in the history of video games (breakage, parachutes, pong, …).
Just choose a game and click Download to download the corresponding ROM.
Regarding ROM directory on the internet, there are many websites where you can find just about any game from your childhood.
I have gathered here 4 websites that I recommend:
- Rom Hustler: http://romhustler.net/
- Free ROMs: https://www.freeroms.com/
- Cool ROM: http://coolrom.com/
- Coleco Vision Addict: http://cvaddict.com/list.php
These websites host thousands of ROMs each.
You will inevitably find what you are looking for.
However, remember what I told you sooner about copyright 😉
If you want to save a bit of time, you can check my selection of the 12 games I prefer here.
I have to talk about one last place where you can find your ROMs for Retropie: Torrent.
Torrent is a smart protocol, convenient, but unfortunately known for the wrong reasons.
And for video games that couldn’t be worst, with a total lack of respect for copyrights.
So yes, it is possible to find rare ROMs on BitTorrent or other, but I strongly advise you not to do it.
Preloaded SD card
But I think that the best idea to save time is to look for a preloaded SD card with Retropie and thousands of games already installed (my favorite is this one on Amazon), it’s the best price/quality and quantity ratio, and it works on any Raspberry Pi (even Pi 4).
You’ll save much time by not having to download and install each game one by one.
If you don’t have a Raspberry Pi 4 you can try this one, it’s similar but for Raspberry Pi 3 / 3B+.
How to install a new ROM on RetroPie?
Now that you’ve got your ROMs, let’s see how to transfer them to Retropie.
If you are planning to collect a package of ROMs, especially the new ones, keep in mind that you will need a lot of space.
The problem is that by default Retropie (when installed as a distribution), creates a partition with the size it needs, regardless of the size of your SD card.
It would be a shame to have only 2 GB available on a 64 GB card 🙂
Update: With the latest RetroPie version, this is done for you automatically. I just keep the instructions here for information.
Therefore, it will be necessary to extend the partition to the maximum capacity, by following these steps:
- Go to Retropie Configuration
- Choose Raspi Config
- Go to “Advanced options” and choose “Expand Filesystem” (first option)
- Confirm your choice
- Wait for the partition to expand
- Then click Finish and reboot your Raspberry Pi
After the reboot, the partition will use the whole size of your SD card.
USB drive :
You can use a USB drive to copy ROM files to your Raspberry Pi
- Format a USB drive to a FAT32 file system
- Create a folder named “retropie”
- Plug it once in the Raspberry Pi and wait for 30 seconds
- Plug it again in your computer and copy the ROM files in the “retropie/roms” folder
- Plug it again in your Raspberry Pi and wait until USB stops blinking.
- The files were copied, restart Retropie to refresh the list
If you have any issue in the process, check my tutorial on how to format and mount a USB drive here.
You can also use SFTP to transfer files from your computer to RetroPie. It’s like an FTP server, but encrypted and done with SSH, so there is nothing to configure.
I already made a post about this, so if you need help about transferring files to your Raspberry Pi, I recommend checking this post.
To enable SSH on RetroPie, go to configuration, then raspi-config.
Then choose Interface Options, then SSH, then yes.
Validate and quit.
Then transfer your files to the folder ~/RetroPie/roms/CONSOLE.
Replace CONSOLE by the name of the console (SNES, …).
Restart Retropie, and it’s done.
Note: there are at least 4 ways to add games on Retropie, if you don’t know them, maybe it’s time to check my tutorial (you’ll love the web manager).
After going through all these steps, you will now be able to play your favorite game 🙂
Most of the time, adding a new ROM is seen instantly by Retropie, so you have to go to the games list and find your new ROM to play.
If you need a visual explanation, please check my video on the YouTube channel on this topic:
Subscribe here to receive all the videos in your feed!
My Recommendations for Retro Gaming
- Retropie SD card : Save time and play direct to any game you want with this giant SD card preloaded with over 100k games
- Raspberry Pi 4 : Retropie is now available for Raspberry Pi 4, and it’s excellent 🙂 Why would you stay on a slower device?
- 8bitdo controller : This is currently the best controller for retro gaming on Raspberry Pi. All the latest technologies in a retro design.
- Retropie Arcade Game Machine : If you are a serious gamer, you should take a look at this to build your own arcade console. Your friends will love this 🙂
Want to chat with other Raspberry Pi enthusiasts? Join the community, share your current projects and ask for help directly in the forums.
Grab your free PDF file with all the commands you need to know on Raspberry Pi!
And now you know everything!
You’ve learned the basics about Retropie, how to download ROMs for playing new games, and how to transfer them to your Raspberry easily.
You have to enjoy your new game console 🙂
And if you want to learn more about RetroPie, please check the other tutorials I have on this website:
- 13 Tips About Retropie That Will Impress Your Friends
- Best Themes for Retropie in 2022 – Top 15
- How to use a PS4 controller on Retropie? (the easy way)
Raspberry Pi Resources
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