retropie scraper tutorial

How to Scrape Retropie Games? (Auto & manual)

That’s a typical problem on Retropie.
One day, you discover that you can have the game image in the menu, but everything you try doesn’t work.
In this post, I will solve this problem once and for all 🙂

A few scrapers are available on Retropie to use a cover image in the game’s menus. It’s also possible to add custom images manually on the Raspberry Pi, for each game.

In this post, I will start by the automatic way to do this, as it’s the easiest solution. Then I will show you how to do this manually if the first way doesn’t work or if you want to add a custom image.

Automatically scrape on Retropie


You probably found it in the menu, but as you noticed, the default scraper is not working (it never works for me at least)
That’s the first problem you may have
So, I will show you how to do this successfully

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Use the default scrapers

By default, there are two scrape sources available:

  • TheGamesDB
  • ScreenScraper

The first one never works for me, so the first thing you can try is to use ScreeScraper:

  • From the main menu, click on the “Start” button
  • Enter the “Scraper” submenu (press “A”)
  • Change the “Scrape From” field to “ScreenScraper
  • Then click on “Scrape Now
  • Now you need to configure 3 things:
    • Filter: Select if you want to search for missing images or all games
    • Systems: Same thing for the systems you use
    • User decides on conflicts
  • Once ready, Click on “Start” to process
  • For each game, the tool will display the corresponding information like this:
  • If the result is ok for you, press A to download it
    If there is no result, or you don’t want to use it, click on “Skip
  • You can also click on “Input” to change the game name
    Or “Stop” to close the scraping process

That’s it for Screenscraper
For the most common games, you will get everything you need automatically
Once done, the game will show like this with the default theme:

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Or install another scraper

Another solution (still automatic), is to install other scraper sources
You can find them in the Retropie Setup menu
My favorite is skyscraper, here is how to install it:

  • Go to the Retropie options
  • Click on Retropie Setup
  • Start by updating the Retropie-Setup script
  • Then go to Manage Packages > Manage optional packages
  • Find “skyscraper” in the list (near the end), and install it from binary (Press A or Enter twice)
  • After a few seconds/minutes, the package is installed

Get back to the main menu (ESC or B)
Now, the process to use Skyscraper is a bit different, as there is no integration with EmulationStation
Here is what you need to do

My favorite games!
Get a list of my 24 favorites games (with links) to play on Retropie, Recalbox or Lakka
Download now
  • Quit EmulationStation
    Press Start > Quit > Quit EmulationStation
  • You are now in a command line
    You can also use SSH if you prefer
  • Type the following command:
    sudo ./RetroPie-Setup/
    The same windows as for the installation shows up
  • Go to Configuration / Tools > Skyscraper
    You get a configuration menu like this:
  • From here you can configure everything you want
    Then click on “Gather resources” to start the process
    Pick the systems you want to scrape and click OK
  • If you see game descriptions on your screen, it’s a good news
    But you can’t choose if you want to keep the current information or overwrite it
  • You can now exit this tool and reboot your Raspberry Pi
    sudo reboot

After the reboot, you will see in Emulationstation the new information
Here is the same example with Mortal Kombat:

As you can see, the picture is not the same, I find it better

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Manually scrape on Retropie

Ok, so maybe you already knew how to do this automatically but are not happy with the result
Or maybe you want to use custom images
Here is how to scrape manually on Retropie:

  • Connect to your Raspberry Pi by using SFTP
    You can do this with FileZilla or WinSCP
    Check this post if you don’t know how to do this (once connected, continue here)
  • Go to /home/pi/.emulationstation
    (It’s a link to /opt/retropie/configs/all/emulationstation)
  • Then go to downloaded_media folder and pick a console
    Pictures are in the screenshots folder
    So for me it’s: /opt/retropie/configs/all/emulationstation/downloaded_media/snes/screenshots

    I can see here the 3 pictures corresponding to my games on SNES

Now, you have two cases:

  • Update an image (if you don’t like the automatic one):
    • Download the current picture (Right-click > Download with Filezilla)
    • Open it with your favorite image editor, and change everything you want
    • Upload it with the same name and same extension (.png) in this folder
  • Create an image for another game:
    • Create a new empty picture in your editor
      The size of my screenshots are 640×480, so use the same
    • Save it with the same name as the ROM file, with a PNG format (transparency allowed)
    • Upload it in the corresponding screenshots folder

Here is an example with a custom image for the same game again:

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That’s it, I hope this was useful for you, and that you finally find how to effectively use a scraper (both automatic or manual solutions)
There are other sources available, consider reading the Official Wiki on Github, or search in Google for “retropie scraper sources”

If you are new to Retropie, I recommend checking these related posts:

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