I remember many years ago when I first learned about console emulation on a PC, and the constant scouring of WAREZ and ROMz sites looking for each game in piecemeal fashion, hoping that the version of the game didn't contain any nasty viruses that would turn my computer into a paperweight. Recently, after listening to an episode of my favorite gaming podcast, one of the hosts described how he turned his tablet into "The Ultimate Portable Emulation Device" and wrote about it in detail on his blog. After reading the blog post, I was just about ready to do the same with my tablet as well, when a deal popped up online for a Raspberry Pi 3 starter kit (here) on Amazon that also included a link to an article about how to setup the device in similar fashion as an "emulation hub" that could be navigated completely via controller. A short few days later and I had the little device in my hands. The adventure had just begun.
After assembling the device and figuring out how to install the RetroPie/EmulationStation onto the SD card which already had a base OS version installed. After some internet digging I was finally able to get the program to boot correctly and was able to setup a controller for navigation and play. At this point I had gone "all in" and had also ordered this USB adapter to allow me to use my original SNES controllers on the Pi. Once the controller was setup I realized a new challenge, getting my games onto the SD card.
This presented unique problems since the SD card could not be access normally on a PC, which meant more internet sleuthing until eventually stumbling upon a solution which allowed me to transfer the games via a network connection on to the SD card. This did give me the unique opportunity to cull my collection to include only the games I might ACTUALLY want to play sometimes on the device, and get rid of any multi-pack/non US based games that I couldn't even read or enjoy playing. After FINALLY getting the games transferred, I then approached the final test, updating the metadata for the games. This right here is the single biggest selling point of the "all in one" emulation machine, since what this will do is grab box art as well as game details (# of players, release year, publisher) for the titles in question. Little did I realize how manual a process this would be.
I heard later that there may have been better ways to optimize/automate this part, but it ended up with me sitting at my desk with the PC on one screen and the PI on another running through each game making sure the data it was pulling off of the internet was accurate. This took the better part of a week (evenings only) to get all the games updated. In the end however, it was all worth it, and was no more important than during this past weekend at PAX, where hotel TV was practically worthless and the perfect way to unwind or start the day included some "classic" gaming. As someone who invested in the Retron5 last year and came away extremely disappointed, now having this little device on hand actually makes it more fun to jump back into classic games on a whim, and possibly look at some titles I may have missed from competing consoles.
DISCLAIMER: It is against the law to use ROMs that you don't own.