So for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, I was so disgusted with the SNES Classic pre-sale issues that I decided to buy myself a birthday present and grab the Raspberry Pi 3 starter kit and install RetroPie on it.  A bunch of people wanted an update on how it worked, so here you go. 

RetroPie setup day one: The kit goes together incredibly easily.  The Pi board is about the size of a credit card with a bunch of USB ports on it, and it comes with a simple plastic case. You just put the heat sinks on the chips and everything snaps together. Had to download RetroPie and use an imaging program to write it to the included SD card (they even send you a card reader!). The biggest hiccup was that I surprisingly don’t have any USB keyboards, so I had to drop $10 and grab one from Walmart so I could do the basic setup once the 2 minute assembly was complete. So yeah, you let RetroPie start for the first time, set up Wifi, and then stick a USB drive into the Pi so it can automagically create ROM directories for you that you can copy your (legally acquired) games onto. It will happily accept basically any controller on earth, except for the Xbox One controllers, so guess which one is the only one I happened to have after cleaning out the house? Turns out Microsoft is a giant pain to deal with and the original Xbox One controllers aren’t bluetooth, so they’ll only work when plugged in via cable.  I also happen to have one of the new Xbox One S controllers that use Bluetooth, and the Pi is Bluetooth enabled, so that should have worked.  BUT NO.  Turns out that Microsoft uses their own, super secret version of Bluetooth and you have to edit the setup files on the Pi and insert a new command line to make them work.  I will say, this is not easy if you don’t work with Linux normally, so either stick with a normal USB controller or use a Sony Playstation or Wii U Pro one, because they all setup without any problems. 

Anyway, once the controller is sorted, you get Emulation Station on the screen, and I happen to have SNES, Genesis and N64 loaded on there.  SNES and Genesis worked flawlessly for whatever games I threw at it.  N64 makes the Pi run in overclocked mode, so make sure the heat sinks are installed, but the answer is yes, I can play No Mercy on it, albeit in a lower-resolution mode.  Haven’t tried stuff like the Atari emulator or Neo Geo, but I’ve got Super Mario World again without having to fight for a pre-order, so I’m happy.  I mean, really, Nintendo could just make the games available on the Virtual Console as a special pack or something, but that’s not how they roll.  Anyway, for less money than the SNES Classic and only slightly more setup work, you get a shitload more value.  Highly recommended, but setting up an Xbox controller is blood pressure inducing so make sure you use any other controller.