The choice of system for an arcade depends on the time you want to spend there, the financial cost, and the games you want to launch. A PS3 or CPS1 game emulator does not require the same resources. A frontend of the Hyperspin or Retroarch type does not require the same time for configuration.
This article will give you some tips on how to choose your system.
RaspberryPi or Windows ?
It is the cheapest and easiest solution to implement. There is a lot of documentation to transform a RaspberryPi into a cross-platform emulator.
Depending on the MicroSD card (32GB, 64GB… 512GB) you are going to buy, you can put more or less roms, and emulate more or less systems. I suggest you go to arcadepunks.com to download images ready to be installed on your MicroSD card.
However, don’t expect to run N64, PS2 or PS3 game roms “correctly”, the Pi is not powerful enough. Also forget Windows games, such as Street Fighter IV and V, Cuphead, Rayman….
The RaspberryPi is suitable for retrogaming, and therefore for running old games from old consoles.
Due to the capabilities of the Pi, the front-ends are quite limited: there is no video preview (SD or HD snap videos) of the game, or dynamic themes. But that tends to change, Recalbox version 6.1 brings a lot of new features, including video previews.
- Avantages :
- MicroSD image ready to download (arcadepunks.com)
- Quick to set up
- Little knowledge required
- Suitable for retrogaming
- No (or rarely) Video Snap
- Not suitable for arcade games (Windows games)
- Can’t (or not correctly) emulate N64, PS, PS3
- Limitation due to the size and performance of MicroSD cards
It is the most expensive solution, and the longest to implement but the most efficient.
The PC: You will need a PC that is suitable for the Windows emulators and games you want to run.
The operating system: You will need to install a Windows operating system. I recommend Windows 7 which is totally customizable unlike Windows 10. The Win7BootUpdater and Resource Hacker tools allow you to change logos and starter messages. By putting another logo and hiding the system messages, you won’t even see that it’s a Windows boot.
Hard Disk: To optimize Windows loading time, it is best to install it on an SSD disk and put the Roms and Games on a large capacity SATA disk.
FrontEnd and Emulators: Once the system is installed, you will need to install a frontend (Attract Mode, Hyperspin) and the emulators (Retroarch, Mame…). For the frontend, choose Attract Mode, which is much easier to configure than Hyperspin. , and prefer RetroArch, as it is a multi-emulators you will only need to configure the joystick and buttons once for all emulated systems.
Roms and Games: You will also need to download Roma (arcadepunks.com) and media (snap videos, screenshot) as well as Windows games (skidrowreloaded.com, igg-games.com)
As you can see, there is much more work to install a Arcade on Windows but the result will be much nicer and more fluid, especially for roms and games that require good performance.
- Avantages :
- Fluidity and performance
- Emulation of many systems
- Videos Snap (high quality)
- Arcade games under Windows
- Installation time
- Frontend and emulator(s) configuration
If you only want to do retrogaming without seeing the need to emulate recent systems, you should do it on a RaspberryPi.
On the other hand, if, like me, you also want Windows games, with Snap videos, you have to switch to Windows. Personally, I installed Windows 7 on an old PC with Attract Mode and RetroArch. You can read my article on Windows games for arcade.