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Getting started with arcade emulation

Arcade emulation requires a different approach than console emulation. Please read this entire page before beginning your RetroPie arcade emulation project.


RetroPie comes with multiple arcade emulators and each emulator requires a specific romset to work.

Each emulator is optimised for different hardware and different games so read the following sections to know which emulator to use and subsequently which romset is required for that emulator.

Step 1: Choose your arcade emulator(s)

RetroPie's arcade emulators come in two main flavors: MAME and FinalBurn.

MAME is the most well-known and works with thousands of games, its focus is preservation.

FinalBurn focus on 2D systems and playability, it includes support for features that have no place in a preservation-focused emulator (netplay, runahead, retroachievements, ...)

RetroPie includes multiple versions of both MAME and FinalBurn. Older versions usually require less processing power, but newer versions support more games and feature more accurate emulation.

Use this table as a guide when choosing an emulator version:

Raspberry Pi version Recommended MAME Emulator Recommended FB Emulator
2, 3 or 4 lr-mame2003 lr-fbneo
1 or Zero mame4all pi-fba

Learn about other available versions on the pages about MAME and FinalBurn Neo.

Step 2: Select the right ROM set

ROMS are not included with RetroPie. Copyright law varies by country and is up to the user to determine legality.

In general, you will only get good results with a full set of ROMs. Incomplete ROM sets (i.e. smaller collections of individual ROMs) are unlikely to work well. This is because certain roms (known as child roms) are dependent on files in other ROMs (known as parent ROMs) for example Pacman is actually an american clone (child) of the original japanese game Puckman (Parent). Without both files, most games will immediately exit.

There are a number of different rom set versions. Different versions contain different games (although there's plenty of overlap). This table tells you which rom set version you need for each emulator, and which games are in each set:

Emulator Required ROM Version # of ROMs
mame4all MAME 0.37b5 2270
lr-mame2003 MAME 0.78 4720
pifba FB Alpha v0.2.96.71 684
lr-fbneo FB Neo v1.0.0.XX 7030

To sum up, for best results:

Step 3: Transfer ROMs to Raspberry Pi

Follow the guide on Transferring ROMs HERE.

Unlike some other system, arcade games should be zipped, if you extract them, they won't work.

You can place any of the rom sets in the arcade rom folder but you'll be required to pick the correct emulator for your rom set through the runcommand menu.

They can also be placed in their respective emulator rom folders, this information is included in the system pages: MAME, FBNeo

Further Reading