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Some beginner's questions in advance of setting up a RetroPie

  • Hi all.

    After a while of being in doubt, I decided to go ahead and buy a Raspberry Pi, if it arrives in time then I'm going to set everything up on Sunday. I'm usually not one to tinker a lot, but in the end the idea of Pi with RetroPie was too appealing, since my N64 broke down and I'm increasingly worried that the batteries in my SNES cartridges will fail. My brother-in-law is more of a tinkerer and wants to check out the Pie along with setting it up, so hopefully together we can avoid the rookie mistakes instead of making twice the number of mistakes.

    I'm getting a Pi 3 model B, the 'kit' I ordered also includes a 5V 2,5A power supply (which should be enough according to the docs here), some passive heat sinks in different sizes and a case. I should have a microSD card lying around and I have enough spare HDMI cables.

    I've got a few questions in advance of starting everything to hopefully make it a smoother experience, and I couldn't find an answer to this yet:

    1. Regarding Bluetooth: I wanted to use PS3 controllers for the Pi since I have enough lying around and I want something wireless. I have a SNES USB controller so I could use that one for the initial set-up. Some throwaway lines in a few of the docs made me worried that connecting controllers through Bluetooth might be a burden for the Pi when going for performance. Is it true that I might encounter slowdown and input lag if I use one or more controllers with Bluetooth? If it's too bad I may consider just getting a wired Hori Pad for Switch as I love my Switch Pro controller's feel and button layout.

    2. Regarding the doc on PS3 controller set-up: step six of the Bluetooth the set-up in the doc says to disconnect the PS3 controller from USB. Unless I'm really missing something though, never before that point does the guide tell me to connect the controller to USB. Just to be clear here: is the guide trying to get me to connect the controller to the Pi with a USB cable until I'm at step six, or does the guide at step six want me to make sure the controller is not connected to anything?

    3. Regarding multiplayer: I'm not finding much info on this subject. Some say it's an automatic success when using multiple controllers, others claim some file rewriting is needed. Which one is correct? For that matter, how does RetroPie work with multiple connected controllers - is the first one to connect player one, or is the input from all controllers regarded as coming from player one unless rewriting is done, or is there a different initial approach?

    4. Regarding N64 emulation: is the current stance still that it's barely manageable even with overclocking? A lot of info that I find on here and other sites seems out of date, like it's for Pi 2. My N64 breaking down after some cartridges were starting to work less and less is the main reason I started looking into emulation, but it's either excellent emulation or nothing at all for me. I'm looking for completely playable without slowdown, not for missing textures, having to change emulators mid-game or a flickering screen. If that's not manageable then I'd rather just stick to the 16-bit emulation.

    Thanks in advance for any answers, and all the best! It's great to see a community working together like this.

  • Global Moderator

    @billyh Point by point

    1. Bluetooth doesn't affect performance, but it introduces input lag. YMMV, you can get a bluetooth dongle (USB) to improve the situation. I'd say start by using the built-in bluetooth and see how it feels.

    2. I don't have a PS3 controller, but other forum members are using it (or other variations of it) so you ought to get an answer to that.

    3. Multiple controllers are supported, that's not a problem. As far as controller order is concerned, it depends on how you connected them. AFAIK, if you only use USB, they'll get the order based on the port where it's plugged in. Over bluetooth, I don't think they're ordered.
      @meleu's joystick selection can help you re-order your gamepads as you see fit. Look it up.
      And if you use regular gamepads and not something more exotic (arcade board, etc.), then you won't need to fiddle with any configuration files.

    4. You won't be getting excellent emulation for N64 out of a PI 3.

  • @billyh @mitu has answered everything and I'm sure others will add to that. As well as there being lots of posts about similar things.
    As for N64, because that really seems to be your thing. I would recommend picking up a cheap second-hand laptop and putting a Linux distro on it. I have installed Mupen64Plus along with a small "front end" for N64 on a laptop running Debian and it works great. Conkers runs full speed with a few glitches but more than acceptable and totally playable.


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  • @mitu thanks for all the answers.

    I'll look into that Bluetooth dongle, didn't know that was a thing but apparently I can find several brands with decent reviews that are cheaper than a Dualshock 4 wireless adapter. I've got enough wires as it is and we have a dog walking around who doesn't seem to 'get' wires.

    If Bluetooth controllers aren't ordered, do they still count as P1 and P2, or do you mean both give input for P1? If it's the former, I'm not bothered eith ordering, if I have two PS3 controllers connected it's a simple check to see which is P1 and which is P2.

    I don't have anything exotic at the moment. That being said, once me and my wife have moved to a house (in an apartment now, and on the look) and once Nintendo starts doing emulation on the Switch, I will probably start looking into creating a two player arcade cabinet. I'm sure I'll have more questions by the time I'm ready for that though :-)

    @mitu @jonnykesh Too bad that N64 emulation won't be satisfactory. I'll just hope then that I won't have to wait too long for emulation on the Switch. I already have a laptop that should be able to handle N64 emulation (heard from others that Project64 works like a charm) but I've noticed with other games on my laptop that I'm lazy enough that I prefer just playing on stuff that's connected to the television at all times and constantly ready to go, and keeping my (or 'a') laptop next to the television at all times isn't an option. So if it doesn't work good enough on the Pi, then that's the end of it for me, for now. Enough other things to play that do work through the television, so no huge loss.

  • Global Moderator

    @billyh said in Some beginner's questions in advance of setting up a RetroPie:

    If Bluetooth controllers aren't ordered, do they still count as P1 and P2, or do you mean both give input for P1 ?

    They'd still count as 2 players. As for the DS4, I didn't need the 'official' DS wireless adapter when I paired mine, it worked fine just with the PI's on-board bluetooth.

  • @mitu Cool, good to know multiplayer shouldn't be a hassle. I figured Dualshock 4 would work on Bluetooth as well but I only have two of those, and my wife ever so occasionally games with me. Seeing as I have three PS3 controllers and I haven't used the PS3 in ages, especially in co-op, I'd rather use two PS3 controllers than the PS4 ones, even if I do think that the PS4 controller feels better (not as good as the Switch Pro controller, but that's neither here nor there). So if Bluetooth works without a bad lag then I'll probably stick with the PS3 controllers simply because I already have enough of those lying around. If Bluetooth isn't good enough then I'll either get a Bluetooth dongle, or a wired Switch Hori Pad.

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