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RetroPie Interactive Screen Overlays

  • Some time ago when I was trying out overlays for my RetroPie setup I noticed RetroArch setting called "Show Inputs on Overlay". I thought it would be awesome if I could see inputs from my gamepad displayed on screen. Alas, after enabling the option, nothing happened.

    Couple of weeks back I found time to go back to RetroArch documentation to read more about overlays, and specifically interactive overlays. It turns out that yes, it is possible to display inputs on overlay, just as I originally thought, and no, such overlays don't appear to be readily available for most systems, and few that are available, are scattered around internet. Furthermore it appears that interactive overlays that I came across were created with handheld systems in mind where they are used to read in user inputs. Unless of course my Google-fu completely failed me ...:)

    What I wanted though were interactive screen overlays that would highlight gamepad button presses during the gameplay. That would take advantage of on screen real estate of >42" 16:9 TVs to show gamepad button presses on overlay using images of gamepads or joysticks of original system, or some artistic rendition of them. And that would look nice and work out of the box in RetroPie (assuming 1080p, 16:9 TV).

    I harvested a couple from online (ps1, nes) that I modified slightly, and then ended up experimenting with static overlays I already used for Atari 2600 and GBA to modify them into interactive overlays (thus all overlays here are based on works of others). These interactive overlays for RetroPie are now available in GitHub complete with install instructions.

    I hope you like these. Also, would love to see links to other interactive overlays for other systems!


    pi@retropie:~ $ sudo apt -y install git
    pi@retropie:~ $ cd /tmp
    pi@retropie:/tmp $ git clone
    pi@retropie:/tmp $ cd retropie-ia-overlays
    pi@retropie:/tmp/retropie-ia-overlays $ chmod +x ./
    pi@retropie:/tmp/retropie-ia-overlays $ ./

    Use 'F1->Quick Menu->Onscreen Overlay' to enable them. For the overlays to display properly, it's important to enable Show inputs on overlay setting and set Overlay Opacity to 1.0 (See GitHub for more info).

    Below are screenshots of interactive overlays in action. I used raspi2png to take the screenshots, and for some reason it bugs and leaves those black bars to the images.

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    Based on static 'TV overlay' posted to RetroPie forums. Atari joystick at lower left corner reflects gamepad button presses.

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    Based on static overlay available here. Buttons and dpad reflect gamepad button presses.

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    Based on the interactive NES overlay found from RetroArch overlay documentation. Buttons and dpad reflect gamepad button presses.

    alt text
    Based on interactive PS1 controller overlay found from RetroArch forums. Reflects state of all gamepad buttons, including analog sticks.

  • @etheling excellent work. Looks really slick on the side-bars there.

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