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Batocera for Raspberry Pi What is it, what is it for and how to use it for your retrogaming project?

One of the Raspberry Pi attributes that has most attracted the attention of its users, is its great versatility and ability to adapt to user needs, by becoming practically anything.

In the field of entertainment it is no different, since one of the most popular projects made with Raspberry Pi is the retro consoles, which can be used to emulate old games. For this, one of the best options is the distribution known as Batocera.

In the next few paragraphs, you will learn step by step everything you need to know about Batocera and the methods you can use to install it on your Raspberry Pi, until it becomes an entertaining retro console.

What is Batocera and what is it for in Raspberry Pi single board computers?

Batocera download site for Raspberry

Batocera is a Linux distribution based on Debian and focused on the emulation of various classic consoles. To the be open source, it’s completely free and has really simple installation procedures. It is a Linux project specialized in retrogaming, and that we can obtain very easily from the official page of the project, and implement them on our computer or Raspberry Pi console as a Bootable medium, without the need to install anything.

Batocera Features and Functions What can we do with it on a Raspberry Pi single board?

A project based on a distribution as versatile as Debian, has many qualities that allow a high degree of customization and a wide variety of consoles to emulate.

Among the most outstanding characteristics of Batocera, we can mention:

  • High customization capacity, through themes, shadows and bezels.
  • Compatibility with more than 50 retro consoles.
  • Great stability to emulate the most demanding consoles.
  • As it can be used in a bootable medium, it is a portable operating system and always ready to use.
  • Being an open source system, it is always in constant improvement and growth.

Hardware requirements to retrogaming on Raspberry Pi with Batocera What do I need to get the most out of it?

Hardware requirement to install Batocera

For install this distribution on your Raspberry Pi, You must meet a series of physical requirements in order to prepare the operating system to be used.

These requirements are:

  • A Micro SD memory at least 16 GB storage.
  • A Raspberry Pi board.
  • A computer with Balena Etcher installed.
  • A tv to which to connect the Raspberry Pi.
  • Input peripherals (keyboard and controller).

When it comes to the Raspberry Pi itself, Batocera is optimized to work on most boards, however the best options are those described below:

  • Raspberry Pi 3B / 3b +: one of the most advanced with a 1.4GHz CPU and 1GB RAM.
  • Raspberry Pi 4: the most advanced available to date, with a 1.5 GHz CPU and variable RAM memory from 1 GB to 8 GB depending on the model.

Versions and editions of Batocera What are all the ones that exist and what news does each one include?

Game console with Batocera

Based on Batocera’s change history, This emulation distro has gone through a lot of changes since its inception, starting out as a variant of a Recallbox edition, called “Recallbox.remix”.

Batocera has undergone 31 updates since its inception in 2016, and the most relevant changes are in the following versions:

  • Batocera 5.0: recallbox.remix becomes batocera.linux.
  • Batocera 5.01: technical improvements and addition of the Linux kernel 4.9.
  • Batocera 5.02: 5 emulators added and automatic update process fixed.
  • Batocera 5.03: improvements in several emulators and the possibility of making backups from the menu was added.
  • Batocera 5.07: technical improvements and improvement of some emulators.
  • Batocera 5.10: major bug fixes.
  • Batocera 5.14: improvements to the Wii emulator and several other updated emulators.
  • Batocera 5.15: Atari 5200 emulator is added.
  • Batocera 5.16: Dolphin emulator is added for Gamecube and Wii.
  • Batocera 5.18: retroarch is updated to version 1.7.4 and the pcsx2 emulator for PlayStation 2 is added.
  • Batocera 5.21: an Nvidia driver and the Citra emulator for Nintendo 3DS are added.
  • Batocera 5.22: major updates of drivers and emulators.
  • Batocera 5.30: stability improvements for emulators.
  • Batocera 5.32: Latest version available, with improvements in Bluetooth for wireless peripherals.

Yes OK there are many more updatesMost of them consist of improvements to support updates and minor bug fixes.

Learn step by step how to install Batocera on a Raspberry Pi from scratch to turn your single board into a retro arcade machine

One of the best attributes of the Raspberry Pi, is that you can install distributions for this single board computer very easily.

To do this, you just have to be guided by the process described below:

Download Batocera

Batocera download site

Can get the Batocera image file from the official website of the project. The files are sorted by device and model, so you should make sure to download the appropriate version for your Raspberry Pi model.

You can download Batocera through this procedure:

  • Login to https://batocera.org/download.
  • Scroll to find your Raspberry Pi model for which you want to get Batocera.
  • click in “Direct Link” for start the download.

The download will start automatically, and as soon as it is finished, you can use a flash tool to write the operating system into a Micro SD memory.

Flashea Batocera on your MicroSD

Balena Etcher download site

As soon as the Batocera image file has downloaded, use a writing tool to install the OS on a Micro SD and, when inserted into your Raspberry Pi, it will run the OS.

For this, the recommended tool is Balena Etcher:

Download Balena Etcher for Windows

Download Balena Etcher for MacOS

Download Balena Etcher for Linux

When installing Etcher, the steps to follow to complete the process are:

  • Insert the Micro SD memory into the computer where you downloaded the image file.
  • Opens the program Balena Etcher.
  • Choose the file image of Batocera.
  • Select the Micro SD where you plan to install the operating system.
  • click in “Flash”.

All you have to do then is wait for the SD writing process to finish and you can insert it into your Raspberry Pi. Once this is done, only the configuration process is pending.

Controller configuration

Retro remotes for use with Batocera

In order to properly enjoy the potential of Batocera, it is necessary to have a controller in order to have the best emulation experience.

If you have a controller connected to your Raspberry Pi, the procedure to configure it is as follows.

  • Connect your controller to the Raspberry Pi.
  • Press any key on the remote to display the pop-up message.
  • Hold down any key until the setup wizard appears.
  • Press each key of the controller according to the action you want to perform with it.
  • Yes you don’t have enough keys for all commands, press and hold any key until the system skips the line.
  • When all lines are configured, Press “Okay” on the bottom.

Once all the keys are configured, you can use the remote to perform all the necessary actions within Batocera, both within the games and in the operating system menus.

Network Configuration

Connect internet to Raspberry PI

The next thing you should do is configure network connection through which you can access the local network and transfer games between the computer and the Raspberry Pi

To do this, follow these steps:

  • Hold the button “Beginning” on your remote to access the main menu.
  • Go into “Network Configuration”.
  • If you are using an Ethernet cable connection, the connection should be fine. If you want to use a Wifi, enable the option “Enable Wifi”.
  • Select the SSID from the list that will appear, and enter the password for your Wi-Fi network.
  • Make sure to make a note of the IP address, since it will serve later.

Start Game

Steps to play with Batocera on Raspberry Pi

The games will not show up immediately once they are inside the SD memory.

For this, it is necessary to restart the Batocera system, in order for the interface to refresh and show the new games:

  • Horizontal arrows allow you to switch between emulators.
  • Vertical arrows allows you to switch between games of each emulator.
  • For start a new game, you just have to press “B”.

Batocera vs RecallBox and RetroPie Which is better for your retro gaming project on Raspberry Pi?

Recallbox for Raspberry

These are three powerful emulation options for the Raspberry Pi, each one of them targets a different audience, being that each user looks for a specific attribute in their emulators. Batocera is one of the most dynamic options in terms of its level of use. It has a large number of emulators to use, and its ease of use makes it one of the best options for emulation newbies

Recalbox has similar functions to Batocera, with a very similar functionality to this system that is due, in part, to their common origin. Recalbox provides ease-of-use that puts you on the podium for beginner options. RetroPie, meanwhile, has a slightly different orientation, aimed at users who focus on seeking a balanced experience between the Batocera facility.

The power of a more stable operating system, with more than 60 emulators to choose from. Both Batocera and RetroPie and RecalBox have their strengths and areas in which they excel. The distribution that offers the most balanced experience is undoubtedly RetroPieAlthough if you want to get started in the world of retro emulation, Batocera is a firm option to choose from.

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