RetroArch + EmulationStation = An Alternative to Lakka on PC


Ever since Lakka was released, I’ve been interested in getting it up and running on my PC. Emulating retro games is fantastic for us old school gamers that have lost the patience to replay numerous levels after a cheap death in-game. Although I do prefer playing my games on their original consoles with the correct controller, for modern gaming use – emulators became indispensable to me with the advent of save states…

Lakka is a lightweight Linux distribution that will convert your old PC, Raspberry Pi, etc into a full blown gaming console. Lakka is the official Linux distribution of RetroArch and the libretro ecosystem. It’s a lightweight OS that will wipe your existing data to perform a full install. There is, however, a live USB option for those that do not have a spare PC lying around. Although I found Lakka quite impressive but as I was using a live USB, it made copying games to my system difficult.

As an alternative to Lakka, I recommend the RetroArch and EmulationStation combo which, with a little bit of customization, looks and performs just as well. Retroarch has some powerful features like rewinding time (Prince of Persia style) that removes some of the frustration from games like Ninja Gaiden, Battle Toads and The Lion King.

For those that would prefer to play 2500 classic games on a portable device without any setup – be sure to check out my current favorite portable console.

The best and easiest guide I’ve found to setting up RetroArch and EmulationStation comes from the Youtube Channel of WinEmulate. You’ll find his video below:

A few pointers for once you’re done, in the form of a Q&A:

Q: My Nes/Sega/N64 emulator is not showing in the emulator list?
A: Check your es_systems.cfg file, and make sure that there are no spaces between your directory names. With the version I’m using, you cannot have a folder with a space between 2 names. Shorten the name of your folder and adjust the settingsfile.

Q: Why doens’t EmulationStation return when I close an emulator? When I press escape, it takes me back to the desktop.
A: I haven’t found the reason for this, but with my installation of Windows 10, I’ve had some issues with this. If you download the installation ZIP for 2.0.0-RC1 and copy the emulationstation.exe and freetype6.dll files from it to your current install, it should work as normal.

Q: Why is BlueMSX is not working? BlueMSX just exits back out of EmulationStation.
A: Download a fresh copy of BlueMSX and copy the Database and Machines folders to your system folder within retroarch. Do not make a new folder for BlueMSX within the system folder, simply copy the Database and Machines folders there. Next, you will need to add the following lines to your retroarch-core-options.cfg file:

bluemsx_msxtype = “MSX2+”
bluemsx_vdp_synctype = “Auto”
bluemsx_ym2413_enable = “enabled”

That should do it!

Q: Why is my N64 emulator not working? Mupen64Plus is not working and gives a black screen?
A: If you have the Rewind Feature enabled, Mupen64Plus will spaz out. Disable this option whenever you want to play an N64 game.

Q: Why is Mame not working? Mame loads and then gives some error and shuts down.
A: Find a copy of the file online and leave the zipped file with all your zipped games. Mame will find it there when it needs it.

Good Luck