Every retro gaming fan out there, I’m sure, loves the idea of having their own arcade machine in the house. On top of that, the idea of having a portable games console that can play almost any retro game you could ever want is an awesome thought. Well, Jamie Rider certainly thought so, and took matters into his own hands! He has now built a number of different RetroPi consoles (some inside NES cartridges) as well as his own arcade machine.
So, I thought it would be really cool to ask Jamie some questions about his build and his retro gaming hobby! And, as this post is here, he agreed.
What made you decide to create your own retro gaming consoles?
Ever since watching a youtube video of a modder creating a handheld Atari, I was obsessed with console modding. Every one I saw felt too ambitious, more technical than the last. But with many many years of research and practice, I finally dived in to build one, or two. And, I’ve always fancied the idea of having an arcade.
What was the most challenging part of building them?
The MintyPi or MultiPi as my daughter named it threw out more than one or two actually. From finding the right size tin and screws to creating the startup splash screens. But the most challenging part was trying to repair the soundboard after I ripped off the pad to solder the speaker wires. The solder Iron was just too hot.
The Arcade, well that was the wiring of the joystick and buttons. It looked simple before I started but with 30 wires for each player, it can get a little confusing, trial and error, lots of coffee and a few attempts got me there in the end.
How did it feel when you finally go to switch them on and play?
Initially, nervous. Then joy and nostalgia, then frustration as my kids took over and played for the rest of the evening. It was fun watching them play the games I did at their age though. It felt great to introduce them to some early video games and systems, like the original Atari.
Would you build another one?
I’m building right now, I don’t think I’ll stop building them in some form or another, I’m addicted.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about building their own retro gaming console?
Research it as much as you can. Practice anything you’ve never done before, like soldering, on less valuable, old or broken circuits boards if you can. And understand the costs, the time and the skill level to complete what you’re setting out to achieve. Have patience, just because you’ve watched a youtube video or read it on Google and it went perfect, doesn’t mean yours will. Prepare yourself for when something goes wrong because it probably will. When it does, just remember why you started it and push on, it’s worth the pain.
And finally, what’s your favourite retro gaming memory?
There’s so many, that’s a tough one. I do have fond memories of playing Double Dragon in my friends’ bedroom on the Sega Master System (showing my age now) And playing Toe Jam & Earl on the Megadrive and just laughing hysterically at the stupidity of the characters. Oh and then playing Street Fighter 2 in the arcade and having a battle tournament, I was unbeaten BTW.
I think my favourite retro gaming memory is more recent though, seeing my 10 year old daughters face light up as we booted up the arcade for the first time and played Pac Man, it’s still her go to game when it’s on.