Guide: How to play Pico-8 games on the RG350

Update 18OCT02020: The Tac08 emulator has yet another great update, and rather than keep two different articles going, I’ll just continue to make updates (with a Changelog) over at my Home Computer Installation Guide. Check out all things Pico-8 over there!

GitHub user Lee Witek has recently created an updated Pico-8 emulator that runs really well on the RG350. Here is a quick guide on how to get it running on your RG350 (shout out to Reddit user isotropy for the tip).

Install the emulator

To load the emulator on your device, head over to this site to download the Tac08.opk emulator, and place it in the /media/data/apps folder on your internal SD card. The developer was also kind enough to provide two sample games that he created, so be sure to check those out too. Store the games on your external SD card, in a folder such as ROMS/Pico8 or however you like to organize your games..

Save Pico-8 games onto your RG350

To find games, I recommend you purchase the PC or MacOS version of Pico-8, which you can find here. It’s $15 well spent, as you can also play games directly on your computer using it, and even mod or code your own games. If you have purchased a game bundle in the recent past, such as the viral Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality earlier this year, you may actually already own Pico-8. I recently purchased Pico-8, only to find out that I had already purchased it two other times as part of game bundles, and didn’t realize it.

Here is how to test and save games to port over to your RG350:

  1. Install and run the Pico-8 program on your PC or Mac.
  2. You’ll be greeted by a command prompt. Type “SPLORE” which will bring up a menu of games. Press the right arrow key to tab over to “Featured”, which is where you’ll find many other games. You can also tab over to “Search” and search for games by name (you could use this list to see if there are any games out there that spark your interest).
  3. Once you have a game you want to play, press Return and “Run Cart”. This will download and load the game for you to play. Play the game and see if you like it. Once you’re done, press ESC and “Exit to Splore”.
  4. Press ESC again to bring up the command prompt, and type “save (name of game)”. Because the game was already loaded when you played it, you can just save it as any name you want. The system should confirm that the game was saved.
  5. Next, find the game on your computer. You can either just type the word “folder” in the Pico-8 command prompt and it will pop right up, or you can navigate to it yourself:
    • For PC, it will be C:/users/(your username)/AppData/Roaming/pico-8/carts
    • For Mac, it will be /user/Library/Application Support/pico-8/carts
  6. Drag the .p8 files into your RG350 external microSD card (ROMS/Pico8 or something to that effect).

SimpleMenu support

If you’re new to the SimpleMenu frontend, here is my comprehensive guide.

Pico-8 is already configured in the GBZRemix theme within SimpleMenu, and you can get the updated icons (seen above) for RG350M through my upgrade guide. When configuring the system for SimpleMenu, use this text for your whatever section you want in the section_groups folder. For example, I wanted it listed under “consoles” so I added it to my /media/data/local/home/.simplemenu/section_groups/consoles.ini file. Be sure to adjust the romDirs section to wherever you saved you games, and include “PICO-8” in the [CONSOLES] list in the header of the .ini file.

execs = /media/data/apps/tac08.opk
romDirs = /media/RG350/ROMS/Pico8/
romExts = .p8

Some random notes:

  • You have to play the game during Step #3 above, before you save it. Otherwise it will just save the last game you played.
  • The Pico-8 game most people are familiar with is Celeste, which is surprisingly hard to find on the Pico-8 system. That’s because the search results come up in chronological order, and it’s an old game with a lot of mods floating out there. Its name is actually “celeste 1.0 (fixed for p8 v0.1.2).p8” and it’s the bottom file when you search for the word “Celeste”.
  • Along these same lines, sometimes it is hard to find a specific game through the Splore/Search function in Pico-8. What I do is go to the Lexaloffle BBS site, which hosts all of these games, and find the specific name of the game I’m looking for.
  • You may be able to find Pico8 games online without buying the Pico-8 program, but they may be outdated and will often be compressed into .p8.png files, which do not run on the Tac08 emulator.
  • This emulator supports external gamepads! Note that the R1 button on your gamepad brings up the Tac08 menu.
  • Pressing the SELECT button will adjust the resolution on your RG350, but there is no fullscreen option at this time.

Here’s a video with a quick walkthrough of the steps above, plus some gameplay:

2 thoughts on “Guide: How to play Pico-8 games on the RG350

  1. With the latest version of tac08, PNG files are supported directly, making it much easier to get the games onto your RG350. I’m assuming you’ll update the guide?

    Liked by 1 person

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