Guide: How to load games onto the RG350 (Classic Home Computer Systems)

Last updated 19SEP2020 (see Changelog for details)

One of the most fundamental aspects of owning an RG350 (or any emulation device, really) is to learn how to load your game files onto it. In this guide I will walk you through how to install all of the home computer emulators, load their game files, plus highlight any unique configurations that are needed to make sure your games are running perfectly.

My comprehensive RG350 install guides:

Table of Contents

Before we get started
Is it illegal to download ROMs?
Set up your file structure
A primer on microSD cards
Prepare the external microSD card

Home Computer Systems:
Amiga 500
Amstrad CPC
Apple IIGS
Atari ST
BBC Micro
Commodore 64
Intellivision
MS-DOS
MSX/MSX2
Pico-8
ScummVM
TIC-80
ZX Spectrum

Changelog

Before we get started

You need three basic elements to play retro home computer games on the RG350.

First, you will need an emulator, which is a software program that emulates the console/handheld itself. Some emulators will only work on one specific platform, while others can support several platforms.

Next, emulators require game files, or ROMs, in order to run. ROMs are small “dumps” of game cartridge/disc data packaged in a way that the emulator understands. There are many ways to package ROMs, so below I will focus on the file types that are most compatible with the RG350.

In addition to ROMs, some emulators require BIOS (boot) files. This is particularly true for home computer systems, which often were booted using floppy discs. Many emulators come pre-packaged with the BIOS already, while others require you to add them yourself (I will make note of it below).

Is it illegal to download ROMs?

Although the legality of downloading game files (ROMs) has not been tested in court, the general consensus is that it is copyright infringement to download games that you do not already own. That being said, there is a legally defensible argument that if you already own a game, downloading a backup copy is acceptable under the Fair Use policy of copyright law. I have written a comprehensive guide about the subject, which you can read here. As a rule of thumb, no game or BIOS (boot file) links are available on this website. Emulators, however, are open-source software files that are most definitely legal; therefore, you’ll find links to all of the necessary emulators below.

Example file structure on my PC, which is replicated on my external microSD card

Set up your file structure

Before we get the game files on your device, let’s talk about how you should organize them on your computer. You’ll want to create a location on your computer to store and organize all of your game files. In the picture above you can see that I’ve created a folder called “Retro Games”, and then a folder for each of the game systems. Within each of these system folders go my game files. I would name them something short and logical, probably no more than 3-4 words in length.

Once you have these folders set up and organized, you’ll be able to drag some (or all) of them directly to the microSD card you’ll use in your device. So let’s talk about microSD cards.

A primer on microSD cards

The RG350 makes use of two microSD cards at the same time. The “internal” card, also known as the firmware card or TF1 card, is located inside the device on the original RG350, and on the leftmost SD card slot on the bottom of the RG350M and RG3350P. The internal card stores your emulators and other software necessary to run the RG350. The RG350 ships with the internal card already installed and configured, usually on a 16GB card. In general, this is enough space for your application files, although I do recommend you back up this internal card in case something happens to the software (or the card itself, which is a bit cheaper than the SD cards you can buy at a store). To learn how to access this internal SD card without having to remove the card itself, check out this guide.

The “external” card, also known as the data card or TF2 card, is located on the bottom of all RG350 models (on the original RG350 it’s the only SD card slot on the bottom, and on the RG350M and RG350P it’s the rightmost SD card slot on the bottom. The external card stores your game files. There are some exceptions to this general rule; for example, you can actually put the emulators on your external card and they’ll still run, and you can play game files off the internal SD card. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on: internal card = emulators, and external card = game files. This card slot can hold up to 512GB cards, so buy the card that fits your library with some room to spare; in general, I think that a 128GB card will fit most people’s needs, and it’ll probably set you back less than $20.

Prepare the external microSD card

Before we dive into the guide, let’s talk about how to organize your external SD card to save you time and headaches in the long run. First and foremost, format the external microSD card into FAT32. On Windows, you will need to use a program called guiformat, and change the “Allocation Unit Size” to 65536 in the drop-down menu. For Mac, use Disk Utility to format (“erase”) the card, with MS-DOS (FAT) as the format.

Okay, now that you have a freshly-formatted microSD card, you can now start adding your game files. Open the card, and create a folder named “ROMS”. Simply drag all of your game folders into the card; kick back and watch all of your files populate the card. Once the files are on the card, you’ll use the emulators to navigate to their location on the card, and boot them up.

Okay, now that we’ve gone through the basics, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this guide. Below you will find all of the major home computer systems that are supported by the RG350, as well as a link to download their respective emulator, and a guide on how to install and customize the software.


Amiga 500

RG350 emulator: UAE4All (2019-08-23) (source)
Recommended game file types: .adf

Download and unzip the UAE4All emulator, then place it in the /media/data/apps/ folder of your internal SD card. Place the games in a folder named ROMS/Amiga in your external SD card. Note that this emulator requires .adf files; .zip and .hdf files are not supported.

The Amiga requires a BIOS file in order to play games. If you are a PC user, the easiest (and most ethical) way to obtain the required file is by purchasing and installing the Amiga Forever Value Edition, and then extracting the system files you need (you can then uninstall the program from your PC if you’d like). If you are a Mac user, you must obtain them elsewhere.

To find the BIOS file on your installed version of Amiga Forever, look in the C:\Users\Public\Documents\Amiga Files\Shared\rom folder on your PC, and make a copy of the “amiga-os-130.rom” file. This file needs to be renamed to “kick.rom”. Load the UAE4All emulator on your device, and you will get an error and the system will close. That’s a good thing, because it just created the folder you need to access for the BIOS. Place the “kick.rom” file in the /media/data/local/home/.uae4all folder on your internal SD card, and you should be good to go.

Note that loading the BIOS file will only allow you to boot up classic games; if you want the full Amiga operating system experience, you will need to load a workbench file. This is also obtained via an installed copy of Amiga Forever Value Edition, and can be found in the C:\Users\Public\Documents\Amiga Files\Shared\adf folder under the name “amiga-os-134-workbench”. This file does not need to be renamed, and can be placed in your game folder (ROMS/Amiga) on your external card. It is loaded/booted like any other game.

To load a game, select “Load disk image (x)” from the UAE4All menu, then “Load DFO image (x)”. Navigate to the desired .adf file on your external SD card, then press A to select it; this will load the disc (imagine you just inserted that floppy disc), and will bring you back to the main UAE4All menu. From there, select “Start Amiga (R)”, or press R1. You will see a few loading screens before the game starts, just keep pressing the “X” button (you can also toggle a fast forward, or “SuperThrottle” function, by pressing the START button).

For multi-disk games, if you come to a point where the game asks you to insert a second disk, press SELECT to get back to the main UAE4All menu. “Load disk image (x)” from the UAE4All menu, then “Load DF0 image (x)” again, and navigate to the disk two of your game. I have found that sometimes you have to load disk one in DF1 slot (the one underneath the “Load DF0 image (x)”) in order for the game to work when flipping disks. Press the B button to return to the Amiga, then press the A button to confirm that you have flipped the disk.

External gamepads (for Player 2), mice, and keyboards are supported by the UAE4All emulator, through an OTG adapter.

Controls:
L1 button: virtual mouse control
- X button: left-click
- R1 button: increase mouse speed
R1 button: virtual keyboard
SELECT button: UAE4All menu
START button: SuperThrottle

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Amstrad CPC

RG350 emulator: CrocoDS (2020-01-15) (source)
Recommended game file types: .dsk

Setting up the Amstrad CPC on your RG350 is fairly simple. Download and unzip the CrocoDS emulator, then place it in the media/data/apps/ folder of your internal SD card. Place the games in a folder named ROMS/Amstrad in your external SD card.

When you first start up the emulator, you will need to navigate to the ROMS/Amstrad folder on your external card, and select a .dsk file to load. This will bring up a list of files contained within the .dsk file — typically, you want to load the “BAS” file, which is usually the first file that appears in the list. Once the game is loaded, you may have to change its input method. Press SELECT to enter the CrocoDS menu, and go to “Keyboard>>” and toggle either the “Set to Joystick” or “Set to Keypad” to see what input the game wants.

Controls:
L1 button: toggle screen resolution
R1 button: virtual keyboard
SELECT button: CrocoDS menu

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Apple IIGS

RG350 emulator: KEGS (2016-05-04) (source)
Recommended game file types: .2mg

Setting up the Apple IIGS on your RG350 requires a few extra steps, but it’s a lot of fun once you have it set up. Download and unzip the KEGS emulator, then place it in the media/data/apps/ folder of your internal SD card. This emulator requires BIOS files, either the 128k or 256k version of the system ROM. You will need to rename it from “Apple2GS.ROM2” (or however it’s named) to simply “ROM” (remove the “.ROM2” file extension). Using an FTP client, go into the /media/data/local/home/ folder on your internal SD card, and create a folder named “.kegs”. Place the “ROM” BIOS file in this folder.

Apple IIGS games are in a .2mg file format. The KEGS emulator requires a unique file structure, so let me explain. The game files (.2mg) have to be placed in the /media/data/local/home/.kegs folder on your internal SD card, the same place you just placed the “ROMS” bios file. Apple IIGS games are relatively small in size (less than 1MB each), so you should be able to squeeze a bunch in without taking too much space. In order for the emulator to run them, you have to create .txt files on your external SD card that point to these .2mg game files. So for example, you will have a Tetris.2mg file in your internal SD card, and a Tetris.txt file in the RG350/ROMS/Apple IIGS (or however you name it) folder on your external SD card. When you start the emulator up, you will load the .txt file, which then tells the emulator to load the .2mg file.

These .txt files don’t have to be named the same as the game itself, but the contents of the .txt files are very specific. Let’s take Tetris as an example. Inside that .txt file, you will have just one line of code, which will tell

s7d1 = Tetris.2mg

If you’re using a game that requires multiple discs, it’s a little more complex. For Rastan you’ll want to name the .2mg files simply, something like RastanA.2mg and RastanB.2mg. Name your text file something like “Rastan.txt”. Inside the text file you will have the following code:

s7d1 = RastanA.2mg
s7d2 = RastanB.2mg

To start up a game, open the emulator and navigate to the RG350/ROMS/Apple IIGS folder on your external microSD card. Load one of the .txt files that are in that folder, which will then boot the .2mg file. The games take a pretty long time to boot initially, but I found that they played accurately and were nice and zippy once the game starts.

Most games will boot right into the game, while others, such as Arkanoid II, will boot to the IIG desktop (which is pretty neat, honestly). To start up the game, open the “Games” folder on your desktop (R1 = left mouse button), then double-click the Arkanoid II game icon.

This emulator supports external keyboards via an OTG adapter.

  • The developer has noted that your FTP client needs to be running in “Binary” (not “Text”) transfer mode to prevent the files from being corrupted. Their post is from 2016, so it’s not super pertinent today, but I wanted to add it just in case you are having issues. Most FTP clients today have an automatic mode that will find the ideal setting and automatically switch to binary transfer mode.
Controls:
Left analog stick: controls
L1 button: TAB key
R1 button: left mouse click
X button: SHIFT key
Y button: SPACE key
A button: joystick button 1
B button: joystick button 2
SELECT button: ESC key
START button: RETURN key
SELECT + START: exit emulator

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Atari ST

RG350 emulator: DCaSTaway (2014-11-09) (source)
Recommended game file types: .zip, .st, .msa

The Atari ST requires a TOS (“Tramiel Operating System”) file to work. It is recommended by the developer that you use “TOS 1.04 UK” BIOS (typically named “tos104uk.img”). You need to rename that file to “rom” (no extension). In order to install the BIOS, you have to first add the DCaSTaway to the media/data/apps/ folder on your internal SD card. Load the app on your device, and you will get an error and the system will crash. That’s a good thing, because it just created the folder you need to access for the BIOS. Look in the /media/data/local/home/.DCaSTaway folder, and inside you should see a folder called “bios”. Place the “rom” file in there, and you should be good to go.

By default, the DCaSTaway emulator will look for game files in the /media/data/local/home/.DCaSTaway/diskimages folder on your internal card. You can also save them to your external card, but will need to point the app to that folder using the “Filemanager (Y)” menu option. Note that you will need to press the “..” option to back out to the root folder, then navigate to /media/sdcard/ROMS/Atari ST (or however you have your external card organized). This is tricky with the DCaSTaway emulator because it sorts the folder by “last modified” and not alphabetically — so the “..” option may not be at the top of whatever file directory you’re looking at. Luckily, once you navigate to your game files folder once, the emulator will remember that spot.

I have found that .zip files work the best for this emulator, but you can use .st or .msa file types as well. Note that .stx, a common file type for Atari ST, does not work. So if you have a .zip file that is not loading, I would open it up and verify that the .zip file contains a .st or .msa file, and not a .stx file.

Controls:
L1 button: virtual mouse control
 - X button: left-click
 - R1 button: increase mouse speed
R1 button: virtual keyboard
START button: SuperThrottle

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BBC Micro

RG350 emulator: BeebEm (source)
Recommended game file types: .ssd

This system requires three different BIOS / System ROMs in order to work:
‘acorn_dnfs’ – Acorn DNFS 1.2 (chip ID# 201666), sometimes referred to as DNFS300
‘os12’ – Base operating system for BBC Model B (v1.2)
‘basic’ – BBC Basic Programming Language (v2)

To begin, place the BeebEm emulator in the media/data/apps/ folder on your internal SD card. Load the app on your device, and you will get an error and the system will close. That’s a good thing, because it just created the folder you need to access for the BIOS. Look in the /media/data/local/home/.beebem folder, and inside you should see a folder called “roms”. Place the three files list above in there (make sure they are just the names, like “os12”, with no file extension), and you should be good to go.

When you open a game for the first time, the emulator will inform you that there is “no associated mapping file found”. The game may play just find with the default controls, but if you need to adjust anything, press L1 to bring up the menu. There you can configure the game buttons and save them.

Controls:
L1 - bring up BeebEm menu
B button (while in menu) - select/confirm

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Commodore 64

RG350 emulator: Vice (source)
Recommended game file types: .d64

The Vice emulator can not only emulate the Commodore 64, but several other systems, such as C64 Direct-to-TV, Commodore 128, CBM-II, Commodore PET, Commodore Plus/4, and Vic-20. For this guide we’ll stick with the one everyone knows, which is the C64.

Thankfully, no BIOS or other configuration is required to load Commodore 64 games in Vice (and alas, no need to type “LOAD “*”,8,1″ like in the old days). To begin, place the Vice emulator in the media/data/apps/ folder on your internal SD card. Mine came with this emulator pre-loaded, but it’s always good to use the latest build, which is linked above. If you want a version of Vice that has separate icons for the various systems supported, check out this one instead (source).

Place some games on your external microSD card, in a file structure similar to sdcard/ROMS/C64. Make sure that the game files are unzipped, in .d64 format. Turn on your RG350, and start up Vice. Initially it will ask you which system to load, select Commodore 64 and press START. You’ll be greeted by the C64 boot screen. Press SELECT to bring up the Vice main menu, then select “Autostart image” and press A. Scroll down to “(D) ..” to go back in the file structure, and keep picking that option until you’re at the RG350 /user/ directory. From there, choose media/sdcard/ROMS/C64 (or however your external SD card is organized), and there you should see all of your games. Choose one, press A, and the game will boot.

To setup the gamepad, press SELECT and go to “Machine settings”, then “Joystick settings”. There you will see “Joystick device in port 1”, press A and change it to “Keyset 1”. That should map the controls to your gamepad. Press SELECT to leave the menu and return to the game. You’ll have to do this every time, unless you go to “Settings management” in the Vice menu and select “Save current settings”.

To bring up the virtual keyboard, press SELECT and then “Virtual keyboard”. From the virtual keyboard you can also set your Joystick settings. Press SELECT to make it go away after you’re done with it.

To improve the colors on your C64 games, press SELECT to open up the menu, then go to “Video settings” and select “External palette” (don’t mess with the “External palette file” option below it). If you like how the vibrant colors look, you can then go into the “Settings management” option in the menu and select “Save current settings” so that they are toggled on every time.

This emulator does support external gamepads and keyboards through an OTG adapter!

Controls:
SELECT - bring up Vice menu / ESC
A button: Left CTRL / "FIRE"
X button: SPACE bar
START button: RETURN key

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Intellivision

RG350 emulator: JZIntv (source)
Recommended game file types: .int

The Intellivision emulator, JZIntv, requires four BIOS files in order to play games. These BIOS files are:

ecs.bin
exec.bin
grom.bin
ivoice.bin

To get started, unzip and place the JZIntv.opk file in the media/data/apps folder of your internal SD card. Place the game files (must be .int files) in the sdcard/ROMS/Intellivision folder (or however you name it) on your external SD card. Run the JZIntv emulator and try to load a game, you’ll get an error. This will create a /media/data/local/home/.jzintellivision folder, open it up and you’ll see a “bios” folder. Place the four BIOS files in there, and you should now be able to play games.

You’ll be greeted by the title page screen for the game, press the A button to start.

Intellivision Controls:
A button: Top fire button
B button: Enter
X button: Left fire button
Y button: Right fire button
SELECT: JZIntv menu
START: Player two controls
L1: Display keyboard
R1: Display number pad

Note that there is a second Intellivision emulator, dingux-int (source), but I prefer JZIntv because of its easy keyboard and number pad hotkeys. But if your favorite Intellivision game isn’t working with JZIntv, maybe try dingux-int instead.

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DOS (MS-DOS)

RG350 emulator: DOSBox (2019-11-11) (source)
Recommended game file types: .exe, .bat

DOSBox will allow you to play old x86 MS-DOS games, which were the standard home PC games in the US throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. If you’re curious as to what games should work with this emulator, here is a good compatibility list.

Your RG350 may have already shipped with a copy of DOSBox, but I recommend you replace it with the one linked above. Put the new DOSBox opk in the media/data/apps/ folder of your internal SD card, and remove the old one. Place the game files in the ROMS/DOSBox folder of your external SD card (or however you’d like to name them). The games should have their own folder, and inside will be a bunch of folders and files needed to run the game. When you run the program on your device, navigate to your sdcard/ROMS/DOSBox folder, then the game folder — DOSBox will look for .exe and .bat files to run. Typically the file you want to run will be a shortened version of that game’s name (PRINCE = Prince of Persia, and so on). If that one doesn’t work, try another until you’ve gotten it.

Most DOS games relied on keyboards to control the games, which don’t translate very well into the RG350 gamepad. If one of the buttons aren’t mapped to the key you’re trying to press, press L1 to toggle the virtual keyboard (pictured above). One issue is that the keyboard will sometimes leave a visual artifact after you’ve toggled the keyboard off. The good news is, if you really want that DOS experience, DOSBox has full external keyboard and mouse support through an OTG adapter. If you’re looking for the control scheme for a particular game, you could consult resources like Replacement Docs to see if you can find the original manual.

Mouse-controlled games work like a charm. For example, the original Oregon Trail DOS game used 100% keyboard (pictured above, on the left), while an Oregon Trail Deluxe game came out later with mouse control (pictured on the right). To enable mouse mode, press POWER + L1. Once enabled, the right analog stick will control the cursor, L1 is left-click, and R1 is right-click. You can also use the left analog stick to cycle through clickable buttons.

DOSBox Key Configuration

DOSBox does not allow for button mapping within its interface, which means that the default button layout for some games may be unintuitive. Some games, like Stormlord, allow you to configure the controls within the software menu, but that is rare. There is a way to change the key configuration for each game, it just takes a bit of work. Let’s go over how to make your own key configuration.

When DOSBox is started for the first time, it will generate a “dosbox-SVN.conf” file inside of the /media/data/local/home/.dosbox folder on your internal SD card. Open up that file using the text editor in your FTP client (more info here). About 30 lines down in this document you’ll see a line that says “mapperfile=mapper-SVN.map”. Change that to “mapperfile=mapper.txt”. Okay, save and close out that .conf file.

If you stop here, then the default key mapping will still be in play (see the table below for the default DOSBox key mapping). But if you want to configure the controls, you need to make that mapper.txt file, and add in the modified key configurations. In the /media/data/local/home/.dosbox folder, create a file and name it mapper.txt, and open it up. Here you will write the code to specify which button on the RG350 will be mapped to certain keys on the keyboard. Two things up must understand when writing this code: DOSBox has its own name for every key on the keyboard, and the RG350 buttons have their own key cods that correspond to the device’s buttons. To see the DOSBox keys, check out this document from EduardoFilo’s DOSBox guide (in Spanish). The key codes for the RG350 are in the image and table below.

RG350 ButtonKey CodeDOSBox Mapping
A306CTRL
B308ALT
X32SPACE
Y304L SHIFT
L19TAB
L2280PG UP
R18BACKSPACE
R2281PG DOWN
UP273UP
DOWN274DOWN
LEFT276LEFT
RIGHT275RIGHT
START13ENTER
SELECT27ESC
POWER278HOME
Default key mapping in DOSBox

Okay, so now we know what key codes DOSBox uses, and how to write them for the RG350. Now we just have to put them together. In that mapper.txt file, let’s use a modified example from EduardoFilo’s guide, for Prince of Persia. You would write the following code in the mapper.txt file, then save it and close it out:

key_up "key 273" 
key_down "key 274" 
key_right "key 275" 
key_left "key 276" 
key_lshift "key 306" 
key_pageup "key 308"
key_enter "key 13" 
key_space "key 281" 
key_esc "key 27" 
key_lctrl "key 280" 
key_r "key 32" 
key_a "key 304" 
key_q "key 8"

This would now give you the following controls in the game:

ActionPC keysRG350 button
MovementARROW keysD-Pad
Step lightly/catch/fightL SHIFTA
JumpPG UPB
StartENTERSTART
Show remaining timeSPACER2
PauseESCSELECT
Return to title screenCTRL + RL2 + X
Restart current levelCTRL + AL2 + Y
Exit gameCTRL + QL2 + R1
Controls for Prince of Persia, with PC keys and remapped RG350 buttons

So there you have it, controls that work perfectly for Prince of Persia. Note that the mapperfile.txt is a GLOBAL configuration, so it will work with all of the games you try and load with DOSBox — if you try and play any other game with these keys it will probably not be fun. Once you’re done playing Prince of Persia, rename this mapper.txt to file something else, like Persiamapper.txt (but keep it in that same folder). This will break the link in the .conf file and the controls will revert to their default settings.

Now, you can make other mapper files for your various games, too. In theory, you could have one distinct mapper file per game, and then change the dosbox-SVN.conf file to point to whatever game you want to play — for example, you could type “mapperfile=Persiamapper.txt” in the .conf file to specifically call up that Prince of Persia mapper we renamed in the previous paragraph. Or we could change it to “mapperfile=DOOMmapper.txt” if you had a different mapper file for DOOM. And so on. Quite a rabbit hole.

Again, if that seems like too much work, this emulator supports external keyboards and mice via an OTG adapter.

DOSBox Controls:
START button: ENTER key
SELECT button: ESC key
X button: SPACE bar
Y button: Left SHIFT key
A button: CTRL key
B button: ALT key
R1: BACKSPACE key
L1 button: virtual keyboard
 - press X for translucent view
 - hold Y + D-Pad to move keyboard
POWER + L1: toggle mouse mode
 - right analog stick to move mouse
 - L2 for left-click
 - R2 for right-click

There is another DOS emulator available for the RG350, called zerox86 (source). Some games run faster on this emulator, and you can customize your controls, but it has some significant compatibility and sound quality issues. If your favorite game doesn’t run on DOSBox, it might be worth your time to see if it works with zerox86.

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MSX/MSX2

RG350 emulator: OpenMSX (0.13) (source)
Recommended game file types: .mx1, .mx2, .rom, .zip

MSX computers have a very interesting story. They started in 1983 as a family of computers designed to establish a single standard in home computing. Microsoft (in partnership with ASCII) created the firmware for the system, and major companies like Sony, Yamaha, Panasonic, Toshiba, Daewoo, and Philips all created systems within the MSX (and later, MSX2 and MSX2+) standard. The MSX standard didn’t take off in the US, but it was important in Asia, South America, and Europe throughout the 1980s. Before the Famicom (NES) took off in Japan, many of game developers (like Konami) produced their games for the MSX/MSX2; most notably, the original version of Metal Gear, and the only version of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, were developed by Hideo Kojima for the MSX and MSX2.

To get started, unzip and place the OpenMSX file in the media/data/apps folder of your internal SD card. Place the game files in the sdcard/ROMS/MSX folder (or however you name it) on your external SD card. OpenMSX is unique in that it loads a BIOS file called “C-BIOS”, which was made from the ground up and doesn’t have any issues with copyright like other BIOS files. C-BIOS supports .rom, .mx1, and .mx2 files (as well as .zip versions of those files) but it cannot run .dsk files, which are a common MSX file type.

Starting up this version of OpenMSX will open right into the program, and you’ll have to select “Load ROM” from the OpenMSX menu to start the game. Note that this version of OpenMSX will not load games directly from SimpleMenu; you’ll still need to navigate to the ROM within the OpenMSX menu after you’ve chosen a game already. There is a version of OpenMSX (called OpenMSX-0.15-selector, available here) that will load the game directly from SimpleMenu, but it only works with .rom files (not .mx1 or .mx2 files).

This emulator will emulate several different MSX platforms (called “machines”). Some of these were region-locked. Some games can only be played on machines from their region; for example, the original Metal Gear will only run on Japanese machines. To change machines, press START or POWER to open the OpenMSX menu, then select “Hardware” and “Change Machine”. The default is “C-BIOS MSX2+”, but you could change it to “C-BIOS MSX2+ JP” to play Japan-exclusive games. The emulator will revert to its default machine when you restart the emulator.

If you want to get real in the weeds, you could use the actual system BIOS for an MSX computer and load that instead of the default C-BIOS . To do so, you will need to place the system BIOS files in the /media/data/local/home/.openMSX/share/systemroms/ folder on your internal SD card (no specific naming is required, OpenMSX will detect whether it’s the right BIOS). You would then want to enter the OpenMSX menu on your device, and select “Hardware” and “Change Machine”, and select the actual machine you are emulating (like the Sony HB-F1XDJ, for example). You could then set this as your default machine, and it would boot into this machine from here on out, with a different landing page and the actual OS experience from that machine. As an example, t he pictures above illustrate the operating environment of the Sony HB-F1XDJ MSX2+ system. The only advantage this has over the default C-BIOS setup is that you can now load .dsk files, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to actually run the .dsk file after it’s been loaded. So long story short, it’s probably to your advantage to stick with the C-BIOS configuration anyway.

This emulator has full external keyboard support via an OTG adapter!

MSX/MSX2 Controls:
START or POWER button: OpenMSX menu
SELECT button: virtual keyboard
L1/R1: volume up/down 

return to Table of Contents


Pico-8

RG350 emulator: Tac08 (15OCT2020)
Recommended game file types: .p8

To load the Tac08 emulator on your device, head over to this site to download file from the developer, 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.

Pico-8 is a lot of fun to play with, and it’s easy to jump into from a programming perspective. Over a long holiday weekend, I challenged my 11-year-old son to a platformer challenge, where we tried to each make a game from scratch and compare the results. We watched YouTube tutorial to learn how to navigate the application. My game, “Bearmy” is about a bear in the Army. His game, “challenge game” is about subverting platformer traditions. In just a couple days, I was able to built a level, sprites, and physics with very little background programming experience. My son was even able to make an end boss for his game. If you want to try them out, just load these .p8 files into your Tac08 emulator.

Save Pico-8 games onto your RG350

** UPDATE: the Tac08 emulator now supports .png files (which is the file extension of compressed and shareable Pico-8 games). Which means you can grab individual carts directly from the Lexaloffle website.

  1. Head over to the featured carts section. You can also sort by new games, etc. Also try the search function: type in a name like “Metroid” and you’ll see all the games that have the word “Metroid” in their description.
  2. Pick a game that sounds interesting, and even click the “Play” icon to test the game out yourself. If you’re looking for Celeste, here is the link.
  3. If you want to save the game, right-click on the word “Cart” on the bottom-left of the game window,. and select “Save image as…” or whatever your browser says.
  4. That’s it, drag all of your .png files into your RG350 external microSD card (ROMS/Pico8 or something to that effect). Note that these .png files can double as box art for SimpleMenu!

Here is the old method, if you want to use .p8 files:

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).

Some random notes on the .p8 method:

  • 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.
  • This emulator supports external gamepads and keyboards! 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.

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. It is also fully implemented in my ComicBook theme. 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.

[PICO-8]
execs = /media/data/apps/tac08.opk
romDirs = /media/RG350/ROMS/Pico8/
romExts = .p8,.png
Controls:
START button: Tac08 menu (R1 button on external gamepads)
SELECT button: toggle CPU usage and FPS

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ScummVM

RG350 emulator: ScummVM (2020-01-13) (source)

Recommended game file types: .bin/.cue, .pbp

ScummVM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion Virtual Machine) is an emulator that specializes in classic point-and-click adventure games. Not only can it run older games like the Sierra games (King’s Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and so on), but it can handle LucasArts games like the Monkey Island or Sam & Max series as well. Many of these games run on DOSBox, but I feel like most of them are better suited on ScummVM.

To set up ScummVM, download and unzip the ScummVM emulator and place it in the media/data/apps/ folder of your internal SD card. Place the game files in the ROMS/ScummVM folder of your external SD card, or however you have your external card organized. Each game should be in its own folder within your ScummVM folder.

Getting games for ScummVM is actually fairly simple, and perfectly legal if done right. Thanks to sites like GOG.com, you can purchase full DRM-free versions of these classic games at a reasonable price, to play on your computer or to load its game files onto your RG350. This datafiles guide from ScummVM shows you the exact files you need in order to play a game on your RG350. Here’s an example: go buy Blade Runner from GOG.com, and install it on your Mac or PC. Then consult the ScummVM datafiles guide for Blade Runner, and copy those files into another folder called “Blade Runner”. Then just add this folder to your ROMS/ScummVM folder on your external SD card. Be sure to check GOG.com often, as many of these games are on sale.

Note that if you buy them from GOG or Steam, you will need to extract VGA/CD versions of the first two Monkey Island games from their Special Edition versions. Luckily, if you go this route you can extract the speech files as well, to be able to hear the Special Edition voice tracks with your game. Here is my full guide on the process (note that this can only be done using Windows PCs). If you want to just extract the files without the added dialog, I recommend this Monkey Island Explorer program (again, Windows only).

Another interesting note: if you have the Sega CD version of The Secret of Monkey Island, and it’s in ISO/MP3 format, you can extract the ISO using 7-Zip and pull the pertinent files (GAME.000 and GAME.001). Put them together with the mp3s (renamed as “track02.mp3” through “track27.mp3”), all in a single folder, and load the game using ScummVM.

When you start ScummVM, this is about a 10-second delay before the ScummVM menu pops up. There were several times that I thought the app wouldn’t load, only to find that it just took a bit longer than I expected. Once you’re in the menu, use the left analog stick to move the cursor to “Add Game…” and then navigate to one of the game folders, and select “Choose”. If the game is supported, you’ll get another pop-up that will allow you to set the game’s name, audio, and graphics settings. For the most part, you won’t need to mess with these settings, although some games (like Blade Runner) run best using the “Fuildsynth” audio emulation instead of the default “Adlib” seting. Press “Ok” and you should now see the game on your menu. From there, click on the game title and choose “Start” on the bottom-right.

ScummVM also supports external keyboards and mice via an OTG adapter.

ScummVM Controls:
D-Pad/Left Analog: move cursor
A button: left mouse click
B button: right mouse click
X button: pause / skip text
Y button: . key
L1 button: SHIFT key
R1: toggle virtual keyboard
SELECT button: ESC key
START button: ScummVM menu

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TIC-80

RG350 emulator: TIC-80 (2020-03-21) (source)
Recommended game file types: .tic

Like the Pico-8, TIC-80 is a micro console and fantasy computer that allows you to develop, play, and mod small sprite-based games. There are free browser-based and standalone versions of the console, as well as a $5 Pro version that includes some extra editors and export options.

To set up the TIC-80, download and unzip the TIC-80 emulator and place it in the media/data/apps/ folder of your internal SD card. Place the game files in the ROMS/TIC-80 folder of your external SD card (or however you’d like to name it).

To check out games, go to the TIC-80 website and play the games right in your browser — when you find one you like, press the “download cartridge” link above the game screen, and save the game as “(game name).tic”. Transfer these .tic files to the ROMS/TIC-80 folder of your external SD card, then start up the TIC-80 emulator and navigate to that folder, and boot them right up.

You can toggle the screen resolution using the R2 button (pictured above). You can also adjust the sharpness of the screen by briefly holding POWER + down on the D-Pad. Note that this emulator has some audio crackling issues.

TIC-80 Controls:
R2 button: toggle screen resolution
SELECT or POWER button: exit game
B button: "Z" button
A button: "X" button

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ZX-Spectrum

RG350 emulator: Unreal Speccy Portable (source)
Recommended game file types: sna, z80, szx, rzx, tap, tzx, csw, trd, scl, fdi, zip

To set up the ZX-Spectrum, download and unzip the Unreal Speccy Portable emulator and place it in the media/data/apps/ folder of your internal SD card. Place the game files in the ROMS/ZXSpectrum folder of your external SD card. According to the developer, the emulator supports a wide variety of file formats. I only tested a few, but can confirm that .tap, .z80, and .zip files work fine.

ZX-Spectrum Controls:
SELECT button: Unreal Speccy Portable menu
START button: toggle virtual keyboard

return to Table of Contents


Changelog

In this section I’ll provide a quick summary of any updates I make to this guide.

20OCT2020
– added updated Pico-8 video and adjusted some wording in the instructions

17OCT2020
– added Pico-8 (Tac08) .png file support instructions

19SEP2020
– moved ColecoVision over to Home Consoles/Handhelds guide

17SEP2020
– added anchor links to Changelog

12SEP2020
– added “return to Table of Contents” for easier navigation

11SEP2020
– added guides grid to top of page
– added MSX/MSX2 video embed

08SEP2020
– added TIC-80 emulator
– design tweaks (darkened separator lines)

07SEP2020
– added Apple IIGS emulator

06SEP2020
– added mouse support functionality to Amiga, DOSBox, and ScummVM
– added C64 external palette setting option


I hope this guide gets you set up with all of your favorite retro games. If you have a question, comment, or suggestion, please leave me a comment below, or send me a note directly.

3 thoughts on “Guide: How to load games onto the RG350 (Classic Home Computer Systems)

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