Last updated: 28NOV2020 (see Changelog for details)
I hate to admit it, but my first week with the Anbernic RG351P was rough. Not only did I order my device as soon as it was available, I also paid for expedited shipping — so I had no idea how to use it when it finally arrived, because there were no guides out yet. So this guide is designed to walk you through all of the things I wish I knew when first starting out.
I’ve written plenty of guides for this device, but this Starter Guide will consolidate and summarize each of those other tutorials. Think of this as your “one-stop-shop” for the RG351P before you branch out to more advanced techniques.
Table of contents: Before the RG351P arrives Unboxing Reflash the firmware onto a new card Load games onto your device Understanding the interface Set RetroArch hotkeys Unlock core/content directory/game overrides Configure the screen Take your device online Download new EmuELEC themes and media Set up cheats Turn on RetroAchievements Set the time zone More to come Changelog
Before the RG351P arrives
The RG351P will come bundled with a single microSD card, but it is from a generic brand and is prone to failure. Since all of your games AND the software is stored on that single card, your safest bet is to replace it with a microSD card from a well-known brand (don’t worry, I’ll show you how to do that below). I recommend you store that original card somewhere safe in case you run into any issues in the future, and buy a new SD card from a reputable brand like SanDisk or Samsung to use in your device.
In general, I recommend the cards listed below, in order or preference. The prices fluctuate all the time, so keep an eye out for deals. In general, I would expect to pay $20 for a 128GB card and $30 for a 256GB card. A 128GB card will allow you to load EVERY 8-bit and 16-bit game out there, all of the arcade games that work, and quite a few PS1, Dreamcast, PSP, and Sega CD games (those systems have the largest file sizes). A 256GB card will allow you to store even more of those larger games.
128GB cards: SanDisk Extreme Samsung EVO Select SanDisk Ultra 256GB cards: Samsung EVO Select SanDisk Ultra
As you may have heard, the RG351P was supposed to come with built-in WiFi, but then Anbernic pulled the WiFi antennas from the devices after their first week of production due to static noise issues. So what this means is that there are several really awesome networking features in the device, and you won’t be able to access them. Luckily, many sellers will bundle their RG351P with an OTG adapter (basically a USB-C to USB-A adapter) and a USB WiFi module. Together, these two adapters will allow you to connect your device to your home network and take advantage of its NetPlay, media scraping (image/boxart downloading), cheats, and Retro Achievements functions. So I recommend you check with the seller to see if your device is going to come with an OTG and WiFi adapters; if they aren’t I suggest you buy them so they’re available as soon as you open up your device. I have personally tested the WiFi adapter linked above and can verify that it works well on the RG351P; it also has a nice (subtle) blinking light to let you know when it is accessing data. NOTE: you cannot charge this device and use a WiFi dongle at the same time (hopefully this can be changed via software in the future).
One more accessory to consider: if you don’t have a nice microSD to USB adapter, you might want to think about getting one. A nice adapter like this one from Anker will give you the fastest transfer speeds possible, and won’t cause any corruption issues with your card.
Finally, I would recommend that you build your ROM library now, if you haven’t already. Make a folder called “Retro Games” or something like it, and make distinct folders for each of the systems you would like to play on your device. I recommend naming your game folders after the “Rom Path” names found in this guide, because that’s how they’ll be organized on your device. Also be sure to load the folders with ROMs of the correct file extension, which is also found in that guide. For example, NES games can be in .7z, .fds, .nes, or .zip format. As a reminder, here are some of the many systems that play on the RG351P:
Atari 5200 (and 800)
PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16)
PC Engine CD (TurboGrafx-CD)
Nintendo Entertainment System
Famicom Disk System
Sega Master System
Sega Saturn (poorly)
Neo-Geo / CD
Game and Watch
Nintendo Game Boy
Nintendo Game Boy Color
Nintendo Game Boy Advance
Nintendo Virtual Boy
Sega Game Gear
Neo-Geo Pocket / Color
Wonderswan / Color
Commodore 64 (and C16/Plus4, C128)
Final Burn Neo
Neo-Geo / CD
Now that your device has arrived, let’s make sure everything is working. Unbox the device, and do a quick hardware check. Confirm that all of the buttons work/click as expected, look for any noticeable damage or cracks in the screen. Power on the device, and try booting some games. Verify that you have no dead pixels (they’ll look like little dots). To power off the device, I recommend you do a system shut down instead of just holding down the power button. Think of it like powering down a PC. To do a system shutdown, press START then select Quit > Shutdown System.
This device comes pre-loaded with thousands of games. I’m not a fan of this, mostly because it’s illegal for anyone to distribute copyrighted media. While it may be convenient for the customer, Anbernic shouldn’t be loading their devices with dubious games. You’ll also notice that the games which are pre-loaded on the device have several issues: they are not in alphabetical order (rather, a numerical order assigned by the manufacturer), and the games are often poorly translated. For these reasons, I recommend you re-flash the firmware onto a new card and load your own personal games, which we will do below.
Reflash the firmware onto a new card
Remove the microSD card from the device. It’s on the bottom, underneath a sticker. That sticker is a pain to remove, but use your fingernail and maybe a bit of nail polish remover to clean it all up. The microSD card is a generic 64GB card; these cards are prone to failure. As I mentioned above, I recommend you store that original card somewhere safe in case you run into any issues in the future, and buy a new SD card from a reputable brand like SanDisk or Samsung to use in your device.
Once you have a new card, let’s flash new firmware onto your card. To do so, check out my RG351P Firmware Guide, under the “Flash new software onto an SD card” section. I recommend you either flash the EmuELEC 3.7 firmware (plus its latest update), or try out 351ELEC, which allows you to install a version of EmuELEC 3.9 firmware with all of the perks (and no need to extend any partitions). Or you could install my personal favorite, ArkOS, which has a number of quality-of-life features, like WiFi firmware upgrades.
Load games onto your device
You’ll notice that when you plug your microSD card into your computer, two partitions will appear: “EmuELEC” and “Games” (these may be named differently if you’re using 351ELEC or ArkOS, so follow those guides as appropriate). If you’re not seeing the “Games” partition, be aware that only Windows 10 (or MacOS) can see multiple partitions on a single SD card; so if you’re running something older than Windows 10, you won’t see the partition at all.
If you look at the Games partition, you’ll see all of your ROM folders. It is here that you want to add your game files. Note that for multi-file games (like .bin and .cue files for PS1 games), you don’t want to put them in subfolders — just throw everything into the PS1 folder itself.
There’s no special trick to adding games — just make sure you’re putting them in the right folder, and that they are the correct file extension (you can check the accepted file extensions here). If there isn’t a folder for a system you want to add, like for Sega CD, simply make the folder yourself and add the games (again using this guide to determine the correct folder name).
Note that if you transfer files using a Mac, you may find mysterious files on your device that start with a “._” prefix in addition to your regular game. So for example you’ll see both Sonic.bin as well as “._Sonic.bin”. These are files created by MacOS to aid in their QuickLook function. You can delete these files from your device by pressing SELECT > Edit game metadata > Delete. Or, you can also clear them from your SD card while on your Mac, using this method:
- Open the Terminal app and type “sudo dot_clean -mn /Volumes/SD/” where “/Volumes/SD” is the path to your SD card.
Now that you have your games loaded, let’s put the card into your device and have a look.
Understanding the interface
When you first power on the device, you will be greeted with a sleek user interface that will allow you to scroll through systems, and select games. You’ll also notice that the systems that appear on your device are only the ones that have games loaded — how convenient is that?
This main interface is actually a modified version of EmuELEC, an operating system that works on several devices. EmuELEC serves as a frontend interface for the user, while the games themselves are mostly loaded from an emulation system known as RetroArch. EmuELEC will allow you to navigate your menus, and make some initial settings configurations, but to really unlock the RG351P’s potential, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with how RetroArch operates, too.
In general, the easiest way to think of this is that when you launch a game from the EmuELEC interface, it’s actually booting up into RetroArch, and everything you do within the game is within RetroArch until you quit it and go back to EmuELEC. This is important to know because there are certain settings you can only configure while in RetroArch, like our next section about hotkeys.
Note that some emulators don’t use RetroArch at all: Nintendo DS, PSP, and Amiga all use standalone emulators that won’t follow the same configuration requirements as RetroArch. The easiest thing to remember about these particular emulators is that you generally need to press START + A to exit them, and L3 + R3 to enter their settings menu.
Set RetroArch hotkeys
Hotkeys are simple button combinations that will allow you to make certain adjustments while in RetroArch.
To access the RetroArch menu, open a game and then press L3 + R3. From this “Quick Menu”, press B one to back out to the Main Menu. Move the cursor to the right to find the Settings menu, then scroll down to the Inputs section. Press A to enter the Inputs settings, then scroll down until you find the Hotkeys section, then press A again to enter these settings. For “Hotkey Enable”, set it to the SELECT button, and for “Restart RetroArch”, set it to the START button. Now, any time you’re in a game, you can press SELECT + START twice to exit the game and boot back to EmuELEC.
There are several other hotkeys I recommend you set while you’re in these settings. Here are some of my preferred hotkeys:
Fast-Forward (Toggle): R2 button Load State: L1 button Save state: R1 button Show FPS: Y button Menu (Toggle): X button
So with those hotkeys above, I can press SELECT + any of those other buttons to enable those features. SELECT + X is one of my favorites, because it does the same thing as L3 + R3 but is much easier and more convenient to press.
After you’ve made all of your hotkey configurations, go to the main RetroArch menu (on the far left), then scroll down to Configuration File > Save Current Configuration. This will ensure that your hotkeys will work no matter which game you open.
Unlock core/content directory/game overrides
One of the most important tools in RetroArch is the ability to save “overrides”, which are specific settings for the core (emulator), content directory (system) or game you are playing. Unfortunately, these tools are hidden by default, so we need to unlock them real quick.
To override core settings means you can set up settings for an entire core (say, FCEUMM for the NES) and those settings will be persistent for every game that launches with that core, no matter how the EmuELEC settings are configured. You can also override content directories, which is handy if you have a core (like Picodrive) that emulates multiple systems, but you only want one system to have specific settings — this option will save a whole directory (like “Sega Genesis”) and not touch the other directories that use the same core (Sega 32X, Game Gear, etc). Finally, you can also override game settings, so that specific games have their own settings. For example, Star Fox plays best on the SNES 9x 2010 core, but you probably don’t want to use that core for every SNES game. For more information on override hierarchy, check out this guide from RetroArch themselves. Long story short: RetroArch’s “override” settings are more robust than what you’ll find in EmuELEC, and will override your EmuELEC settings anyway.
To unlock the overrides function, go into RetroArch without a core loaded. You can do this by pressing START while in EmuELEC to get to the EmuELEC main menu , then select Quit > Start RetroArch. Or you can select “Close Content” in the Quick Menu when you have a game loaded in RetroArch. Once you’re in RetroArch, go to Settings > User Interface > Menu Item Visibility > Quick Menu. Scroll down until you find “Show Save Core Overrides”, then turn that ON, as well as “Save Game Overrides”. Back out to the Main Menu (on the far left) and select Configuration File > Save Current Configuration. Now, you will have the option to save overrides that are specific to that core or game (and the content directory option also works). These settings are fundamental to the next section, where we will configure and optimize the screen for each system.
Configure the screen
The RG351P uses a 480×320 screen resolution (technically it’s 320×480 with pixels flipped 90 degrees, but let’s not go there). This means that its 3:2 aspect ratio will look stunning for the Game Boy Advance, and a little squished and weird for everything else.
Unfortunately, the screen settings that come with your device are not optimized at all, so you have to adjust them yourself. Configuring your screen for optimal display takes quite a bit of work, but I’ve written an entire guide on the process (to include a video walkthrough). It’s not an urgent task, but you’ll be amazed by how much better everything will look once you make these adjustments.
Take your device online
There are many nice features of this device that can only be accessed via WiFi. For example, you can “scrape” (download) box art and other media for all of your games, or add new themes to your EmuELEC frontend, or even get achievements for classic games.
To get started, you’ll need an OTG adapter and a USB WiFi module, which I recommended at the beginning of this guide. Plug the WiFi module unto the OTG adapter, and then plug the OTG adapter into the device. For the full tutorial on how to connect to WiFi, check out my Transfer Guide.
Download new EmuELEC themes and media
One of the easiest ways to improve your user experience is to find a theme that works best for you. Check out my Themes Guide for information on how to scrape game media, download themes directly onto your device, find themes on the internet and load them onto your device, and how to tweak these themes so that they work perfectly with your system.
Set up cheats
One of my favorite aspects of RetroArch is the universal ability to set game cheats. To set up cheats on your device, you’ll need to get into the RetroArch settings by booting up any game and opening up the RetroArch menu, or by pressing START while in EmuELEC and then choosing Quit > Start RetroArch.
You will need to have your device connected to the internet for this step. Once you’re in the main RetroArch menu, go to Online Updater > Update Cheats. This will download a cheats file and install it onto your system. To actually turn on a cheat, you’ll need to start up a game, and then enter the RetroArch Quick Menu (press L3 + R3). Near the bottom of the Quick Menu is the Cheats menu. Select “Load Cheat File (Replace)”, then navigate to the system you’re using (like Sega Genesis), then navigate to the game you are playing (use R1 to tab down to the next letter of the alphabet, which will speed things up). Find the CHEAT file you want to load for your game, then press the A button. This will take you back to the main Cheats menu; scroll down and you will see all of the available cheats for your game. Press A once you find one you like, then scroll down and set “Enabled” to ON. Press B to get back to the Cheats menu, and then either enable more cheats, or go back to near the top and choose “Apply Changes”. Now your cheats are enabled.
The nice thing about cheats is that one you use your network connection that first time to download the cheats, you don’t need to be connected to a network again to use them.
Turn on RetroAchievements
RetroAchievements work a lot like Xbox achievements or PlayStation trophies, and are integrated into RetroArch. This is one of my favorite features of the RG351P, because it breathes new life into older games. The only downside of this awesome feature is that it requires you to be online to use them. This means you’ll have to get used to playing with a dongle attached to your device, or you’ll have to miss out on this feature.
To set up RetroAchievements, you will want first go to their website and sign up for an account. Next, while in EmuELEC, press START to get to the main menu, then go to Games Settings > RetroAchievements settings, and turn on RetroAchievement, and input your login information. This should save your settings for every system, but I’ve found that sometimes this setting won’t carry over to RetroArch. So to double check, open up RetroArch, then go to Settings > Achievements, and verify that they are turned on and your login information is there. If it isn’t, re-enter you login information, then go to Main Menu > Configuration File > Save Current Configuration.
Set the time zone
Setting the system clock is not super simple on the RG351P, but it is important for games like Pokémon or Animal Crossing, which use the system clock to determine the time in the game.
Connect to the internet to set the date and general time. You’ll notice that the time zone won’t match your current time zone — it will be set to the Shanghai time zone. Using WiFi FTP, connect to your device. Go to /storage/.config/emuelec/configs/emuelec.conf, and open that file with a text editor. Find this text string:
------------ F - Language and keyboard ------------ Set the language of the system (fr_FR,en_US,en_GB,de_DE,pt_BR,es_ES,it_IT,eu_ES,tr_TR,zh_CN) system.language=en_US Set you local time Select your timezone from : ls /usr/share/zoneinfo/ (string) system.timezone=Asia/Shanghai
You want to change that last line of code to whatever time zone you live in. To find the correct time zone wording, you can either open up the “tz” file found in /storage/.config/emuelec/configs/ and look it up, or you can use the listing found on this Wikipedia page. For example, I looked at the Wikipedia page and found US/Hawaii, and it worked perfectly.
More to come
There are plenty of other things to do with your RG351P, like setting up arcade games, or trying out new RetroArch settings. I’ll be sure to keep this guide (and website) updated, so be sure to check back often.
– wording changes
– added MacOS ._ file fix
– added ArkOS link
– added 351ELEC link
– published guide
41 thoughts on “RG351P Starter Guide”
Many thanks for your guides for the RG351P. I bought it for my son’s upcoming birthday based on your review.
I’m trying to understand how this device works so that I can teach my son. I have one main issue and 2 other questions
I figured out that to save game progress it doesn’t work like it used to on my good-old gameboy. I have to go into retroarch and save progress there.
However as you point out the Nintendo DS games don’t use retroarch, but use ‘Drastic’.
This emulator has a terrible close to unreadable interface on the RG351P, also it doesn’t register keypresses in a normal way. This makles Drastic very difficult (coming close to impossible) to use. However my main issue is that the functionality to save and load game progress in Drastic does not seem to be working at all for me. Have you gotten this to work? This makes Drastic useless (nobody finishes a game from start to finish in one go).
What I found very curious on my RG351P: My model indeed does not have wifi built-in as I can only get it to work with the complementary dongle. However whenever this dongle is being used (sending/receiving data), the speakers make a strange noise. This is precisely the issue they were trying to circumvent by using the external wifi right???
My son does not really understand english yet, are you planning on making a guide on this AI translation feature?
I’ve tried to get the AI translation feature working as my son doesn’t read english. However every time I try to launch the translation in a game, retroarch crashes and the configuration of the AI translation as well as the hotkey settings is lost.
Do you manage to get AI translation working?
No unfortunately I never got it to work… I believe in my case it also crashed and the settings were lost
Are you sure you can’t use a wifi dongle and charge it even with something like this?
I setup my 351p with a 200gb sd card and so far only scraped games and activated Retro achievements all was great.
Now every time I turn it or load a Rom I get the message below.
Any ideas how to fix this?
I did it all again and still get the same issue.
“Failed to start Setup Timezone data. See ‘Systemctl status tz-data.service’ for details.”
That’s a first for me. I would recommend asking this on the Anbernic discord, there are a lot of smart folks there that may have seen something like this. Here’s the link: https://discord.gg/D6qBmzG
Hey dusmachine, i ran into the same annyoign issue.
Here’s how i managed to solve this problem:
Hit start to enter the MAIN MENU -> EMUELC SETTINGS -> DANGER ZONE! -> RESET SYSTEM TO DEFAULT CONFIG.
That solved the problem for me.
This step should do no harm to your system, since you never touch system related files, so setting them back to default should be no risk.
I checked the file detailed in the time zone fix part of your guide and the file on my device was empty.
I copied the one from my factory sd card onto my 200gb and its fine again for a couple of days.
As it happened twice something must be triggering it.. So this time I have kept minimal downloads of just Nes box theme, connect to Retroachievements whereas in past two corruptions I downloaded all the themes and bezels.
Working for now so let’s see.
Please keep me updated!
– Jan – I experienced the same with drastic. I found it much easier when I realised that Drastic DOES register keypresses, it just doesn’t update the screen. I don’t know why this should be, but if you keep track of your keypresses you should be able to use load/save states. I lost a few hours of progress before I realised that…
Is it particularly fussy about the WIFI dongle? I already own a decent D-Link N dongle, will it work? I haven’t bought the 351 yet.
It can be a little fussy, you basically want a USB WiFi dongle that has a mt7601u chip inside. If you can see that labeled on your dongle you should be fine.
Just wanted to update. Much to my surprise, my 351 arrived from Amazon with a USB C adapter and a Wi-Fi dongle (as well as a screen protector)! I was under the impression these were only included if you ordered directly, but I guess not. Just for the heck of it, I did try my Dlink Wi-Fi adapter and it did work no problem. Thanks for your input though!
I have a random amazon usb c to a adapter and a wifi dongle.
They work but make a lot of noise interference on the RG351P.
Hi there, i have some troubles with my 351P Many boot loops or kernels panics, it appear randomy first, i can paly after reset 3-5 times, at least no boot at all.
console never shutdown cleanly by the menu when o try, always need to reset.
I have tryed 3.7, and arkOS on 3 differents SD card, same result with and without formatign cards..
3.8, 3.9, 351elec won’t boot or get stuck at first run
This is great, thanks!
I’m setting this up for my fiance for his christmas present. I’ve followed this and it’s working great and I’ve ordered some custom vinyl stickers and skin so it’s a dedicated final fantasy device with every game made (up to the ones it can handle). He’s obsessed with FF so it’s just a nice way to have the early games together.
But I have some questions and if anyone can help I’d be so grateful. I can share my email or contact if you prefer or can offer any help.
1. How do I get back to the menu from a game? (I’ve been testing all the roms I found and have to reset each time)
2. Games on more than one disc. How does this work? They all show as individual discs. How does he change disc? They all show in the list, is that the only option
3. Not all have art, or boxes. Any decent guides on this (scrapping?)
Basically I know nothing and have no desire to. But I really want to make this lovely and a nice gift. Hints and tips appreciated
Is It normal, that the power button on my device is the only button, which is not sitting tight? It seems to be the only button that is rattling, when I shake the RG351p…
Sorry to hear that! It is fairly uncommon for the buttons to be loose. This was a big problem with the RG350, but not so much with this one.
Thanks for replying, Russ! In the meantime I’ve put a piece of duct tape over the power button, so that it’s not rattling anymore or moving in a distracting way, when I hold the device. And the button is still pressable. So yeah, that’ll work for me, I guess.
I’ve just received one… and it won’t power up! All I have is a black screen. Led lights up while charging. Could it be caused by a faulty SD card? This would be the only chance to have my son’s Christmas present up and running on time. Thank you for the awesome website and YouTube videos!
What happens when you power it up with a card in it?
I meant WITHOUT a card in it.
Nothing, the same black screen I have with the stock SD card in… Is it bad?! Thank you for your help!
Now it works! I don’t how many times I pushed the power button…! Thank you again for your help!
Hey guy, I just got RG 351P import from China. I have many questions to learning with my 351P, I need more info as below
1. How I can change language from Chinese to be English include game play list is English too.
2. How I get out from each game to main menu sir
Hey, I have successfully setup and scraped all systems on my rg351p however..
When I try to scrape for several systems including the VIC-20 I get the error message:
“Warning: some of your selected systems do not have a platform set. Results may be even more inaccurate than usual, continue anyway?”
Any ideas how I resolve this issue?
Cant get Colecovision working no matter what..
It just start MSX Basic.
Has someone got it working?
Happy new year! Are there any guides for how to add in software which has been ported to the Opendigux platform? I really want to put Streets of Rage Remake on this puppy.
Hi, Happy New Year! Some developers are working on porting over their applications to the 351P, but it’s a slow process because the system architecture is very different. As soon as some of them become available I’ll be sure to add links and guides!
is there a way to hide unwanted archives inside the RG351p? like leave only the .cue or the .bin for psx games, as they appear as repeated games
is there virtual keyboard and mouse in RG351P for DOS game?
My RG351p won’t boot up. The led lights up but it won’t turn on. How do I fix This?
may your sd card be corrupted? Try to flash a new one with the stock image and try again.
I hope it‘s not hardware related. Otherwise, i‘d rather contact the seller for exchange.
thanks man ill try that
What happens when you try to power it up without the SD card?
I was running into issues with the original line of code for removing “._” files from the SD card on a MacOS Catalina 10.15.7. I did the following after installing ArkOS and loading ROMs into the respective ROMs folder:
Open Terminal. Type in “dot_clean”. Add one space. Then drag the SD card folder into the terminal: this auto-populates the location. Example: “dot_clean /Volumes/EASYROMS/”. Press Return.
Just in case anyone else on a Mac like me needed to go digging. 🙂
My 351P only shows me in the main menu when I press START the Information and Exit options. What do I do to show me all the configuration options?
Is there a way to set the Y button to mark games as a “favorite” the way it did in ArkOS? Or is it assigned to a different key stroke that I haven’t found? It’s a little tedious to have to drill down two menus to get to the “Favorites” toggle. I like to go through a big list of games and mark my favorites real quick and then set them to be on top for future use.
Other than that I’ve actually liked this a little more than ArkOS for the ease of use. I don’t like tweaking settings too much.
Is there a way to remap the hotkeys just for one specific game? I keep trying to change the ‘hotkey enable’ key from Select to something else for a game that uses Select + R1 and L1 as part of the game controls, but every time I restart the game it’s reset itself.
I was wondering what site do you recommend for getting the games
Hi, new rg351p owner here, first of all, thanks for the guide! Just waiting to receive mine!
After setting up everything using this guide, if I take the sd card and copy it to another one, will the new one keep all the changes I made, or do I have to do everything again for the new sd card?
Thanks in Advance!