Guide: Half-Life on the RG351P

Last updated: 23DEC2020 (see Changelog for details)

Yep, you can play Half-Life on the RG351P, using the ArkOS operating system. Here’s a quick guide on getting it started up.

Table of Contents
Update ArkOS
Buy the software files
Install the game
Enjoy!

Changelog

Update ArkOS

First things first, ArkOS is the only operating system at this time that has the Half-Life port, but I would expect it’ll show up on 351ELEC soon (I’ll be sure to update this guide as soon as it’s up). In order to port Half-Life over to your device, you’ll need to a) have ArkOS installed, and b) update the operating system to its most recent version. To update, connect to your local WiFi using an OTG adapter and USB WiFi dongle, then go to Options > Update and follow the prompts. After that, you can eject the microSD card from your device and plug it into your computer.

Buy the software files

Half-Life usually costs $10 from the Steam store, which I think is totally worth it. This game is a masterpiece, even 22 years after it was released. But lucky for you, this game goes on sale often — so keep an eye out for deals. For example, the game is only $2 from now through January 6th 2021. Here is a link to buy the game.

After you’ve bought the game, go ahead and install it on your computer. It’s a pretty lightweight file, around 500MB altogether. Make note of where your files are stored (typically PC Games > SteamLibrary > steamapps > common), because you’ll need to access those files in the next step.

Install the game

Once you have your SD card plugged into your computer, and you’ve located your Half-Life install location, the rest is cake. In the SD card’s EASYROMS partition, navigate to the ports > Half-Life folder. Similarly, on your computer, go to the Half-Life install location — inside you should see a folder named “valve”. Just drag that “valve” folder over to the ports > Half-Life folder on your SD card.

Next, open up the zip folder in your ports > Half-Life SD card folder, that is called “Copy Contents into valve folder.zip”. Take those unzipped files and move them over to the “valve” folder on your SD card. It’ll ask you if you want to replace some files, just say Yes. Eject your SD card and put it back into your RG351P.

Enjoy!

Navigate to the Ports section in your main menu, and start up Half-Life. That’s it! Here are some notes from the ArkOS developer:

Note: The analog controls are reversed in menu only. Just use the Dpad to navigate the menu. Once in game, they work correctly. The first launch of the game may take up to 2 minutes to complete. Subsequent launches will be quicker.

ArkOS wiki page

Here are the default controls for the game:

D-Pad and left analog stick: move
Right analog stick: look around
R1: shoot
Y: Bend down
B: Jump
A: Action
L2: Quick save
L1: Quick load
Select: Exit
Start: Pause

Discord user fonzo also figured out how to get more specific controls working for this port, which will be implemented in the next ArkOS update. In the meantime, here is how to add them yourself:

  1. Download this file and unzip it.
  2. Move the autoexec.cfg and keyboard.cfg files to the roms/ports/Half-Life/valve folder (replace the ones already in there)
  3. If you’d like inverted y-axis controls, go into the config.cfg file and change the joy_yaw value to: joy_yaw “-100”

This will give you the following control scheme:


Changelog

23DEC2020
– published guide
– added updated control settings

28 thoughts on “Guide: Half-Life on the RG351P

  1. Works amazingly! I was just about to try the Dreamcast port, but this works so well. I’ve had some text show up in-game to the tune of certain things being out of date? I also went through one corridor and it just crashed. Like most computer problems, it works fine if you turn it off then back on. The newly upgraded DOS is very user friendly, just don’t expect it to run Blood or Duke Nukem.

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  2. I have installed it and copied over the files from the zip into valve folder, but it doesn’t work. New game load game are greyed out. Please help!

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  3. OK, Half Life crashes… A lot! Luckily I’m constantly quick saving. Since I have the steam files I’m trying the Xash3D engine on Google Play. For all the Retroid Pocket users, it’s an app that you can use on the Android boot of your device. I’m not complaining, I mean if you want great emulation use a cellphone. I can run Half Life 2 on that! The RG351P is neat and a fun little hobby kit for rainy day tinkering. It’s not powerful, just fun and handy.

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  4. Sorry for my english.
    Please can someone help me?
    When I try to update it started upadating, but after a while it stoped and I get an error “something whent wrong (or something like this) ”
    and now if I try to update it says “no more update available try later”.
    I reflashed Arkos to a new sdcard to retry, but again the same problem

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  5. I had the issue with the greyed out new game, training and load options and performed the file transfers over wifi as opposed to removing the sd card and inserting in the computer and then the game working normal! So give it a try!

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  6. also forgot to mention, when i originally downloaded the game, i never tried to play it. So besides transferring over wifi, i did open and played the game a bit on steam on my computer before trying to copy over again.

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  7. I just tried this and I’m amazed by the performance of it. Can’t believe I’m running HL1 “natively” on the RG351P.

    I just got myself with an issue where I really can’t climb up stairs in the game. I tried the training mode, went all the way smoothly up to the point where the ladder part is.

    I literally tried everything but Gordon will just be stuck at the ladder and won’t move up or down. I can jump off the ladder, but cannot move up or down. strange.

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    1. You will need to update ArkOS via WiFi first to the latest version, in order to get the new games folder in the ports, which will also include the Half-Life folder.

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    1. Fixed it by editing config.cfg in ports/half life/valve change the 4 deadzone entries that are 0 to 5000. worked great for me. YMMV with the 5000 value.

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      1. Using value of 1000 seems to be better, you can do finer movement with the thumbstick. Added these to the end of “keyboard.cfg”, defaults are in the “config.cfg”.

        joy_forward_deadzone “1000”
        joy_pitch_deadzone “1000”
        joy_side_deadzone “1000”
        joy_yaw_deadzone “1000”

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  8. Is anyone else having the game constantly crash on them? I’ve done the tutorial and got to the first couple of zombies with a Barney and it keeps crashing at the same spot?

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  9. It often bounces during the game. You need to save it often. I connected a keyboard to use the cheat keys. I opened the console window and entered the cheat command, but it doesn’t seem to work. Anyone interested in cheats, let’s find out how.

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  10. Anyone having a problem where the downloaded controller configuration doesn’t save? It works when I first copy it into the files but when I turn it off and on again, it goes into a worse layout for some reason.

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