Last updated: 17JAN2021 (see Changelog for details)
The PocketGo S30 has its share of flaws (see my video review for more on that), but one of its best features is that it is easily customizable. So in this guide I’ll show you how to squeeze as much functionality out of your device as you can, as well as how to tweak the user interface to fit your needs.
Table of Contents: The basics Back up the stock microSD card Upgrade your microSD card PocketGo S30 add-on pack Add game files to your device Organizing the emulators Removing unwanted systems from your device Changing the themes Adding boxart and video previews Performance notes and known issues Changelog
The PocketGo S30 is a very simple device. Press and hold the POWER button for a few seconds to start it up. Within the Settings menu you’ll be able to change the language from English to Chinese, as well as adjust the screen brightness from 1 to 10. As far as I can tell, there is no other way to adjust the screen brightness.
Press left and right on the d-pad to cycle between the various systems available, and press the A button to choose a system. There you will see a listing of available games; press A again to choose a game. Once the game boots up, tap the POWER button to bring up the emulator menu. Some emulators will have a robust menu with several options, while others will simply allow you to do basic tasks like restart the game or save state.
You can access the unit’s SD card either by removing the SD card and inserting into your computer, or you can actually just plug the device into your computer via USB cable and access everything via “localhost”. Note that file transfer via localhost is significantly slower than via the actual SD card, and some files will be read-only.
This device does not a have sleep function, nor a screensaver function. To shut down the system, simply press and hold the POWER button for a few seconds. Be sure to close the current game before powering down, otherwise it will mess with your settings (see Performance Notes and Known Issues).
Back up the stock microSD card
The PocketGo S30 is unique in that its firmware (operating system) is actually flashed onto the device itself, and the microSD card simply acts as storage for the emulators, game files, and wallpapers. That’s really handy because moving everything over to a new SD card is as easy as formatting a new card to FAT32 and transferring the folders over.
So the first thing you should do when you get your PocketGo S30 is to backup those system folders so that we can restore everything if things go south. To do so, simply insert the original SD card into your computer using a USB SD card adapter, and then copy all of the folders onto your computer. If you’d like, you can skip the “roms” folder since it’s about 2.5GB and you’re probably better off loading your own game files, which we’ll cover in another section below.
Upgrade your microSD card
The microSD card that comes with the device is only 16GB in size, which is fairly limited if you plan on adding CD-based games like Sega Dreamcast or Sony PSP. I recommend you upgrade to a 128GB or 256GB microSD card, from a reputable brand like SanDisk or Samsung, so that you have a reliable storage option with plenty of space for your game collection. Here is a link to my recommended cards.
In order for this card to work on your device, you will need to format it to FAT32 file system. Windows can only format cards which are less than 32GB to FAT32, so you will need to use a program called guiformat – be sure to change the “Allocation Unit Size” to 65536 (or the highest that the program allows you to choose) in the drop-down menu. For Mac, you can use the Disk Utility program that comes with MacOS to format (“erase”) the card, with MS-DOS (FAT) as the format. In both cases, name the card “POCKET”.
Once you’ve formatted the card, go ahead and move all of your backup folders to the new card. Or if you’d like, here is a fresh .zip file of the SD card contents (minus ROMs and BIOS files, and updated with the PocketGo S30 add-on pack, which is covered in the next section).
I’ve gone ahead and created a special add-on pack which will update all of your emulators and wallpapers from the stock card, so that you can have the best experience possible. This pack will change out all of the existing emulators with RetroArch cores, preconfigure the screen for each system’s native aspect ratio, and smooth out the text for optimal resolution.
To download this pack, head over to my GitHub page and click on the “Code” button at the top-right of this page, and then select “Download Zip”. Unzip that file and follow the instructions in the ReadMe file, which I’ve also included below:
- Insert your S30 microSD card into your computer.
- UPDATE WALLPAPERS: On your SD card, go to the skins/Default/wallpapers folder, and remove those files. You can store them on your computer for safe-keeping if you’d like. Open the ‘wallpapers’ folder from this pack, and place the png files in the skins/Default/wallpapers folder.
- UPDATE LAUNCH FILES: On your SD card, go to the sections/emulators folder, and remove those files. You can store them on your computer for safe-keeping if you’d like. Open the ’emulators’ folder from this pack, and place the files in the sections/emulators folder.
- UPDATE EMULATORS. On your SD card, go to the ’emus’ folder, and remove the ‘retro’ folder. You can store it on your computer for safe-keeping if you’d like. Place the new ‘retro’ folder from this pack into the emus folder. Then, unzip the file named “unzip_and_add_to_retro_folder.zip”, and add its contents to the new retro folder on your SD card.
- VERIFY ROMS FOLDERS: On your SD card, go to the ‘roms’ folder and change the folder names so they are as follows (minus the information in the parenthesis). Also, delete the folder named “npg”, this is an unecessary folder. You will need to create new folders for some systems, and rename some others:
dc (no change)
fbn (previously named “fba”)
gb (no change)
gba (no change)
gbc (no change)
genesis (previously named “md”)
mame (no change)
nes (previously named “fc”)
ngpc (previously named “ngp”)
psp (previously named “ppsspp”)
psx (previously named “ps”)
snes (previously named “sfc”)
tg16 (previously named “pce”)
wsc (previously named “ws”)
- ADD BIOS FILES: Ensure you have the following BIOS files in the appropriate locations on the SD card. These BIOS files are not part of the add-on pack, you will need to find them yourself.
- Game Boy Advance: place the gba_bios.bin BIOS file in the bios folder
- PlayStation: place scph1001.bin BIOS file in the bios folder
- Sega Dreamcast: place dc_boot.bin and dc_flash.bin BIOS files in the bios/dc folder
- Neo Geo: place the neogeo.zip BIOS file in the bios folder
- Famicom Disk System: place the disksys.rom BIOS file in the bios folder
- Sega CD: place the bios_CD_E.bin, bios_CD_J.bin, and bios_CD_U.bin BIOS files in the bios folder
- TurboGrafx-CD: place the syscard1.pce, syscard2.pce, and syscard3.pce files in the bios folder
- Atari Lynx: place the lynxboot.img BIOS file in the bios folder
Add game files to your device
To add games to your device, simply drag the ROM files to the respective subfolder within the SD card’s “rom” folder. Here is a breakout of each folder:
|Folder Name||Game System||Accepted File Types|
|32x||Sega 32x||.32x, .zip|
|atari2600||Atari 2600||.a26, .bin, .zip|
|c64||Commodore 64||.d64, .zip|
|dc||Sega Dreamcast||.bin/.cue, .cdi, .gdi, .zip, .7z, .chd, .iso|
|fds||Famicom Disk System||.fds, .zip|
|gb||Game Boy||.gb, .zip|
|gba||Game Boy Advance||.gba, .zip|
|gbc||Game Boy Color||.gbc, .zip|
|genesis||Sega Genesis||.bin, .md, .zip|
|gg||Sega Game Gear||.gg, .zip|
|gw||Game & Watch||.mgw, .zip|
|lynx||Atari Lynx||.lnx, .zip|
|ngpc||Neo Geo Pocket (Color)||.ngp, .ngc, .zip|
|psp||PlayStation Portable||.iso, .pbp, .zip|
|psx||Sony PlayStation||.bin/.cue, .pbp, .zip|
|segacd||Sega CD||.bin/.cue, .chd, .iso|
|sms||Sega Master System||.sms, .zip|
|snes||SNES||.smc, .sfc, .zip|
|tgcd||TurboGrafx-CD||.bin/.cue, .iso, .chd|
|vb||Nintendo Virtual Boy||.vb, .zip|
|wsc||Wonderwasn (Color)||.ws, .wsc, .zip|
|zxspectrum||ZX Spectrum||.tzx, .tap, .z80, .rzx, .scl, .trd|
Organizing the emulators
You may have noticed that the order of the systems in your main menu on the stock SD card is totally haphazard — they appear to follow no rhyme or reason.
That’s because the order of your systems in the device’s main menu is based on the order of the files in the sections/emulators folder. So this is why they appear so haphazardly when you’re scrolling through the main main, it’s because they’re in alphabetical order based on the name of the emulator! There’s a super easy fix for this: just rename the file to whatever you want. For my add-on pack, I set them up in a numbered order, like this:
Now my systems follow a logical order: arcade systems, Nintendo systems (by order of release and consoles before handhelds), Sega systems, Sony systems, NEC systems, then outlying systems (Neo Geo Pocket, Wonderswan, etc.). If you want them to be in a different order, just rearrange the numbers in the file names.
Removing unwanted systems from your device
I’ve loaded up my add-on pack with a lot of systems, and some of them you may not be interested in. The easiest way to remove these systems from your menu is to go into the sections/emulators folder on your SD card and remove any undesired emulator launch files.
Changing the themes
To change a “theme” for your console, all you have to do is change out the wallpapers. Simply replace the existing pictures with a similar .png file (480×320 pixels), and use the same name as the existing picture. The existing wallpapers are found in the skins/Default/wallpapers folder of your SD card.
For my own “theme”, I used the simple images from the ckau-book Batocera theme. I think they’re a nice complement to the simple interface of the PocketGo S30. They are included in the add-on pack.
Discord user Baguette Crusader made this excellent Futuris theme, seen here:
Adding boxart and video previews
Note that this method will only work for Windows PCs.
I recommend getting all of your game files in order, and place them on your SD card, and then run Skraper directly onto the SD card. This will simplify the process, and if you happen to add new ROMs to your card, you can run Skraper again.
Adding this media to your games will have a secondary effect: it will clean up all of your game files in the menu. So instead of seeing “Donkey Kong Country (Rev A) (USA).smc” (or however your game is named) in the meu, it will just say “Donkey Kong Country”.
- Download Skraper and unzip the file; place the unzipped folder somewhere easy to access. In the unzipped folder, open the SkraperUI.exe file, which will bring up the program. Run the wizard, and select “I don’t have an account and I don’t want to register”, or register if you’d like (registering may improve your download speed).
- You’ll then see four different frontend selection options, pick the “RECALBOX” option. If you haven’t already, plug the microSD card into your PC. On the next screen, click the folder icon and navigate to your SD card’s ROMs folder. Check the “Include non-Recalbox rom folders” box, then click the “Next” button. All of your gaming systems should fill the screen; if they don’t, we’ll take care of that in the next step. Click the “Next” button to move on, then press “Next” again.
- If some of the systems are not showing up in the left side menu, then press the “+” button and select the system, then press ok. Then, make sure the “Games/Roms folder” option shows the correct path for that system — it should look like G:\roms\32x, where “G” is the letter that Windows assigned to your SD card, and “32x” is the folder you used to store your system’s ROMs.
- Now let’s configure your global settings. On the tabs at the top of the program, select the “GAME LIST” tab. Under “Gamelist type”, keep it set to “EMULATIONSTATION GAMELIST.XML”, but in the menu below, change the setting to “No Backup, Create New or Overwrite Existing”. Now go to the “MEDIA” tab. Press the “-” (minus) button near the left of this page, which will delete the “4 IMAGES MIX” icon and leave you with just the “BOX 3D” icon. Below the icon you’ll see “Media type:”, change the rightmost option from “BOX 3D” to “BOX 2D”. Under “Output folder”, change it to “%ROMROOTFOLDER%/images”. Make sure that “Keep image ratio” is still checked. Now, press the “+” (plus) button to add a new media type, and then under “Media type” change it to “NORMALIZED VIDEOS”, and change the “Output folder” to “%ROMROOTFOLDER%/videos“.
- Finally, you need to tweak your disc-based systems so they don’t get hung up. On the left menu you’ll see a list of all the consoles, pick one of the disc-based systems (let’s do Sega CD). This allows you to make specific configurations for that system. Go to the “GAMES & FRONT-END” tab, and make sure that “Use specific configuration for SEGA CD” is checked. Underneath, for the “Games/Roms file extensions”, delete the “.bin”; now do the same for all of your other disc-based systems (PlayStation, PC Engine CD, etc).
- Once everything is set up, press the Play icon at the bottom-right of the screen. You can either scrape the images one system at a time, or you can select “All Systems” from the left menu and do them all at once. Sit back and watch the computer do all the hard work; once it’s done, you’ll hear a bit of Final Fantasy music to indicate that the task is finished.
Note that if you load both videos and images onto your card, the videos will override the images, and you will only see the videos in the menu. So you’ll have to choose one or the other. You could always load up the images and videos all at once, and then rename the video folders to something else (like “videoz”) and the software won’t load the videos — but then you can have access to them later without having to re-scrape everything, all you have to do is change it back to “videos”.
Performance Notes and Known Issues
Sony PSP: You will need to remap the face button controls in the PPSSPP emulator. By default, it is set to 2x PSP resolution, which looks nice but may cause slowdown. You can set it to 1x PSP resolution to improve performance, but text will be hard to read. In general, I suggest using Auto frameskip, set to 1.
Core options file issue: I recommend not powering off the system while mid-game. Tap the power button and select “Close Content” to go to the main menu, then power down. If you power down during a game, the retroarch-core-options.cfg file will get overwritten, and you will lose some functionality (green colorization in GB, high resolution in Dreamcast). If this happens to you, paste this code in the emus/retro/retroarch-core-options.cfg file on your SD card.
Save files: Unfortunately, save files do not seem to be persistent. Something with the power-down system on the device will wipe save files (similar to the core options file issue above). Some tips from the community include opening and saving another game as soon as you close the first game to make sure the save file sticks. Until the firmware itself can be fixed, this issue may be permanent.
Aspect ratio: If you don’t like the fullscreen aspect ratio, one trick is to go into the emus/retro/retroarch.cfg file (or retroarch-gb.cfg file for Game Boy, for example) and change the “aspect_ratio_index” from 5 to 21. If there isn’t a retroarch-“system”.cfg file for the system you want to alter, simply duplicate the default retroarch.cfg file and rename it to whatever you want (“retroarch-genesis.cfg”, for example), then go into the sections/emulators folder and alter the launch file using a text editor to point to that .cfg file instead.
These aspect ratio indexes do not follow the conventional guide (which I’ll post below) so you will have to experiment to find the right number for you. For example, I chose an aspect ratio index of “5” for fullscreen (3:2) even though it’s technically a 2:1 ratio. As far as I could tell, none of these equate to a 4:3 aspect (“21” is close, but I think it’s actually 8:7 or 1:1).
0 = 4:3 1 = 16:9 2 = 16:10 3 = 16:15 4 = 1:1 5 = 2:1 6 = 3:2 7 = 3:4 8 = 4:1 9 = 4:4 10 = 5:4 11 = 6:5 12 = 7:9 13 = 8:3 14 = 8:7 15 = 19:12 16 = 19:14 17 = 30:17 18 = 32:9 19 = config (video_aspect_ratio setting) 20 = 10:9 (1:1 PAR) 21 = Core Provided 22 = Custom
– updated S30 backup SD card contents
– added note about save files and aspect ratio
– updated S30 backup SD card contents
– updated Futuris theme
– added Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Tic-80, and ZX Spectrum
– reverted to original PS1 emulator due to L2/R2 mapping issue
– published guide
– added Futuris theme
– added required Neo Geo, Lynx, and Dreamcast bios locations
– added Atari Lynx and Nintendo Virtual Boy
– added S30 backup SD card contents