Last updated: 05SEP2021 (see Changelog for details)
I’m very proud of the PocketGo S30 Add-On Pack that I created last month, but something didn’t sit well with me about it. For starters, it was basically a series of clever workarounds to improve the experience, but it wasn’t perfect or sustainable. Today I’d like to introduce something I’m calling “Simple30”, which is a compilation of many improvements made by the retro handheld community that turns this device into something truly neat.
If you haven’t already, consider buying a PocketGo S30. For $60, it’s an excellent deal.
Table of Contents First things first Features Installation Required BIOS files Supported systems Hotkeys Notes Known issues Changelog
First things first
The honest truth is that I had very little to do with the actual development of Simple30. This project is available thanks to a number of developers whose work enabled me to basically compile and streamline the user experience.
Developer bkacjois was able to create a fully-formed RetroArch 1.9.0 that works on the S30
Steve from Tech Toy Tinker (and RetroArena) added dozens of new emulators and ports to the device
DaMikki developed a safe shutdown mechanism for use with this device
So really I just took their work and put it into one package. I don’t think that Simple30 is the end of this development, either; I think that there are plenty more milestones to come.
When it comes down to it, the goal of Simple30 is to give the user a fully capable device, but with a pick-up-and-play experience.
- Optimized to allow you to play 90 systems and ports altogether, but the flexibility to pare down your system list to as few systems as you’d like (or as many as you’d like).
- Pre-configured with optimal graphics settings to give you an excellent viewing experience without having to tinker with the settings yourself (but with the freedom to tinker if you’d like).
- Pre-loaded with all relevant shaders and cheat files for your viewing and gaming pleasure.
- Pre-configured with hotkeys to allow you to quickly and efficiently navigate your games.
- Able to use a safe shutdown mechanism that allows you to safely power off your device and preserve your save games and configuration settings.
I recommend you upgrade the stock SD card in your device 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. It is also confirmed that 512GB cards also work fine on this device. 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. 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, you can name the card “SIMPLE30”.
Once your card is formatted, download Simple30 here, and unzip the contents and drag them into your FAT32-formatted SD card. That’s it, you’re done. You can now add your game files to their respective folder within the main “roms” folder, and your BIOS files, too (more on that in the next section).
Required BIOS files
The BIOS files now need to be placed in the retroarch/system folder. Here are the necessary BIOS files for the default systems:
DREAMCAST: dc/dc_boot.bin dc/dc_flash.bin SEGA CD: bios_CD_E.bin bios_CD_J.bin bios_CD_U.bin FAMICOM DISK SYSTEM: disksys.rom GAME BOY (for boot logo): gb_bios.bin GAME BOY COLOR (for boot logo): gbc_bios.bin GAME BOY ADVANCE: gba_bios.bin NEO GEO: neogeo.zip PLAYSTATION: scph1001.bin TURBOGRAFX-CD: syscard1.pce syscard2.pce syscard3.pce
The Simple30 image, by default, contains about 20 of the most popular classic systems:
Arcade (FinalBurn Neo)
Arcade (MAME 2003-Plus)
Arcade (Neo Geo)
Nintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy Color
Game Boy Advance
Sega Master System
Sega Game Gear
Note that with this new software, Nintendo 64 is now available. But just like Sega Dreamcast and Sony PSP, performance is relatively limited. The other systems play just fine.
If you want to remove any of these systems from your main menu, simply go to the sections/emulators folder on your SD card, and move the respective system launcher file (they’ll be labeled according to the system they support) into the sections/emulators/optional folder; this will make the system disappear from your main menu.
But additionally, there are other emulators and ports that you can play on your device, such as:
Neo Geo CD
Famicom Disk System
N64 (Parallel core)
Game & Watch
Super Game Boy
Neo Geo Pocket
Neo Geo Pocket Color
MSX Turbo R
To add these systems to your device, navigate to the sections/emulators/optional/ folder, and move whatever system you would like to play into the sections/emulators folder instead. Note that some of these systems will require additional BIOS files, and the ports will require retail files added to their respective rom folder.
All of the emulators (except for the standalone PSP emulator) will take advantage of RetroArch’s universal hotkeys system. Here are the hotkeys that you can use while in a game:
RetroArch hotkeys SELECT + POWER = Quit game and return to main menu SELECT + START = RetroArch Menu Hold START (3 seconds) = RetroArch Menu SELECT + Y = Toggle FPS (frames per second) SELECT + B = reset game SELECT + A = pause emulation SELECT + R1 = save state SELECT + L1 = load save state SELECT + L2 = rewind (when enabled) SELECT + R2 = fast forward (see note below) SELECT + RIGHT on d-pad = save state slot + SELECT + LEFT on d-pad = save state slot - SELECT + UP on d-pad = volume up SELECT + DOWN on d-pad = volume down
Thanks to developer DaMikki, we now have working Fast Forward on Simple30.
– Launch RetroArch without a game loaded, then navigate to Settings > Video > Threaded Video > ON
– Go to Main Menu > Configuration File > Save Current Configuration
– Exit RetroArch, launch a game, and then press SELECT + R2 to toggle Fast Forward
Note that threaded video will introduce some screen shimmering on certain games, which may be undesirable. If you want to have the feature only on certain games, then launch that game, turn on Threaded Video, and then save the setting within Quick Menu > Configuration File > Save Game Configuration.
Here are some random notes that may help you get the most out of this unique device:
- If you load your roms onto your SD card and do not see them in the menu, go into the sections/emulators folder on your SD card and find the appropriate launcher file for your system. Open that file with a text editor, and find that last bit of code: (
selectorfilter=gdi,cdi) or similar, and add the file extensions of your roms (.iso, .img, and so on).
- To scrape boxart or videos for your menus, check out this section of my Starter Guide.
- You can adjust the brightness within RetroArch by going to Settings > Video > Output > Screen Brightness. I find this easier than closing out of the game and adjusting the brightness in the main menu.
- With the way the system is currently configured, you cannot switch between RetroArch cores in one system. For example, while most Nintendo 64 games play best with the Mupen64Plus N64 emulator, others may play better with the Parallel N64 core. There isn’t a way to set the Parallel N64 core to launch with certain games. Instead, I’ve made a Parallel N64 core section, so that you can launch the same N64 library with that core instead. To set it up, go into the sections/emulators/optional folder on your SD card, and move the file named “07 parallel (n64)” into the sections/emulators folder. Now you will see a Parallel N64 option in your main menu.
- If you would rather just run RetroArch by default and not deal with the Simple30 menu interface, that is set up as well. Go into the bin/RA launcher folder on your SD card, and move the gmenu2x from from that folder into the bin folder (replace the one that’s already in there, although I would make a backup in case you want to revert back at some point). From now on you will launch directly into RetroArch whenever you boot up the device, and quitting RetroArch will shut down the device.
Like any software solution, Simple30 is a work in progress. Here are some of the issues that I have noted:
- The “Save Content Directory Overrides” function does not work, which means that you cannot save settings specific to one game folder for systems that use the same core. For example, you cannot save Game Gear specific settings because it shares the same core as Master System, Genesis, and Sega CD.
- Some shaders will rotate the screen when turned on.
- Fast forward function does not work at this time.
- Volume and brightness levels are reset when the device is powered off/on.
- With MAME2003-Plus, some button presses register as multiple buttons. Until a fix is in place, you can do a workaround by swapping out the RetroArch core with MAME2003 (open the sections/emulators/ folder, find the MAME 2003-Plus file, open it with a text editor, and change the core to (
params=-v -c retroarch-arcade.cfg -L mame2003_libretro.so).
– Added Fast Forward instructions
– Published guide
– Added note about adding additional file extensions
– Added known issue about MAME 2003-Plus buttons
228 thoughts on “Introducing Simple30, an Optimized PocketGo S30 Firmware”
I installed this and when it boots up it just scrolls in the menu on its own and then I tried to go back to original firmware and it’s just stuck on the boot logo
I have had this issue, thou I do get the original firmware to boot to the same constant scrolling issue.
At this point I have lost hope that the Simple 30 firmware or even the original firmware will get any updates about this issue since they have not encountered this themselves or simply have no time to care of it since it is only a few users who have had this problem. … I just wish they could care a tiny bit of it since I do like the device.
Fortunately I have found 2 alternatives that work, though I barely use the device since there is no way to change the brightness of the screen in these firmwares that I found.
First is TechToyTinker (close to the end of the page you will find the pocket go s30 section/article):
Second is the Custom FW for PocketGO S30 Game Console:
I hope this helps since it is a nice device… I just wish development would continue on improving these.
I’m utterly disappointed at the total abandonment that these pleads of help or guidance found here… only one person tried to help but this is understandably not easy things to do since many aspects of these devices sometimes are closed sourced and what little can be worked on is via hacks and time donated dedication that only go so far… still sad and disappointing. I now take even longer to consider any of these since this was kind of a bad experience for me…
Good Luck to anyone with this issue!
Again, hope these alternatives help. I just can’t play it in low light having it at full brightness all the time.
Unfortunately the manufacturer never shared their code with us, and then discontinued the product. I would have loved to have built more around this device but unfortunately the community support was minimal, and I moved on to other projects that had a larger fanbase and more community interest.
I am sorry my Pocket Go S30 died a few months back (swelling battery issue) and I have no way of testing or investigating the issues you are having. I have from time to time dropped in and helped where I can but I have had a busy time this year with work commitments and have had very little free time to investigate reported issues on simple 30.
I wish I could help right away but I will need to source a battery for my Pocket Go S30 first and I am unsure when I will have some free time available to properly investigate.
Not helpful I know 😦
I understand and really appreciate the great work you do presenting these great videos of yours. My only gripe with this one in particular has been that this issue of the constant scrolling issue with the PocketGoS30 was mentioned many times and was never even acknowledged. One can go through the various videos and post about this device and see some comments about it… I have not seen any replies to those or any mention or note on this particular issue to anyone. Only DaMikki responded here, and now you finally respond…
Again, I understand your point, manufacturers just move on and along goes the rest of the fan base. … just a simple “am sorry to hear that…” even if followed by “not much we can do now” along with “I heard some have found some alternatives you might find helpful” type of a response would have been great, many months ago.
Anyhow Russ, I know you are busy with all the latest stuff, and I can’t wait to see what catches my fancy next… Thanks for your hard work reviewing and creating great guides.
I greatly appreciate your responses. I understand this is not an easy matter to approach considering the non existent manufacturer support and reliance on the community with specialize knowledge like yourself and Russ.
I have only managed to find hints of what software the device uses some fork of “flythings, zkswe” by pocking around with the USB cable and seeing the “USB_Developer_Zkswe_20080411” and searching around:
Being that this is a Chinese company, and I have little to no clue on how to approach these issues, this is as far as I have been able to get to. Don’t know how much is actually available or if anything is at all, but considering that is their GitHub maybe that will be a good start.
Anyway… Thanks for your responses… Sorry for my late reply. I hope this helps somewhat. I will see if I can find where you can get a replacement battery.
Doom (PrBoom) does not work correctly, L2 and R2 buttons do not change weapons, another problem is that it does not enter the retroarch menu when we are using Doom (PrBoom), does anyone know how to fix it?
Same here! It is scrolling every time How resolve that? *_*
I’m also having issues with a joystick calibration issue, when I used the base firmware out of the box it didn’t appear to have this issue (or any of the additional features of Simple30) but now it fails to register the controls in RetroArch but scrolls continuously and cannot calibrate correctly in the base OS.
my is the same problem, the calibration of the joystick
To those with Joystick issues, Dan G (look in older comments) had the same problem and required a hardware replacement to fix the issue. Without a faulty unit to test, I am unable to investigate this issue further I am afraid.
I have the same problem that a few others have mentioned about the menu scrolling as if a direction was being pressed, when nothing is pressed. I can also confirm that it is not due to joystick calibration since even when I disconnected the the joystick the menu screen would still scroll uncontrollably. Though as being alluded in comments here and on YouTube, the calibration does not seem to work, and for me at least made it worse once it started.
In addition to this I can attest that after receiving a second unit (because the first one had a punctured battery and wouldn’t turn on) that both units have the same problem. This happens with the original SD card, (I even had retromini send me the original firmware and had the same issue, like if whatever setting were being saved to the unit somehow) and the Simple 30 firmware.
There might be some hardware triggers because of some variance with the chip used for the inbuilt controller, but I have no way of making sure that is the case. I have the first S30 and the revised version with the tighter L2 and R2 triggers, so I don’t thing it is necessarily a hardware fault issue.
Adding to this, I have managed to confirmed that both my units work with the firmware offered for download by TechToyTinker, https://techtoytinker.com/handheld-corner. It works with no scrolling or calibration issues, though I wish I could figure what is the cause of the scrolling with the Simple 30 firmware since I do like how it is setup vs the S30RetroArenaEmulationStation100v6 from TechToyTinker. At least, thanks to TechToyTinker I now have a working device, 2 of them once I get the replacement battery.
I just hope Ross has a chance to verify this with the developer of Simple 30 so they may fix this. Please if someone can reach Ross and let him know of this issue since I have yet to get a reply to the message I sent a few of days ago…
Thank you for your detailed reply, interesting that Tech Toy Tinkers firmware works OK. I would suggest that the issue is the kernel version being used. I think that Pocket Go S-30 is using a different chip revision and so the older version of the Kernel in Simple 30 may be the issue. However I have an earlier model so I am not really able to test. It maybe possible to use the Kernel from Tech Toy Tinkers firmware with Simple 30 (I can test that at least).
As for the developer of Simple 30 that was mostly Russ (<- not Ross LOL) with some help from others. I am a developer but I only helped out with a few bits and pieces on Simple 30.
Well, thanks DaMikki,
And, excuse my dyslexic typos… hard to keep track of them at times. Had a few there. (thing instead of think, guess I did not think that hard on Russ name that much either… lol…)
Anyhow, I find it odd that when I first used the device with their original firmware the issue was not there. It just came abut the moment I tried the Simple 30 firmware and then even the original would present this constant scrolling behavior. It is as if something was being changed in the unit, though I find that a bit odd since eider way or reason for such thing should be reverted/reset. At least I do know I’m not the only one as there are others with this issue.
Thanks for looking into this, though I do understand that it is a bit hard to figure out the cause without having a unit that has the issue or knowing exactly what causes the issue. I do know it is not the analog stick, since I disconnected mine and turning on the units would still keep the same issue with both the original and the Simple 30 firmware.
Thanks again for the reply! Let me know if there is anything I can try on my end to identify the hardware or chips of my S30s.
Russ aka Ross, I am sure won’t mind his name being dyslexic typed on occasion LOL
I have taken a brief look at Tech Toy Tinkers firmware and it uses emulation station instead of gmenu2x so navigation will function differently.
Here are a few things to try :-
On my copy of Simple 30 I have an autoconfig folder in the root of the sd-card I would try deleting that and then try running Simple 30.
Failing that try copying the zktest file from Tech Toy Tinkers firmware over to the root of the Simple 30 sd-card to replace the Kernel and see if that works.
As mentioned I am sorry but I don’t have a way to replicate the issue but hopefully the above may help if you want to use Simple 30.
Thanks for the offer of help to identify hardware, I will let you know if I have an idea. The problem is there is a very limited list of available commands within the various firmwares as it’s more like a busy box than a full terminal.
I tried your suggestions but unfortunately they did not work.
I am wondering where to does the zkjoycalib file writes to, since I see that if I manage to run the calibration utility the problem actually worsens… Also, I do manage to get the scrolling to stop when a fresh image is used and the scrolling is present by lightly pressing up left on the analog. This pressing is barely touching the up left direction and holding it there while with my other hand I manage to navigate the menus.
Now, like I mentioned, this seems to not be because of the analog itself since 1- the Retro Arena image does not present this problem and 2- even if the analog is physically disconnected the scrolling is present.
I would like to know where to is this zkjoycalib file writing to and if it is a regular configuration file to what line. To me it seems as if some minor difference to how the analog is handled is at fault here. Even more so considering that using the zkjoycalib to calibrate results in worse scrolling instead of it being calibrated and also considering that this only happens with the Original firmware as well as the Simple 30 one to some of us with this particular PocketGo 30 units. And I have 2 of them, a version 1 and the revision, which make it difficult to think it is hardware failure for me at least.
Всем привет! А есть версия RetroArch которая работает, не прокручивает циклично меню?
Does anyone know how to fix the prboom core? does not open mrenu retroarch when using it, another problem is that the Lr and R2 buttons do not work and due to the retroarch menu not opening it is impossible to try to configure
it would be amazing to have a “simple 30” for the anbernic PAP II console, this console is very interesting but it has audio delay, especially in ps1 games
Found a problem, when i try to calibrate stick, calibration drops after leaving setting menu. And i feel this problem in Ps1 games. But “scrolling” didnt appear.
Hi, I’m kinda new here, and I know this will never get read, But would it be possible to get the Tac08 emulator instead of the Tic80
everything seems abandoned, my biggest problem is in the PrBoom core for doom, the L2 and R2 buttons don’t work to change weapons, it doesn’t enter the menu to be able to configure it either, does anyone know how to fix it please?
Take a look to the RetroArena build that features about 100 different systems.
Sadly there is a problem with gameboy emulation. There is missing one audio channel. If you go into the Underground Levels (hidden) in Super Mario Land, there is absoutely no “coin-sound”. That`s because the emulator is set to stereo, but the handheld only got one speaker. Can you fix this?
So I have Simple30 on a 32gb Sandisk Micro SD (I dont have many games) and it shows up fine on my PC but whenever I turn on my Pocketgo S30 it just shows the “No MicroSD Card!” Logo.
Do you have any idea what happened?
Hi July T,
Please make sure you have formated your Micro SD Card as Fat32 format and not any other format.
If that doesn’t work then I would suggest following the Simple 30 installation again in case you missed something. Also does the original Micro SD Card work with your Pocket GO S30 ?