Transform Any PC into a Retro Gaming Console (Batocera Guide)

Transform Any PC into a Retro Gaming Console (Batocera Guide)

Chances are, you might have an older PC lying around the house. It’s not quite worth the effort to sell on your local marketplace, and nobody in the house wants it, either. How about we turn it into a retro gaming console instead?

In this guide I’ll show you how to install Batocera, a Linux-based custom operating system that will give your PC a console-like experience. Additionally, in this guide I’ll show you how to install PC games to play alongside your favorite retro classics.

Recommended tools

Solid State Drive: There are many ways to install Batocera onto a PC, but in this example, we are going to install it on a separate hard drive. The great thing about this setup is that it is self-contained, meaning that EVERYTHING (the games, emulators, and settings) are all self-contained within this hard drive. This method has three main advantages:

  • You won’t affect the main (Windows) installation in case you want to return to it
  • 2.5″ Solid State Drives (SSDs) are becoming increasingly cheap
  • You can move this hard drive to another computer in the future for upgraded performance

Among all of the SSD choices you have on the market, these are the three that I most commonly use. I recommend 1TB in size because they will cost about $50 and will give you plenty of storage for retro and modern games.

2.5" SSDs:
Samsung 870 EVO (high quality)
WD Blue 1TB (balance of quality/value)
Crucial BX500 (budget)

Controller: For the most part, you will use a controller to navigate Batocera’s menus. I recommend the 8Bitdo Ultimate line of controllers, because they have a 2.4GHz USB dongle which will make connecting to your PC a breeze. There are a variety of options available, including an arcade stick:

8Bitdo Ultimate Controllers:
2.4GHz wireless with dock ($50, my favorite)
Pro controller ($70, also works on Nintendo Switch)
2.4GHz wireless without dock ($30)
Wired controller ($20)

Arcade stick:
8Bitdo Arcade Stick ($90, also works on Switch)

USB Keyboard and Mouse: In order to navigate the Batocera file system and add games, I recommend using a USB keyboard and mouse. If you already have a mouse and/or keyboard with a USB dongle, you are good to go! If you don’t, I recommend this one which is small and functions as both a keyboard and a mouse.

Recommended PCs

If you don’t have an older PC, here are some example mini PCs that will work well with this setup. I would expect to pay around $200 for a decent starter mini PC, and you can go all the way up to $500 and beyond. It will really depend on what systems you want to play. For more in-depth information, check out my mini PC playlist on YouTube, or my mini PC spreadsheet for a system-by-system breakdown.

$200-$250 price range:
Beelink EQ12
MinisForum UM350

$300-$350 price range:
Beelink SER5
MinisForum UM450

$400-$450 price range:
Beelink SEi12
Minisforum UM560

Recommended software

Here are the two software applications you will need — one is the OS itself, and another is a tool to flash Batocera onto your SSD.

Batocera: Download the latest “desktop” (x86_64) version here
Balena Etcher: to write Batocera to your SSD

Installation instructions

Be sure to consult the Batocera wiki page for the most comprehensive and up-to-date information. Another excellent resource is the Batocera Nation YouTube channel.

  1. Install the SSD into your PC, and go into Windows Disk Management to format the SSD so that it is clean.
  2. Download Batocera and Balena Etcher from the links above.
  3. Open Balena Etcher and find the Batocera img file, then choose to flash it onto your SSD. This will take a few minutes.
  4. Shut down your PC, plug in a USB keyboard, and turn on the PC while tapping on the DEL key to bring up the system BIOS
  5. In the BIOS, navigate to the Boot tab and change the boot order so that the UEFI/SSD is higher priority than Windows Boot Manager. This will boot into Batocera instead of Windows as its primary option. Tab over to the Save and Exit option, and save and exit.
  6. When your PC restarts, it should initialize Batocera and you are now in! From here, you want to add your games, and you can start playing from there. Check out the video above for some more tips and tricks when getting set up.

Adding Steam PC games to Batocera

Adding Steam to Batocera is surprisingly easy, thanks to the Batocera team’s recent efforts.

  1. While in the main Batocera interface, press F1 to bring up the File Explorer menu.
  2. On the left side, click on the “Applications” option
  3. Open the flatpak-config icon that appears in the Applications menu
  4. Within the suggested apps, you should see Steam. Click on it to install.
  5. For the best compatibility, also install Proton. Search for the word “Proton” within the flatpak menu, and then install these three applications: Proton (community build), Proton-GE (community build), and ProtonUp-Qt.
  6. Once these are installed, you can close flatpak-config and exit out of the File Manager. Press START to open the main Batocera menu, and select Game Settings > Refresh Games List. Now, in your Ports section, you should be able to boot into Steam.
  7. Log into Steam using your credentials. Once inside, go into Settings > Interface and choose “Open Steam in Big Picture Mode”. Restart Steam to have the SteamOS interface, and you can download games from there.
  8. For games that do not have a native Linux version, go into the game settings > Properties > Compatibility and choose Proton-GE. This will allow you to install and run Windows games using the Proton compatibility layer, which works surprisingly well.
  9. To boot your installed games directly from the Batocera menu, exit Big Picture mode to get into the main desktop Steam interface. Go to the Library section, then select all of your installed games. Right-click on them and choose Properties > Add Desktop Shortcuts. When you refresh your Batocera games list, you should now have a Steam section with your games listed.

Retro Gaming on a Mac

Retro Gaming on a Mac

Last updated: 06APR2023 (see Changelog for details)

Macs have always been considered terrible for gaming, but recent advances in Apple silicon chips have paved the way for some spectacular retro game emulation. In this guide we’re going to focus on the cheapest Mac available, which is the lowest-spec Mac Mini (which retails at $599). I’ll walk you through the setup process and do game testing for all your favorite systems: classic retro content like GBA, NES, and SNES, all the way to more powerful systems like Dreamcast, N64, Saturn, PS1, PSP, GameCube, Wii, Wii U, Switch, PS2, PS3, and more.

Continue reading “Retro Gaming on a Mac”

ArkOS Starter Guide

ArkOS Starter Guide

Last updated: 11APR2023 (see Changelog for details)

ArkOS is a custom operating system that is available for many retro handheld devices. It features optimized performance, a simple user interface, online updates, and a very stable experience thanks to years of development work.

This guide will help you get set up with ArkOS, to improve your handheld device in just about every way. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy.

If you would like to support the developer and their work, please consider leaving them a donation for their time and effort over the years.

Continue reading “ArkOS Starter Guide”

Widescreen SNES Guide

Widescreen SNES Guide

Last updated: 22FEB2023 (see Changelog for details)

In this guide I’ll show you how to set up widescreen for many beloved SNES games. Not every game will work with this setup, but many do, including some of my personal favorites.

To enable widescreen, you must use the BSNES standalone emulator or the BSNES HD Beta core within RetroArch. For this guide we will focus on the BSNES HD Beta RetroArch core.

You will need a somewhat powerful machine to run the BSNES RetroArch core. For retro handhelds, I recommend something like the Retroid Pocket 3+ at the very least, but the AYN Odin or Logitech Cloud will work even better.

Continue reading “Widescreen SNES Guide”

PS2 and PS1 BIOS Extraction Guide

PS2 and PS1 BIOS Extraction Guide

Last updated: 17FEB2023 (see Changelog for details)

In this guide I’ll show you how to safely extract your own BIOS files to use with PS2 and PS1 emulators, thanks to a new tool that works with the official Sony PS3 firmware update file. No longer do you need to rely on a hacked console (or shady websites) to acquire your BIOS files! These BIOS can then be used in many popular emulators like PCSX2, AetherSX2, DuckStation, and RetroArch.

Continue reading “PS2 and PS1 BIOS Extraction Guide”

The Ultimate ROM File Compression Guide

The Ultimate ROM File Compression Guide

Last updated: 08FEB2023 (see Changelog for details)

Organizing your ROM library can be confusing and tedious, and so in this guide I will show you how I use CHD, PBP, and RVZ files to optimize my collection.

For this guide I will focus on CD-based games, as they often pose the most issues when it comes to compatibility. (Secret tip: for cartridge-based systems like NES, you can generally just use zip files or leave them uncompressed).

Note that the video guide is made with Windows PCs in mind, but I have included Mac instructions where applicable below.

Continue reading “The Ultimate ROM File Compression Guide”

Anbernic RG35XX Starter Guide

Anbernic RG35XX Starter Guide

Last updated: 02APR2023 (see Changelog for details)

In this guide I will show you how to get started with the Anbernic RG35XX retro handheld, and how to set up the new GarlicOS game launcher and greatly improve the device’s user experience.

Where to buy the RG35XX:
Anbernic website
Amazon (more expensive but faster shipping and easy returns)

GarlicOS is provided as a community build thanks to the work of developer Black Seraph. If you have the means, please consider leaving him a tip jar donation to thank him for his efforts. MinUI is created by Shaun Inman.

Continue reading “Anbernic RG35XX Starter Guide”

Retro Game Corps Black Friday Roundup 2022

Retro Game Corps Black Friday Roundup 2022

Hey everyone, every year I like to round up my favorite Black Friday deals and share them with my family and friends, and so since starting RGC I’ve maintained that same tradition. I’ll be sure to update this post as I find more deals, and be let me know if you find anything too!

Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for the support and happy shopping!


Anbernic is offering up to 25% off + $10 off using coupon BF2022:

Anbernic RG280V for $56
Anbernic RG300X for $55
Anbernic RG353P for $118
Anbernic RG351V for $79
Anbernic RG503 for $116
Anbernic RG552 for $189
Anbernic RG351MP for $116
Anbernic RG351P for $76
Anbernic RG351M for $107
Anbernic Win600 starting at $285

Amazon also has the RG350m for $70, which is a great price for this older machine:

Retroid Pocket 3 for $99 with coupon RP3SAVE20:
Free case with purchase of Retroid Pocket 3+ (11/25 only):

Logitech G Cloud is $299 on Amazon (regularly $349):
or $249 directly from Logitech using code BF22USD:


128GB Samsung EVO Select for $16:
128GB SanDisk Extreme for $15:
256GB Samsung EVO Select for $25:
256GB SanDisk Ultra for $27:
512GB Samsung EVO Select for $45:
1TB SanDisk Ultra for $99:
1TB SanDisk Extreme for $117:

256GB SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 flash drive for $20:
512GB SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 flash drive for $38:
1TB Samsung portable SSD for $89:
2TB SanDisk portable SSD for $144:


MinisForum’s Black Friday sale has some moderate discounts on mini PCs that I have reviewed on the channel:

Beelink is also offering sales on their mini PCs:
Amazon also has them discounted, including the SER5 for $315:

DroiX is offering Black Friday deals plus free international shipping on all orders over $150!


Fire TV Stick Max for $35 (can emulate up to Dreamcast):
Anker chargers, battery packs, and cables:


PlayStation DualSense controllers for $49:
PlayStation edition BackBone One Controller (iPhone) for $63:
BackBone (iPhone) controllers for $74 + $10 gift card:
20% off 8bitdo controllers:
11% off GameSir controllers plus free controller with $100 purchase:
Logitech G29 Racing Wheel for $199 (50% off):


Steam sale has some really good deals on older games, especially if you filter it to those below $5 (Celeste, Valve games, Titanfall 2, DOOM, Castle Crashers, SFV, Resident Evil 4/5, Sonic Mania, Mordor games, LEGO games, Arkham games, Injustice games, Horizon Chase Turbo, etc):

Humble store also has some good sales like $30 Cyberpunk, $25 LEGO Skywalker, $7.50 Hollow Knight, and $20 Horizon Zero Dawn (all redeemable in Steam):

10% off EverDrives site-wide (limited availability):


Handheld devices:
Use code BFS6 for $6 off any order over $50
Use code BFS13 for $13 off any order over $110
Use code BFS22 for $22 off any order over $180

Note that some individual stores may have their own coupons, and you might be able to stack them.