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How to make a Retro Gaming Machine out of your old PC

Updated on October 2, 2017
Vasu Juneja profile image

Just a curious Human Being here to share knowledge and ideas. A life-long Video game fan.


Video games are awesome, there is no denying that. A video game is that kind of an art form that immerses you in itself. These played a huge part in millions of childhoods just like mine. I personally have a soft spot for video games and appreciate any good game I have the opportunity to get my hands on. As a boy who grew up in the late nineties and early 2000’s, I primarily played 2D games on consoles like Nintendo Entertainment System and others that are today very fondly called retro gaming consoles. Who does not love retro games?

The memories of playing those household titles such as Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, Metroid and many others like them blast a volcano of Nostalgia among us gamers. But you can always relive those moments thanks to technology. If you have a PC and a couple of USB controllers (or can invest in some), you are going to love this ride.

So, in this article, I am going to describe how I made my dust-eating PC a powerful Retro gaming machine using a bunch of applications. (most PCs are powerful enough to play those retro titles). Let’s dive right into it.

Abiltiy to play all those games.
Abiltiy to play all those games. | Source


• A working Computer (obviously!).
• An internet connection.
• Some USB gaming controllers (Number depends upon you).
• Some Applications (explained below).
• A little bit of patience.
• A love for Video games.


So, first of all you need an emulator application to run the games you desire. There is a huge number of emulators available on the web for each specific console. But, things can get a bit frustrating and clunky when handling many emulators if you plan to play games that are exclusive to a specific console. You cannot play a SEGA game on an NES emulator. Also, you would have to reconfigure your control scheme every time you open a new application. But, the savior is here, mortals! And it’s called RetroArch. It transforms your PC into a literal Retro gaming beast as it allows you to play a huge number of games ranging through all the favorite gaming consoles of the bygone era. So you don’t have to close and open different emulators to play games. Just one destination in the world of games.



1) Download RetroArch on your PC. It’s free!

2) Install it on the desired path.

3) Open RetroArch and connect your USB gaming controller to it. [NOTE: RetroArch can be freely controlled through your gamepad as well as the keyboard and mouse. But for the first time you have to configure according to your needs, what button does what.]

Main Menu of RetroArch
Main Menu of RetroArch | Source

4) Configure the input – Go to ‘Settings’ tab in the app.

5) Under it, find ‘Input’ and enter it.

6) Here you can see various options worth tinkering, but in the meantime, head over to ‘Input User 1 Binds’.

7) Here, you can see all the key combinations and button names. As you click on the specific key, press the appropriate you want for that action. Repeat the process for all keys.

8) You can also configure how many players you want in the input menu. Subsequently, you can configure other users’ control schemes as per their convenience.

Settings Tab with highlighted 'Input' option
Settings Tab with highlighted 'Input' option | Source

9) This step is not mandatory but it can remove some hassle each time you run the application. This involves determining a specific directory that is loaded as ‘Start Directory’. For this, go to the ‘Settings tab’. Under it, find the directory option and enter it. Here you’ll see many paths related to RetroArch. You gotta find the path named ‘File Browser’. You can change this path where you would place all your games. So the next time you open your app, you don’t have to manually locate the game.

Now comes the fun part. RetroArch runs various games by using various console plug-ins called cores. At the beginning, there are no cores installed by default. You have to download according to your choice depending upon your emulation needs.

10) At the main menu tab, the very first option is ‘Load core’. Enter it. By default, there are no cores. So, it displays an option of ‘Download core’ in there. Enter it.

11) You must have an internet connection to diplay all the available cores. The core names are basically all the different consoles that you can emulate. Choose the ones you want and download them. Downloading usually takes just a few seconds.

[NOTE -: A single console may have multiple cores. For e.g: NES has 3 or 4 cores. You may have to download and see for yourself which one runs best on your system. There is no fixed favorite for everyone.]

12) Now comes the fun part. Now you can easily run any game ROM depending on your core. In the main menu, Go to ‘Load Core’ and enter. Select the desired core and load it.

13) Once loaded, the core is ready to run pretty much every game of that respective console that it’s meant to run. Now, go to ‘Load content’ option. Go to the ‘Start Directory’ that has the defined path that you have created previously in “Step 9”. Locate the game and ‘Load archive’. This should run the game.

That’s all folks. Now you have an ‘All in one’ gaming console at your service. You can always find all your favorite game ROM files on the internet and experience some serious nostalgia. Do let me know in the comments how you felt and tell me if you face any issues.

ALL the POWER | Source

Hey Gamers!

What among the following is your favorite console company?

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