I’ve never really been a “gamer” throughout my childhood, I’ve always had games consoles (NES, SNES, Mega Drive, N64, PlayStation, Xbox, Etc.) but for me, the novelty and excitement of having them wore off very quickly and I soon found myself just getting bored.
I always loved being outdoors and playing Football, I’m not an amazing footballer by my own admission but I’ve always been good enough to play for different teams growing up and into my adult life so playing computer games at home lost it’s appeal very quickly.
I have very fond memories from when I was about 14/15 years old, playing a particular game on an Amiga, my mates and I would camp out in the back room of their parents house and just have epic tournaments. The game was Sensible Soccer, it wasn’t the best game and is now so far away from where Football games are, that if you put this in front of anyone who has played any of the latest FIFA games then you would be probably laughed out of the room but I absolutely loved it then and still do love it now!!
A few months back a new Raspberry Pi was announced the “PiZero”. This was developed to enable everyone to have a chance to learn basic computer skills, the best thing about this incredible piece of hardware was its price….£4 ($5)!! Not only was this cheap but the Raspberry Pi Foundation were giving them away on the front of their official magazine “The MagPi“. I remember magazines having game demo Cd’s on the front not full on micro computer – I was hooked, I wanted one and made it my mission to get one!
Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea and all the shops I looked in, were all sold out so I went down the more conventional route of just buying one from The PiHut.
My PiZero developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Now a computer for £4 is amazing but it doesn’t really tell the whole story, a couple of micro connectors and other peripherals are needed to get the show on the road. Luckily, The PiHut sells a convenient little pack of essentials to get you up and running and as I had a few spare cables and an old phone charger I was good to go!
It was always my intention to use this little baby as a retro games console so that I could hook it up to a spare TV in my office at home and that’s exactly what I did with it! I knew of a project called RetroPie and followed their instructions to set up my PiZero. I’m not going to add the full set up instructions here as they have done all the hard work so I’d recommend checking out the site if you’d like to have your very own retro games console.
After a tiny bit of effort (took no time at all) and changing a couple of configs, I was able to get it all working and installed in my office.
My PiZero set up on the back of the TV in the office at home
I have a few extra items that I didn’t mention before, i additionally purchased these to tidy things up a little bit and not have the PiZero exposed and wires everywhere but it’s entirely up to the owner to get these extras if needed.
- A case from Pimoroni
- An Advent USB hub
- A USB Gamepad (Quite essential)
- A USB WiFi adapter (To connect to the Internet to add more games – Not essential)
As much as this was a fun thing to do, it was also a little project i set myself to become a lot more familiar with the Linux OS. We use a flavour of Linux at work and i was never comfortable with using the Command Line as I have always used the MS-DOS commands on Windows machines and as the Linux syntax is slightly different i was always wary of it. So i wanted to change that! You should never be afraid of things – just give it go and you may surprise yourself!
I took a course on Codecademy to learn the basics and installed a VM with Ubuntu on my local machine and just messed about – I hate saying i messed about but that’s kinda what i did. I did this to get confident with interacting with the shell so i wasn’t afraid anymore.
I also wanted to access my PiZero through SSH (The reason why i have a USB WiFi adapter connected) – It did this using PuTTY and WinSCP. After changing the default logins and adding a new user i was in and navigating the file structure. There are some really good instructions for doing this on the Raspberry Pi website. With this access, you can add more games (roms) to your RetroPie – Using WinSCP for this is really good if you don’t want to use the command line. Games can be added in a couple of other ways so it is not too important to have your PiZero hooked up to a network – you should find the details of these different ways in the Instructions.
So i now have Sensible Soccer installed on my RetroPie and everytime i play it, i’m taken back to that time with my mates. It’s funny how something so simple can instantly spark a memory for your past – much the same a songs do when you haven’t heard them for a long time.
If you do have the time and desire to get something like this up and running, i’d love to hear about it! Happy Gaming!