Cover image for RetroPie Gaming on the CM4 Inside an Atari 2600 Replica

RetroPie Gaming on the CM4 Inside an Atari 2600 Replica

Experience RetroPie with the Power of the Compute Module 4 IO Devboard

11 August 2023
5 minute read

By Kevin McAleer
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Table of Contents

Raspberry Pi RetroPie Retro Gaming Gaming
Code Repo
View Code Repository on GitHub


Watch the associated video here:

Crafting an Atari 2600 Replica

Last year, I embarked on an exciting journey and fashioned a 3D printed Atari 2600 replica specifically designed for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 IO board. I opted for the CM4 variant equipped with Wifi, a robust 2GB RAM, and a generous 32GB eMMC storage.

All was well, until one day the CM4 started acting up, refusing to boot as it used to. My first instinct was to blame potential file system corruption or a malfunctioning eMMC. Disheartened, I shelved it for the better part of 8 months.

Resurrecting the CM4

This weekend’s agenda? Resuscitate the CM4. Given their niche nature, there’s a conspicuous dearth of CM4 documentation available. My goal was straightforward – erase the current Raspberry Pi setup and infuse life back into the CM4 with a fresh Raspberry Pi OS.

It’s worth noting that the CM4’s OS refresh isn’t the conventional SD Card insertion. The process necessitates specific software, a Micro-B USB cable connection to the IO Devboard, and the motherboard’s jumper shifted to target disk mode. For those keen on the intricacies, Jeff Geerling offers a comprehensive guide detailing each step.

Embracing Retro Gaming

With the Raspberry Pi OS 64-bit breathing life into the CM4, it was time to realize my initial vision – setting up RetroPie for a nostalgic gaming experience. And what better home for it than a case reminiscent of the Atari 2600?

If you’re looking to streamline your RetroPie setup with Samba file sharing on the Raspberry Pi, I’ve crafted a guide to help you through.

Manual Installation of RetroPie on Raspberry Pi CM4

Taking a slightly different approach, let’s manually install RetroPie on the CM4, ensuring that we have the most control over the entire process. This method is akin to setting it up on a regular Raspberry Pi.


  1. Micro SD Card: 16GB or larger recommended.
  2. Raspberry Pi CM4 with IO board.
  3. Power supply, keyboard, mouse, and HDMI monitor.
  4. Internet connection for necessary downloads and updates.


  1. Install Raspberry Pi OS: Begin with a fresh installation of Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian) on your SD card using software like Balena Etcher or Raspberry Pi Imager.

  2. Initial Boot-Up and Setup:
    • Insert the SD card into the CM4.
    • Connect your peripherals.
    • Power up the CM4.
    • Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the initial Raspberry Pi OS setup, ensuring you connect to Wi-Fi.
  3. Update & Upgrade: Open a terminal and run:

     sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y
  4. Install RetroPie Setup Script: In the terminal, execute the following commands:

     sudo apt install -y git lsb-release
     git clone --depth=1
  5. Run RetroPie Setup: Navigate to the directory and start the setup:

     cd RetroPie-Setup
     sudo ./
  6. Install from Source: In the RetroPie-Setup script, choose ‘Basic install’. This will install all the core packages. It’s a bit time-consuming, but it ensures the latest versions are fetched.

  7. Configure Controllers: Once installed, launch RetroPie from the terminal with emulationstation. On first launch, you’ll be prompted to configure your game controller. Hold any button on it and follow the on-screen instructions.

  8. Transferring ROMs: After RetroPie’s core components are set, you’ll want to add game ROMs. Remember, only use ROMs you legally own. The earlier Samba method is recommended for easy transfers.

  9. Play and Enjoy: Navigate to your game, and indulge in retro gaming goodness!


  • Performance Tweaks: Some games might require performance adjustments. Explore the settings of specific emulators if needed.
  • Backups Matter: As you make more customizations and add more ROMs, remember to back up your SD card. It saves time in case of any future issues.

Remember, manual installation provides deeper insights into the process, but it’s crucial to follow each step carefully to ensure a smooth gaming experience.

Introduction to RetroPie: Relive the Gaming Glory Days

In the rapidly evolving realm of gaming, there’s an ever-present allure in revisiting the classics. RetroPie is a software package that enables such nostalgic journeys, transforming your Raspberry Pi (or other devices) into a retro-gaming machine.

What is RetroPie?

RetroPie is a software library used to emulate old-school video game consoles and arcade systems on the Raspberry Pi. Built upon several components including Raspbian, EmulationStation, and RetroArch, it offers a straightforward and customizable way to play a plethora of classic games – from the early arcade titles to the console legends of the ’90s and beyond. <>

Evolution of Raspberry Pi

Game Console timeline


Key Features and Capabilities

  1. Broad System Support: RetroPie can emulate a vast range of gaming systems, including but not limited to:
    • Classic arcade games via MAME
    • Commodore 64
    • NES, SNES
    • Sega Genesis, Master System
    • PlayStation 1
    • Atari systems …and many more!

    All the game systems supported

  2. Customizable User Interface: With EmulationStation at its core, RetroPie boasts a visually appealing and customizable interface. Themes can be changed, providing a unique look tailored to your preferences.

  3. Versatile ROM Support: Load games (ROMs) from multiple sources – USB drives, SD cards, or even over your network using tools like Samba.

  4. Controller Configuration: RetroPie supports a diverse array of controllers. From USB controllers to Bluetooth wireless options, you can use modern devices or even adapt old-school controllers for a genuine retro feel.

  5. Add-Ons and Extensions: RetroPie’s functionality isn’t just limited to playing games. It can also support Kodi for media viewing, add third-party emulators not initially included, or even feature tools like Scraper to fetch and display game metadata and box art.

  6. Active Community: One of RetroPie’s greatest strengths is its vibrant community. There are countless tutorials, forums, and third-party tools available, making troubleshooting, customization, and game acquisition a breeze.

  7. Portability and Affordability: Being based on the Raspberry Pi, RetroPie offers a portable and cost-effective solution to retro gaming. Whether you’re building a tabletop arcade or a pocket-sized gaming device, the possibilities are vast.

In Conclusion

RetroPie is more than just a software package; it’s a portal to the past. It encapsulates decades of gaming history into a compact, modern format, allowing enthusiasts and newcomers alike to experience the evolution of gaming, from pixelated beginnings to the rich narratives and expansive worlds of later console generations.

Whether you’re rediscovering old favorites or exploring classic titles for the first time, RetroPie offers an immersive journey into the golden age of gaming.

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