Most video game ROMs are copyrighted, meaning it is illegal to download or distribute them online. Ripping your own ROMs is a legal grey area, but if you plan on ripping cartridges you own, you’re going to need to invest in additional hardware. That being said, there are a number of classic games you can play in RetroPie that are completely free and totally legal.
How to Install Optional Packages in RetroPie
These games, along with alternative emulators and other software, are known as “optional packages.” Fortunately, installing these optional packages and playing them on your RetroPie build is incredibly easy. To browse the optional packages available and install them to your RetroPie build, follow these steps.
1. Navigate to the RetroPie/Configuration menu.
2. Scroll down to RetroPie Setup.
3. On the next screen select “Manage Packages.”
4. Next, select “Optional Packages.”
5. Here, you’ll be presented with all of the optional packages available. When you see one that looks appealing, select it and choose “install from source.”
At this point, you’ll see a number of different options, including alternative emulators. However, we’re most concerned with free, open-source games. So what should you install? Have a look at our picks below!
1. DXX-Rebirth (Descent)
In 1995 one of the most influential first-person shooters ever made was released. In Descent players take control of a small craft and are tasked with eliminating malfunctioning robots that had run amok in an underground mine. The game was praised for its level design and combat, and was one of the first shooters to utilize true three-dimensional movement. If you never got to experience Descent when it was originally released, you’re in luck. DXX-Rebirth is a source port of Descent and Descent 2 with updated OpenGL graphics. Furthermore, the port has additional features like support for add-on packs, a robust multiplayer and more.
2. Cannonball (Outrun)
Outrun is a classic arcade game where players attempt to beat the clock in a red Ferrari. Cannonball is a total rewrite of the Outrun engine, designed to be an arcade-perfect port of the influential racer. Cannonball offers a slew of graphical upgrades over the original game, the most notably an upgrade from 30 FPS to 60 FPS. However, it’s not just a fresh coat of paint that makes Cannonball worth checking out. It also boasts new features like a continuous mode where players can race all 15 tracks in a row!
3. SDLPop (Prince of Persia)
Prince of Persia, the classic adventure game featuring fluid character animations and excellent platforming puzzles, comes to RetroPie thanks to SDLPop. The project is an open-source port of the original game, made by disassembling the DOS version. SLDPoP is continually updated, with the most recent version being released in March 2019. Furthermore, the port also has a robust online community, featuring an active forum and tutorials on everything from modding to walkthroughs.
4. Quake 3 (Quake III Arena)
There are a number of games in the Quake series that are available to play on RetroPie. However, you may want to try Quake III first, as it is a fan favorite. For those unfamiliar with the series, Quake is a violent arena shooter with ridiculously overpowered guns. It should be noted that the version of Quake III that is installed to your RetroPie will be the shareware version. Unfortunately, the shareware version has some limitations. Out of the box, Quake only works with a keyboard. That being said, it is possible to configure a controller to work with the game.
5. OpenTyrian (Tyrian)
If you’re a fan of vertical overhead shoot-em-ups, you’ll definitely want to install OpenTyrian. OpenTyrian is an open-source port of the DOS game, Tyrian, originally released in 1995. Fortunately, by 2004 the game was released as PC freeware. Finally, the game’s source code was made freely available in 2007, allowing for the OpenTyrian port. The game is an arcade-style shooter where players control a spacecraft tasked with saving the galaxy by destroying everything in its path.
6. lr-prboom (Doom)
It should come as no surprise that Doom is available on RetroPie. After all, what can’t Doom run on? The massively popular shooter places gamers in the shoes of a space marine dispatching demons from Hell with a colorful assortment of weapons. That being said, like Quake, this is the shareware version of Doom.
7. Micropolis (SimCity)
Micropolis is a strategy game where players must design, build, and maintain a bustling city. It is an open source version of the original SimCity game, developed by Will Wright and released in 1989. In the game, players must develop a city from scratch. Of course, the challenge lies in juggling everything that makes a city run. Players must consider everything from infrastructure to schools to residential areas and more. In addition, the player must determine tax rates and balance the budget. Similarly to Quake III, Micropolis will require a mouse and keyboard as opposed to a controller.
In conclusion, there are a number of optional packages available for your RetroPie build. You can try experimenting with different emulators, or you can install a slew of classic games. In addition, many of these games feature enhanced graphics and additional features.