Make An Awesome Portable Retro Gaming System This Weekend

Make An Awesome Portable Retro Gaming System This Weekend

If you’re looking to relive the nostalgic games of your childhood, there are many options available. You can hack an existing piece of hardware or even build one yourself. This weekend, put together the ultimate retro gaming system of your choice.

We’ve sorted this post by hardware type so you can easily find the project you want. If you want to turn your Android phone or tablet into a retro gaming machine, head to that section. If you want to use your Nintendo DS, skip over Android and jump to that part of the post. If you’re not sure, read ’em all. It’s up to you.

Android and iOS


Your mobile phone is a great gaming device, but if you want to play emulated retro games you need to do a bit of work to get it there. We have a big, comprehensive guide to help you out, so give that a read if you’re looking to dive into emulation on your mobile phone or tablet. It will show you how to do everything from emulate your favourite games to using a physical controller for a better experience.

Nintendo DS


If you own a Nintendo DS, it’s a great choice for retro gaming. Not only can you install several emulators and games on a single cartridge, you can even add your favourite DS games to that cartridge as well. This way you can just take the device with you without carrying around a bunch of games. Everything is available in one place, and the controller is built right into the device. If you’re looking for an all-in-one portable system that’s easy to hack, the Nintendo DS is the way to go.

Sony PSP


Although we haven’t had much experience with hacking Sony PSPs, retro game emulation is certainly possible with plenty of emulated consoles available to get the job done. Here’s a guide to get you started with the installation process (or just watch this video version). It looks like a fairly simple process, but we haven’t been through it before so we can’t fully vouch for it. If you’ve hacked a PSP in the past, share your experiences in the discussions below.

Build Or Buy Your Own Emulation-Oriented Hardware


You don’t necessarily have to hack together a solution if you want to play retro games. Instructables user HeDoesNotBehave built his own so he could play a few select retro games. Although not a comprehensive option, it seems like an incredibly cheap solution to get your hands on the real classics. Alternatively, you can buy devices that are specifically designed for emulated games. ThinkGeek sells plenty of these devices, such as the retro portable S/NES system (which actually plays the real games and doesn’t require emulation at all). Alternatively, there’s the Dingoo Digital A320 and A330 which are capable of emulating several different consoles out of the box.

I used to use an A320 as my main emulation device but have since moved on to an Android tablet. While the A320 handles most games beautifully, the little quirks got annoying (like the finicky power switch) and made me eventually switch. That said, it’s a very cheap option and a way to get started if you don’t want to do too much hacking.

Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy your gaming and nostalgia this weekend.


  • I hacked my PSP a long time ago and it was quite involved. Part of it was taking apart the battery and cutting a connector off of a chip – not something I would have been game to try if I didn’t have a spare battery. Those guides you linked to above are for installing emulators, but you need to first install custom firmware to the PSP. That was long ago and perhaps there are easier methods now though.

    There was a lot of faffing about getting it all working but the results are GREAT! My favourite thing about it is being able to rip my old Playstation 1 discs and play them on the go. Plus of course having emulators for other retro systems. Definitely recommended if you have a PSP sitting in a draw somewhere gathering dust, or even if you want to pick one up cheap online.

    • “perhaps there are easier methods now though” – That is a complete understatement. It is now easier than easy to hack a PSP. The latest method/s to hack a PSP is basically identical to updating a PSP to official firmware which is like how it is done on a PS3.

      Basically you download the official update manually onto the PSP Memory Card, then instead of running the Official updater, you run another downloaded file which then accesses the official updater by acting as a launcher and then replaces files with Custom Firmware files over the top of the official firmware files. All in all you basically just see Sony’s Official Updater installing, with the custom launcher running in the background changing some files.

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