I missed on the retro gaming nostalgia, as I didn’t play many computer games as a kid. The money was an issue when I was young, and all my gaming sessions were thanks to good childhood friends. The games that got stuck in my mind were Settlers, Worms (Amiga), Rick Dangerous (Commodore 64), Tekken (PS) and NFS Porsche (PC). I didn’t even play Mario games until I was much older. When LABISTS reached out asking me to take a look at their retro gaming LABISTS kit, I wasn’t keen at first, but I’m glad I changed my mind.
I don’t think the Amazon listing does the kit the justice. Glancing over the pictures and listings, I was expecting a cobbled together items dropped into a box. To my great surprised, the retro gaming LABISTS kit smashes it with the presentation. It comes in a nice box, something that I would be proud to gift to any RETRO gaming maniac.
Who is it for?
It’s a great gift package. You could gift Nintendo Classic Mini to someone to rekindle nostalgia from the old days, but the truth is, a console like this will end up in a drawer collecting dust between parties where it will serve as 30 min entertainment piece. Gaming LABISTS kit comes with a hook. Once nostalgia wears off, you can use the Raspberry Pi 4 for virtually anything. It’s not a bad way to get someone hooked on Raspberry Pi.
The kit comes with everything you need to get started:
- Raspberry PI 4 4GB edition
- Multi-function enclosure with active and passive cooling
- 2 decent controllers
- pre-flashed 64GB card and clever reader
You can get it all up and running within 20 min. The manual covers everything you need to know about the system up until the first boot point. I had no problems getting started up to that point. It looks beautiful thanks to 4K support on Raspberry Pi 4 – I had a go using 4K BenQ 32″ monitor and Xiaomi DLP projector (review) to play Mario on a 150″ screen!
The LABISTS case is well designed and made from ABS alike material. There are dedicated fittings for a 30mm fan (included) and a Raspberry Pi Camera. The case also comes with the 1/4 inch tripod mount. GPIO pins are not exposed, but you could modify the case to access these if you wanted to.
It’s a nice looking case and I have seen it featured in other kits LABISTS have on offer. It’s not made purposely for gaming, but I think that’s a good thing. Once the retro nostalgia is put back to a drawer, you can get a Raspberry Pi Camera and start experimenting with AI vision without looking for a new case.
Included gamepads are decent. Layout is taken directly from the DualShock pads – something I’m fond of, but the controllers are wired. I’d love a Bluetooth version instead as the Raspberry Pi supports it and the perspective of retro gaming on 4K TV from the comfort of the sofa is way too appealing.
The buttons are on the stiffer side and the analog sticks will need a couple of gaming hours to break in but other than this, the pads are nice in use.
In the box, you will also find a modified power supply with a power button (very useful) 64 GB A1 (Class 10) card and a very clever reader that can be used with USB-C and A. All this paired with the most powerful (at the time of the release) Raspberry Pi 4 4GB.
Polished OS, but…
I never used any emulators before. I’m familiar with the concept, but this was my 1st experience with Lakka OS (RetroArch) for gaming. First impressions are great, even if the number of options and settings are overwhelming. I’d appreciate a couple of more pages on how to get started with it. The UI mirrors the Playstation one, creating a new but familiar experience. I was able to navigate through menus quickly finding the options for the WiFi and controller settings.
Tips for beginners:
- swap button mappings – X and O are reversed in function, if you like the PlayStation layout, use the option to mirror it.
- set “hold start for 2 sec” to access the in-game menu
- keyboards – very helpful to have one plugged in
- enable SMB – easiest option to load the games is to enable file share and navigate to \\lakka on your PC to access the file structure
- use updater to download the content and core – to load the emulator.
- Expect to search for games – due to copyright issues, the pre-installed OS comes with only a handful of games, you will need to find your favourites yourself
- copy .zip files – you an drop the downloaded ROMS directly to SMB file share
Expect to do a lot of reading and trial and error. Some games are easy to run (drop a zip file and go) while other will require time to set up correctly. I also got a couple of games that I just could not launch and I run out of patience troubleshooting it.
RetroArch can run dozens of emulators and it’s a powerful gaming platform, but it’s not a simple one to use. It’s not a LABISTS fault, but expect to commit hours to get all games you want working just the way you want it.
I’m not overly keen on retro gaming. I feel the nostalgia for some games, but I don’t think I have enough time to spend to fiddle with games, settings and making it all run just the way it would 20 or more years ago. The retro gaming LABISTS kit is all you need to try most of the games if you have the patience to get it all right. I’m going to use the kit for its secondary purpose and totally take the advantage of the case, Raspberry Pi Camera module that I have and play with some AI and image recognition! And the controllers? I’m sure I can hook one up to my robot. At £104 after the discount code LRHYX67Y, you may think it’s pricy but £54 is just the Raspberry Pi 4 alone! It could be worth your time! Let me know what games were you able to play on it in this Reddit thread.