Hello everybody !
So, I guess this is the right place to write about it. Let's start.
Back in 2017 I decided to purchase a SBC, but instead of going casually for Raspberry I decided to buy a cheaper Orange Pi Lite (in fact so cheap I'm surprised prices of those computers were so low, but stayed at the same level for those years). Sadly it's production seems to reach an end
but even back then I was quite surprised how much such a little board can do. I downloaded the RetrOrangePi - the similiar OS to the original RetroPie, and I'm still using it, without the need to update anything.
For the shell I chose the most iconic console of all time - the Polystation. Not only it brought back memories of my PS1 (still have it, but sadly with the optical drive being almost dead), it was also quite small, which was a great addition, because I planned to take it with me, and so I did. At the front I made a bigger hole and glued up an USB hub, and another hole in rear for the connectors (HDMI, power). I also included radiators and a small fan. It doesn't really look the best, but it was a prototype console I made, so I wasn't really paying that much of an attention.
Going into the emulation section the small and cheap SBC proven to run smoothly everything 8 and 16 bit including a few 32 bit consoles (32x, PSX and GBA). It also plays some N64 games. I also have Dreamcast and PSP emu, and it sort of works - but not really well. The console I wanted mostly to run at the device was PSX anyway, so after a short while I realised that it was worth dumping games from my collection to see them running on big screen.
As for the controls I had NO problems with configuring anything that had USB plug. Starting with official controllers, moving into third party ones, and even finishing with the ones that supposedly "worked with Windows 10 only". Same goes for cheap wireless PS3 knock-offs with little USB recievers. By saying this I have quite wide variety of controllers to play. Many Gameboy Advance games proven to be much more enjoyable, when using a standart controller. Oh, and it does support 4 players, sadly not for PSX.
At least the video quality. I'm very happy with the HDMI output. Games look great, 2D is crispy, and 3D has not "aged bad" at least in my opinion haha. Plus I can't complain about sound either. Sure it is emulation, and in most cases cannot compete with real deal, but it wasn't ever meant to be a machine for hardcore gamers.
You may ask then what makes this so special ? Well it's quite simple. Since 2017 I'm carrying this prototype everywhere. Starting from having it in my room, through going into my friends house, taking it for the party, and even for holidays. Everytime I have this baby with me people love to compete at Super Bomberman 2, Mean Bean Machine, Tekken 3 and Mario Kart 64 - normally I should be having with myself SNES Mini, Genesis Mini, Playstation Classic and N64 Mini that is not available yet ! Not to mention all consoles mentioned above came up to the market later - only NES Mini was around back then, and let's face it - Famiclones with multicarts were a thing much earlier.
It's now 3 years later, and I'm still using this prototype very often. Not even a week ago I took it into my friends house so we could spend some hours playing Chrono Trigger, without worrying about memory card and laser. And since we aren't really on hardcore side anyway, we tend to use savestates now ! (yea I know shame on us). In 2018 I acquired much more powerful SBC - Odroid XU4, but to be fair I still havent set up anything with that one, as it has a large radiator, and I'm trying to find a fitting shell for it. Speaking of shells, for those 3 years I created a few more consoles using Orange Pi, with various shells - starting from PS2 slim shell, moving into PSX knockoff one, finishing with a toy car. The possibilities are actually endless, as the form factor is small, you could even fit one into football sized shell, and play FIFA on it.
Even though PS5 and Xbox X are on market, people still tend to like retro games, and my console still has some use. It basically gives me what all those "mini" consoles on market can do, and still for a little money. Any downsides ? Well, to be fair I kind of miss the analogue output, which every Raspberry has. I know that many people won't mind, but I'm a big fan of CRT's so for me an additional option to run games through analogue output would be big. Besides I guess I can't complain. It still serves well and already granted me with hundrets of hours worth gameplay.
I guess this is enough about this project I did. Can't say I'm the only one who did a project like that, but I guess that the clue is to have everything in one place. Saw many times all those Raspberry Pi's with a stock shell, cables everywhere and a knockoff SNES controller for sale ... This may be the reason why mine solution has worked out well back then - and still works !