Version 7.0 of the popular retrogaming distro Recalbox is set to go down in history as one of the most comprehensive ever produced by the team of volunteers who run this free project.
Dedicated to installation on a PC or mini-computers such as Raspberry Pi or Odroid, Recalbox is an operating system equipped with modules that emulates old platforms, whether they are computers (Amstrad, Atari, etc.), consoles (NES, Playstation, etc.) or even an arcade system.
Built around bricks open source, this entertainment operating system – in addition to emulators, it incorporates a media center system – enters an era of accelerating its capabilities.
The first technical development lies in its very structure: previously, it behaved like a classic operating system and the updates concerned one or another file.
From now on, Rexcalbox 7.0 will update like a smartphone since the whole system behaves like firmware. This should make future developments more fluid, but the constraint is that it will be impossible to updatea version 6.x to this 7th version.
Yet, I promise, the development team says, this is the last time you have to completely crash your system. And in the event of a boot problem, the firmware will automatically restore the system to its original state after three successive failures.
On the hardware side, the most awaited development is support for Raspberry 4, an absence that was sorely lacking in version 6. All the more so as its “competitors”, the projects themselves free and free that are Batocera, Lakka or RetroPie have been integrating it for a while. Then, a little bonus, native support for NUCs, Intel mini PCs that we test regularly and whose format fits perfectly with console / media center use.
Still in the hardware part, it should be noted the support for the Retroflag NESPi4Case, a “luxury” box very popular with the retrogaming community.
We can also report better support for Bluetooth controllers: Recalbox claims compatibility with 80% of controllers on the market, including all models of 8bitDo, THE benchmark in the field of retrogaming.
In terms of software, ergonomics and emulation “bricks”, the innovations are endless. We note in bulk, the addition of ten emulated systems (including the infamous Jaguar), a better management system for these BIOS and their automatic verification at each game launch, a complete rewrite of the audio engine (selectable peripheral, native support more formats, etc.), a management mode for three virtual systems (multi games, last games played, all games), easy access to the ROMS partition from Windows (partition now in exFAT), Pad mode -to-keyboard, etc. We told you, a barrage of improvements.
Games and business
On the fun side, two major new features: first, for the first time, Recalbox includes games, because the entity has acquired the distribution rights for no less than 150 titles.
Not Final Fantasy and Mario, these are free games, often clones, developed by teams of enthusiasts. But there are still shareware like the demo versions of yesteryear of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom or Quake I. The team has done a titanic job by contacting each of the rights holders to have the authorization to integrate it into the distribution. Real painstaking work.
The other fun advance is support for OpenBor and Solarus, game engines – the former for fighting games, the latter for adventure titles – prized by the hobbyist community for easy development.
The integration of these two engines makes it possible to expand the legal game library of the distribution, which is an excellent point given the legal restrictions surrounding retrogaming.
The other development of the project lies in the partnership with Kubii, a cybermerchant who is also one of the two official distributors of the Raspberry Pi in France (with Elektor).
With financial support to Recalbox, which should do the greatest good for this volunteer project, Kubii now sells Designer Merchandise Ret kits on its site through a new section entirely dedicated to Recalbox. From complete kits to mugs and 8BitDo controllers, now the merchant’s “recalbox” tab rhymes with emulation and retrogaming.
Always free, Recalbox is freely downloadable and available for several platforms, including Raspberry Pi (from Zero to 4) and x86 / x64 computers.