RetroArch – How to Get Started

Obtaining the ROMs

Firstly, you need a ROM file. This is basically a virtual disc/game cartridge for RetroArch to read. To do this, you can rip your own ROMs from your own game cartridges, using a device like this.

If you don’t have access to game cartridges or a ripper, I would recommend pirating downloading them from a generous website like There are no ‘sussy’ ads, and downloads are relatively fast.

Downloading the Cores

RetroArch isn’t an emulator itself, it’s a platform that offers emulators within it. For the Steam version, you can download emulators in the form of DLC, that it automatically adds to your library when you download RetroArch. There are 53 of these, which will normally be apparent what console they are for. If not, Google is your friend!

You’re going to want to download all the Cores you want before you try to play a game in RetroArch.

Adding the ROMs to RetroArch

This part can be a little bit tricky, so read this carefully.

First, you’re going to want to make separate folders for each console’s ROMs. This will make it easier to identify which is which. Make sure you put this folder somewhere easy to access, like your desktop of downloads folders.

Then, open RetroArch. Before we continue, it is worth noting that if you go into the wrong section by accident, press ‘Backspace’ to return to where you were. In the ‘Main Menu’ tab, select ‘Load Content’. Then, select the button that says ‘C:\’ (Or whatever your storage drive prefix is). Then, navigate to the folder you stored your ROMs. If you didn’t save them at the root of your drive, select ‘Users’, then the user’s name, and then navigate to the folder.

Once you select the content you want, a list of suggested Cores will appear. Select the one that is appropriate for the console your ROM belongs to. Then, you will be in game!

To access content you have opened previously easier, select the ‘History’ tab, to view a list of ROMs you have opened in RetroArch.

Helena Stamatina
About Helena Stamatina 2992 Articles
I love two things in life, games and sports. Although sports were my earliest interest, it was video games that got me completely addicted (in a good way). My first game was Crash Bandicoot (PS1) from the legendary studio Naughty Dog back in 1996. I turned my passion for gaming into a job back in 2019 when I transformed my geek blog (Re-actor) into the gaming website it is today.

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