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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:04 am 
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I guess that most people here already heard of retroarch. It's basically a multi-system frontend that gives access to a lot of emulators in a single package, basically. I rarely play on computer nowadays, and when I do is usually to reverse algorithms that the games uses (like custom text/graphics compression or similar stuff), or to debug when I'm working on some emulator, and for this I need emulators with debugging capabilities anyway. But when I go out and have to wait or get bored I like to play old games on my phone, mainly puzzle games. I then decided to give a try to the Android version of RetroArch, expecting to play some good old games without problems, but unfortunately this was not the case.

The first thing that I noticed about the Android version is that it, oddly, doesn't seem to be designed for touch devices, which is weird considering that Android is a system made for mobile phones and tablets that most of the time only have as input a touch screen. Touching the screen, for example, doesn't open the menus, to open anything you have to double-tap, which is different from any other Android application I used. For some reason, the back button also doesn't work on my device, which means that I have the use the one on the top of the menu. Some options can't even be used properly with the touch, like for example, the Save Slot, taping it only increases the save slot number forever. On most emulators, you have 10 save slots (0-9), but this one for some reason let's you increase it forever.

Talking a bit more about the menus... they are confusing. The main menu, for example, have a item called "Configurations", that I most of the time think it's the configuration menu, but it actually isn't. It's a menu to load and save configuration files, which makes me wonder, why would I even need to manage the emulator configuration files? The actual options menu is located on a different tab menu, not the main one. The options menu have quite a lot of options, that could be a bit intimidating for the average user, I imagine, but with time it's not hard to get used to it. It also have it's own bugs, changing the "color theme" for example, makes the title bar transparent, and the app needs to be restarted. The default save state directory setting, which is "Conent dir", that I suppose means the emulator will try to save on the folder where the ROM is located, doesn't work. The emulator get stuck at 0% when trying to save or load with said setting, it works when the directory is changed though.

The emulators seems to work fine, the touch controls also works pretty much like any other android emulator I tried, it have some bugs here and there, like for example, when holding the device in "portrait" position the controls get squished on the screen instead of relocating the button positions, which looks... weird. Other issue I noticed is that when using Fast Forward, and pressing the button to switch between analog and d-pad, it is disabled, for some reason. And this is pretty much how the whole app feels, random bugs constantly occurring.

Those are some of the issues I had when using it. There were also other minor issues (like font drawing issues), and I imagine that if I used more features the list would keep growing, and this is not even Beta software, it have been in development for some years already. For me, as the user this is enough to make me search for something better (like, a standalone emulator). The project intetions are good, and I find awesome that it's offered for free, without any kind of ads or nasty stuff, in constrat with what other Android "free" apps does, but unfortunately, at least the Android version that's what I tried, is barely usable. I believe it gets a bit better with a bluetooth controller, since the thing seems to be designed to be used with a external controller, like I said before. But imo, on Android devices, touch should be the priority, since it's what most of the Android devices have as primary input method.

I would like to hear other people opinions, have anyone here used the Android version, and had those issues too? Or maybe even other versions, what was your experience using it?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:12 am 
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gdkchan wrote:
But imo, on Android devices, touch should be the priority, since it's what most of the Android devices have as primary input method.

I haven't used RetroArch, but what I have used of touch-based virtual gamepads (Nesoid and Pixeline) has felt hard to adapt to.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:16 am 
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tepples wrote:
gdkchan wrote:
But imo, on Android devices, touch should be the priority, since it's what most of the Android devices have as primary input method.

I haven't used RetroArch, but what I have used of touch-based virtual gamepads (Nesoid and Pixeline) has felt hard to adapt to.

I'm not a huge fan of touch controls either. I often miss the buttons because I can't feel where they are located with my fingers, and not being able to actually "press" it is a bit weird. But it's usable imo, I prefer using it than carrying a controller around.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:30 am 
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Yep, horribly unusable indeed. Especially since sometimes you can press Home to suspend the game, and return to it by running RetroArch again, but other times it will lose your progress.
I did play through Chrono Trigger on it though, it seemed to work okay for RPGs and other games where you can afford to be slow on the controls.

I'd like to see them add support for using the volume rocker as left/right buttons, might make it possible to play platformers.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:22 am 
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I've used RetroArch on Raspberry Pi to good results. It seems to be built for that purpose, with Android support as somewhat of an afterthought.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:46 am 
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The last topic where we discussed practical problems with a virtual gamepad on a touch-controlled device was Adapting and publishing a handheld game.


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