[Tutorial] Installing and Setting up RetroArch 1.3.6 on Blackberry Passport with Physical Keyboard Support



I've finally bit the bullet and got the Blackberry Passport Silver Edition on hand. Nothing beats its 1:1 4.5"square aspect ratio for some retro gaming love.

As of this writing there had been several versions of RetroArch that is runnable on the Blackberry OS 10, the notable ones being RetroArch Cascades and RetroArch Android version. There are, however, some drawbacks to these.




RetroArch Cascades (1.0.2.9)
Presumably the only working Blackberry OS 10 native application supporting physical keyboards, until  the 1.3.6 unofficial release.

  • No fast forward, slow motion or rewind feature.
  • Old UI with no touch screen support, cumbersome navigation.
  • No virtual buttons overlay.
  • Limited cores support. What you see is what you get at the time of release. Later RetroArch version has plug-in based core support.
Always offers the latest build among all the other Blackberry RetroArch variants.
  • Will not detect nor respond to Blackberry Passport key input due to the lack of qnx input joypad driver. It only comes with android input driver.
Others had suggested to use External Keyboard Helper and then switch to that input via Android Settings. The app is only able to detect 3 keys, Spacebar, Escape and Enter. For somewhat reason pressing spacebar result in the 'd' letter.


External keyboard helper that doesn't seemed to marry the Blackberry Keyboard well. It can only detect 3 key presses, i.e. the Spacebar, Escape and Return button.

Thankfully a guy with the nick ShiftyAxel from CrackBerry had answered our call and compiled a more up to date RetroArch 1.3.6 native Blackberry application. To add icing to the cake, it natively supports the Blackberry Passport keyboard thanks to the qnx input driver. This basically address all the limitations that is inherent to other RetroArch builds.

RetroArch 1.3.6.3 by ShiftyAxel from CrackBerry! Yay!

Notable things before we start:

  • The default internal storage path for the Blackberry is /accounts/1000/shared/
  • The default RetroArch application file is located at /accounts/1000/shared/misc/retroarch.
  • The default RetroArch configuration file is located at /accounts/1000/shared/misc/retroarch/retroarch.cfg
  • For easier access I store my ROMs file on /accounts/1000/shared/downloads/ROMs/
  • You can access the Blackberry Passport file content using FTP. Simply download FTP Server from Blackberry World, setup the initial user credentials, and then browse it using your favourite FTP client such as FileZilla on Windows or Transmit on Mac.

Optional - Setting Up FTP Server on Blackberry Passport

Open up Blackberry World and search for Ftp. Ignore the description that says 'for the Playbook' since it will works for all Blackberry OS 10 devices.





Congratulations the FTP service is now up and running on your Blackberry devices. Next is to connect to it using a FTP client.

Using Transmit on Mac OSX as the FTP client.

Navigating to the internal storage folder on the Blackberry Passport. 

Sideloading RetroArch 1.3.6 

Since RetroArch 1.3.6 is a native Blackberry application, you will have to sideload it using a computer. This is easily done using the Sachesi 2.0.3 program by xsacha.

https://github.com/xsacha/Sachesi/releases



Configuring RetroArch 1.3.6

Before launching our first game, let's download some files to enhance the emulation experience. I particularly like to apply various shaders such as LCD Grid when emulating hand held consoles. Note that the RetroArch mobile version only support .glsl shaders instead of .cg on RetroArch desktop.

Click on the 'Online Updater' option to download various up-to-date content directly from libretro official site.

Download the GLSL shaders to apply to the game screen. Shaders are useful to emulate certain screen effect such as grid, game boy green palette dot matrix display. Some shaders or presets could cause negative impact to the game performance. RetroArch will automatically extract the shaders after the download completed.

Next download several cores from other systems. A same system could have several cores, with some cores offers accurate emulation at the expense of performance, balanced, or fast with the expense of accuracy. Simply switch to another core if you find it running poorly. A notable example is the SNES core (bsnes) vs SNES9x 2010.

Following are some cores that I would recommend to download:

A very fast performance SNES core. Although bsnes offers accurate SNES emulation, I find it to be too slow when emulating games like Donkey Kong Country.

A very fast and maturely developed PSX core. There's no reason 'not' to use this one.

gpSP, mGBA and VBA Next are other good alternatives.

Hands down the emulator for Game Boy and Game Boy Color. There's multiple port on it on various game consoles such as the PSP.


File Browser Home

Change the default File Browser starting path to your ROM location. I simply put all the ROMs in the internal 32GB flash memory, i.e. /accounts/1000/shared/downloads/ROMS if you're using FTP or /media/downloads/ROMS if you simply mount it using the USB cable as local drive.








Once you had make the change, you can now instantly browse to the path by clicking the 'Favorite' menu item.





Key Remapping

Remap the keys according to your likings. It works beautifully with the Blackberry Passport keyboard! Not sure whether input per core is doable but at least these key bindings will work globally for all cores.


There's simply no point to choose more than 1 user here if you're only going to play single player.



Fast Forward

Currently there is a bug in the 1.3.6 build whereas the default 'alsa' audio driver will disable the fast forward feature. A quick solution is to switch to the 'openal' driver.





When selecting 'openal' driver, make sure the Audio Latency is greater than 64ms to prevent audio stuttering.


You even have the option to limit the fast forward ratio.


Bugs

Do not select 'Threaded Video' in the Video settings or it will cause the entire RetroArch to freeze upon launching again. Uninstalling it and side loading it again doesn't help either because the uninstallation will not remove the RetroArch home folder at /accounts/1000/shared/misc/retroarch.

Do not enable the Threaded Video option at any cost in the 1.3.6 build, otherwise it will halt/freeze the RetroArch application upon relaunching.

To solve this, FTP and edit the retroarch.cfg configuration file and set the 'video_threaded' parameter to 'false'.



Conclusion

That's it for now. Hope you enjoy RetroArch-ing on your Blackberry Passport. Do leave in the comments below if you encountered any bugs or requesting other tutorial on the Retroarch.



15 comments

Hi, i have a question how to use analog in pcsx-r?

Reply

Hi there, you can simply go to Input > Input User 1 Binds > User 1 Analog to Digital Type (Left Analog) to map the left analog stick to your D-Pad settings (up,down,left,right).

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I can't make it, Might you read and answer me on post #55 of page 3 [Unofficial Release] RetroArch 1.3.6 for BlackBerry 10?

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