Question about Atari 800 emulator

First topic post, please bear with me if I’m doing something wrong here.

I have Retroarch running many different emulators successfully, but one of the most important (to me) is the Atari 800 emulator. I had one of these computers in the 1980s and used it daily; the idea that I could play some of those old games on my flatscreen TV is just amazing.

I am having trouble with it, though - I cannot find a keyboard to use with it, and I don’t see where I can use an external keyboard. (I can use this external keyboard I have with the C=64 emulator, but not Atari).

I can run a few games okay with the Retroarch Atari emulator - but so many titles require that I press “Start”, which is on… the keyboard. So, I still can’t play most of the games I want with this.

Is there any way to access any sort of keyboard for this emulator? How? Also, is there a way to swap disks?

I am running this on an Nvidia Shield (2017 model without the Micro SD slot).

Thanks in advance.

There is a virtual keyboard and if you are booting into the Atari screen which has start/option/run then typically that means it is having issue launching whatever program selected. It should boot directly and run without having to hit start. The emulator also allows use of external keyboards. Likely you need to enter in the emulator UI and see if that is set correctly there (or manually edit the .atari800.cfg file in the RA directory). The emulator UI also has swapping discs menu (not the RA menu/UI, confusingly). Have you looked at the wiki? The Atari can be a pain to setup initially on RA. I am on a PC and only use RA for 5800 now (although did have setup for 800 at one point). I use Altirra for 800 emulation, which doesn’t help since you are on NVIDIA.

What game are you trying to launch that is going to start/run screen? I would check the emulator settings in screen below and make sure setup correctly as a starting point.

Hey - thanks so much for the info! This is a great help. I found this menu by accident (I had already given up looking for it), apparently if I fire one of the trigger controls after I set the controller to “Atari Joystick” it comes up. And - just like you said - I was able to swap disks. I had wanted to play Phantasie I. I am slowly getting to the point with this where I can run the things I want now.

I also brought up a virtual keyboard, but it did not have the Start/Option/ etc keys. I still haven’t found a way to find those.

Part of the problem is that I am running the Android version on an Nvidia Shield, so I have no touch controls.

So, here is where I am now: I still haven’t figured out how to use an external keyboard, and I haven’t found the Start key yet.

To answer your question, the game I am desperately trying to play (after 31 years, lol) is “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves”. I did find the virtual keyboard for this game and saved the configuration; so I can bring up the virtual keyboard every time. I can press instead of Start and get the game to run, but then it wants inputs via the arrow keys. The arrow keys on the virtual keyboard don’t work, so I am stuck in that menu now. So, so close…

Hey, thank you again for your help! I know this is a learning process, and I’m getting there… I had never heard of Retroarch until a few weeks ago.

Oh, I could play Ali Baba on my laptop with the emulator you mentioned, but I really want to play that ancient game on my flatscreen TV with the surround system… I am still amazed that this is actually within my grasp… :slight_smile:

If all things are setup, when it boots (and assuming you have SIO enabled in settings) you should see screen “Please Wait” for a moment, then boot right into the game. Like said, if it is immediately booting into this screen below:

Since you said you need to hit the “start” then assume that is the screen. But if see that then something is incorrect with the setup in RA for that core.

A couple things to check. Like you noted, have to have Atari Joystick selected. Also at least on PC, Ali Baba only worked with normal 400/800 ROM. XL ROMs would hang it up. Open up your .atari800.cfg file (which is where the MemoPad settings are stored). See if your ROMs are set to correct paths. If your controller is setup then the “Select” on controller equals “Select” on Atari and same with start. The right shoulder button brings up the MemoPad like snapped in first reply and shown below with the Ali Bab ATR loaded. If all is working you only need the keyboard once it asks for selecting of keyboard of joystick since it will boot all the way into the working game.

I have a Shield but haven’t gone to installing RA on it. Playing around with Ali Baba once it was running did have issues doing it all by controller (my keyboard works but was trying to see if could do without). At some point I had to hit the arrow key to select joystick. The VM keyboard was being wonky. I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my Shield so not sure if that would work but sounds like you are not even getting to the the in game stage so that leaves something wrong with the settings in RA (or the MemoPad).


Hi, sorry to Hijack this thread but I can’t yet create my own… Is there a problem with other Atari emulators, 2600 and 5200 within RA? I load ROMs in these emulators on my new NVIDIA shield Pro (2019) and I just get a black screen. Is there something else I need to load? Thanks for any help.