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(Tutorial) Android Atari 5200 & RetroArch Setup


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MAME Atari 5200 Setup with RetroArch Android


How to get Atari 5200 and other systems working on Nvidia Shield with Retroarch “Arcade (MAME)” core



  •           Everything RetroArch is subject to change without warning, cores break and improve and RetroArch is constantly evolving. The exact same goes for MAME     but this is more consistent.

  •        You must have the correct roms and BIOS files that MAME emulator is expecting.
  • ·        They must all be named as MAME requires

Note I have assumed you are familiar with setting systems up in Hyperspin and are familiar with Retroarch. Native RetroArch and RetroArch launched from Hyperspin use separate configuration files. Please search around for the topics relating to this issue.


Tested on:-


  • ·         Nvidia Shield TV PRO v3.2
  • ·         RetroArch 1.3.6 Stable Play Store app
  • ·         Arcade (MAME) Core 0.174 (Also known as MAME Git core)



What’s Covered...



  •                 Getting Atari 5200 setup to work with Hyperspin Start to Finish!!



Quick Steps...


  1. Grab the PC version of MAME and extract the files and folders
  2. Place your roms and BIOS in the correct place
  3. Set your RetroArch System/BIOS directory
  4. Build your RetroArch “System/BIOS” directory with above files/folder
  5. Create a5200.ini and adjust the rompath (not needed in mame 0.181)
  6. Adjust your Hyperspin Atari 5200.ini rompath to match

Full Details...



Step 1 – Let’s get the MAME files



Download and extract the PC version of MAME emulator. Try to match your romset version, RetroArch “Arcade (MAME)” core version and PC MAME emulator version. RetroArch is usually a couple of releases behind.


  • For the current release go HERE
  • For previous releases go HERE


Once extracted you will have something similar to this

MAME Directory.png

There is plenty more there than this guide will cover!!



  • Next copy the highlighted assets to a safe location



1) Hash folder – This has the MAME games databases (softlists) for all the different non Arcade systems MAME can emulate

2) Ini folder – All specific and global configuration (.ini) files go in here

3) Roms folder – All Arcade BIOS files go in here

4) mame.ini – This is the Global configuration file for MAME

5) CreateConfig.bat – This is an optional file to generate the mame.ini file


If you don’t have a mame.ini you will need to generate one


  • Open Notepad and type the “name of mame.exe” –cc





  • mame64.exe –cc





Step 2 – Organise your roms & BIOS



I have my roms located on a NAS drive called “MYCLOUD”. Wherever you locate your roms they must end up in a subfolder called “a5200”


Your compressed BIOS folder (a5200.zip) can be located WITH you ROM file zip's

/ROMPATH/a5200 - place zipped BIOS and zipped roms here

/ROMPATH/a5200/a5200 - Place UNzipped BIOS files here

An additional a5200 folder with the Unzipped BIOS files can also be place in the a5200 folder


Your roms and BIOS will need to match what’s in the a5200.xml in the “hash” folder

  • This means whatever roms and BIOS you have MUST be named the same as the name given in the hash file.


Note To automate the renaming process you can grab the MAME Atari 5200 Hyperspin compatible xml from the dropbox linked in the 1st post of this thread (Official) MAME XML Database. Then use something like Don’s Renamer to rename your roms to match. These XML’s are religiously kept up to date with current MAME versions


This is an example of some roms in the correct “a5200” subfolder (HERE IS MINE Atari 5200.ini)

ALSO place your BIOS file (a5200.zip HERE)

rom names.png


Note – The other “a5200” subfolder is optional and is used if you prefer to have your BIOS file uncompressed.



Step 3 – Get RetroArch setup



You should have a “system” folder somewhere in you RetroArch directories.

Check these locations


  • sdcard/Android/data/com.retroarch/files


  • sdcard/RetroArch


Wherever you keep it you must make sure the “System/BIOS” directory path is correct

  •                 Go to RetroArch Settings -> Directory and check what’s listed



 Step 4 - Build your RetroArch "system" folder

(HERE IS A CLEAN EXAMPLE DOWNLOAD system.zip) MAME Version 0.173)


  • Next thing to do is create a folder called “mame” in your “system” folder.

mame folder.png

  • Now drop the extracted folders and files into the “mame” folder (You should have a “roms” folder but I missed mine off for testing)

mame structure.png


Step 5 – Configure MAME a5200.ini



  • Make a copy of the “mame.ini”
  • Rename it a5200.ini
  • Place it in the “ini” folder

atari a5200 ini.png


  • Now open the “a5200.ini” and edit the rompath line to match the location of the rom folder


This is my rompath

ini file.png



Step 6 – Setup Hyperspin


  • Adjust your Hyperspin “Atari 5200.ini” to match the same rompath set in the “a5200.ini”
  • Set your extensions to zip, 7z
  • Set your exe
  • Set your parameters

MY SETTINGS FILE Atari 5200.ini


Hyperspin ini.png


If you don’t have a settings file for Atari 5200 I have attached mine above or a full set can be found HERE



Now you should be ready to start smashing buttons!!!



This is a little bit of a WIP so please excuse me if it’s not perfect. Please comment and I will help out and adjust stuff as needed



Hope this helps someone


Supporting Images



bios location.png


ROMS's Location

rom location.png



a5200 Software List Databasehash files.png


System Folder Location

System Folder.png

OPTIONAL Uncompressed BIOS location

unzipped bios.png

bios & rom folder.png

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1 hour ago, thatman84 said:

The only thing that is likely to have change is the core. Have you updated the Arcade (MAME) core since you last played those systems?

Intellivision, arcadia ECT all work just atari5200 and adventure vision. I did update but shouldn't effect certain systems. I can't download retroarch nightlys either. They say not installed

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1 hour ago, thatman84 said:

I don't bother with nightlies, maybe something changed in MAME or retroarch update. 

Maybe try over at their forums see if anyone has similar problems

if the core is the only thing that's changed its just a case figuring out

I downloaded store app. It can't be a core issue because 98 percent of my mame systems work. Just 2 don't and I didn't change anything

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I guess it seems odd but something must have changed mate otherwise they would still work.

What version is your core currently? 


I think its rare now but maybe the hash files for those two systems have been changed. Not been around long enough to know how that stuff impacts on it.

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33 minutes ago, thatman84 said:

I guess it seems odd but something must have changed mate otherwise they would still work.

What version is your core currently? 


I think its rare now but maybe the hash files for those two systems have been changed. Not been around long enough to know how that stuff impacts on it.

Mame 174

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/4/2016 at 11:32 AM, thatman84 said:

Same core as me and the above works.


i remember messing around before I started this because it stopped working without the ini files. Only thing is I messed so much I couldn't remember what I had done!



Got it working the mame ini was missing for some reason.

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hust to confirm I'm talking about the MAME.ini and a5200.ini that the retroarch MAME core uses not Hyperspin. Reference the guide above.


i got my retroarch.apk from the downloads tab of the website. It takes you to the 1.3.6 stable. Then I scrolled down to the 1.4.0 folder

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Hi guys. Previously, I had Atari 5200 setup and running in RA and Hyperspin on a Shield TV. Since that time, I have updated the STV FW to ver. 5.1 and RA to ver. 1.4.1. I had black squares for the icons in RA and didnt know what the issue was. I reloaded RA but forgot to save the SYSTEM folder I had the files in for Mame/Atari 5200. I recreate the necessary files and got Atari 5200 games to work in RA again. However, when I try to launch from HS, RA crashes.  The mame core version is 0.182. I dont know what Im missing. I havent touched my HS files. Any help would be appreciated.

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I have other console bios files in REtroarch.com/System and had my "system/BIos" directory pointed there. I also have the Atari 5200 bios in there too. Sega CD still works from HS but I am no longer able to navigate to that directory after I quit a game in HS! I can however go to that directory if I run RA straight away. Why this is, I dont know.

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I got it working as another user with the same RA 1.4.1 issue suggested. Since I couldnt point to the RA system directory on my internal drive, I copied the system directory and files to the external drive. Ran a game in HS, then adjusted the system BIOS directory to point there. Now Atari 5200 works again from HS. Thanks for your help.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I followed all of these steps but still can't get any roms to launch through HS or RLHQ. They're working fine when I launch them from RA and my mame roms also work. Mame roms will launch from HS or RLHQ. I'm using the .182 core. Anyone know how to get them to launch with HS? 

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Having the same issue with the Mess2014 core as well. Roms run fine in RA but won't launch at all from HS or RL. I checked the RLUI logs and keep getting this:

"- You have your path set to  defined, but it could not be found here:" but all my paths (roms, emulator, core) are set correctly. If anyone can help, I'd be pretty grateful. I've now spent hours trying to get this working and I'm about out of ideas

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