RetroArch keeps moving forward, being the reference frontend for libretro and all. Here comes version 1.3.6, and once again we have a lot to talk about.

Where to get it

Windows/Mac/iOS (build only)/Nintendo/PlayStation – Get it here.

Android: You can either get it from F-Droid or from Google Play Store.

Linux: Since RetroArch is included now on most mainline Linux distributions’ package management repository systems, we expect their versions to be updated to 1.3.6 shortly.

I will release versions for MacOSX PowerPC (10.5 Leopard) and 32-bit Intel MacOS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) later on, maybe today or tomorrow.

Usability improvements

Windows Drag and Drop support

Courtesy of mudlord, with the Windows version, you can now drag and drop a ROM (or any other content) onto RetroArch’s window, and it will attempt to load the correct core for it. If there is more than one core available for the type of content you dragged and dropped, it will present you with a slidedown list of cores to select from.

Vastly improved content downloading features

Starting with v1.3.6, RetroArch users can download compatible freeware content, such as the shareware release of Doom, right from the app. This video goes through the steps, which include fetching the core from the online updater, fetching the content from the repository and then launching the core and content we just downloaded.

Menu customization and aesthetics – XMB and MaterialUI

RetroArch v1.3.6 adds support for a number of themes in the default mobile menu, including both bright and dark themes.

There’s also the ability now to set a custom wallpaper in XMB and be able to colorize it with a color gradient. To do this, you go to Settings -> Menu, you set a wallpaper, and from there you have to set ‘Menu Shader Pipeline’ to OFF. You can then choose from one of the color palettes in ‘Color Theme’ in order to shade the background wallpaper, or just select ‘Plain’ in case you don’t want to colorize it.

Undo Load/Save State

Have you ever gotten through a tough part of a game and wanted to make a savestate only to hit the “load state” button instead and have to do it all over again? Or maybe you were practicing a particularly difficult maneuver–for a speedrun, perhaps–and accidentally saved a bad run over your practice point because you hit “save state” instead of “load state”? While savestates are considered one of the great advantages to emulating retro games, they can also lead to these frustrating situations where they wipe out progress instead of saving it, all because of one slip of the finger. RetroArch now has the ability to undo a save- or load-state action through some automatic state-shuffling that happens behind the scenes, so you never have to worry about these situations again.

Undo Load State – Before the ‘current’ state is altered by e.g. a ‘Load Savestate’ operation, ‘current’ is saved in memory and ‘Undo Load State’ restores it; you can also undo this option by using it again, which will make you flip-flop between 2 states.

Undo Save State – If there was a savestate file that was overwritten, this option restores it.

New Features

The main event of RetroArch 1.3.6 is obviously the fact that it makes it possible to run the N64 Vulkan core, paraLLEl. Previous versions of RetroArch will not be able to run this because of the new extensions to libretro Vulkan which we had to push to make this renderer possible.


Async compute core support – ready for ParaLLEl

It was already possible to run Vulkan-enabled libretro cores, but with this release, a few crucial features have been added. Support for queue transfers was added and a context negotiation interface was added.

With this we can now use multiple queues to overlap compute and shading in the frontend level, i.e. asynchronous compute. ParaLLEl would certainly not have been as fast or as effective were it not for this.

ParaLLEl now joins triple-A games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Doom in heavily relying on Vulkan’s async compute capabilities for maximum efficiency. A test core was also written as a proof of concept for this interface.

If you want to read more about ParaLLEl, we have a compendium blog post for you to digest here.

Supports Windows, Linux, Android equally well now

The previous version already had Vulkan support to varying degrees, but now we feel we are finally at the point where Vulkan driver support in RetroArch is very much mature across most of the supported platforms.

Vulkan should work now on Android, on Windows, and on Linux, provided your GPU has a working Vulkan driver.

On Linux we now support even more video driver context features, such as VK_KHR_display support. This is a platform-agnostic KMS-like backend for Vulkan, which should allow you to run RetroArch with Vulkan without the need of an X11 or Wayland server running.

On Windows and Android, we include Vulkan support now. Vulkan has been tested on Android with NVIDIA Shield Tablet/Console, and both work. Be aware that there are some minuscule things which might not work correctly yet with Vulkan on Android. For instance, orientation changing still doesn’t work. This will be investigated.

Max swapchain images – driving latency even lower with Vulkan and friends

RetroArch already has built up quite a reputation for itself for being able to drive latency down to very low levels. But with new technologies, there is always room for improvement.

Max amount of swapchain images has now been implemented for both the DRM/KMS context driver for OpenGL (usable on Linux) and Vulkan now. What this entails, is that you can programmatically tell your video card to provide you with either triple buffering (3), double buffering (2) or single buffering (1). The previous default with DRM/KMS was 3 (triple buffering), so setting it to 2 could potentially shave off latency by at least 1 frame (as was verified by others). Setting to 1 won’t often get you single buffering with most monitors and drivers due to tearing and they will fall-back to (2) double buffering.

With Vulkan, RetroArch can programmatically infer to the video card what kind of buffering method it likes to be able to use, a vast improvement over the nonexistent options that existed before with OpenGL (from a platform-agnostic perspective).

What Vulkan brings to the table on Android

Vulkan has been tested to run on Android devices that support Vulkan, like Shield Tablet/Console. Latency has always been very bad on Android in the past. With Vulkan, frame times are significantly lower than with OpenGL, and we no longer have to leave Threaded Video enabled by default. Instead, we can turn off Threaded Video and letting RetroArch monitor the refresh rate dynamically, which is the more desirable solution since it allows for less jittery screen updates.

Audio latency can also be driven down significantly now with Vulkan. The current default is 128ms, with Vulkan we can drive it down to 64 or even 32ms.

Couple this with the aforementioned swapchain images support and there are multiple ways to drive latency down on Android now.

OpenGL music visualizer (for FFmpeg-enabled builds)

Versions of RetroArch like the Linux and Windows port happen to feature built-in integrated FFmpeg support, which allows you to watch movies and listen to music from within the confines of RetroArch.

We have added a music visualizer now. The scene is drawn as a cylindrical mesh with FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) heightmap lookups. Different colors are shaded using mid/side channels as well as left/right information for height.

Note that this requires at least GLES3 support (which is available as well through an extension which most GPUs should support by now).

Improvements to cores



User leileilol contributed a very cool feature to TyrQuake, Quake 64-style RGB colored lighting, except done in software.

To be able to use this feature, you need to create a subdir in your Quake data directory called ‘maps’, and you need to move ‘.lit’ files to this directory. These are the lighting map files that the Tyrquake core will use in order to determine how light should be positioned.

From there on out, you load up the Tyrquake core, you go to Quick Menu -> Options, you enable Colored Lighting. Restart the core and if your files are placed correctly, you should now see the difference.

Be aware that in order to do this, the game renderer shifts to 24bit color RGB rendering, and this in turn makes things significantly slower, although it should still be fairly playable even at higher resolutions.

View the image gallery here.

To download this, go to ‘Add Content’ -> ‘Download Content’. Go to ‘Tyrquake’, and download ‘’. This should extract this zip to your Downloads dir, and inside the Quake directory. From there, you can just load Quake and the colored lighting maps should be found providing the ‘Colored Lighting’ option has been enabled.

SNES9x emulator input lag reduction

A user on our forum, Brunnis, began some investigations into input latency and found that there were significant gains to be made in Super Nintendo emulators by rescheduling when input polling and video blitting are being performed. Based upon these findings and after some pull requests made to SNES9x, SNES9x Next, and FCEUmm, at least 1 to 2 frames of input lag should be shaved off now.

Do read this highly interesting forum thread that led to these improvements here.

News for iOS 10 beta users

There is now a separate version for iOS 10 users. Apple once again changed a lot of things which makes it even more difficult for us to distribute RetroArch the regular way.

Dynamic libraries cores cannot be opened from the Documents directory of the app anymore in iOS 10. They can be opened from the app bundle, as long as they are code-signed. This reverts back to the previous behavior of RetroArch, where the cores need to be in the modules directory of the app bundle.

Go to this directory:

and open RetroArch_iOS10.xcodeproj inside Xcode.

Note – you will need to manually compile the cores, sign them, and drag them over to the modules directory inside Xcode.

Example –

1. You’d download a core with libretro-super.

A quick example (type this inside the commandline)

git clone

./ 2048

./ 2048

This will compile the 2048 core inside /dist/ios.

2. Move the contents of this directory over to the ‘modules’ directory inside the RetroArch iOS 10 Xcode solution. It should presumably handle signing by itself.

Bugfixes/other miscellanous things

  • Stability/memory leak fixes – We subjected RetroArch to numerous Valgrind/Coverity/Xcode Memory leak checks in order to fix a plethora of memory leaks that had reared their ugly heads inbetween releases. We pretty much eliminated all of them. Not a sexy feature to brag about, but it involved lots of sweat, tears and effort, and the ramifications it has on the overall stability of the program is considerable.
  • There were some problems with Cg and GLSL shader selections which should now be taken care of.
  • ScummVM games can now be scanned in various ways (courtesy of RobLoach)
  • Downloading multiple updates at once could crash RetroArch – now fixed.
  • Several cores have gotten Retro Achievements support now. The official list of systems that support achievements now is: Mega Drive, Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, NES, PC Engine, Sega CD, Sega 32X, and Sega Master System.
  • You can now turn the supported extensions filter on or off from the file browser.

Effort to addressing user experience feedback

I think a couple of things should be addressed first and foremost. First, there is every intent to indeed make things like a WIMP (Windows Icons Mouse Pointers) interface around RetroArch. To this end, we are starting to make crossplatform UI widget toolkit code that will make it easy for us to target Qt/GTK/Win32 UI/Cocoa in one fell swoop.

We have also spent a lot of time plugging some of the rough edges around RetroArch and making the user interface more pleasurable to work with.

Youtube libretro channel

Hunterk/hizzlekizzle is going to be running the libretro Youtube channel from now on, and we’ll start putting up quick and direct Youtube videos there on how to be able to use RetroArch. It is our intent that this will do a couple of things:

1. Show people that RetroArch is easy to use and has numerous great features beneath the surface too.
2. It allows users to give constructive criticism and feedback on the UI operations they see and how they think they should be improved.
3. We hope to engage some seasoned C/C++ coders to help us get some of these UI elements done sooner rather than later. Most of RetroArch development mostly relies on a handful of guys – 5 at the most. It is a LOT of hard work for what amounts to a hobbyist project, and if we had a lot more developers seasoned in C/C++, stuff could be done quicker.
4. There is no intention at all to make RetroArch ‘obtuse’ for the sake of it, there is every intention to make it more accessible for people. Additional help would go a very long way towards that.

Regarding the current UIs and their direction, it is obviously meant to be a console-like UI experience. This might not be what desktop users are used to on their PCs but it is what we designed menu drivers like XMB to be. It is true that keyboard and mouse are mostly seen as afterthoughts in this UI but really, we wrote the UI with game consoles and something where a gamepad is the primary input device at all times, particularly since a keyboard to us is a poor way of playing these console-based games anyway.

Anyway, menu drivers like XMB and MaterialUI will never have any WIMP UI elements. HOWEVER, in upcoming versions, we will be able to flesh out the menubar and to allow for more basic WIMP UI elements.

RetroArch is meant to be a cutting-edge program that is ultra-powerful in terms of features. With that comes a bit of added complexity. However, we have every intent of making things easier, and with every release we put a lot of time and effort into improving things. But again, more developers would help out a substantial lot in speeding up certain parts that we are working on.

Our vision for the project involves an enormous workload and we’re considering differnt ways of generating additional support. If a Patreon might allow us to get more developers and get more stuff done faster, we might consider it. But we want such things to be carefully deliberated by both our internal development staff and the users at large. I hope you’ll be able to appreciate the relative rough edges around the program and appreciate the scope and the craft we have poured into the program. Please appreciate that we are pouring a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the program and that mostly we try to maintain an upper stiff chin when faced with all the criticism, but we do care and we do intend to do better. Volunteer coders are very welcome though, by people who have some time to spare and who want to make a difference. We ask for your understanding here, and we hope that by finally speaking out on this, users can gain a better understanding of our intent and be able to appreciate the program better in light of that.

34 thoughts on “RetroArch 1.3.6 released

  1. Wasn’t there suppose to a Blackberry 10 OS release?

    1. im waiting on windows phone release i keep checking both stable and nightly releases and only has pc. android update is nice tho. for blackberry i noticed core folders in nightly tho so maybe will be released soon

  2. Can this be installed on Ouya through sideload?

    1. Guilherme Gustavo De Souza

      July 18, 2016 — 8:41 pm

      I’ve got a channel about Ouya and Shield on youtube, I’m brazilian. I just test the new version and it does not work , only until the 1.3.4 version that worked just fine in Ouya. If you want to check out my channel, just put guilhermegustavo after youtube dot com

      1. Wow, awesome! I really appreciate the response and I’ll be sure to check out your channel.

        Maybe the compatibility will be added at some point.

        1. Dino René Caballero

          July 18, 2016 — 11:23 pm

          It is very rare, I use it on a android device much less power than Ouya. I recommend, if possible, install F-Droid in Ouya to have retroarch repositories.

    2. Wow, awesome! I really appreciate the response and I’ll be sure to check out your channel.

      Maybe compatibility will be added at some point.

    3. it should

      1. PrincessCelestia1230

        October 13, 2016 — 3:15 pm

        what happen to all the appimages build on bintray all the downloads are gone

    4. Just to update, it DOES work. I sideloaded it by USB and installed it.

      However, it seems to be a little too resource intensive for the Ouya. The 16-bit and prior emulators seem to work just as well, but the N64 emulation lags VERY bad. And the PS1 emulator works excellent for some games but others it is very sluggish.

      I like it, and it does work, but I think just the additional things that must be going on in the backend seem to be dragging down emulation of some of the more sophisticated systems.

  3. Considering just how fast Cemu (Wii U emulator) has progressed over the past year, thanks to their Patreon allowing developers to actually dedicate some serious time into the emulator, I’d say go for it. I’m sure people around here would be more than happy to support RetroArch’s development.

  4. Kenneth LeBlanc

    July 17, 2016 — 9:46 pm

    Is there somewhere where we can provide feedback? I haven’t gotten this update yet, but I would love to provide some detailed feedback. I feel like RetroArch is so close to being polished enough to stand on its own. (I still use RetroPie with it’s EmulationStation front end) This program is amazing and I thank everyone who puts effort into it!

    1. here, forums, twitter, reddit, #retroarch on freenode, whatever

    2. the forum, if activation is an issue le me know

      1. Kenneth LeBlanc

        July 20, 2016 — 2:28 pm

        I posted my feedback on reddit, but I should look into joining the forum.

  5. Román Rodríguez

    July 18, 2016 — 10:49 pm

    As much as I wanted to like the new update, it’s too difficult to understand how it works, the new UI is too complex, I loved the previous versions, it’s just a shame they don’t work on newer Android versions.

    1. Dino René Caballero

      July 18, 2016 — 11:17 pm

      No es tan complicado, la verdad, esta interfaz es mas amigable que la anterior, lo que si es complicado es encontrar los “Cores” apropiados para el aparato que estés usando. Yo tengo retroarch en un mk808 con un joystick usb, con el xmb es lo más cercano a una consola que tendré… haré una video mas adelante sobre eso si te interesa.

      1. Román Rodríguez

        July 18, 2016 — 11:22 pm

        Ok gracias que bueno que hablas español, la verdad si entiendo un poco y se correr los roms, lo que no me gusta es que no se como salvar un estado, en versiones anteriores podrias salvar en los primeros estados pero aqui si le das clic te salen hasta mas de 100 y no se como regresarme al estado en que lo salve, no se si me explico

        1. Dino René Caballero

          July 18, 2016 — 11:45 pm

          yo lo uso con xmb, pero las opciones son las mismas sin importar la interfaz. en caso extremo lo que tienes que hacer es ponerlo en español. Eso lo haces entrando en el apartado de opciones, usuario, idioma.

        2. el problema es que no puedes retroceder de slot via touch cierto?
          voy a abrir un ticket al respecto

          1. Román Rodríguez

            July 20, 2016 — 1:28 pm

            Si, ese es mi problema. Gracias.

  6. Hello.
    Is it still possible to build RetroArch for XBOX and XBOX360? In this case, do I need the official XDK or an alternative build environment like libxenon?

    1. it’s really outdated so no, not really atm.
      Some guy borrowed libretro’s devkit and never returned it afaik.

  7. Y para Windows 10 Mobile cuando???

    1. cuando esté listo, no un día antes

      1. Se sabe mas o menos para cuando??? Estoy deseando tenerlo. Un saludo!

  8. Joel Longanecker

    July 23, 2016 — 4:47 am

    Running on xubuntu 16.04 x64, i don’t have an option to download cores? scanning for directories for content causes a segfault.

  9. Nicholas Perry

    July 24, 2016 — 9:01 am

    Criticism? Man, what you guys have done is amazing. You deserve much praise and recognition.

    Especially with these blogs, I love reading them. Keep spirits high!

  10. Whats the status of the Windows 10 Mobile UWP app? With phone continuum support and uwp to xbox one, this will be interesting.

  11. pls make street fighter the movie playable for retroarch for wii
    and make a mame core for it also

  12. Raphael Zumstein

    August 10, 2016 — 10:37 am

    Wow RetroArch is an amazing thing for sure! I’m using it to play old gammeboy games currently and it works pretty well! But I’ve got one problem: I saved everything in state slot 0 but reventöy I accidentaly switched to save state 1. If you now keep pressing thst button it keeps counting upwarts (currently im instate nr 300+ and it keeps xounting upwarts).
    Long story short: how can i get back to state slot 0??
    Thanks for helping me out.

  13. I need help please. When i go to on my ps3 it wont load it stays at on a white screen. I need help.

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