EmuDeck is a really powerful tool, that has gotten easier to use since it took off. Getting things set up though, can still be a little bit confusing.
Emulation is a gray area, something that we wish would stop being so murky, as a lot of emulation projects are there to ensure preservation. With games getting older, and harder to support on newer operating systems, it is often these unsung heroes of the industry that are saving it from itself.
As things begin to rot, new beams are being put up inside the house that gaming built. No better example is EmuDeck, a piece of software intended to make playing retro games on the Steam Deck, via emulation as easy as possible.
The Steam Deck’s unique power to play games at all levels has made it especially great for getting your retro gaming fix. It can play all the way up to PS3 titles with ease, while certain other software has been caught in official Valve trailers (by accident, of course).
In fact, the Steam Deck is so good at emulation, it’s become our go-to when two screens are needed to be emulated. Having the option to use the touch screen in these scenarios is fantastic.
It’s also how we managed to experience Gungrave in preparation for the review of the new game, Gungrave G.O.R.E, as no modern, playable copies of it exist to download.
How to install EmuDeck
Installing EmuDeck is much easier than when it first launched. With an actual user interface and the lack of having to see a terminal, you can have the whole thing installed within a few minutes.
Either head to the website, or hit the button below, to download EmuDeck.
When you open it up for the first time, it’ll ask where you want to install everything. If you plan on using an SD card, ensure you’ve formatted it to ext4 inside SteamOS’ Game Mode. Inside Desktop Mode, you’ll want to follow along with how to do it via KDE Partition Manager in our external storage guide.
Once you’ve made your choice, it’ll begin downloading and installing everything it has access to. This includes PS3, PS2, and other console emulators – even the Vita one that’s not functional.
After it’s completed, your Steam Deck will now have a vast quantity of emulators and files at your disposal. Organizing them so you can access them via SteamOS game mode requires a little bit more work.
You’ll need to now run Steam Rom Manager. This will integrate your library of games into Steam itself. If you don’t want your emulators and games to appear in SteamOS, you can skip this step and simply remove any shortcuts from your Steam library. They won’t appear on the initial screen in game mode until you run them, and are neatly tucked away in the Non-Steam Apps section of SteamOS.
What is Steam ROM Manager?
This is where you’ll need to go if you intend to integrate your library with Steam Deck’s game mode. Each time you load in a new game, you’ll want to come back here to refresh the list of games available to you.
It looks daunting, but it’s mostly just knowing where you’ll be installing games. Once you’ve pointed it in a single direction, you should then keep yourself saving games to that particular location.
How to use Steam ROM Manager
Load up EmuDeck, if it isn’t open. Then on the update page, ignore it and choose ‘Tools & Stuff’. Amongst the options, just Steam ROM Manager and it’ll load up a green and black window. It’ll ask if you want to exit Steam, so just hit yes, as it makes life easier.
From here on, you’ll need to use the trackpads and triggers to activate the mouse controls, if you’ve not go an external setup with a USB-C hub or Dock.
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Using the right trigger and trackpad, scroll down to find the emulator you want to configure. For instance, we’ll use DuckStation, a PS1 emulator.
Choosing a community preset will immediately fill out the information like Steam Categories, directories, and the like. What we need to instruct ROM Manager to do is where we have saved our games and emulator to.
In our case, once the file manager window appeared, we went to:
Home > Deck > Emulation > roms > PSX and the directory line looks like this:
Of course, if you’ve decided that you’re going to keep your emulators and software elsewhere, navigate to where you’ve placed them. We’re using the EmuDeck defaults.
Pointing ROM Manager at the right place to launch your emulator, we followed this navigation path:
Home > Deck > Emulation > Tools > Launchers > duckstation.sh
Which wound up looking like this:
Again, point it to where you’ve instructed EmuDeck to install the emulators.
To get certain emulators running, you’ll need the BIOS, which can be placed anywhere and you’ll need to individually instruct the emulators themselves as to where you’re keeping them.
After this, scroll up and choose preview, and ‘generate app list’ and ‘save app list’ if you want to integrate it into steam. If not, choose ‘remove app list’.
You can follow along with all our Steam Deck guides, including how to install Windows and the best microSD card for your money.