RetroArch update makes Steam Deck emulation better

A new RetroArch update is aimed at making the Steam version of the emulation front-end better, with a particular eye toward Steam Deck improvements

RetroArch emulation: Valve's Steam Deck handheld

Steam Deck emulation is getting better thanks to a new RetroArch update introducing some important usability updates. There’s now a more convenient way to manage your installed emulation cores on the Steam version of RetroArch, and the software now makes use of the Deck’s on-screen keyboard.

“We came up with a SteamWorks shim that allows RetroArch Steam to interface with the Steamworks API,” the devs explain in a blog post. “Mist, our middleware tool, runs in a separate process, runs concurrently with RetroArch Steam, and functions as a bridge between this separate process interfacing with Steamworks and the GPL application itself running in an entirely different process.”

With that back-end tech enabled, you can now manage emulator cores directly from the RetroArch UI, even in the Steam version. Previously, due to limitations from Valve, you could only install or uninstall cores through the Steam DLC interface. You still have to acquire cores as (free) DLC on Steam, but once you’ve claimed them, you can now install or uninstall them directly within RetroArch.

The devs say that “the Steam port is starting to become its own thing rather than just a straightforward no-frills port of the Windows/Linux versions”.

This update also introduces improved audio latency and better performance in a variety of cores, including Gambatte, Nestopia, and Snes9x.

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