1 month ago

LibreELEC 9.0 Leia

The latest version of this ‘Kodi OS’ brings Kodi 18’s star new feature: retro game emulators.

We love testing out a new Kodi version with new features here at The MagPi – the Raspberry Pi powers media centres the world over, and we like to see how much they improve. Kodi’s development is changing slightly, so this may be the last time we make sure to do a review for a new numbered version, or in this case LibreELEC.

LibreELEC 9.0 is the latest version of our favourite HTPC OS for the Pi, built around the newest Kodi 18. As well as the usual minor tweaks and bug fixes behind the scenes (including a nice little update to the settings layout), the real selling-point of the new Kodi is native support for retro game emulators.

Join the party

For years now, you have been able to play games on Kodi. However, it was not something properly supported by Kodi itself – you just had to install the right add-ons and such.
That’s all changed here, with a wide selection of popular console emulators and controller maps made available using Libretro, which is part of the core Kodi system.

The tech is all there, and it’s all pretty old, so it should be a simple addition to Kodi and LibreELEC. Or at least you would think, especially going by the handy new Games item in the default menu. This menu lets you install any of these emulators, but that’s about it. Games can be launched by going into the file manager in settings and finding your ROM, which is quite awkward.

This is only temporary, according to the dev team, with a game browser coming in the future. For now, though, all the rest of its media abilities work just as well as before – it just might be best to temper any expectations about the game-playing aspects.

Verdict

7/10

The game emulation stuff generally works, but it’s not properly baked in yet. Still, if you just want to watch your videos or play music, there’s nothing better.