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Running PICO 8 on the GameShell

Dan Sanderson edited this page Jun 9, 2019 · 7 revisions

Last updated: June 2019

Originally written by @dddaaannn


PICO-8 is a fantasy console for making, playing, and sharing small games. PICO-8 is a commercial product by Lexaloffle Games LLP. Versions are available for Windows, mac OS, Linux, and Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi version runs on the GameShell, with some set-up.

As of Launcher v1.24, the Launcher now has a built-in PICO-8 installer to make this even easier! You will copy PICO-8 to your GameShell, then run this installer to finish set-up.

Follow these instructions to get PICO-8 and install it on your GameShell. It will run in the splore mode, which lets you browse, download, and play PICO-8 games.

Updating the Launcher

If you haven't already, connect your GameShell to wifi, and perform a software update. You can do both of these under Settings. Locate the "Wi-Fi" and "Update" options, and use them to update to at least Launcher version 1.24.

You should see a PICO-8 option in the main menu. You will use this to install PICO-8.

Note: Launcher v1.24 also includes an alternate Launcher called "LauncherGo." Only the original Launcher has the PICO-8 installer. Switch back to Launcher, if necessary.

Purchasing PICO-8

Go here to purchase your copy of PICO-8 if you don't already own it: ($15)

Once purchased, visit the downloads page and download the Raspberry Pi version. This file has a filename similar to:

Tip: Your PICO-8 license includes versions for all platforms. Download the version for your desktop computer, make PICO-8 games of your own, and run them on your GameShell!

IMPORTANT: Renaming the file so the installer can find it

As of Launcher v1.24, the installer is expecting PICO-8 version 0.1.11g. It works with the latest version, but for now you have to work around this expectation.

Rename the file from to You can do this from your computer's file explorer, or from the Mac or Linux command line:


Transfering PICO-8 to the GameShell

The Launcher's PICO-8 installer looks for the zip file in a folder (directory) with this path: ~/games/PICO-8/ (The ~ means the cpi user's "home" directory, containing the games directory where you put various game ROMs and such. The PICO-8 directory is inside there.)

Connect your GameShell to your wifi network and get its IP address:

  1. Turn on your GameShell.
  2. If necessary, connect the GameShell to your wireless network: Settings, Wi-Fi.
  3. In the main launcher menu, select TinyCloud. This displays the IP address of your GameShell, such as

You can transfer files to the GameShell using scp, a file transfer method based on ssh (Secure Shell). Some file transfer programs know how to do this, such as Putty SCP for Windows, WinSCP for Windows, or Transmit for Mac. Connect using the IP address, an account name of cpi, and a password of cpi.

On Mac and Linux (and also Windows with Putty SCP or the Windows Subsystem for Linux), you can use a Terminal to do this with a command-line interface and the scp command. To transfer PICO-8 to the ~/games/PICO-8 directory on the GameShell using the scp command:

scp cpi@

Enter the password cpi when prompted.

Running the Launcher's PICO-8 installer

On your GameShell, use the Launcher to navigate to the PICO-8 icon, then select it.

If this displays instructions to copy PICO-8 to ~/games/PICO-8, then it didn't find the file. Review the instructions above, and make sure the file is named even if you downloaded a newer version.

If this displays the "MD5 error," then it's working! It is displaying this error because it expected to find PICO-8 version 0.1.11g, but you provided the newer version. Tell it to continue anyway.

Welcome to PICO-8!

After it installs, PICO-8 starts in splore mode. From now on, the PICO-8 option in the Launcher will just launch PICO-8 like this.

Move right to find the "Featured" section. If necessary, press B on [update] to load the list. Move up and down to find a game, then press B to start it.

PICO-8 games use one or both of the A and B buttons. Some games will refer to these as Z and X, or C and V, because these are the default keys on a desktop computer. Games may also refer to them as (O) and (X), which are their "fantasy console" button icons.

To exit a game and return to the Splore game selection menu, press the GameShell MENU button, then select "Exit to Splore". (You can also use the pause menu just to pause your game.)

To exit PICO-8 entirely and return to the GameShell Launcher, exit to Splore, then press MENU again and select "Shutdown PICO-8".

Tip: Be careful not to select "Exit to Console" from the shutdown menu. This puts PICO-8 in its game developer mode. It's a super fun mode, but you need a full keyboard to use it or get back out of it. Hold down the GameShell's power button to reset if you get stuck here.

Enjoy the games, and come visit the PICO-8 community in the forum to learn more!


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