Resetting Controllers on Retropie the Right Way

There are two ways of doing this, depending on what’s your situation. There might be cases when the controller allows you to navigate fine and enter games, but once you’ve entered a game, the controller does not work anymore, and you can’t even exit the game by pressing SELECT+START.

Let’s see what to do in both scenarios:

My Controller Works on the Retropie Menus, But I Can’t Play Any Games

This has been a very common occurrence we’ve seen a number of customers having. In my experience, it seems that it happens randomly, however we’ve been shipping Retropie images since 2017 that comes setup with a generic Dualshock style controler, and when people setup their controllers, for some reason, menus work but games don’t.

Since December 2019 we’ve been shipping images where controllers are not setup out of the box at all, and you are prompted to setup your own controller upon booting for the first time into the image. That reduced quite a bit the number of people having controller issues, however, the issue might happen when the customer just did not setup the controller properly, and when he/she tries again, it happens!

When you can move in menus with the controller, but it does not work in-game, here’s what to do:

Go to the Retropie / Options menu and select the RETROPIE SETUP option.

You’ll enter the famous “blue menu” of the Retropie. Select MANAGE PACKAGES.

On the next set of options, go for “MANAGE CORE PACKAGES”.

Then on the next menu, select “Emulationstation (Installed)”

Within EmulationStation’s optioms, go to “Configuration / Options”

Now, you can reset the controller. Select the first option on this screen:
“Clear/Reset Emulation Station input configuration”

Confirm with “Ok” on the next couple of screens to reset the controller configuration for Emulation
The screen will blink for a second and you’ll be back on this menu.

Hit “Cancel” to go back a few times until you see the main menu and the option to “Reboot”. Do it so you can reboot back into EmulatonStation and be asked to setup the controler for the fist time.

Setup your controller and now everything should be fine!

Controller Does Not Even Run on Menus!

For this one, you’ll need a keyboard. Plug a keyboard to an empty USB port on your Raspberry Pi.

Now, provided you are anywhere on the Retropie menu, hit F4 to exit to the system, you’ll exit EmulationStation and you’ll see a black screen with a command prompt that looks a lot like DOS, but it’s not.

Now type:

rm /home/pi/.emulationstation/rs_input.cfg

Then follow it by:


Follow the prompts for the menu as on the step above, but using the keyboard!

This process will give you a fresh setup for controllers and your games will likely work again after doing the controller reset.

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