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HOW TO: Set up Direct Connection for Netplay


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With the upcoming season of Classic, I would like everyone to use Direct Connect for netplay. As of this date (10/14/2019), relay server is not working.

This is actually very simple to set up. Just requires a few minutes of work, and more time to find the instructions for your router/modem.

Check out this video from therexershow - RetroArch - How to Set up Port Forwarding



When playing a game against someone via netplay (P2P - Peer to Peer), one player acts as the host (or server), and the other acts as the client. The host creates the game, and the client connects to the host. In order for a connection to be made, the host needs to allow some kind of access to the client. This is where something called a "Network Port" is used. By opening a specific port, the host allows the client a direct connection to their computer. Now, it is important to note that the port is ONLY OPEN when it needs to be, and is opened and closed by the emulator. 

For instance, Player 1 hosts a game. They turn on netplay hosting. They start the ROM. At this point, the emulator opens a specific port (designated by the emulator). The client then connects via the network port, and has a direct connection with the host. The game begins, and everyone has fun. 

This situation sounds very simple, and it is. Where it gets complicated, is when there are multiple devices that the communication has to pass through, like a modem, router, switch, etc. Then, on top of that, everything has its own firewall, limiting unwanted and wanted connections from the internet. This is where port forwarding and uPnP come in to help streamline the communication.


Just for clarity, all the stuff on the host's side of things affects if the communication can be established. The emulator on the host's side just puts up a message, saying "Hey, anyone want to play", where the client's side says "I want to play with you, specifically". Since the host does not know the specific client who is connecting to them, it's security features (router, Windows firewall, etc) will prevent the connection. Therefore, the security stuff on the host's side is the one that has to provide the exception to allow the connection (i.e. port forwarding or uPnP).

So, if you plan on hosting netplay games, you need to set this up.


IP Address - The network address assigned to your network card in your computer. Note, you will have 2 separate IP address for WiFi and Ethernet, because they are 2 separate "cards". When you are connected to a router, your router will assign a "local" IP address to your computer and other devices. These usually start with 192.168.x.x, or 10.10.x.x. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) assigns your router an IP address, which is used by the internet. If you type in "What's my IP" in google, it will show you your router's IP address.

 Those people who don't have a router, and just have their computer connected directly to their modem, don't have a local IP address. The IP address assigned by their ISP is given to the computer. Note, your "modem" might actually be a modem/router combo (check and see if it has an antenna and multiple ethernet ports on the back of it), and in that case, works like a router (see above paragraph). 

uPnP (Universal Plug-n-Play) - A feature in some routers that allows a workaround to port forwarding. It kind of lets the program choose a port, and configures port forwarding on the fly. Many new routers (2010+ I'd say) have this feature, and it is most likely disabled by default. This is the easiest solution.

DHCP Reservation - Reserves the local IP address for your computer on your router. This keeps the IP address of your computer from changing, and is important to set, because we use a local IP address when setting up Port Forwarding.

Port Forwarding - This is an exception to the security features of your router. We allow a local IP address (your computer in this case, set with DHCP Reservation, so it never changes), the ability to open and close a port through the router firewall. This allows the client's communication to pass through, and directs it (or forwards it) to the correct local IP address.   


To do either uPnP or Port Forwarding, it will be very helpful to download your router's instruction manual. Most manuals will have sections instructing how to log in to your router, set up uPnP, DHCP Reservation (might also be  called IP reservation), and Port Forwarding. If not, you should be able to find instructions pretty easily on the internet via search engine.


uPnP Setup

uPnP or NAT Traversal, is the easiest way to set up direct connect. But, you need a router that supports uPnP. The easiest way to check is to do a google search of your router model with uPnP. If you can find your router instruction manual, this would be perfect. 


Step 1: Log in to router

- Look up instructions online how to login to your router. Go to a web browser, and type in your router's gateway IP address (usually, or, it will say it in the instructions). You will be asked for a user name and password, enter those (again refer to instructions, they should be a default, something like "admin" and "password"). Note, the only computer who can login to your router, are those that are connected to it (outside people cannot login to the router).

Step 2: Turn on uPnP

Refer to the instructions on how to turn on uPnP. If there are any other uPnP settings, just ignore them. The default values will work fine.

Step 3: Turn on NAT Traversal in RetroArch

This setting should be turned on by default if you have downloaded the package from nhl94online.com as of 10/14/2019.

- To check if its turned on (or if you need to turn it on):

  1. Open RetroArch
  2. Go to Settings-User Interface. Turn "Show Advanced Settings" to ON.
  3. Go to Settings-Network. Turn "Netplay NAT Traversal" to ON.
  4. Go back to Settings-User Interface. Turn "Show Advanced Settings" to OFF.
  5. Close RetroArch (to save the configuration if needed).
  6. Restart and play!

- Note: This only needs to be done once. Once it is turned on, the setting does not have to be touched again. If you have Port Forwarding set up, it will use Port Forwarding before it tries uPnP.

- Note: You may see a "Port Mapping Failed" error when hosting a game when this setting is ON. This indicates if uPnP is working. If you plan on trying your uPnP connection with your router, you want to see a message that says "Port Mapping Successful". If turning on uPnP, you still get the "Port Mapping Failed" message, you will still need to go through the port forwarding procedure.


 Port Forwarding Setup


Part 1 - DHCP Reservation 

Step 1: Find your computer's current IP address

- This may or may not be needed, depending on your router. But it's quick and easy to do.

- For Windows PC:

  1. Hit the Windows key and R key at the same time to bring up a "Run" window. At the prompt, type "cmd" (no quotes). A command prompt window will open up.
  2. Type "ipconfig" (no quotes) at the command prompt. You should see a window similar to this: IP-PC.png  
  3. Write down the "IPv4 Address" of your Ethernet Adapter (might also say "Local Area Connection"). In the above screenshot, this is

- For Mac:

  1. Go to the Apple logo on the top menubar, then choose "System Preferences". A new window will open up, and inside that window click on "Network".
  2. In the Network window, select Ethernet from the left side. Your Mac's IP address will be displayed on the right side as "IP Address".  IP-Mac.png


Step 2: Log in to your router

- Look up instructions online how to login to your router. Go to a web browser, and type in your router's gateway IP address (usually, or, it will say it in the instructions). You will be asked for a user name and password, enter those (again refer to instructions, they should be a default, something like "admin" and "password"). Note, the only computer who can login to your router, are those that are connected to it (outside people cannot login to the router).


Step 3: Find the DHCP Reservation page and set it up

- Look up this information on the internet, or in your router's instruction manual. This is usually located in the "LAN" section of your router's home screen. I attached a screenshot of an example.


- When we open up the LAN section, we see the following page. You'll see a section referred to as "Reserved IP Table", usually called something similar to DHCP Reservation. You will see some entries already here in the screenshot, but most likely on your router, it will be blank. Click the Add button. (Also, note at the top of this screen, this router supports uPnP).      














- On the Add screen, it asks us to enter the IP address, MAC address (physical address of network card), and a Device Name. If you need to get the MAC address, we can go to "Attached Devices" (black arrow) and get the MAC address of the network card by looking for the IP Address on the list. On many routers, there may be a drop-down where you can select from connected devices. In this case, you can just choose your computer from the list, comparing IP address of the list to the one you wrote down in Step 1. Once done hit Apply. If you go back to the LAN page, you should now see your entry in the Reserved area.



- Now, you have reserved your IP Address for your computer. This insures that whenever your computer is restarted, or whenever your router decides to change up the IP Addresses, the one set for your computer will not change. Now we can move on to Port Forwarding.


Part 2 - Port Forwarding

  Step 1: Log in to your router

If you closed out your router screen from the previous part, log back in.

  Step 2: Find the Port Forwarding page and set it up

Look for your router's instructions on port forwarding. If you can't find them, it's no big deal. The page is usually located in the Advanced section or Firewall/Security section of a router. In this example, the following screen will show:


          - For Service Name, enter RetroArch (this doesn't matter, its just to identify it for you).

          - For Protocol, choose TCP. This could either be TCP or TCP/UDP. But you should not set it to UDP only. This may also be called "Service Type".

          - For External Starting Port, put "55435". This is the port that is used for RetroArch netplay.

          - For External Ending Port, I also put "55435". (This is used if you were to open a range of ports, but since we are only using 1 port, we put the same number in both spots).

         - You'll also notice the "Use the same port range for Internal port". If your router doesn't have this, but has Internal Starting and Ending Ports, set them both to 55435.

         - Rule of thumb, anywhere it says "Port", set to 55435.

         - For Internal IP address, you would enter the IP address of your computer. This is the address we set to reserve in Part 1: DHCP Reservation

          - After I'm done, I click Apply.

- Note: This is a typical Port Forwarding page, but not all will look like this. There may be less things to enter, or more. Point being, any port should be set to 55435, service to TCP or TCP/UDP, and Internal IP address set to your computer's IP address. If there is an entry for External IP address, this should be set to all 0s.




NOTE: Windows Firewall needs to either be disabled, or allow RetroArch to pass through. When you host for the first time, a Windows Firewall message should pop up, asking if the program should be allowed to pass through. I usually check both boxes for Private and Public networks, then hit the OK button. If you hit Cancel on this message, please look up online how to allow a program to pass through the Firewall.


If you set up with uPnP, the easiest way to test is hosting a game and having someone connect to you. There is no easier way to test this setup.


If you set up Port Forwarding with DHCP Reservation, you should be able to test your setup. This can be done without another person. We can use a website like canyouseeme.org to test if RetroArch can open the port successfully. There are a few steps in testing this:

  1. Open RetroArch, and Start Netplay host (under Main Menu-Netplay). You can also load the ROM first, and hit the "n" key to toggle netplay host.
  2. Open a ROM. When the ROM opens, you should see a message similar to "Waiting for client..."
  3. Go to https://www.canyouseeme.org/. Enter 55435 as the port and hit the "Check Port" button.
  4. If successful, you should see a message similar to below: 


 If you see a message that says it is blocking the port, or a timeout, double check your computer's IP address hasn't changed, and that the port forward IP address is the same as your computers.

NOTE: The IP address you see on canyouseeme.org is your router's IP address from your ISP, so don't get those confused.


UPDATE: I attached a program to this post called Simple Port Tester (for Windows only). This is an alternative to the testing procedure above. Instead of hosting a game, then using canyouseeme.org to see if the port is open, you can use this program. Install it, then open it. Type in the port to test, and the program will open the port itself, then try and see if it is open by using a site similar to canyouseeme.org. This is a lot easier, since you don't have to have RetroArch running when testing in this case. It is also a better test, as it can tell you if it's a Windows Firewall issue, or a port opening issue on your router.

EDIT: From RetroArch 1.8.8 package and on, the Simple Port Tester is included in the package, in the "Simple Port Tester" located in your RetroArch folder.

If you have any questions, please feel free to DM me in Discord (chaos).







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I'd also like to note that you should NOT have Hamachi running when you try connecting (if you have Hamachi installed). This will cause problems.

Also, there may be some situations where canyouseeme.org cannot connect, but you will still be able to host a game. So don't use it as an end-all be-all, still attempt to host a game with someone and have them try to connect.

If there are any issues, I am happy to try and help troubleshoot your setup. If you don't feel comfortable messing around with settings, we can try doing a Teamviewer remote desktop setup, where I can connect and try some things out. This tends to go quicker, too (Teamviewer is free software, you don't need to register)


Link to Teamviewer - TeamViewer 14

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@chaos in the running for bud of the year. 

I edited my post because it said, "front runner," instead of, "running." Can't forget about @halifax who will surely be a favorite. @kingraph also got his first KO94 title. Who's it gonna be? What will they be wearing on the berber carpet? 

Full coverage on Entertainment Tonight.

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  • chaos pinned this topic

I'd also like to point out, during hosting, if you see a message that says "Port Mapping Failed", this is referring to uPnP not working. Since I set uPnP to be enabled as default, it will always try to set this up. But, if you have your port forwarding set up, this message can be ignored, since it will use your port instead.

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19 hours ago, Raidercanuck1329 said:

Played in King of 94 tourney in Richmond last year.....having a hell of a time trying to connect with my buddy.


Retroarch, done.....

I connect to other people and be player 3, but can't connect with my friend.


Major frustrated!




@Raidercanuck1329 please ask for help on Discord.

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  • 1 year later...
13 hours ago, Donell Rocha said:

I've done everything uve instructed here in this forum and i still don't see myself on the hosting list anymore. Can someone please

post screen shots of there network and hosting settings from RA? image.png


Check your windows firewall and see if Windows is blocking RA. https://pureinfotech.com/allow-apps-firewall-windows-10/

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