Smiler, thanks for the questions! I don't frequent this forum like I should so apologies for the late reply. I hope I can help you or anyone who stumbles across this message after the fact looking for help on another day.
I took a “sandbox” or “party friendly” approach as that fits my needs for my purposes. I simply took the image I made for myself and released it publicly, more or less. The ppl I make pi game systems for don't need to be doing advanced setup, else it'll cause me massive headaches down the road to fix the derpage, this also ties into my “no keyboard” approach – the CRISP image is designed to be something of a standalone console, not something you would really do a lot of updating and so much tinkering with. Set it up in Emulation Station and go to Attract Mode, have fun. It's not so much that I made it “kid” friendly, so much as I don't want ANYONE to be able to get ahold of a product and render it unplayable. In the future, I will not alter or change any of the setup for publicly released images. I didn't realize I'm in the minority in my approach, consider it a lesson learned. I have updated the CRISP image with some bug fixes, artwork fixes, changed out the arcade to Will's Arcade v3.3 thats featured on the Hyperpie forums… I released my image the week before the SNES mini dropped, the update has Starfox 2… did the no bootup text thing, turned off Ludicrous Speed wheel acceleration. I might turn that back on if released, unsure, would ask for feedback. Learned a couple of lessons, we'll be better because of it.
Smiler, to do what you are looking to do, there are a couple of ways. Connect a plain USB keyboard into the Pi and press TAB. This will bring up a configure menu. Go to Displays. Way down, near the bottom, you will see “Power” and “Attract Mode Setup” – go to Power, change both Yes's to No's – then go to Attract Mode Setup and change both No's to Yes's – exit out of the Configure menu, and the regular Attract Mode setup menu is there. From there, you can enter the Retropie Setup, Raspi-config, Emulation Station as you need, and more. I've never had an issue with it not saving or keeping… make sure you are using the proper “shutdown” and “reboot” commands?
To go direct to command line from within Attract Mode, you back to press back from the top level wheel, it will ask if you would like to exit attract mode. Press down to highlight YES and press your enter button, and it will exit you out to a command prompt.
Thanks again for the compliments, making this image was among some of the most fun I've ever had and is the best way to cruise down memory lane. I just uploaded an all Sega image, and am about to begin work on an all handheld/portable/mobile – tpye image, unsure if I will make it for a pi zero or not. I want to include the Nintendo DS but that won't run on a pi zero… we'll figure it out. Once Hyperpie 2 drops, I'll begin work on a CRISP re-mix/part Deux strikes back, so stay tuned!