Recently a question was asked in The Arcade Collective :-
“…I got a boggy pc spare, but I dont want to bog it down more with Hyperspin, what is a nice (preferably free) front end for booting up nes, snes, md, mastersystem, and some old school? obviously something i can set up to use with my arcade controls….”
The response was fantastic with input from all the home arcade enthusiasts, here are some of the options that have been given so far.
EMULATION STATION – A graphical and themeable emulator front-end that allows you to access all your favorite games in one place, even without a keyboard! Emulation Station provides an interface that is usable with any 4-button controller, set up from within the program itself.
Emulators themselves must be configured separately…for now.
This looks like a great alternative and looks easy enough to set up – It even has a built in meta-scraper which can download the full name, description, box art, rating, release date, developer, publisher, genre, and number of players for every game in your library with the press of a button!
Emulation Station includes a custom theming system that gives you control over how each screen looks on a per-system basis, from the system select screen to the game list. There are various themes available or you could even make your own, this is definitely in the list of FREE contenders and we advise you to hop over to their OFFICIAL WEBSITE to take a look.
MAMEWAH – is a customisable multiple emulator frontend capable of running countless emulators, including everyone’s favourite arcade emulator, MAME, MAMEWAH is primarily intended for use with real arcade controls, including joysticks (digital or analogue), trackballs and spinners. MAMEWAH hides the Windows environment which makes it ideal for use in a home arcade cabinet.
Again like Emulation Station you can create your own skins, such as these custom skins:-
Definitely worth a look on their official website and trying it out for yourself.
MAXIMUS ARCADE – Whilst not a FREE solution it can be tested to see if it is the one for you and in fairness is a reasonable price should you decide if it is. It creates seamless interaction with multiple arcade and console emulators while keeping the Windows environment hidden. Although best suited for use in computer-based arcade cabinets, it can be configured for use in a kiosk or simply running on a computer with a keyboard, trackball, or arcade joystick. It is widely-considered the easiest software for reliving classic games with emulators like MAME.
Again like the choices above you can edit your themes or download new ones – the support for this choice seems to be really quick at responding and had positive reviews, we urge you to drop over to the website and check it out.
ATTRACT MODE – Attract-Mode is a graphical frontend for command line emulators such as MAME, MESS and Nestopia. It hides the underlying operating system and is intended to be controlled with a joystick, gamepad or spin dial, making it ideal for use in arcade cabinets. Attract-Mode is open source (meaning its free for you to use!) and runs on Linux, OS X and Windows.
Like the systems above it can be themed, quite easily apparently! Fellow Arcade Punks have told us that this is NOT a resource hungry front end and that it runs nicely without any bother to the CPU or memory – this one is definitely worth a try to the original poster.
MALAFE (MALA FRONT END) – One of the biggest contenders here – MaLa is a multi emulator front-end designed for all 32bit Windows operating systems (I have had reports it work fine on 64 bit) . It supports the Windows command line version of MAME with XML ROM info (> 0.84), PC Games and all command line based emulators. You can easily make it run on earlier versions of mame (as the author does) by using a XML file generated by a later version.
Full controller support, on the fly key editing, rotatable for horizontal and vertical displays, LED support, fully customisable skins and more, with a good selection of plugins available.
Let us know in the comments if you have any other favourites and we’ll be sure to mention them (or even add and edit them to this report.)