Frontends are programs that allow a user to execute an emulator program, usually a command-line one, using a graphical interface. Examples of such are shown below.
Note: "Frontend" can be a somewhat confusing term since it is sometimes used to refer to an emulator's internal frontend that handles video, audio, and input interaction with the user and OS, while this page refers to the "Launcher" or "Executor" kind of "frontend".
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 and runs on Linux, macOS, and Windows. [Link]
Almost setup free frontend. Everything is preconfigured, just add games. Originally for Xbox but now has an early PC release. Link
- Main article: EmulationStation
GameEx is a front end that does a lot. It is also used for commercial applications. It has a powerful in-program editor that allows you to customize the front-end's visuals to all lengths. It also has a built-in media player. It has a free version and a registered version. It is a powerful front end. [Link]
Games is a GNOME application to browse your video games library and to easily pick and play a game from it. Link.
- Main article: Hyperspin
Ice isn't really a front end, but it's more of a way to add you're old retro and arcade games as executable files that steam can run as it would a regular steam game. It lets you add your ROMs as steam games basically. [Link]
Steam Rom Manager
An easier, still active alternative to Ice. [Link]
LaunchBox was originally built as an attractive front-end to DOSBox but has since expanded to support both modern PC games and emulated console platforms. LaunchBox aims to be the one-stop shop for gaming on your computer, for both modern and historical games. Probably the most customizable emulator on here, alongside HyperSpin, if you buy a license. You can customize the interface to however you like and the metadata of each game and comes with a metadata scraper. Has integrated support for launching from Kodi (XBMC). There is one version free, but also has a premium version that gives you access to Big Box which is an HTPC version of Launch Box along with some other features. [Link].
An arcade emulator that seems to be good for cocktail arcade cabinets. It has on-the-fly screen orientation and great support for hotkeys. Has lots of great plugins available. [Link]
Metropolis Launcher has been created to be a great old-school launcher, emulation front-end and an extensive offline database of video game metadata thanks to MobyGames and their strong user base. Over 50 fields of metadata are supported by Metropolis Launcher's Main Screen. You can search-as-you-type, filter, group, and sort by any combination of them. Metropolis Launcher already ships with MobyGames based metadata, no web-scraping for this data is needed. [Link]
mGalaxy is a minimalistic front end aimed at arcade cabinets. It does, however, have some really good features such as picking a random game out of your library, background music, favorites, top ten most played and more.[Link]
A cross-platform, customizable graphical frontend for launching emulators and managing your game collection. Runs on Linux, Windows, all Raspberries, and Odroids. GitHub.
- Main article: RetroFE
EmuCon is a GUI (Graphical User Interface) for many emulators systems: consoles, handhelds, and computers. [Link]