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, OS X and Windows. [Link]
- Main article: EmulationStation
A graphical and themeable emulator front-end that allows access to games in one place, even without a keyboard. It can import custom themes to use, but it doesn't have a large community so there are not an abundance of these. This is the one emulator on here that is made for the Raspberry Pi and is bundled with Retro Pie. Comes with a metadata scraper. It is a great front end, and thanks to some users on the RetroPie Forum, development has been picked up. Some new additions include support for video playback as well as custom carousels. Official Web Site ; Fork on GitHub.
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
Hyper Spin is a front end aimed primarily for arcade cabinets. Next to LaunchBox, it is the most personalizing front end on the list. The community for Hyper Spin is gigantic! There is a huge fan-base for Hyper Spin that is constantly coming out with new creations and programs that make it better. If you are looking for a front end for your arcade cabinet, I would recommend this one for sure. [Link]
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]
LaunchBox was originally built as an attractive frontend 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 how ever 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 a 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 hot keys. 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 meta data 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 meta data, 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, Mac, all Raspberries, Odroids. GitHub.
- Main article: RetroFE
A good frontend, open source and available for Windows and Linux : RetroFE.
- Main article: RoM-Jacket