EmulationStation, the hugely popular emulator front-end for the Raspberry Pi, has gotten a version boost. This version update brings with it comes a beautiful new UI and cross-platform compatibility. It now runs effortlessly on Windows, Debian Linux, and Debian derivatives like Ubuntu, as well as the inexpensive Raspberry Pi.
EmulationStation does not do any emulating itself and it must be paired with an emulator like Retroarch to actually play the games. EmulationStation curates all of your rom files into lists broken down by game system and scrapes their metadata. Your games will be paired with box-art, descriptions and ratings pulled from TheGamesDB.net, and the whole interface can be navigated with your game controllers.
I recommend using Retroarch as the emulation backend for EmulationStation because you only have to set up your controls once and they will work for every system. However, you can use any emulator or emulators you are comfortable with. You will just have to make sure your controls and other options are set up in each individual emulator before plugging its information into EmulationStation.
EmualtionStation is still a work in progress, and while it is very polished, there are occasional bugs to be expected. In order to get everything set up and working, there is some manual editing of configuration files, but the instructions on EmulationStation.org’s Getting Started page breaks everything down in easy to follow steps.
I am using EmulationStation on my HTPC (Home Theater PC) running Ubuntu 64bit and XBMC to have an all-in-one media center with Retro Gaming. I use Advanced Launcher and a shell script to suspend XBMC and launch EmulationStation when I want to fire up a few games to play with my kids.
Keep checking back here at Gadgetspot. In the coming weeks we will be putting together a guide to build your own dream HTPC complete with both Kodi (XBMC) and EmulationStation.