Anyone who has tried RetroPie will have found that it is a delight to launch ROMs from this software originally designed for the Raspberry Pi. Other alternatives go through manually install and configure EmulationStation, but I think it's a lot of work and it's also far from what RetroPie offers. Luckily, there has been another option for a long time with everything prepared, and its name is EmulationStation Desktop Edition.
With the same icon but in red instead of blue, getting it up and running is pretty much install and run. Or not even install, because it offers an option in the AppImage. EmulationStation Desktop Edition is open source and cross-platform, which I think also makes it best for Windows and macOS users. Default offers some improvements that RetroPie does not offer, and we are going to explain some of them today here.
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EmulationStation Desktop Edition even shows videos
If we have launched the scrapper, which is what search and download the images, when entering the list view it will show us something like the previous screenshot. It looks similar to what RetroPie shows, but it certainly has a more careful design. The list itself appears on the left, and the game information on the right. Above the explanation of the game in perfect Spanish (you have to configure it from the settings), it is not an image: it is a short video in the purest App Store or Google Play style (they weigh their own, be careful. To search and eliminate duplicates, FDUPES). The image appears for a few seconds, and is a combination of the game box (bottom left), screenshot (middle), and the game logo (top left). If we agree to see the multimedia content, we can also access the PDF manuals. Who gives more?
When entering each system (emulator), at the top left we see a image of what the console was like with their respective cartridges and logo. This is in the default theme, because it brings two, although I don't like the "modern" one too much, and more can be installed.
Also pulls RetroArch and other emulators
Although it may not seem like it, these emulation stations are nothing more than a frontend that collects all our games in one place. Extras are added to make it look like this EmulationStation Desktop Edition or RetroPie, but that's what they are. So that the titles can be released You must have RetroArch installed, available in most official repositories of any distro, in AUR, on Flathub and Snapcraft. By default, RetroArch already includes everything necessary for the classic consoles to work, but more "cores" can also be installed.
If we don't like how a core of RetroArch, or it simply does not open, from the options we can configure it to open the games with another emulator, being able to choose to do it from EmulationStation directly or to open the loose emulator (when closing it, it will return to ES), and it is also possible to do it per game.
About the configuration, almost everything is automatic. We just have to tell you when you open the frontend for the first time where we have the games, the main folder, and we can tell it to search recursively. What is important is that folders have a specific name, such as "mastersystem" without the quotes and not something like "Sega Master System" or just "Master System". If they don't have the name you should have, you won't find the games.
EmulationStation Desktop Edition can do automatic scrapper
Interesting, but I couldn't say if it's better, it's the function it does automatic scraping. It is an option that is activated by default, and it would be perfect if all our roms had an exact name so that the scrapper could add the information without fail. What this option does is that we start the scrap and it adds the metadata without consulting. It's better and more accurate to do it manually, but the bad thing comes when we have literally hundreds of roms and at least the NES, SNES, Master System and Mega Drive (Genesis) - we have to check those hundreds of games to make sure what we have matches with what the scrapper offers us.
We can always let it work automatically, go have a coffee (or two) and, when finished, start using the software as normal. If a game has metadata that doesn't match what we have, then we edit it manually.
The good thing is that we can also create the All collections, which bring them all together and can help us find a specific title regardless of the platform, Last played and Favorites. At least it is worth activating the Favorites option because it is the area where what we like the most will be. It's a kind of Everyone, but only what we really like.
I've known about EmulationStation Desktop Edition for a long time, but to be honest I don't remember why I didn't fully test it before. Maybe because it's multiplatform and on Linux I used to use RetroPie, maybe because of a bug... But v2.1.1 has already been released and it's not that it works well, it's that I'll end up abandoning RetroPie.