If you’re an avid gamer, you’re likely always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to play your favorite games. Enter emulation station, a platform that allows you to play classic video games from various systems on your computer or other devices. In this article, we’ll explore what emulation station is, how it works, and why it’s a popular option for gamers around the world. Check out our article Top 10 Arcade Emulator Frontends for Your Retro Gaming Experience

What is Emulation?

Before diving in, let’s first understand what emulation means. Emulation is the process of replicating the behavior of one system on another. In the context of retro gaming, it involves running software that mimics the hardware of classic consoles and arcade machines to play old games on modern computers or devices.

What is a Front-End?

A front-end is a graphical user interface that provides a convenient way to interact with a software application. In the context of Emulation Station, it is the part of the software that allows users to select and launch games, manage game libraries, and configure emulator settings.

How Does Emulation Station Work?

It works by integrating multiple emulator software into one unified front-end interface. It uses metadata to organize game collections and display them in a user-friendly way. Users can select a game from the menu and will launch the appropriate emulator to play it.

Emulator Cores

Emulator cores are the software engines that allow it to run different game consoles and arcade machines. They are libraries of code that emulate the hardware and software of the original system. It supports various emulator cores such as RetroArch, MAME, and PCSX2, to name a few.


Metadata is information that describes a game and its properties. It uses metadata to display game titles, artwork, descriptions, and other details in a visually appealing way. Metadata is automatically generated from game files or can be manually added by users.

Game Controllers

Game controllers are used to play games. The software supports various types of controllers such as keyboard, mouse, gamepad, and joystick. Users can configure their controllers to match the layout of the original system’s controller.


It allows users to configure emulator settings such as resolution, sound, and input options. Users can access configuration files directly from the interface or use the configuration editor to modify settings.

Setting up Emulation Station

emulation station

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Preparing
    • Install the Operating System
    • Configure the Operating System
  3. Install
    • Download
    • Install Dependencies
    • Compile and Install
  4. Configure
    • Setup Controllers
    • Add Game ROMs
    • Customize
  5. Launch
  6. Troubleshooting
  7. Conclusion
  8. FAQs

1. Introduction

Emulation Station is a popular front-end software that allows retro gaming enthusiasts to play classic video games on their computers or Raspberry Pi. It’s a free and open-source software that provides a user-friendly interface for managing and launching games from multiple gaming platforms such as NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and many others.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of setting up on your computer or Raspberry Pi, including installing the operating system, installing, configuring controllers and game ROMs, and customizing to fit your needs.

2. Preparing for Emulation Station

Before you install, there are some prerequisites you need to meet. These include:

Install the Operating System

First, you need to install an operating system that is compatible with Emulation Station. There are various operating systems that you can use, including Raspbian, RetroPie, or Lakka, depending on your device. Here are some steps to follow when installing Raspbian:

  1. Download the Raspbian operating system from the official website.
  2. Insert the SD card into your computer and flash the Raspbian image using a tool like Etcher.
  3. Insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi and power it up.

Configure the Operating System

Once you have installed the operating system, you need to configure it to work with Emulation Station. This includes enabling SSH, expanding the file system, and updating the system packages. Here are some basic steps for configuring your operating system:

  1. Open a terminal or SSH into your Raspberry Pi.
  2. Type “sudo raspi-config” and press enter.
  3. Enable SSH, expand the file system, and update the system packages.

3. Install Emulation Station

Now that you have prepared your operating system, it’s time to install Emulation Station. Here are the steps you need to follow:

emulation station frontend

Download Emulation Station

  1. Open a terminal or SSH into your Raspberry Pi.
  2. Type “git clone –recursive https://github.com/Aloshi/EmulationStation.git” and press enter.
  3. Wait for the download to finish.

Install Dependencies

  1. Type “sudo apt-get install libsdl2-dev cmake git libboost-filesystem-dev libfreeimage-dev libfreetype6-dev libeigen3-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev libasound2-dev libgl1-mesa-dev build-essential” and press enter.
  2. Wait for the installation to finish.

Compile and Install Emulation Station

  1. Navigate to the directory by typing “cd EmulationStation” and press enter.
  2. Type “mkdir build && cd build” and press enter.
  3. Install
  4. Type “cmake .. && make” and press enter.
  5. Wait for the compilation process to finish.
  6. Type “sudo make install” and press enter.
  7. Wait for the installation process to finish.

4. Configure Emulation Station

emulation station

Once installed, you need to configure it to work with your controllers and add game ROMs. Here’s how to do it:

Setup Controllers

  1. Connect your controllers to your computer or Raspberry Pi.
  2. Launch Emulation Station by typing “emulationstation” in the terminal or SSH.
  3. Go to the “Configuration” menu and select “Input”.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to configure your controllers.

Add Game ROMs

  1. Create a folder on your computer or Raspberry Pi where you will store your game ROMs.
  2. Transfer your game ROMs to that folder.
  3. Launch Emulation Station and go to the “Configuration” menu.
  4. Select “Games”.
  5. Add the folder where you stored your game ROMs by clicking on “Add New System”.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to add your game ROMs.

Customize Emulation Station

  1. Launch and go to the “Configuration” menu.
  2. Select “UI Settings”.
  3. Customize the settings to your liking, such as changing the theme or adding new menu items.

5. Launch Emulation Station

Now that you have configured it, you can launch it and start playing your favorite retro games. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Launch by typing “emulationstation” in the terminal or SSH.
  2. Use your controllers to navigate the menu and select the game you want to play.
  3. Enjoy your retro gaming experience!

6. Troubleshooting

If you encounter any issues with here are some common solutions:

  • If your controllers are not working, try reconfiguring them in the “Input” menu.
  • If your game ROMs are not showing up, make sure they are in the correct format and located in the correct folder.
  • If you encounter any errors or bugs, try updating to the latest version or checking the official GitHub page for solutions.

7. Conclusion

Emulation Station is an excellent software that allows retro gaming enthusiasts to relive their childhood memories by playing classic video games all in one place. Setting up Emulation Station may seem daunting at first, but by following these steps, you can quickly and easily set up Emulation Station on your computer or Raspberry Pi and start playing your favorite retro games.

8. FAQs

  1. Can it be used on any operating system?
    • It is compatible with various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. However, some features may not work on all operating systems.
  2. Are all game ROMs compatible?
    • No, not all game ROMs are compatible. Make sure to check the compatibility of your game ROMs before adding them.
  3. Can I customize the look and feel of Emulation Station?
    • Yes, you can customize the theme and UI settings of Emulation Station to your liking.
  4. Is Emulation Station legal?
    • Emulation Station itself is legal, but downloading and using game ROMs may be illegal in some countries. Make sure to check the laws in your country before using Emulation Station.
  5. Can I use Emulation Station with a keyboard and mouse?
    • Yes, Emulation Station can be used with a keyboard and mouse, but it may not provide the same retro gaming experience as using a controller. It is recommended to use a controller for the best experience.