Emulation Station on Windows
emulationstationlogo
Emulation Station is a beautiful customizable interface for RetroArch and other external emulators.  It's used by RetroPie and Recalbox on the Raspberry PI, however, you may want a little more processing power and the ability to run other emulators.
Getting this to work on Windows can be really complicated.   The internet contains several guides but they are very vague.  Fortunately, we've taken all the hardware work away and now you can get started with a few downloads.  Alternatively, you can opt to create your own build.
This article is in progress
 
To install Emulation Station and configure yourself, you can either download the lastest version from the vendors website, or you can download files from here.  You will also need to install the Emuators (e.g. RetroArch) which Emulation Station uses to play games.
If you do not wish to manually set up Emulation Station I have created our own build which runs directly out of the folder.  Details are found further down this page.
 
Files Original Website Download Locally Link to our Guide
       
Original Emulation Station Windows (basic version)  Link  Download  
RetroPie fork of Emulation Station (Windows)  Link  Download  
msvcp140.dll  Link  Download  
vcruntime140.dll  Link  Download  
vcredist_x86.exe  Link  Download  
RetroArch - Multi-Platform Emulator  Link  Download Guide Here
Yabuase - Sega Saturn Emulator  Link  Download  
PPSSPP - Sony Playstation Portable Emulator  Link  Download Guide Here
ePSXe - Sony Playstation One Emulator  Link  Download Guide Here
PCSX2 - Sony Playstation 2 Emulator  Link  Download Guide Here
Dolphin - Nintendo Game Cube and Wii Emulator  Link  Download Guide Here
       
Optional      
SCPToolKit - Connect Sony DualShock 3/4 Controllers to Windows  Link  Download Guide Here
XMS Universal Scraper - Dedicated ROM scraper  Link  x86   X64 Guide Here
Emulation Station Themes (TBC)      
 
 
Our Custom Build
 
Our build is based on the RetroPie distributation so works with newer themes including those with video playback.  I have combined the above resources and created numerous custom configurations in order to create an all-in-one solution.  Once downloaded, all you'll need to do is install the emulators in the .emulationtstation/systems/* folders.  For RetroArch, you'll also need to download the cores.
 
Files Description
   
EmulationStation_Config_Folder This download is for the .emulationstation folder only.  It contains all ROM directories, the systems folder, basic theme, keyboard input, and settings.
EmulationStation_System Contains RetroPie fork of Emulation Station including custom configuration files and file structures.  You can download and run this from the extracted folder using the custom launchers.  I have included two Public Domain SNES games.
EmulationStation_System_Scraper Same as above but includes Universal XML Scraper and custom a configuration file.  The scraper has been set so that is scrapes the roms folder within .emulationstation.
Unviversal_XML_Scraper_Config Custom configuration file to work with Windows.  Universal XML Scraper must be in the Emulation Station Folder.  (uses default paths)
 
In order for our build to work you will need to download the following.  Emulators need to be installed to .emulationstation/systems/* folder.
 
Files Original Website Download Locally Link to our Guide
       
vcredist_x86.exe Link  Download  
RetroArch - Multi-Platform Emulator Link  Download Guide Here
RetroArch cores folder (.emulationstation/systems/retroarch/libretro)   Download  
PPSSPP - Sony Playstation Portable Emulator Link  Download Guide Here
ePSXe - Sony Playstation One Emulator Link  Download Guide Here
PCSX2 - Sony Playstation 2 Emulator Link  Download Guide Here
Dolphin - Nintendo Game Cube and Wii Emulator Link  Download Guide Here
 
Please be aware for some emulators you will need to source your own BIOS files.
 
Emulation Station manual installation and configuration.
 
If you wish to install the original Emulation Station the following steps should help you get started. To complete the process and be able to launch games you will require:
 
  • Knowledge of where the .emulationstation folder is.
  • Know where your ROMs folder is located.
  • Download and install RetroArch. (see guide here)
 
es1
 
First, navigate to https://emulationstation.org and select the Download tab.
 
es2
 
Download the Windows Installer.
 
es3
 
Once downloaded, launch the installer and agree to the License Agreement.
 
es4
 
You can choose whether to install the defautl theme (recommended), Visual C++, and add a shortcut to your desktop. We will cover making custom shortcuts later.
Click Next to continue.
 
es5
 
Choose where you want to install Emulation Station. The default is the Program Files folder.
Click Next
 
es6
 
Finally, select Install to start the installation.
 
es7
 
Once complete click Finish.
 
es9
 
If you were to attempt to run Emulation Station you'll be greeted with the above message. This is because you need to manually create/edit the configuration file es_systems.cfg.
 
es8
 
The configuration file can be found in the .emulationstation folder. This is located in your %homepath% (i.e C:\Users\yourusername\)
 
es10
 
Open es_systems.cfg with your preferred editing software. I prefer to use use Notepad++.  You can download our es_systems.cfg file here.  (unzip to .emulationstation folder.)
Your file will look different because you'll be looking at the default template. To make things easier, the image above is what you are aiming to achieve. I'll explain line-by-line.
 
<system>
<name>fds</name>
<fullname>Famicom Disk System</fullname>
<path>D:\EmulationStation\roms\fds</path>
<extension>.fds</extension>
<command>%HOMEPATH%\.emulationstation\systems\retroarch\retroarch.exe  -L %HOMEPATH%\.emulationstation\systems\retroarch\libretro\fceumm_libretro.dll "%ROM_RAW%"</command>
<platform>fds</platform>
<theme>fds</theme>
</system>
Note:  Anything within <!-- and --!> is just a note. It helps the reader identify sections of the file.
 
  • Each system is wrapped within the <system> and </system> tags.
  • The first line between the <name> tags defines which systen we are referring to. This should ideally match the default ROM folder name. (e.g. fds)
  • <fullname> refers to the system description. This can be anything you like and will be displayed within Emulation Station if there is no theme.
  • <path> refers to where the ROMs are found on your computer. As you can see in the above, it refers to where the fds folder is located.
  • <extension> refers to the ROM file extension your emulator is able to use. In this example, ROMs for the Famicom Disk System have a .fds extension.  Other systems may use a .bin, .iso, or .rom extension.
  • <command>. This is the important bit as it tells Emulation Station what to launch. The first half of the command is where the executable file for the emulator is. This is then followed by -L. The secaond half refers to the core to use and its location. In the example above we are asking Emulation Station to launch RetroArch using the core fceumm_libretro.dll core.  Note:  Using emuators other than RetroArch do not require to reference a core. Replace the -L with -e and then remove the second part of the code leaving "%ROM_RAW%" at the end.  e.g.  %HOMEPATH%\.emulationstation\systems\Dolphin\Dolphin.exe -e "%ROM_RAW%"
  • <platform> refers to the system type. This must match the default system names.
  • <theme> refers to the theme to implement.
Once you've created your first system. Save the changes.
 
es11
 
If you now launch Emulation Station, assuming there is a ROM in the system you've created. You should be greeted with the above.  You can set up your controller or just use your Keyboard.
 
es12
 
If everything is ok, you should see something like the above (default theme). Use your keyboard to move left and right and select your system.
 
es13
 
We've selected the Super Nintendo and scrolled down to the Ghouls 'n' Ghosts game.
Note: You may see a page which just has a list of file. You'll need to scrape your ROM library to obtain information about them and download images. (see below). 
 
es14
 
We've now been able to launch the same successfully using RetroArch.
 
Creating shortcuts
 
When running Emulation Station the default action is to run at full screen.  However, you may want to launch Emulation Station in a Window or you may want to launch fullscreen at a desired resolution.  To do this you can either create a batch file, or you can create a shortcut and add the parameters.
 
eslaunch
 
Adding --resolution 1280 720 --windowed will launch Emulation Station in a window of 1280 pixels wide and 720 pixels in height.  Removing --windowed will run Emulation in fullscreen at the same resolution.  Personally I recommend using the resolution of you monitor or 1920 1080 (Full HD).
 
Scraping your ROMS
 
Scraping is the act of gathering information from an external source.  In this case we are scraping a website to gather information about ROMs and their images.  This can be done in two ways:
 
  • By using the built-in scraper
  • Using an external scraper such as XML Scraper.  (Find guide here)
scrape menu
 
EmulationStation has a built in scraper that pulls from thegamesdb. It can be accessed from the start menu in EmulationStation
This will bring up a system menu. 
Select Scraper.
 
srape options
 
You can leave th default settings as they are. 
Select Scrape Now.
 
scraper now
 
You can scrape ROMs which have missing images only or you can scrape all ROMS.  You can also get the scraper to automatically select the best result or manually confirm (recommend the latter).
 
scraper system
 
If you want to only scrape certain systems, you can select them this in the systems section.
 
scraper now
 
Once you are happy, select Start.
 
scrapergame
 
If you ticked user decides on conflicts, the scraper will stop when there is more than one result.  Other than this it's just a case of waiting...which could take a long time. 
If possible, try not to scrape more than 100 ROMs at a time. If this process is too slow, not accurate enough, or you want to use custom settings, we recommend using XML Universal Scraper.
 
Upgrade to the RetroPie build
 
If you want to have the additional features the RetroPie build offers (e.g. support for themes with Video playback), simply download the RetroPie build and copy the contents to the Emulation Folder.
Hardware available from Amazon