Let’s Install Retroarch Once you’ve finished installing LaunchBox, head over to the Retroarch website, click the “Downloads” link in the main navigation menu, and follow the instructions from there. Once Retroarch finishes downloading, run the installer. However, don’t just run through the installer blind like you would most programs.
Retro gaming has achieved a golden age. Through retro console clones such as the NES Mini, SNES Mini, and Sega Genesis Mini, revisiting old school games is a breeze. Plus, the likes of retro gaming with RetroPie, Recalbox, Lakka, and Batocera on devices such as the Raspberry Pi, ASUS Tinker Board, and RockPro64 means you can make your own SNES Classic, NES Classic, N64 Mini, or even Sega Genesis Mini. LaunchBox remains one of the best methods for retro and modern gaming. Learn how to install LaunchBox, from what LaunchBox is to set up and first use.
LaunchBox is a gaming frontend originally built for DOS. However, now LaunchBox supports a slew of emulators and PC games for an all-in-one multimedia solution. Whereas the likes of RetroPie, Batocera, Lakka, and Recalbox feature emulators built-in, LaunchBox doesn’t. As such, you’ll need to add your own. The difference in LaunchBox vs Retroarch is that Retroarch provides emulators, while LaunchBox offers a pretty user-interface. Thus, LaunchBox is used in conjunction with Retroarch.
I’ve used a ton of different standalone retro gaming operating systems, emulators, and frontends. But LaunchBox is by far my favorite. It’s incredibly simple to set up and boasts an automatic scraper for downloading game metadata and box art. Scraping games with LaunchBox is pretty accurate. Unfortunately, it’s Windows-only for PCs and desktops. There’s no LaunchBox macOS or LaunchBox Ubuntu installer. However, LaunchBox Android debuted for gaming on phones or Android TV boxes such as the Nvidia Shield TV.
What is Launchbox: A frontend for Windows and Android which provides a lush user-interface for organizing emulators and video games.
Installing LaunchBox is pretty simple. Before getting started, you’ll need a few items. First, a harddrive to install LaunchBox on. Since LaunchBox is portable, you can run LaunchBox from an external harddrive, or straight from a laptop or desktop harddrive. Additionally, you’ll require a Windows PC to run the LaunchBox app. Required specs depend on which games you want to play. A LaunchBox download is necessary as well, and you need emulators and games to load within LaunchBox.
Head over to the official LaunchBox website and download the installer. Once you click Download you’re prompted to enter your email address. After you enter your email address, you’ll receive an email with a link to download LaunchBox. The LaunchBox installer is a typical EXE installer. Once you’ve downloaded the LaunchBox EXE, head to the folder where you saved your installer. For me, this was my download directory.
Run the LaunchBox installer, and you’ll be prompted to accept the license agreement. Select I accept the agreement and click Next. Now, pick your preferred installation directory. By default, LaunchBox installs to the root of your user folder. For example, LaunchBox initially selected C:UsersmoeLaunchBox as my LaunchBox installation folder. However, you can change this. Since it’s a portable application, LaunchBox may be installed in cloud providers such as Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox. Because LaunchBox requires write permissions, you might encounter issues installing under certain folders. I suggest leaving the installation folder as the user folder, Documents folder, or a dedicated My Games folder. Once you’ve browsed for where LaunchBox should be installed and chosen your preferred location, click Next. Wait a few minutes and LaunchBox should install.
A portable LaunchBox install is no different than a standard desktop or laptop set up. Simply browse for your external drive, and select the root of that drive, or a specific folder. The installer will then create a LaunchBox folder at your desired location. I loaded LaunchBox onto a 5TB Seagate external harddrive, and merely selected that from my options. After selecting that drive, the installer populated the navigation bar with G:LaunchBox. Satisfied, I hit Next. You can select whether or not to add a Start Menu folder. If you’re running LaunchBox portable, check the box Don’t create a Start Menu folder.
Likewise, you pick whether or not to create a desktop icon. For a portable installation, leave the Create desktop icon box unchecked and continue. With LaunchBox properly configured, hit Install. You’ll need to install the .NET framework, so hit yes when queried to download and install the update.
After installation successfully completes, either run LaunchBox from a desktop icon, Start Menu entry, or navigate into the LaunchBox folder and run the LaunchBox EXE application.
Whereas the likes of RetroPie, Recalbox, Lakka, and Batocera come with emulators installed, LaunchBox does not. As such, before you can actually play any games, you’ll need to install emulators. There are a few ways you can go about this, but the easiest is creating an Emulators folder under your LaunchBox folder. So for instance:
Then, install your emulators into that folder. You may choose to run standalone emulators like PPSSPP for PlayStation Portable games and Mupen64Plus for Nintendo 64 ROMs, or a multi-system emulator platform such as RetroArch. Similarly, you can pick from a traditional installer or portable installation. Since I want a completely portable LaunchBox, I picked the latter.
Head over to the RetroArch website, or your preferred emulator site. On the downloads page, select the appropriate installer for your system, in this case Windows 10. For RetroArch, you can select an EXE installer or a download. I picked the 64-bit portable version. Download it, and you’re left with a 7Z file. Extract the compressed 7Z image using a program such as 7ZIp, and extract to its own folder, RetroArch.
Back in LaunchBox, go to Menu > Tools > Manage Emulators > Add. Begin typing the name of the emulator you want to add, such as RetroArch. LaunchBox should automatically detect some settings. But you’ll still need to point LaunchBox to your emulator application. Hit Browse, then locate your installed emulators and select the emulator EXE. For me, that was G:LaunchboxEmulatorsRetroArch.
When you’re satisfied, you can click Ok. In a tab you can browse Associated Platforms.
If you’re using RetroArch, you’ll need to actually install cores. To download cores in RetroArch, first fire up RetroArch. Then, head to Main Menu > Online Updater > Update Cores. Scroll around and find the cores you want to download. In LaunchBox, if you want to manage cores, head over to Menu > Tools > Manage Emulators > Edit> Manage Platforms. Next, click on a video game system such as Nintendo 64. Under the Core column, you can select the specific core you’d like to use, such as Mupen64Plus.
After you’ve loaded up you emulator, there’s one more step before you can begin to play your games: importing ROMs into LaunchBox. The easiest method for doing so is beginning with all of your ROMs organized into a main ROMs folder with sub-folders for each system. For instance, ROMSPS2, ROMSN64, and so on. In LaunchBox, navigate to Main Menu > Tools > Import. You can select from GOG Games, MAME Full Set, Steam Games, Windows Games, ROM Files, and MS-DOS Games.
Upon importing games, you’re asked if you’d like to leave your ROM files where they are, copy them to new folders, or move them to new folders. Copying will leave them in the original folder while creating a new sup-folder under LaunchboxGames for each system, whereas moving will migrate those ROMs to an appropriate sub-folder under LaunchboxGames.
Once games successfully import, you can browse your entire collection, or specific systems nested under different categories such as Arcade, Computers, Consoles, and Handhelds.
Should you add or delete ROMs after your main import, simply go to Main Menu > Tools > Scan for Added ROMs or Main Menu > Tools > Scan for Removed ROMs.
I’m a huge fan of LaunchBox, and it’s my go-to for retro gaming emulation. Its frontend is the best of any retro gaming frontend that I’ve used, and the automatic scraper does a phenomenal job accurately identifying games. As such, there was very little post-installation media cleanup. Most of my games were correctly identified. This saved me a considerable amount of time. I really appreciated the ability to use LaunchBox as a comprehensive frontend for my retro games, Steam library, and GOG titles.
Plus, Big Box further completed the experience. I often enjoy PC gaming on my TV either via directly hooking up my computer, or gamestreaming over my home network with my Nvidia Shield TV or Steam Link running on the Raspberry Pi. Big Box is an interface optimized for TVs, projectors, and even arcade cabinet screens. I preferred using Big Box while navigating menus on my TV.
Ultimately, if you’re gaming on Windows or Android, I’d highly recommend using LaunchBox. It’s hands-down my favorite frontend I’ve yet come across. The built-in scraper correctly identifies the majority of games, there’s wide-ranging emulator compatibility, and features such as Big Box allow for use as a living room gaming and home theatre PC set up. Plus, you can easily create a portable LaunchBox version for versatile installations on desktops and laptops, external harddrives, or even cloud service providers.
Your turn: What are you using for retro gaming emulation?
LaunchBox is a freeware launcher software download filed under console emulators and made available by Jason Carr for Windows.
The review for LaunchBox has not been completed yet, but it was tested by an editor here on a PC and a list of features has been compiled; see below.Database and launcher for DOSBox, emulators, and PC games
LaunchBox was originally built as an attractive frontend to DOSBox, but has since expanded to support both modern PC games and emulated console platforms. DOSBox will continue to be a main focus for LaunchBox, as will emulation and PC gaming. LaunchBox aims to be the one-stop shop for gaming on your computer, for both modern and historical games.
Not only does LaunchBox automatically download box art for your games, it also grabs beautiful fanart, screenshots, logos, and more, creating a surprisingly immersive experience. Fanart and other images can be used as LaunchBox's background as you browse your games, which really helps to create an attractive, fun experience.
This download is licensed as freeware for the Windows (32-bit and 64-bit) operating system on a laptop or desktop PC from console emulators without restrictions. LaunchBox 11.10 is available to all software users as a free download for Windows.