A Frontend is software that presents a list of games and calls the appropriate emulator to run the selected game.
The main reason to use a Frontend is to simplify the gaming experience: when all the games are organized and the emulators are configured, the user concentrates only in choosing what to play.
Some Frontends are suited to be run in home-built arcade machines which have a PC computer inside with many different games and emulators to choose.
The HyperSpin, for example, is considered one of the best looking frontends. It has custom-made graphics art for specific games, movie support with transition effects, and theme and favorites support.
List of frontends
It's impossible to say which is(are) the best frontend(s) as every person has different necessities and preferences.
Below is a list of frontends that are worth using, in no particular order:
|3D Arcade||virtual arcade machines in 3D models|
|Attract-Mode||open source; Windows, Linux and OS X|
|BletchMAME||replaces the internal MAME UI with a more conventional point and click GUI|
|Emu Loader||Windows; supports MAME Software Lists|
|EmulationStation||open source; Windows and Linux|
|FEEL||Windows XP or newer; freeware|
|GameBase||universal but is the official frontend for the GB64 Collection of C64 games|
|GameEx||free and paid versions available; Evolution version supports MAME Software Lists; Arcade Edition version is lighter|
|Gelide||open source; Linux|
|HyperSpin||one of the best-looking but very hard to set up|
|IV/Play||by the same author of MAMEUI|
|ixbar3000||Windows and Linux|
|LaunchBox / Big Box||for Windows Vista and newer|
|MAMELOAD TNG||Windows; supports MAME Software Lists|
|Maximus Arcade||paid software|
|MESSUI||Windows; MAME frontend; supports Software Lists|
|Metropolis Launcher||requires Windows XP or newer and .NET Framework 4.0; ships with MobyGames based meta data|
|Pegasus||cross-plataform: Windows, Linux, Raspberry Pi and Android; open source|
|pfeMame||Python frontend for MAME (cross-platform)|
|PinballX||by the same creators of GameEx|
|PinballY||Windows; open source|
|Playnite||Video game library manager; open source|
|QMC2||open source; for many operating systems; supports MAME Software Lists|
|RetroFE||Windows and Linux|
|VP-Man||supports Visual Pinball and Future Pinball|
|VPLauncher||Windows; supports Visual Pinball and Future Pinball; discontinued|
Frontends created by Pleasuredome members
Because you (probably) can get support easier, these are in a separate table:
|Advanced MAME Launcher||MAME frontend for Kodi mediacenter; created by Wintermute0110|
|MAME Custom Front End||MAME frontend for Windows; created by Raph4|
|Negatron / NegaMAME||supports Software Lists; created by xinyingho|