Minimal Emulator Frontend


There are a number of great emulator frontends available on the Internet, I use retropie on a mini Nes with a Raspberry pi. But for my Windows 10 desktop there are only programs that are huge, with a lot of artwork and sounds, not user friendly and sometimes very hard to configure. After some disappointing experiences I decided that I needed a very simple frontend, just select a game and double click it and it will run on the correct emulator. As always when I cannot find what I need I write it myself, I am an experienced C and C++ programmer and I know how to write portable Microsoft Windows programs. I still have a backup file with a lot of game roms, I only needed to find some stable and portable emulator programs for these game machines. And these game emulators had to have a command line interface to start the emulator with a predefined game rom.

I tested some emulators and after a while I had a good collection of free, portable emulators that I could deliver together with my frontend program. The reason I also package these emulators is that I can predefine them in my machines config file so that the program needs no configuration and will work out of the box. I cannot package any game roms as they are copyrighted, you have to find the game roms yourself. But just copy them into the roms directory in the subdirectory of the game system and the next time the program starts it will scan and add this game to the list. The program is very simple but does exactly what its needs to do and has a user friendly interface. It will work out of the box, there is no need for configuration. There are two config files that are just plain text and you an edit them to add friendly names to the games of to add of delete a game emulator.

To install it just download the zip file, it will contain the exe file and some predefined directories. In the emulators directories there are several preinstalled portable emulators, you can update them yourself as they are free available on the Internet. When you start the program you will have an empty screen, that good. Now just copy the rom files from your archive to the roms directory in the correct folder of the game system and after that start hpmef.exe again and the games should show in the list. Just DoubleClick on the game and the correct emulator should be started with the correct game rom. There are two config files, the file games.txt is a generated file you can edit only the third column and that is the friendly name of the rom and also the display name. By default this is a copy of the rom filename. This friendly name will not be overwritten and will last as long as the file is not deleted. You can delete the file and start the program again, this will generate a new games.txt file.

The second configuration file is the machines.txt file that contains all the game emulators and the abbreviation used to connect the game emulator to the game. It also contains the file mask of the roms for this system. You can edit this file and delete or add emulator programs. Always add new emulator programs under de directory emulators and then add the manually to the machines.txt file. This is the only real configuration you need to do, only if you want to change the default setting. This file will not be created new, so do not delete it and make a backup copy. This program is digitally signed by me so it should be trusted by Microsoft Windows ™. The program is freeware, you may copy it as you like, use it as you like, but there is no warranty whatever. I am a good programmer and I do not expect this program to do anything bad tot your system, but I cannot be responsible for the way people use it so there is no warranty from my side for the use of this program. But my site is trustworthy and I consider myself a trustworthy programmer, but I have to mention this warning.

Download the zip file and unpack it in a (logical) folder on your disk drive, I use a folder named portapps in the root folder of my C drive. It will create a directory structure and add some files. Just make a shortcut to the hpmef.exe file or DoubleClick it to start the program. If you find a bug or have any good suggestion to improve this program you can contact me trough the contact form on this site.


  • Version 1.01 – Aug 2020 – initial release.


Here you can download the zip file with the lates version 1.01 of the hpmef.exe (Hein Pragt Minimal Emulator Frontend) portable Windows ™ program. This version supports a Gameboy emulator, Gameboy Advance emulator, Nes emulator, Super Nintendo emulator, Nintendo 64 emulator, MSX emulator and Sega geam gear emulator. Have fun!


Links to the emulators homepages

More pages on application software

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