Lauchbox is the best emulator frontend for the Windows PC. It was originally designed as a GUI for the DOSBox emulator but has since exploded into a full solution for all games console emulators. LaunchBox is an application that delivers a stunning menu for your games collections which includes box art and then calls upon the relevant emulator to run them. All emulators run in the background and all you see is your game libraries for multiple systems and the gameplay itself. Plug in an XInput Game Controller and your system will become a fully fledged gaming system. In our LaunchBox review we will showcase what it can do any its features. We will also provide a Big Box review which comes with LaunchBox Premium for those of you who want to use the home theatre PC mode. The Big Box review comes at the end of this article.
We include a Launchbox video in this post so you can get a feel for the Launchbox and Big Box products. [Read: How to Add Emulators to Launchbox & Big Box]
Best Game Controllers to be used with LaunchBox & Big Box
In essence what LaunchBox does is give you a stunning graphical interface for your game and ROM collections. Not only that but it is without doubt the easiest to use emulator frontend package on the internet. The LaunchBox desktop version is free to download and easy to setup on your system. It has minimum system requirements but you may need specific gaming graphics cards & CPUs depending on the type of games you want to play. When you setup a new game collection the simple wizard will take you through adding an emulator and then a game/rom library. For our LaunchBox review it took just 3 minutes to add an emulator and game library. LaunchBox also supports Steam games so if you have a large collection of PC games they can be included in your collections. The screenshot below shows how the Launchbox desktop looks and an N64 game library:
As already mentioned in our LaunchBox review, it was originally designed for the DOSBox emulator. DOSBox was generally quite difficult to use on its own as to get the most out of it you have to use a command line interface. You have to create virtual hard drives for your games and then install them individually. The LaunchBox team turned this process into an easy to follow graphical wizard which asks you a series of questions in plain English. It makes the setup process of DOSBox games simple and all you need to focus on is playing your games.
You can even add LaunchBox to Kodi to handle you gaming on a HTPC. [Read: How to Integrate Launchbox on Kodi and get the Best of Both Worlds]
LaunchBox Rom Collection Setup Wizard
Not only does LaunchBox provide an easy to use graphical interface for DOSBox they have also applied this same process to adding games console emulators and ROM collections. You simply install the emulator you want to use and then tell LaunchBox where it is located on your system. Next you specify where your ROM collection is for this emulator and then LaunchBox does the rest. As you finish the step-by-step wizard LaunchBox will automatically start downloading all of the box art for your game libraries. It even has the ability to download game videos for your menus. The screenshot below shows an example of the LaunchBox setup wizard:
Once a game collection is installed individual titles are extremely easy to manage. Simply right click on a game and choose edit. LaunchBox will bring up an easy to follow menu where you can change pretty much any part of the game configuration. You can customise the box art, categorise your games, change its install location and add developer details. The screenshot below shows the easy to use configuration menu for a LaunchBox game:
If you like LaunchBox then you will love Big Box. Big Box is a second mode for the LaunchBox application designed for playing on your living room TV rather than a computer monitor. It can turn any HTPC media centre into a universal games console and during our Big Box review we did just that. It is designed to be controlled with a remote or game controller. We recommend using an XBOX 360 Wireless Controller with the XBOX 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver. Big Box loads in full screenmode and you do not see any part of your computers operating system. The screenshot below shows the same N64 ROM collection using Big Box:
Big Box comes with a small cost but once you have used LaunchBox you will want it! You must buy LaunchBox Premium to get this feature. There are no game configurations or setup process to do in Big Box. All configuration is done using LaunchBox desktop mode and then the same configuration is used by Big Box. The interface looks fantastic and games are easy to navigate from the comfort of your living room couch.
Launchbox Review Video
LaunchBox Premium & Big Box Review Features
With LaunchBox Premium and Big Box you get the following features:
- An game collection GUI for a desktop PC
- A game collection GUI for a HTPC media centre
- Support of DOS games and DOSBox included
- The ability to add emulators and ROMs for almost every system out there
- Support of Steam games for PC titles
- Automatic box art downloads
- Automatic game video downloads
- An simple to use system that looks great
- Continual updates with new features
When we did our LaunchBox Review one of the best features we found is that it is continually updated. At least once a month you will receive a notification to say that there is a new version of the application available and that it is ready to download. Not only that but the upgrade process is automatic and when you accept the upgrade notification it will do it all for you. The Big Box review was equally as pleasing and we highly recommend the product. LaunchBox and Big Box combined (LaunchBox Premium) are a fantastic emulator GUI product and with them you can turn any Windows PC into a universal games console.