Using Emulators and Roms on Your HTPC

With the excitement surrounding the release of Steam Big Picture, we decided to take things a step further and juice our HTPC with Emulators and Roms. It’s been a topic that has been covered a number of times before on the web. We’ve even touched upon it. But now, we want to show you the best way to experience Emulators and Roms on your HTPC.

There are a number of ways to do this, but the XBMC plugins Application Launcher and Rom Collection browser are our best bet. The latter of the two is a bit better. One reason, is because RCB includes a scrapper that can grab your fan/thumbnail art automatically. It really provides a great experience visually. However, if you have ever used Eumaltors and Roms, you will know that they are often buggy and finicky pieces of software.

I ran through a setup of RCB with Project 64 and unfortunately encountered a few frustrating problems that I would not consider useable on my HTPC. So, I was about to give up but tried  to give the Sega Genesis emulator Fusion a shot. Once again, more issues. Ultimately, I scraped the whole setup and turned to Advance Launcher.

The end result was a much easier and fluid setup without the errors. Here’s how you do it:

Whats required?

  1. XBMC Installed – Download here
  2. Emulator
  3. Roms

Step 1: Choose Your Emulator – Here (Warning: Website is overloaded with ads, but a great site nevertheless)
For our guide, we will use the Nintendo 64 Emulator: Project 64 v1.6
Once downloaded, run the executable and install.

Step 2: Now we need to configure Project 64. Keep in mind, different Emulators require different setups. The reason for configuring Project 64 is so that 1. The application launches in full screen and 2. File associations are set. This will provide a much better experience once we sit down and enjoy the Roms from our TV.

Launch Project 64 click Options > Settings > Options Tab and:

  • Check ON: “On loading a ROM go to full screen
  • Check OFF: “Hide Advance Settings” and click “OK

Step 3: Once again, go back to Options > Settings > Sell Integration Tab and:

  • Check ON “.v64, .z64., n64, .rom, .jap, .pal, .usa” and click “OK” and close Project 64

Step 4: Next, we need to get our Roms – Here
If you’re following along with us, pick a Nintendo 64 game. We choose: Mario Kart 64
Once downloaded, extract the .ZIP and place the Rom in a folder you won’t forget.

Step 5: Perfect, we have our Emulator and Rom. Now it’s time to configure XBMC.
Launch XBMC and head to Programs > Get More > Advanced Launcher > Install

 Step 6: Once installed, head to the home screen and hit Programs > Advanced Launcher. Now click “File launcher (e.g. game emulator)“.

Step 7: Now we need to instruct the launcher on the path of the Emulator executable. Example: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Project64 1.6\Project64.exe“. Browse to your install directory now and click “OK“.

Step 8: Now we need to instruct the launcher on the path of the Roms. Example: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Project64 1.6\Games\“. Browse to your game directory now and click “OK“.

Step 9: Next, we need to instruct Advance Launcher on what extensions should be used for this emulator. These can be found in the file names of the Roms. For example: “MarioKart.n64“. In our case, Advance Launcher automatically loaded the text box with “z64|zip|n64|” Since our Rom is a .n64 file, we do not need to change anything. Click “Done“. Remember to update this section if you download Roms that use a different file extension.

 Step 10: For our case, this screen we remain untouched; click “Done“. If you’d like to learn more about Application arguments head to this link.

Step 11: Next, we will select the name of the launcher. We will keep the default Project 64 name. Click “Done

Step 12: Select the platform for whatever game system emulator you’re using. If following along with us, select “Nintendo 64

Step 13: Here you can select the path where Thumbnails are saved. These Thumbnails can display when a game is selected. Browse to where you will store your graphics files or just click “OK” to skip.

Step 14: Similar to the last step, here you can select the path where Fanart is saved. The Fanart can display when a game is selected. Browse to where you will store your graphics files or just click “OK” to skip.

Step 15: Now you will be taken to this screen. Hit “C” on your keyboard to bring up the control options.

Step 16: The screen as seen below will appear. Select “Add Items“.

Step 17: Hit “Scan for New Items” and the Application Launcher will now load the Roms.

Step 18: Thats it! Select “Mario Kart 64” and the game will now load. Have fun.

This guide can be used to install almost any Emulator and Rom currently available. Just remember, a lot of the Emulator software out there today is old and lacks updates. Its very common to run into an issue here and there. If you do, check out the forums over at Emulator Zone for some support. With that said, once you get past all the nuances, a working Emulators/Rom setup can be an excellent addition to any HTPC.

As always, any questions, comments, or concerns post in the commands below.

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