Retro gaming on Android devices has never been easier. There are a ton of emulators available for consoles, spanning several generations of video gaming history. That’s all well and good, but having a bunch of different emulator apps on your device isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing. Fortunately, front-end apps are making the organization of your retro game collection easy and gorgeous to boot.
Daijisho is a relatively new front-end that combines an attractive customizable interface with some neat extras. Unfortunately, it’s not super intuitive and documentation is fairly sparse. In this guide, we walk you through how to get Daijisho up and running on your Android device in no time.
What Is a Front-End?
In the realm of video game emulation, the term “front-end” refers to software that acts as a graphical user interface (GUI) for the organization and launching of various video game emulators and the ROMs associated with them. In layman’s terms, a front-end is an attractive way to display your ROM collection and provide an easy way to play them – all from a single app.
A front-end is not an emulator itself, nor does it download or provide ROMs for you to play. Instead, it is an appealing way to tie all of those things together. Therefore, you’ll need to provide your own ROM files as well as the emulators you want to use.
Install the Daijisho App
Head over to the Google Play Store and download the Daijisho app. The app is completely free; however, be aware that it is still being actively developed.
New features may be added in the future, and there is the possibility that you may encounter some bugs, but we did not experience any hiccups in our testing. Launch the Daijisho app once it has downloaded and been installed on your device.
FIrst, “install platforms” on Daijisho. In this case, “platforms” refer to the consoles you plan on running.
- Select “Settings” from the menu at the top.
- Tap on “Download platforms” to open a pop-up menu where virtually every console and computer you can think of is listed in alphabetical order.
- Scroll through this list and put a check in the box of every console you plan on running by tapping on it. When you’ve selected all of the consoles, press “Import” to finish.
- Once Daijisho has done its thing, you should see a notification pop up at the bottom of the screen informing you that it successfully downloaded the selected platforms.
- Go back to the main screen and tap on “Platforms” at the top. You should see all of the platforms you selected arranged in alphabetical order. Swipe left or right to scroll through them. If you wish to add more consoles to Daijisho in the future, repeat the steps above.
- Alternatively, you can tap “Download” in the bottom-right corner of the screen in “Platforms.” This is a shortcut that brings you straight to the platform download function.
Since Daijisho is only a front-end, you’ll need to source emulators for your chosen platforms. Fortunately, there are many available Android emulators. Daijisho is not compatible with every emulator. However, since the app is in active development, emulator compatibility grows with each update.
- To see which emulators can be used, navigate to your “Platforms” within Daijisho.
- On the bottom right of the screen, you’ll see an icon that looks like a pencil. Tapping on that will allow you to edit the platform.
- Here, you can change a number of options, including the default aspect ratio and the scraper you’d like Daijisho to use to grab game metadata. Under the “Player settings” heading, you’ll see the default player for that platform. This is the emulator that Daijisho associates with that console.
- At this point, you have two options. The first is to leave the default and ensure that you download that emulator app to your device.
- Alternatively, tap on “Default player” to open a drop-down menu that lists all of the compatible Daijisho emulators. Scroll through to find the one you want to use, then tap on it to select it as the default player within Daijisho. Remember to download and install the emulator app on your device.
Once you’ve downloaded your platforms, you’ll need to add some games. You can use your device’s internal storage or external storage like a microSD card or USB. We recommend using a microSD card if your device supports one. It doesn’t matter how you organize your games, but our advice is to place your ROMs in folders based on console to make it easier when you’re telling Daijisho where to find your ROMs.
If you’re already into video game emulation, you probably have ROMs you can load onto your device and use with Daijisho. However, if you’re jumping into video game emulation for the first time, you’ll need to source them from somewhere.
Select ROM Path for Each Platform
Now that you have your ROMs on your device, you need to tell Daijisho where to find them.
- Navigate to your Platforms.
- Tap on the “Paths” button on the bottom right of the screen.
- A pop-up will appear labeled “Sync paths (Click to remove).” Tap on “Add More,” bringing you to your device’s file explorer. Navigate to where you have placed the ROMs for that console.
- Once you have selected the correct path, tap the “Select” button in the bottom-right corner of the screen. You should now see the correct directory displayed in the “Sync paths” pop-up.
- Tap “Finish.” You’ll need to repeat this process for each one of your ROMs’ platforms.
Note: you can tap “Add More” to select an additional directory if you have ROMs that correspond with that platform in more than one place on your device.
Build Game Library
Now that Daijisho knows where to look for your ROMs, you need to tell it to build the game library so that you can actually play the games.
- Navigate to your “Platforms.” At the bottom of the screen, tap on the button labeled “Sync.”
- Daijisho will scrape the ROMs, provided you have nominated the correct pathway as shown above. You will need to do this for each one of your platforms.
- The app is configured to grab metadata and box art for each game. The length of time it takes to scrape your ROMs will depend on how large your collection is. You will see the progress of the scraping process toward the bottom of the screen, as seen in the screenshot below.
- Tap on the “Library” button to see an alphabetical list of the available games for that platform, complete with box art and screenshots.
- To play a game, tap on a title to launch it within its nominated emulator. Alternatively, you can tap the “Play” button at the bottom of the screen to launch the game.
- There are a few other things you can do besides launch a game. For instance, if you don’t like the default list structure when viewing your games, you have the option of switching to a grid view by tapping on “Grid view” at the bottom of the screen.
- Furthermore, pressing the “Detail” button will provide you with information about the title, including the initial release date, the last time played, and a video preview.
Customize With Wallpaper Packs
Out of the box, Daijisho looks pretty good. But if you want to customize the look by changing the default wallpapers for each platform, you’re in luck. Daijisho allows users to download wallpaper packs from within the app.
- Tap on “Settings” at the top of the screen.
- Scroll down to “Appearance” and tap on “Download platform wallpapers pack.”
- A pop-up menu will appear listing all of the available wallpaper packs. Tapping on one will prompt another pop-up that provides some details about the wallpaper pack. Hit the “Download Pack” button to install the new wallpaper pack.
- You can also tweak other appearance settings. For example, under “Appearance,” tap on “Theme colors” to choose a new default color for the Daijisho user interface. Furthermore, you can select “Dark theme” to switch from the default white background to black.
Daijisho has its own widgets, though they’re more of a novelty than anything. The widgets are totally optional, so feel free to skip this section. There are widgets for retro achievements, favorite games, and many more. To install widgets:
- Tap on “Widgets” at the top of the screen.
- Tap the button labeled “New widget” at the top right.
- This will display a drop-down menu where you can search for available widgets based on functionality. Every user’s mileage will vary, so you’ll have to play around with the widgets to see if they’re something you want to bother with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Daijisho support Bluetooth controllers?
The Daijisho front-end app does support Bluetooth controllers. When playing a game, Bluetooth controller support will depend on the emulator you are using. Fortunately, most of the Android emulators we are familiar with have Bluetooth controller support. All of the emulators we tested recognized our Bluetooth controller with no additional tinkering necessary. Even so, if you want to remap your controller, you’ll need to do so within each individual emulator.
Can I emulate any video game console with Daijisho?
Daijisho is not an emulator and is merely a front-end for organizing all of your game ROMs. As we mentioned above, you’ll need to download and install the console emulator you want to run your ROMs. The consoles that you can emulate on your device depend on two things. First, is there an emulator available for the console? Second, is your device capable of running the emulator? How powerful your phone is will determine which emulators you can run. For example, if you want to play PlayStation 2 games using the AetherSX2 emulator, you’ll need a fairly beefy device.
How do I obtain ROMs?
ROMs are digital copies of games. You can get your hands on them in one of two ways: either “dump” the physical games you already own or download them. Since games are copyrighted material (even old ones that are no longer manufactured), downloading games is considered illegal virtually everywhere in the world. That being said, there are some ROMs that are free and legal to download.
All images and screenshots by Ryan Lynch.
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