ROMs. No, you don’t shout it! ROM is an acronym that stands for read-only memory. In this context, ROM, refers not to the “CD ROM”, but to the read-only memory of a game cartridge that you would put in an old game system. In this context, ROMs are virtual copies of game cartridges that you can play on the computer using programs that emulate the game system, called (you guessed it) emulators.
The problem with ROMs is that they can be tricky to use. If you want to play a specific game, you have to think what platform the game is played on, then find the emulator on your computer, open it, and then find the ROM file. If you’re organized this is a hustle at least, and if your aren’t this is a big pain.
My program, The Fantastic ROM Indexer (FRI) makes it easier. With it, if you want to play a game, you open FRI, type the title of the game, and double-click on it. That’s much more simple! Among other features, it also allows you to rate your games, which is great if you have a ROM library of 1,000+ ROMs, most of which you haven’t played.
to see a quick demo you can click here.
So, here’s some directions for how to set it up. At the time of this post, the latest version of FRI is 188.8.131.52.
First you have to download FRI. You can get version 184.108.40.206 here, but search this blog for a later version. If you download an old version, no sweat. FRI will tell you when it is opened and tell you how to get the latest version, but it’s easier to get it right the first time. The download will be a ZIP file, so extract the executable file inside it to a safe place.
Telling FRI where the ROMs are
When you first open FRI, you will get a message telling you to add a library folder. Click OK.
The settings window will open. Here is where you tell FRI where all of your ROMs are. Click “Add”.
A dialog will come up. Click “Browse…”.
Select the folder that contains all of your ROMs, and click OK. Then click OK on the other dialog.
Telling FRI where the emulators are
Now FRI knows where your ROMs are, but it still can’t let you play them until you give it some emulators to act in place of each ROM’s respective platform/console. So the next step is to download all of the emulators. Note that FRI expects each emulator to be in it’s own folder, but it will only squeal mildly bit if they aren’t.
To add an emulator, switch over to the “Emulator Integration” tab in the settings window and click “Add”.
This dialog will open. Click browse and find the executable of the emulator that you want to add. Notice how the “Name” field is automatically filled in. Next type in the names of the platforms that the emulator supports. Separate the names with commas, and use correct capitalization. If you know that the emulator can play ROM files that are nested by themselves inside of ZIP files (this is often done to reduce the size that the ROMs take up), then check the first checkbox. (This doesn’t do anything now, but in a later version of FRI it will automatically compress all of the applicable ROMs with only a few clicks.) Don’t mess with the last checkbox, unless the emulator gives you some sort of error message when you try to play a ROM through FRI. (Note that you can’t harm anything by checking it, though most likely everything will work fine if you don’t.) When you’re all done, click OK.
The emulator is added.
Do that for all of your emulators. When you’re all done, close the settings window.
Scanning for ROMs.
Now that you have all the settings done, it’s time to tell FRI to look for ROMs. In the main FRI window, click “Database Management” and click “Scan for new ROMs”.
Here’s where some magic happens. FRI scans the library folders that you specified, and looks for file types that are listed in FRI’s Platform Vocabulary. Based on the file type and what folders each ROM is in, FRI will try to figure out the ROM’s platform, language, and maximum number of players. It get’s the ROM’s title strait out of the file name. For example, a ROM located at “F:\My ROMs\Super Nintendo\English\1 Player\Super Mario RPG.smc” would be recognized as a 1 Player, English, Super Nintendo ROM with the title “Super Mario RPG”. “F:\My ROMs\Sonic The Hedgehog.smd” would be recognized as a Sega Genesis ROM with the title “Sonic the Hedgehog”. But anyway, that’s just a little FYI. A window will pop up telling you how many ROMs were added.
Everyday use of FRI
To quickly find a ROM, go type all or part of the title in the search box in the upper-right of the window and click the little search button.
To play a ROM, double-click on it or select it and press enter.
To rate a ROM, right click on it, click on “Rating” and select a rating.
To do an advanced search, click on “Advanced Search” in the upper-right of the window. Select what you want and click OK. If you select nothing in a group, like I did for the language filter in this example, FRI will not take that section into consideration in the search.
In this example I did a search for the Sonic the Hedgehog games, so that I could rate them rate them all 5 stars. Rating one ROM is just like rating one, except you select more than one when you do it.
Yes, if you really want to, you can select a bunch of ROMs and press enter.
Here’s what the Platform Vocabulary tab looks like by default in the settings window. If a ROM won’t play when you double-click on it, it is possible that the platform name in the Emulator Integration tab does not match anything in the Platform Vocabulary tab.
And here’s the Language Vocabulary tab:
I hope you enjoy using FRI. the ability to edit ROM information is coming. It was in previous versions, but since I have given FRI a major makeover inside and out since the last version, I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet. Just know that it’s coming!
I would really appreciate any constructive criticism and error reports in the comments.