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Over 3000 GAMES FOR FREE... Wooooohooooooo

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18.04.2002

Advantages:
Fast, FREE, Plays over 3000 games

Disadvantages:
Not 100% legal, Not considered 100% illegal though either, Games can be tough to find, if you don't know where to look

Recommendable Yes:

19 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
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  1. kylecoare
  2. SeasonTicketless
  3. Greenday
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Do you have any fond memories of any arcade games? Perhaps you can remember wasting away time when you were younger by blasting a few space invaders, or any of the other hundreds of games that would be found in Arcades up and down the country.

If by any chance you do have an urge to play an old arcade machine, chances are you can do this now, just by owning a PC, this piece of software and some ROM images for the games you wish to play (which can be downloaded from many sites).


What is MAME?

======

MAME, is an emulator that emulates many different arcade machines, hence the name which stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.

A brief history of MAME

============

The following text is quoted from the MAME Support document that is included with the emulator:

1997.02.05 - In the beginning there was Mame, the DOS text based program authored by Italian programmer Nicola Salmoria in 1996 and released on Feb. 05

~Quote ends~

MAME as you can see has been in development for years upon years. This development was not inspired by an urge of to commit piracy to avoid having to pay to play the games. Instead it was started as a project to archive and keep playable games that have long since become extinct from Arcades.

The same basic premise is around today, no currently viable Arcade Machine (i.e. one that is still amassing money) will be emulated until that status changes. As luck would have it though, the ones that fit into that criteria are the games that would be incredibly difficult to emulate, or ones that require specialized hardware peripherals in order to play.

How has MAME evolved?

=============

From humble beginnings where it emulated perhaps a few hundred games, the latest release emulates over 3,200 games (most of them perfectly).

The first release of MAME, was *Disk Operating System only. This made it appear user un-friendly to someone who was unfamiliar with DOS.

This review will be centering on the MAME32 version of MAME. This is basically identical in most aspects to the DOS version, but is ever so slightly slower. However nowadays the speed cost is not worth considering as a disadvantage. Computers are much faster now, and as such are more than capable of running MAME with an easy to use front end.

MAME32

=

This is the Windows user-friendly version of MAME. It runs over 3200 games, ranging from 1975 up to and including the year 2000. MAME is constantly evolving though, with new updates a regular occurrence. As of this review it is on version 0.59.

Just how well does it play games then?

======================

Of course this all depends on which game you play, however the vast majority of games have near 100% perfect emulation. Some games don't have sound, some will have graphical glitches ? but for the most part you won't experience these problems.

Examples of some games it can play, and the diversity between each game:

Space Invaders
(Do I need to say more? 1978 shooting game)
Star Wars original
(Vector graphics shoot-em-up Star Wars game from 1983)
Ghosts 'N' Goblins
(Popular game made by Capcom in 1985)
Street Fighter 2
(Fighting game made by Capcom in 1991)
Wrestlefest (A wrestling game that I am sure will be familiar to many; 1991)
The Simpsons
(Scrolling beat-em-up game based on everyones favourite family; 1991)
Metal Slug3
(Platform, shooting action. Very funny, and well worth playing; 2000)


Features of MAME32

==========

MAME32, has a user friendly frontend allowing for a large amount of configuration. Here I list some of those features:

Filters
~~~~~

The games list which is present in MAME runs at over 3200 games. Finding the game you want in this list even though it is sorted alphabetically can still be quite a task. Filters can be used to narrow down your search they include, year, manufacturer and whether you have the game currently available for use.

There is also a filter for

Originals
~~~~~~~

This can be used to narrow down the search substantially. This is because some games have many different variants, be they slightly revised versions, foreign versions, or user hacked versions. Sometimes these hacks etc can make it tougher for you to find the game you actually want to run. This filter will ensure that only the originals are shown.

Perhaps the best example I can think of, in which a game was hacked was for Street Fighter 2. If you are a gamer and are familiar with this Arcade machine, you may have seen several different versions of it floating around in Arcades. Some of the variants are official ones, but others are hacked versions that include amongst other things the ability to change the character you are using mid-game, this was a random change though!

Screenshot support
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you so desired you could download pictures of every single game present in MAME (or create your own). These can then be displayed every time you highlight the games name in the MAME browser. This is a pretty superficial option, but is nice to have all the same. It can also be handy if you have a complete set of ROMS, so you can browse through the games and pick one if you like the look of it from the picture. There are that many games, you can't have possibly heard of, or seen them all before.

Save States
~~~~~~~~~~~

Simply press the designated button usually F5 and you can save at any point during a game. F9 (by default) will then load that state in, this enables you to play the game in short stretches. This makes it an ideal stress buster :-)

Other options

====

There are many other options in MAME, options such as ability to change display settings, sound quality settings, and input support. These options can be configured on a per game basis, or by on a universal basis.

You can also if you so wished record AVI files of yourself playing the games, this is more of a novelty though rather than anything genuinely useful. Still it's a nice option to have!

Another option that is available in game, is the ability to change various settings that were present on the Arcade machine. By pressing tab you get a menu up, it's all self explanatory - the best option being Dip Switches. Simply select this and you adjust the difficulty, amount of lives, amount of continues etc for the game.


Summary

=

As I hope this review has conveyed, this emulator has compatibility with a lot of games. I could have gone into a lot more detail, but that is not what this review has been about. There is a comprehensive instruction manual that can be downloaded with MAME, as well as an FAQ that goes into more depth about it.

If you have a desire to play old Arcade games, then MAME is for you.


Recommended for children!
===================

MAME is also something that would be good to get if you have children, who constantly want a new game to play. There are sure to be many games that they will like, and thus could end up saving you a substantial amount of money :-)

System specifications needed
======================

This all depends on the game to be played, however for the most part a P2-300 with 64mb of ram will be more than enough.

Certain games require better specifications, though the majority will work fine on a low specification.

Availability of ROMS
(these are the game files you need)

===================================

This is a slight grey area, technically these files are illegal. However many of the Arcade machine makers don't seem to mind as the machines themselves are no longer profitable.

If you wish for a certain game, or want a site that has some for download then it is best to send me an email at

kevinliversage@btinternet.com

If there is anything else you wish to know then please let me know in the comments
section, where I will be happy to help out.

Availability of the Emulator + other files you may need
==================================

This emulator can be downloaded from many sites, the sites I would recommend are:

Emulator + other files (Such as sampled sounds needed for a few games such as Donkey Kong and Space Invaders)

http://www.mame.net
http://www.mame.dk

Emulator sites

http://www.arcadeathome.com
http://www.retrogames.com


Jargon buster
====

DOS
~~~

DOS is an operating system that runs purely from a command line. For example to run the program from a dos prompt would have involved typing lines such as:

Mame32.exe dkong -r 1024x768x32 -refresh 85 ?effect

That would have been the command to run the game Donkey Kong at the resolution of 1024x768x32 bit colour with a refresh rate of 85.

As you can no doubt appreciate, the Windows version makes all of this a lot easier for beginners.


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Comments about this review »

kylecoare 05.07.2003 21:34

I love emulators, Ive got most systems but up until now ive not tried mame. Kyle.

SeasonTicketless 26.06.2003 20:02

Another excellent op :)

Greenday 19.06.2002 16:20

A great op mate, I'm gonna check this out. I love metal slug!

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This review of has been rated:

"very helpful" by (100%):

  1. kylecoare
  2. SeasonTicketless
  3. Greenday

and 49 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.



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