Advantages Huge variety of games, all for free!
Disadvantages Slow loading images, sometimes unreliable
You lucky people! You like to get your sweaty little paws on free stuff, don’t ya? And what’s that? Lady at the back says she likes a bit of slot activity? Don’t we all, love! Come on now, not many left, get ‘em while they’re ‘ot! Cahm on, they’re lavverly! And so on. Why the mockney patois? Because the internet is spewing forth more free stuff than a drunk billionaire at the moment. So what better time to take a look at some criminally overlooked sites? One such haven of goodness is mame.dk. And it kicks seven bells and a plum out of other free game sites. Why? Here’s why.Home game consoles are all well and good, with their immersive storylines and save points, but come with me now back to the golden days when the only game you could play on your TV was Pong. Arcade games are where it all began, my fellow ciaoers, and on mame.dk history continues unspoiled.
Some clever eggheads have managed to code the circuit boards from old arcade games into .zip files, y’see. These .zip files are downloadable. And so are the emulators to allow you to play all your old arcade favourites right on your PC for the princely sum of zero pence. And what is a mame? Well, that’s the emulator. Multi Arcade Machine Emulator. Geddit?Catches. Catches? We don’t need no stinkin’ catches (groan) you cry! Rightfully so, dear readers, but stick around, it’s not all bad. To get priority downloads, it’s a good idea to register with the site. It’s cookie enabled, so no faffing around with passwords every time you log on. On occasion the site will go down for non-registered users, and when you’re desperate to download Darkstalkers 3, this can be a pain in the neck (I hope someone gets that pun). Also, mame.dk welcomes donations to keep the bandwidth going. Most people submit around £5-10 squids, but don’t feel obliged, they won’t boot you for being as tight as a gnat’s chuff.
Layout wise, this is simple stuff, if a little off-putting. The top of the screen offers links to the main page, which offers a random selection of titles from the alphabetical list each tie you log on. You can also view the top 10 games in each category, link to the site, donate some cash, find out what roms have changed (they can become obsolete), see some links (wooh!), download the emulators, take a peek at the obligatory site map and get some help.The games (called “roms”) are all stored on zip files. They range from about 18kb (early games like Pac Man) to over 20mb (newer stuff like Street Fighter Vs Marvel Super Heroes), which is where GoZilla or some other download manager comes in handy. The emulators themselves are pretty small (around 2 or 3mb), but definitely worth it. You can search the files by manufacturer, title (or part of title), year and genre, which is very handy if don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. It’s also fun to have a browse, but this comes at a price. There are only 10 game titles on any one page. This means looking through the “a” section bit by bit would take up about 16 screens. And some titles are in parts, some don’t work (this is constantly being worked on), some are imperfect. Also, there are some system BIOS (operating system) files necessary for running Neo Geo games, which are a small download.
One thing the mame.dk creators are swift to point out is that the files are there as a benefit to folks with the actual games at home. This is technically a backup service, or for use by those who are lucky enough to own an arcade cabinet game, and don’t want to irritate the family, or “tie up the TV” in the site’s words. Why would you want to make Lily Savage participate in bondage, and what does it have to do with arcade games? Still, as with all free services, this is open to abuse, and there’s certainly nothing stopping you downloading the games for sh*ts and giggles.The site is updated with alarming frequency (usually every day), with games being added or bettered at least every month. The mame emulator is also available on lots of platforms – DOS, Windows and Apple Mac, so everyone’s a winner! With each successive release of mame comes more games, and better functionality, and fancier interfaces. The current (at the time of writing, v0.56) version for Windows allows you to sort games by many different factors, audit the games, and if you’ve taken the time to download the cabinet images from the site, they are displayed next to each game on a comprehensive list. It’s also possible to audit the games to check they’re working, and create custom folders for your favourites. It’s impressively comprehensive.
The variety of games is also far better than the crap you find under a free games search in Google. Imagine being able to play the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beat-em-up at home, or Bubble Bobble. Very cool. There are about 3,150 games on the site, including some adult ones that are about as erotic as a soggy fish cake. The most bizarre rom I’ve found to date is Mah Johnng Erotic Golf, which is sadly all in Japanese. It has something to do with the traditional game of mah johnng, but with nuddy ladies. And golf. Thank christ I’ve got a real girlfriend, though I can’t imagine cracking one off to a video game sating anyone’s masturbatory needs. Well, I hope not, anyway!The download times are fast, even without a download manager, and the site is very reliable. My one concern is the fact that it’s hard to view the game files on a casual basis due to the large (must be 36 point text) fonts. It’s better to search for something specific, this is most probably to put off the non-serious rom hunter. Also, there are screenshots of each game, which are a little slow to load, being .png rather than .gif files. A little effort is largely rewarded when all is said and done. There’s nothing quite so cool as being able to play Track & Field on the PC, especially with friends + alcohol. So if you’ve been going cold turkey for Splatterhouse, or want to practice Pac Man in private, check this out. Your hard drive will be fuller than Geoff Capes’ beard after a bowl of spaghetti.
© P$ 2001~~~
www.classicgaming.com - more old games, emulators, and links.www.mame.net - more mame related goodness, and some handy files for the mame enthusiast.
www.zsnes.com – Super Nintendo emulator with links to sites carrying games.
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