MAME, the multiple arcade machine emulator, is 25 years old

Originally published at: MAME, the multiple arcade machine emulator, is 25 years old | Boing Boing


I built my first dedicated MAME setup on a Windows 95 machine. I used it for many years upgrading it with Xarcade joysticks. I’m going to add a spinner one of these days.

A few years ago I replaced the computer with a Raspberry Pi. It’s a lot easier now to hook it up to a projector and play on the giant screen outside. It’s amazing how something as small as a Raspberry Pi can run games that used to require much larger computers.

I acquired my first full ROMset in around 2001 - 03. That was back when you didn’t talk about full ROMsets. What you did was send a stack of blank CDs to someone and they would burn the entire 4,000+ set and mail the CDs back. Before that it was newsgroups and various forums where people would post individual ROMs.

I discovered MAME when I got nostalgic for Tapper and Joust, games I used to play in the bars in my drinking days.


MAME was pretty influential to my taste in games. My brother installed it on our computer, found a bunch of random ROMs, and bought one of those cheap joypads that copied the general button layout of the SNES controller. (Still the best design, which is why Sony continues to use it.) There was an absolute dearth of NeoGeo arcade games in our area, and no one we knew could afford the console. But suddenly I had access to the King of Fighters series as well as this game superior to Samurai Shodown called The Last Blade. Such a gorgeous game that I played the holy hell out of. My bro knew I was really into Street Fighter 2 at the time, so he wanted to give me options.

It also gave the opportunity to figure out if you really enjoyed those arcade games you played at birthday parties. Turns out I really didn’t like Super Pac-Man as much as I thought I did. Or most games available at the Chuck-E-Cheese knockoff Major Magic’s.


Super Pac Man? Nope

But Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Elevator Action, Sprint, Frogger, Asteroids, 1941, Galaga, Zaxxon, Centipede, Joust, etc… etc… etc… still love playing them.

I suspect I may be a bit older as I was playing them when they were first released and still cutting edge stuff. The older I get the more nostalgic I get for the really old stuff.

PINMAME is another awesome emulator but a bit harder to set up. That can only be run a PC but it’s amazing how realistically it emulates old pinball machines. I set that up when I got nostalgic for a Strikes and Spares pinball machine.

I have no space for a Pinball machine, PINMAME is the way to go. You can use an Xarcade joystick with side buttons. You can even nudge the machine and tilt it. Setting up a couple switches on the under side for nudging makes it pretty darn real.


Other classic games are absolutely amazing, but the games I thought I loved did not hold up. I’m very happy to sit down in front of Galaga anytime it’s available. Out even Robotron, no matter how terrible I am at actually playing it.

PINMAME sounds like something worth checking out. Especially after a couple of years of not going out and failing to scratch that pinball itch. Thanks for sharing that it’s a thing.


I love finding the strange games that never made it to the US markets that are often rather surreal, especially those that haven’t been translated into English, so I’m often guessing at how to play. I can’t recall the name, but there’s one where you’re picking up eggs in an open maze, dodging sushi rolls, and occasionally throwing your eyes at the sushi. I’m sure I’m missing some details.

My sons gave me an arcade cabinet kit for Christmas. We added my Xarcade control panel and finished it just last weekend. Will add an arcade spinner for Tempest and a Robotron lighted marquee for the top. I grew up in the arcades playing these games and sitting in front of a computer never really did it for me.

Getting updated roms has gotten harder since Pleasuredome went away.


I’m sitting here waiting for a delivery so I just pulled up Robotron and stuck a few quarters in. I remember that game, I also suck at it.


Cool! I’ve just started playing around with MAME, but haven’t had the time to really figure out how it works. There’s all kinds of arcade games that would be perfect for killing 10-15 minutes while I’m working and need a brain break.

I’ve always wanted to build a cabinet but I opted for keeping mine simple so I can easily move it. When I was using a PC I could get a 12volt power lead so I wired an old car amp with some nice speakers but I was never really able to take advantage of the volume so my newer setup just uses a Samsung tv, I just use the built in speakers. I also mounted the tv on an arm so I can rotate it for games like Centipede.

When I hook it up for nighttime play outside on the giant screen it goes through an amp and some nice speakers.

Xarcade just came out with a spinner that mounts in that joystick you have. Just remove a button you’re not using and replace it with the spinner. or drill a new hole. It configures as a USB input device.

I haven’t found a need for ROM updates because all the games I’m interested in work.

I did find a really nice Doom port that runs on RetroPie, I’ll play that occasionally when I get bored.


I saw their new spinner, but I have an old arcade spinner from a Tempest cabinet and the board to connect it to usb. Spinners essentially work just like mice. I just have to build a case for it.

I mean, this is still a goal of mine, to build a MAME cabinet. Dream goal is to have 4 six button layouts so you can play those awesome 4 player games like X-Men and TMNT, and a roller ball in the middle.

But a two stick one roller ball will probably be more practical. I have a drive with a huge number of ROMs on it, though no where near a complete set.

Ah well. It is a future thing. When ever I get out of this apt.


Since I don’t have room for even a 3/4 size arcade cabinet, I spent my holiday bonus one year on getting a Pimoroni Picade; it’s been a frustrating ride getting some of the emulators set up (like finding the rom images for the atari 5200, and the amiga emulator still just doesn’t work at all) but on a Pi4, some of the newer consoles are almost playable, at least with the version of RetroPie I’m running.

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Here’s MAME on my own first-generation Picade, running on a RPi 3. I also have XArcade Tankstick connected to another Pi, but I always find myself coming back to this little cab. At some point I’d like to get several of them, and modify the control panel for spinners, trackballs, trigger joysticks, etc. so I can play games that don’t use vanilla button/joystick controls. As much as anything, I like just letting the attract screens run in the background as a piece of moving art.


I’m also stuck with a lack of space. Should that change, I would have to look into building one of these controllers:

If I’m building for nostalgia, nothing but the original will do.


I love what this guy did with an off-the-shelf Star Wars replica:

In a later video he upgraded the yoke, as well.


Thanks! I’ll check that out. Most of my time on that game was in the “full-cockpit” version.


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