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MAME is a program that is able to emulate a large amount of arcade machines.
Arcade rooms, lived its golden age at the early and mid-90s. In this type of rooms there were all kind of video games: platforms, fighting, shoot 'em ups, adventures, and more. All these games were developed for work on a particular machine, and despite the fact that there were versions for home console, those versions did not have the graphic/sound quality of the original arcade games.
Unlike video game consoles, arcade games are difficult to find, and get them to work, as we need to have all arcade boards needed to run the games.
MAME comes as an initiative to preserve arcade games in digital format. The name of the program reflects its purpose: Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. Thanks to this software we can emulate the games of the main arcade developers such as: Capcom, Konami, Sega, Atari, Acclaim, Atlus, Irem, and more.
To start using the program, we must have the video game ROMs we're going to emulate. We must copy ROMs files into “roms/” directory located within the main MAME directory. If we do not copy any ROM to that directory, the program displays a message and exits.
When the program starts, it displays a list of the games we have copied into “roms/” folder. To start playing we just need to select a game and press “Enter”.
Emulator's key configuration can be done on the “Configure General Inputs” option located at the main menu. Here we can configure the keys that will be used on games. In addition, we can configure other keys to: save and load a game, take a screenshot, or capture video.
Once we're playing the game, pressing “Tab” key we will access to game's menu with several options. In these options we can configure the keys that will be used on the game, in such a way that you the game will be controlled using a set of keys different to the general keys. We can also see information about the game: name, year of development, developer company, CPU, sound, resolution, and screen refresh rate.
We must be aware of that these games worked with credits. In the original arcade machines each credit was equal to one coin. To start the game we must insert credits, to do this press “5” key on the keyboard. Then, we need to select the players that will play the game. Press “1” key to start playing with player 1, and press “2” key to start playing with player 2.
The emulator launched using the command line, as it accepts a multitude of parameters that can be passed to the executable. These parameters allows to: silence the sound,, change the screen resolution, create a list of games, check the ROMs,, etc. More information about arguments in command line can be found at “mame_directory\docs\config.txt”.
MAME configuration is extensive, so there are front-ends and GUIs, which are programs that allow to configure the emulator using a graphical interface. That is why MAME is not usually used alone, if not it's used in combining with a GUI, or front-end.
Without a doubt, this emulator will bring hours of fun, and will bring back some good childhood memories for those who lived the golden age of arcade rooms.