Home » Latest Technology » MAME emulates the golden age of arcade games

MAME emulates the golden age of arcade games


Marc Saltzman, Different to USA TODAY 6 a.m. EST January 5, 2014

These days’s video video games boast close to picture-practical photos, enveloping encompass sound and the power to play towards any person, any place on this planet.

So why achieve this many nonetheless want classics similar to Centipede from the arcades, Lode Runner on the Commodore sixty four or Sonic the Hedgehog from the Sega Genesis?

“Old skool” gaming no longer best strikes a nostalgic wire for these sufficiently old to take into account that the phrases to 1982’s %Man Fever, but it surely was once a time when video games have been straightforward to regulate (the Atari 2600 joystick simplest had one button, in case you don’t forget) and also you needn’t need to obtain a a hundred-web page PDF handbook to determine what to do.

There’s a approach to relive the golden age of video video games — apart from scouring via storage gross sales searching for an authentic Pong console. It is a downloadable emulator known as MAME (mamedev.org), which stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.

By definition, an “emulator” is any program that allows a computer to run software designed for a different machine, altogether. For gamers with a yen for yesteryear, this means almost any game, from any platform, can be played on today’s PCs (and other platforms), be it an archaic computer (such as Commodore 64 or Apple II), a video game console (including Intellivision or ColecoVision) or an authentic coin-operated arcade machine.

In fact, the software doesn’t even know that it is not being played on its target platform.

So, a gamer who downloads, say, Tron, for an emulator isn’t seeing a clever remake of the once-popular Bally Midway arcade game — this is the exact same Tron as you remember it from the smoky bar in your neighborhood. Now imagine having thousands of these authentic arcade games on your laptop.

Best of all, MAME is free, available for Windows-based PCs at mamedev.org. Support for other platforms, such as Mac and mobile devices, can be found elsewhere on the Web. The software was originally created in late 1996 by Nicola Salmoria, but has been re-released multiple times over the years to adapt to new hardware, including 32- and 64-bit machines. Because source code is also available, programmers are encouraged to contribute to the ongoing project in order to ensure stability, add more controller support or squeeze in additional features. While not many gamers are aware of MAME, some enthusiasts have gone so far as buying or building a stand-up arcade cabinet to house a computer loaded with MAME.

“Wait a sec, is this legal?” you ask. Well, that’s a tricky question. Emulators by themselves are 100% legal to use, but the games themselves (referred to as ROM images) are what might cause the copyright violations; MAME users often find and share these games with others via BitTorrent sites and Usenet.

But so long as the emulator isn’t replicating a commercially available console, such as the Xbox 360 or Nintendo DS, most intellectual property owners (such as Atari or Midway) don’t usually go after the makers of these emulators or the distributors of ROM images. Plus, many of the big players in the ’80s might not be around anymore, or don’t have the resources to take on a legal battle.

To be safe, however, read the legal disclaimer at the official MAME site, and download only the 20-odd games provided by the original creators for free, non-commercial use. Classics include Robby Roto, Circus, Targ, Robot Bowl and Rip Cord. There are also some newly made adventures available, but with a retro look.

MAME developers claim this project is about education and preservation of older games rather than promoting piracy.

Contact Saltzman at techcomments@usatoday.com.

, , ,