The Multi-Arcade-Machine-Emulator, or M.A.M.E. for short, is an emulation project started way back in 1996. Initially built for then popular MS-Dos based computers (Windows ’95 being MS-Dos version 7). The goal of the project is to preserve old arcade boards in software for future generations. As with most old electronics these machines are largely rare, old, expensive, and not properly looked after. No doubt many failing amusement arcades sending old units to land fill.
Modern versions are available for most operating systems from Windows, Linux, and MacOS to Android, iOS, and the RaspberryPi. The main build for Windows is MAMEUI which includes, as the name suggests, a really nice and functional frontend user interface. I tend to use the Custom folder to hold copies of the games I am interested in and a screenshot window (press F12 in game to create screenshots) gives a good idea of what the game is about.
Current versions of M.A.M.E. support thousands of different arcade boards from the mid 1970’s through to the early 2000’s. And probably 10’s of thousands of games across those boards. Just about every game you can think, including just about every variation, from late 1970’s through to the mid 1990’s is emulated.
Recent builds also include a number of games from the early-mid 1970’s that are based on physically hardwired boards and TTL chips rather than computer program software based boards running on general purpose CPU based hardware (think the original Pong and Breakout games) – wow that was a mouthful!
At the other end of the scale increased support is being given to more challenging hardware from the mid-90’s on wards that support fast 3D rendered graphics. Although the nature of the emulator and the difficult nature of emulating these boards with any kind of speed and accuracy means other more dedicated emulators still tend to be better for these newer games.
All in all M.A.M.E. remains an impressive piece of coding that allows us to experience important classic games, especially from the mid to late 1980’s, in their original form and in a way that is largely impossible to experience any other way today.