Complicated title? I did try! In a nutshell MAME is the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (version 0.106) which has been a project running for many years. A commandline emulator which has many front-ends released for it, and one of the best ones in my opinion is gxmame (version in use 0.35beta2) Xmame is the Linux implimentation of this emulator.
So what does this package emulate? Hundreds of Arcade PCBs, far too numerous to list here from the more recent titles of yesteryear to the real old classics. The MAME project is probably one of the most impressive on the net, since the work that has been put into it for the emulation of the various processors/gfx/sound chips is astounding. The 68000 emulation is particularly impressive and I dont think theres many 68000 based PCB’s that are not emulated in this package.
My favorites? Well Im lucky enough to have the original Street Fighter 2 PCB and with many titles released legally into the public domain (check first to confirm) you are able to get plenty of fun legally out of this package.
So the question (as it always does) arises about the legality of downloading PCB images for the various arcade games, and with that I would say be careful. If you own the original PCB as I do, I personally can see anyone having a problem with you dumping it to your harddisk for personal use. That being said, if you download any images which havent been released into the public domain, you are infringing someones copyright.
So how does it operate? Id firstly recommend any new or inexperienced Linux user using a frontend since the commandline can be daunting to any new users (I hasten to add before any Windows supporters pipe up) that the Windows version is also commandline and also requires a separate frontend should you wish to avoid it.
The nice thing about gxmame is that it lists all of the MAME supported titles, allowing you to change setting such as sample rate/scanlines/input devices etc uniquely for each title. The emulation of the PCB images tested was solid and consistant with 0.106 and since its emulation of years old tech, unless your machine is extrememly old, you will have no problem running all the titles.
So having used both the Windows and Linux versions how do they compare to each other? Id say no difference. Firstly because they are based on the same code and secondly because todays PC has more than enough power to deal with a 16bit 68k processor of yesteryear.
MAME has spawned some very interesting projects over the years, most noteably custom arcade cabinets with a PC core and a collection of hundreds of titles. Some of these sell for large amounts of money.
As said earlier MAME has been in development for many years, with contributors adding to it and correcting bugs on a regular basis. For many of us old timers there are fond memories of one or two machines where we pumped 10p after 10p into at the fairground or seaside! Some of my favourites, which by the way are all supported in MAME are Narc – A sideways scrolling shootemup where you blast drug pushers and users with a combination of a machine gun and rocket launcher. A truely great game and whilst at the time was considered violent, its really a rather innocent title by todays standards! Afterburner was a favorite of mine where you sat in a cabinet and talking of cabinets who can forget the vector graphics Star Wars? One of the classics! I could bang on all day about the greats from my youth, but I have a feeling nobody wants to listen to my trip down memory lane and its nothing more than self indulgent nonsense!
Lets move on to where you can get your hands on this fantastic software (and a little bad news) it appears there has been no update to Xmame since 2006, however you can still download the binary from here: http://freshmeat.net/projects/xmame/ or if you wish to grab it with your command line in Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install xmame-x xmame-sdl myou can download gxmame 035beta2 as a .deb from http://surfnet.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/gxmame/gxmame_0.35beta2-1_i386.deb
Apparently there is another Linux implimentation of MAME (SDLMame) which I will be looking into and reporting here. In the meantime, go grab yourself a piece of computing history, from the days when arcade machines were seen as the ultimate platforms and the home computer version was always the poorer cousin.
Goblin – firstname.lastname@example.org