Mame Emulator

It's a cross platform, multi arcade game emulation system. It runs on Windows, Unix and Mac, and is open source in case you want to port it somewhere else. You download the emulator, then you download .zip files for the game you want to play. It does vector games (Asteroids, StarWars, Tempest) as well as raster, and even some more demanding examples from the early 1990s (e.g. OutRun.) You should find all your favourites are available as downloadable ROMs.

See: http://www.mame.net/

http://www.mame.dk/ used to have all 3000-odd ROMs available for download but have had problems with a copyright holder, and, to protect themselves, have removed all files from their site. The game information is still available, making this a useful historic reference. I know of no other site with reliable links to more than a few of the available roms. It's a shame, really -- some of these games might not even exist as working machines any more.


NOTE: There are copyright implications! That's why the ROMs are a separate download from MAME itself. You're not really supposed to do anything with a ROM unless you own the actual arcade machine. There seems to be some debate about this, and some games designers from long-since defunct companies are apparently happy for their work to be enjoyed for free. This site takes a different tack: http://www.classicgaming.com/ -- they say you can download any ROM, but after 24 hours, you should delete it (whatever that means) if you aren't legally entitled to use it.

[I live dangerously. I wait 25 hours to delete my ROMs.]

A lot of ROM download sites say that. IamNotaLawyer, but even I can see that that's an UrbanLegend. Copyrighted software is just that - you're not allowed to copy it, at all. Since when does throwing something away after a day mean you haven't illegally copied it?

The theory behind the "play with it for a short period and delete it" strategy is that, if you are ever prosecuted for copyright infringement, you might be able to claim that you were doing academic research or testing interoperability or pursuing some other FairUse activity. If prosecutors find 3000 ROMs on your PC, it would be hard to make such a claim.

That said, I still download them. AbandonWare wants to be free!


Why don't the people who own the rights to these things sell legal Mame versions for a few bucks? Seems like they could stand to make some money, and it would satisfy those of us who take the law seriously.

A lot of the original game team members are no longer available to set contract terms. A lot of the original game publishers have gone the way of the albatross, too. If you can talk Atari, Midway, Capcom, Data East, and a slew of other game manufacturers into licensing their old titles you might have something. Or not. Atari tried to re-release some of their old '70s and '80s vintage arcade games through Activision, I think, and that didn't fare too well. We'll have to see.


As another aside: there was a game published in 1995 by Gremlin Interactive (now deceased) called Slipstream 5000. This was a way cool (for the time) racing game using hovercraft that drove through a series of courses involving tunnels, moving obstructions, and a bunch of AI racers that all had weapons and wanted to make sure you lost the race. I just recently tossed my copy of the CD-ROM because I could no longer tolerate the terrible bugs. Too bad nobody else has ever come up with a similar game. Midway was working on a space race game when I was there a few years ago, but they closed the division before it was produced. Oh, well.


EditHint: Is there a page on emulators/simulators in general, where I could mention MameEmulator, SimulationsInEducation, and http://winehq.org/ ?

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