solent            Early Games


Classic Video games

Computer and Videogame history

Videotopia is a travelling collection of arcade games.

The Web site has some excellent links including these:

Arcade Games| Top 16 Games?

Home Games inc consoles, early computers and handhelds


MAMEmulation -
run the early games on modern computers
running Windows, Mac or *nix operating systems

MAME is an acronym for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.

The official MAME website is at

Wikipedia entry for MAME

MAME is a software program which runs on personal computer hardware, with versions for Windows, Macintosh, and Unix operating systems. The X11 port for UNIX-like systems is called XMAME. MAME itself performs several functions: a CPU emulator, which emulates the CPU of the original arcade machine; an input emulator, which maps the arcade buttons, joysticks, and so on to PC devices; and an emulator for the arcade game display and sound equipment. The only thing missing from MAME is the ROM image, which is the program from the original arcade game which made the game run. When MAME is run, it is running the original game from several years ago - just on different hardware.

The stated aim of the project is to document hardware, and so MAME takes a somewhat purist view of emulation, prohibiting cheap hacks that might make a game run properly or run faster at the expense of emulation accuracy. In MAME every emulated component is replicated down to the smallest level of individual registers and instructions. Consequently, MAME emulation is very accurate (in many cases pixel- and sample-accurate), but system requirements can be high. Since MAME runs mostly older games, Moore's Law ensures that a large majority of the games run well on a "midpoint" 2 GHz PC. More modern arcade machines are based around fast pipelined RISC processors, math DSPs, and other devices which are difficult to emulate efficiently. These systems may not run quickly even on the most modern systems available. It's a common assumption that the speed problem is due to these games' use of 3D graphics. MAME does not use hardware rasterization on 3D games because you can't guarantee identical output between different brands of cards, or even revisions of drivers on the same card. Consistency of output across platforms is very important to the MAME team - the Macintosh and Unix/Linux ports are just as important as Windows. Detractors to this philosophy point out that ports that make use of proprietary display routines already exist (e.g MAME32, which uses DirectDraw) and that support of hardware 3D acceleration through OpenGL ought to be added as an option that users can activate or deactivate according to personal preference.

MAME's purpose is to preserve gaming history, and to stop vintage games from being lost or forgotten. As of February 2005, MAME supports 3061 unique games and 5524 actual ROMsets (each game may just have the original or have one or more clones as well - see below). However, not all of the games in MAME are playable, about 680 ROMsets are marked as not working in the current version.

ROMs are required in order to actually be able to play the games. They contain the program and graphics data for each game. However, they are not free. You must own or have license to each ROM set that you wish to use in MAME. The catch is this - most companies won't sell you ROMs or provide a means for you to purchase them. In fact, about the only way you can own them is by owning the original arcade boards. Worse still, even if you own the arcade boards, there is the problem of being able to dump the ROM images. The MAME team cannot condone illegal ROM copies, not least because it would leave them open to legal action which would endanger the emulation software itself, so you must go to different Web sites to actually download games.

You should respect © copyright and IP (Intellectual Property rights) and only download games ROMs which are now open source or that you pay for from a site such as Sys2064 or (site down?)

Alternatively a search at Google, Yahoo or Ask for 'mame rom your_game_of_choice' will often reveal possible free download sites, but make sure your anti-viral and anti-malware software is up to date.

In the interest of evaluation, the site at may be worth your visit. Use the alphabetical lists to identify the game you want to 'evaluate', follow the link and wait for the actual download link to become available. Keep the file compressed as a .zip file and put it wherever your mame is expecting to see it.

Classic games can be an excellent 'inspiration' for creating games for less well-specified platforms than modern consoles - games for mobile phones and PDAs, or for Web sites. Example Space Invaders style game using Flash actionscript coding.


<< BACK to course schedule                                                                 retro