How to MAME - the basics

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Though MAME isn't necessarily the most important part in building your own arcade cabinet, in whatever variant, it is the most used emulator to play arcade games - cabinets are often referred to as 'MAME cabs' - and many are not familiar with how to set up and use it.

Step 1: download MAME32.

Step 2: get rom zip files. They must be zipped!

Step 3: put rom files in rom folder (which is inside MAME32 folder).

Step 3.5: if you have a control panel (ie: Hot Rod, SlikStik, etc) find the respective ctrlr file and put it in the ctrlr folder.

Step 4: Click on MAME32 exe (the one that has an orange cabinet icon).

It will load and automatically check for rom files. Click on the 'Available' folder; it should show you all the games you have roms for.

  • Unless you have 'command line' (CMD) experience, DO NOT use the basic MAME binary. Mame32 has its own GUI (general user interface) with many mouse-accessible options. After exploring these parametres and the effects they have, you'll have a much better idea of how MAME works. DO NOT EXPECT IT TO RUN 'OUT OF THE BOX'. It most likely will, given you've done the proper preparation, but it will be easier to use if you explore it some.
  • DO NOT, especially if you're first checking out MAME on a PC monitor, expect it to look like you remember in the arcade. IT WON'T. Different hardware, simple as that. For information on 'authenticity', look in Monitor/Video.