MacMAME PPC 0.33b3
Author: Brad Oliver

The new breed of video games are really great. The graphics are smooth, the characters look much more lifelike, they have thousands of levels, and you can play them via the Internet for hours of enjoyment. All well and good, but when I was growing up, it was the arcade games like Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Tempest, Galaga, and (my all time favorite) BurgerTime that I remember most fondly.

I was recently in an old Dairy Queen ice cream parlor, when I spied sitting way over in the corner a BurgerTime arcade game. Although it had been years since I had played this classic game, as soon as I saw it I knew I had to try it. I had been quite good at BurgerTime when I was a kid, ‘lo those many years ago, and I felt I had not lost my touch that much. Boy, was I wrong!

The classic arcade games, while simple both play-wise (up, down, left, right, shoot) and graphics-wise, still let me have a lot of fun playing BurgerTime that day. I had spent three dollars, which my girlfriend thought was a waste. She also thought I was kind of silly yelling out, “Hey, I squashed that guy! Did you see that? Darn cheaters!”

When I got home, I began to think about how great it would be if BurgerTime and the other great classics video games were available for the Mac. So I hit the Internet to find what I could find, and what my search turned up, I’m happy to say, was a program that has so far consumed more time than I thought it would.

What is MacMAME? From the read me file, it explains that:

“In a nutshell, MAME attempts to emulate as closely as possible the original hardware of the early eighties arcade games. As we discover how a game works, support for it is added to the emulator. This is happening at a rapid pace, so be sure to check back often for the latest release of MAME.

To run the games, you’ll need the games’ ROM images stored in a way that MacMAME understands. MacMAME looks for ROM files in a folder called “Roms” that resides in the same directory as the application. It currently supports 3 different styles of ROMs: .zip files (common on PC sites), folders with small ROM dumps in them, and the “Super ROM” file which encapsulates the folder ROMs into one file. A program called MAME Converter can be found on the MacMAME homepage You can use it to make MacMAME ROM image files from those on the net.”


MacMAME PictureSo the big question is, does it work? Happily, yes! MacMAME by itself doesn’t really do anything. You need ROMs, or games, present to play. In my case, I downloaded not only BurgerTime, but Ms. PacMac, DigDug, Space Invaders, Q*Bert, Tempest, Defender, Galaga, Centipede, and a boatload of others. All classic 80s arcade games, and all ones I knew how to play already from years of long days spent at the local arcade.

Most ROMs, believe it or not, look and play just like the original. Unlike a Windows 95 emulator, MacMAME runs at 100% PowerPC speeds. In other words, these games are fun, fast, and well worth the small download times. Most ROMs are around 60k in size, while MacMAME itself, uncompressed, is only 6.8MB or so. Small, when you consider how much fun you will have if you enjoy classic arcade games like I do.

When I say it is just like the arcade machines, I mean that. You have to fit the “3” key to “Insert a quarter” and press “1” to start the game. Your arrow keys move you around the playing field in most games, while the “control” key lets you shoot. Of course, hitting the Tab key will bring up a menu letting you choose different settings, allowing you to custom configure the keyboard as you see fit.

MacMAME requires a PowerPC machine, so if you have a 68k Mac you won’t be able to play along with the rest of us. Hey, what an incentive to buy a new Mac! This is a free program, with no fee being asked. Personally, I would be willing to send in a shareware fee if one were asked, but the “free” makes it just that much better.

The Summary
What more can I say? Almost every one of the all time great Arcade game of the 80s are available for MacMAME. You can download them from all over the Internet, and they are not Windows or Mac specific. If it is a MAME ROM file, chances are it will work with MacMAME.

MacMAME is a wonderful program made for people like me who believe high-end graphics and stereo surround sound does not always a great game make. Game play is much more important to me. Who cares if it is a blocky looking ghost chasing a yellow circle around a simple game board? Or if the egg in BurgerTime doesn’t really look like an egg? Or that the game music is ten notes repeating over and over again, playing faster and faster as the on-screen action heats up? Game play is about losing yourself in the game, trying to get that high score, getting to that next level just to see what it looks like. Many of today’s game makers seem to have forgotten that. I’m glad that MacMAME is there to remind me just how much fun gaming can be.

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    Tim Robertson


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