MAME: Bringing the arcade experience home
By James Grahame
MAME is PC-based arcade game emulator. It started out in December 1996 as a series of separate hardware emulators written by Nicola Salmoria. He eventually merged them into a single program, naming it MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator). Development of the program continued as an open source project, eventually involving over 100 people on the team.
As of yesterday's build, MAME runs 3192 different games. It simulates popular arcade system harware from the 1980s, right down to the graphic display engines and sound systems. Some games are better than others, but most of the most successful arcade platforms are well supported. The emulator runs electronic copies of the original game ROMs, which are subject to copyright. This can cause problems, because finding legal copies of classic ROMs is a challenge.
So where do you get games legally? StarROMs is a company set up to facilitate the download of classic ROM games. Their lineup currently includes Atari's entire family of arcade titles, and I hope they license other manufacturers soon. Prices start at around $2 per game.
The official MAME site (mame.net)