So in the Winter of 2003-2004, I got bored and built a MAME box....
What is MAME? In simple terms, its a program that allows you to run arcade games on your PC, not remakes of the game, but the exact game from the arcade.
What is my MAME box? It's a home built, full size arcade cabinet, with a PC running inside. The control panel consists of 2 joysticks, 8 buttons per player, a spinner, a trackball, and 6 buttons for settings and options. All of that is connected to the PC. The arcade "monitor" is simply a 27" color TV. Final cost for mine: roughly $1,250. Your price may vary.
So what games does it have? Well what games doesn't it have? There are nearly 3000 unique games. (2946 last time I checked) Since some games have multiple versions or releases, there are actually over 5000 games on the box. If it was in the arcade between 1977 and 2000, it's probably on here.
While in the process of building the MAME box, I was attempting to find software that would make it easy for anyone to use my arcade. I had several requirements in mind. Use of the arcade would require zero knowledge about MAME or how it worked. The user of the arcade should not have to use any PC related devices such as a mouse or keyboard. The user should not even realize a PC was running inside the arcade. The interface should use the arcade controls, spinner, trackball, and buttons to function. The interface should be so simple, that any user could walk up to the machine, and with no instuctions, understand how to find and load the games. I did not find any software that I felt met my requirements, so I built my own :)
My program, The MAME Menu, I believe meets all of these requirements, and even includes some bonus features. Here is a screenshot, and another showing configuration options. It uses the trackball(or mouse, required) and spinner(not required) to navigate through the games, uses the buttons(or keyboard, required) to launch a game or quit the menu, and displays screenshots and basic game information.Frontend Features (Request a feature)
- Navigation of ROMs via trackball and optionally spinner
- Fullscreen display
- Shows no common Windows GUI components in ROM navigation and selection (looks like an arcade not a Windows box)
- Fully configurable fonts and colors
- Fully configurable keys and trackball sensitivity
- Screenshot displays
- Shows game controls
- Filtering of the ROM list
- Password protection of settings (keep your friends from breaking your MAME box)
- Password protection of exiting the frontend (keep your friends from exiting to the desktop)
You can download my MAME frontend here.