I’ve been playing retro games for a long while, struggling to run the old ROMs even back when I used Windows, before I switched to Linux for my home machine, almost 7 years ago now, using various emulators. M.A.M.E. has always been a favorite of mine, since it allows me to play all those great old arcade games that I had pumped so many quarters into in years past. On the Mac, I’ve used…
several different emulators and until today I was a big fan of MacMame, the ‘official’ port of Mame to the Mac. Unfortunately, the fates (and Apple) have conspired to make that emulator non-functional (at least on Mac 10.3.9) and so I needed to find an alternative. I can’t wait to tell you about my new favorite!MacMame has a long history porting Mame to the Mac, and in fact it’s always seemed a lot more functional and easier to use than the Windows GUIs. Unfortunately, recently when Apple released Quicktime 7.0.4 (and the related upgrades for iTunes, etc. that use it), they somehow broke MacMame on OS X 10.3.9 (Panther).
I’m still using Panther, mainly because I bought my powerbook the week before Tiger came out (10.4) and so the machine came with the older OS. They wouldn’t give me Tiger for free, so I vowed to hold off as long as possible (in spite?). But I’ve heard that the problems that plauge MacMame related to QT are somehow not an issue in Tiger. This makes it unlikely that the MacMame devs are going to spend very much time making it work on Panther, since Tiger is supposedly so much nicer anyway.
Luckily, Apple was nice enough to offer a way to remove QT 7.0.4 and ‘downgrade’ to 7.0.1 and so after I had discovered the incompatiblity, I did so and have been running MacMame happily ever since. This allowed me to continue to run my Roms for a long while, but, of course, updates are coming out of Apple all the time, and new functionality in some of their apps depend on the improvements in QT. I was unable to upgrade these apps unless I upgraded QT first. When QT 7.1 came out, I figured – ‘well, maybe they’ve fixed whatever it was that was causing the problem’ arguing in my mind that since they obviously knew about the issues with 7.0.4 (they did offer a downgrade after all), they would probably incorporate whatever fixes were required in the next major release. No one on the
Macmame forums had tried it yet, so I figured I’d be the guinea pig. Well, upgrading to QT 7.1 breaks MacMame (on 10.3.9) too, and unfortunately, there’s no downgrade available (yet?) from Apple.
I spent a lot of time last night looking for alternatives, and went to bed really late and really dejected when I thought there was no way to run these games until I upgraded to Tiger. I have (and use) the X11 package from Apple which allows me to run (properly compiled) X-Windows (unix) applications under OS X, and I already had an older version (v0.69) of xmame installed (using fink). I couldn’t get this version to see my SDL libraries, so the games ran slowly and the sound stunk. This wasn’t going to be any fun. After some hours of fighting fink, I eventually blew away my /sw directory, and installed fink anew.
This morning I found
AdvanceMame and AdvanceMenu! AdvanceMame is an ‘unofficial’ port of MAME, but when run using the AdvanceMenu script under X11, it offers some really cool improvements over MacMame. One of these is the ’tiled screencaptures’ preview feature. In MacMame I’d have to click through each ROM to see it’s corresponding screenshot (if I had one saved), but in Advancemame, you just hit TAB and change the preview ‘mode’ to show a mess of thumbnails of all available screencaptures. You can navigate these and hit ENTER to launch the ROM. Everything is done using the keyboard, which I find to be much faster. There’s a nice set of screenshots showing
this feature in use here.
The games run fast, and after I set the device_video_output variable to fullscreen in the advmame.rc file, they launch in full screen mode just like they used to Macmame. I also had to set up my advmenu.rc file to point to my ROMs folder and screencaptures folder, but this was pretty trivial.
It seems like AdvanceMame (and Menu) would be perfect to run your MAME cabinet if you have enough energy to get one set up. Not needing a mouse to navigate the various screens is key. I like the added touches too, like the fact that everytime AdvanceMenu launches, you hear
Duke Nuke’m grumbling ‘Come on!’, and when you shut it down, he growls “Game Over”.