For emulating old arcade games, look no further than the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, or MAME for short. It’s officially compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, with many unofficial apps for Android as well. The software itself and source code is completely free, which allows other people to mess around with it and change it as long as they don’t sell it.
The focus of the project is to recreate and make playable all of the old arcade games that would otherwise disappear into the history books. This is fantastic for anyone who grew up playing these games and wants to be able to play them today. Before home video game consoles were popular, these arcade games were how people could play. Now, thousands of them are available for free in an instant. It’s an incredible bit of technology, powered by some amazing games that became so popular they inspired franchises that still go on today.
Donkey Kong threw Mario into the spotlight, and Mario would go on to become Nintendo’s mascot. The original 1981 game Donkey Kong featured Jumpman as the protagonist (who would later become Mario). Jumpman had to save Lady (who later became Pauline, and is often mistaken for Princess Peach) from the evil Donkey Kong to win the game. Players used Jumpman to climb ladders and jump over obstacles to get to the top of the level and save Lady. The game was a breakthrough hit for Nintendo, and it was the beginning of the beloved Mario franchise we have today. To get back to where it all started, you need to play this game on MAME.
The original Marios Bros. game, which saw Jumpman turn into an Italian plumber named Mario, was released not long after in 1983. It was only the beginning for Mario, but what an important beginning it was. It introduced the concept of jumping on the heads of enemies to kill them, it introduced the infamous POW blocks, and it introduced the iconic green pipes. Not to mention that Luigi got his debut here in the multiplayer game as a green version of Mario. This series would go on to become huge, but it wasn’t the only wildly successful arcade game.
Pac-Man was a simple game, but so unique that it’s still popular today — and it’s main character is even a character in Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Chomping around as the small iconic yellow character was many people’s childhoods. Gobble up the dots to get points while avoiding the ghosts, and every once in a while you get to turn back on the ghosts and go after them. Originally released in 1980, this was one of the first arcade games in what would become the golden age of arcade gaming. It’s a perfect example of why games don’t need the best graphics to be addicting and fun.
Fighting games like Tekken, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat saw an explosion on this platform. Street Fighter hit the scene in 1987 while the other two games were released in the 1990s. These fighting games were perfect for the arcade as they required a joystick and a bunch of buttons for inputting the perfect combos (or just mashing if you weren’t sure which combos to use). Mortal Kombat even raised a fair amount of controversy for its bloody finishing KOs, which only served to make it even more popular. These classic fighting games are often overlooked today, but they supplied hours and hours of fun to many.
To emulate all of these incredible games, MAME is the emulator you need. Every arcade machine was different, but this emulator can recreate the controls you need with the precision to use them on any platform. Get out there and start playing some of these classics.