My newest review...
June 17, 2008

I wrote another review tonight, this time for Time Soldiers.

The main reason I wrote the review was Leroux's challenge on the forums, wherein he'll respond to any new staff or user review of an arcade game on this site by writing one of his own.

That's just an awesome idea and I'm glad he thought of it (and is willing to follow through). It inspired me to download Time Soldiers for MAME, which I'd been meaning to play seriously for quite some time.

The problem I ran to immediately was that I couldn't get my Xbox 360 controller working with the emulator. This is because by default, MAME32 disables joysticks. Dumb decision, if you ask me. But whatever.

I checked online and support files said to change joystick 0 in the .ini file to joystick 1. However, I had searched before and there were several .ini files. Finally, I found that it meant the 'dir.txt' file in the 'ini' subfolder, so I opened that up and found it completely blank. Irritated, I typed in 'joystick 1' (without the apostrophes, of course) and saved it. That magically enabled my Xbox 360 controller (which already had drivers installed on my laptop).

So I was able to play Time Soldiers! The result is my newest review.

Now that I can control games reasonably well again, I will possibly return to Willow and finally write up a review for that. Then maybe another one for Crush Roller once I put more time into that, and I'll have gone through the main arcade games of my childhood.

Thanks for doing this project, Leroux! It was just the motivation I needed!

Most recent blog posts from Jason Venter...

drella drella - June 17, 2008 (04:49 AM)

The truth is MAME is probably the greatest untapped resource when it comes to gaming, especially around these parts where Dark Fact, Masters and Zigfried have already shed so much light on the TG-16 and TGCD. But unfortunately, MAME has a reputation for being hard to work, which in all my experiences is not just unwarranted but downright wrong.

Running the early MAMEs in DOS on XP computers was probably a huge pain in the ass. But its community created interfaces to fix that -- MAME32x for Windows, MacMAME for Mac -- that completely trump any other emulators for any other console. Setting up joysticks and controllers is easy. Roms don't even have to be unzipped, just placed in the "roms" folder. And as a hint, everyone should download, because it's not a game but will cause the Metal Slugs and a bunch of others to work. And if you see something like this:

Sunset Riders (US) (220 KB)
Sunset Riders (JP) (2.4 MB)

That usually means the Japanese version has most of the root files, so download them both before you load up the US one. MAME is just trying to avoid you having duplicate files clogging up space -- imagine that.

Venter got it working people. There's no excuse now!

Another huge reason people shy away from MAME is that its catalog varies in era so much -- from Pong to near present day -- and people don't know what to play. But that's exactly where a review site should come in and help, shouldn't it? KLOV is the place to start for browsing purposes.

If this contest proves anything -- and at this rate, it probably won't be that I'm a winner -- I hope it's that the arcade is a huge untapped resource lying just a foot beneath the surface. And you don't need an oil rig, just a shovel.
sashanan sashanan - June 17, 2008 (10:00 AM)
I've never seriously considered MAME despite all the emulating I've done. I guess I too had it mentally flagged as something that's a pain to get to work - I've had bad experiences before with venturing outside of the realm of the usually emulated systems (with the exception of the Commodore 64, which is indeed harder to work with than the usual NES/SNES/Genesis/GBA emus, but I took the time to figure it out).

I'll have to check out MAMA one of these days. When I have time. What may have cut into my emulation the most is the large stack of legitimately owned games begging to be played. I really must learn to stop buying games just because they are cheap, with no regard to whether I really want them.
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - June 17, 2008 (10:15 AM)
I couldn't believe how easy it was to get MacMAME running. If I would have known it was this easy, I would have done it years ago.
Halon Halon - June 17, 2008 (10:27 AM)
MAME is great but a pain in the ass to get working. I had it installed on my old computer back in 2004-2005 but had to wipe out the hard drive and forgot to back it up. It took me about an hour to figure out how to install it and I'm too lazy to figure it out again. If I didn't have such a large backlog of games to play and was more interested in arcade games I would probably have more motivation to install it again.
honestgamer honestgamer - June 17, 2008 (11:33 AM)
Yeah, it's definitely the most difficult emulator I've found to get going, but with it fresh in my mind, the steps go something like this:

1) Download the latest edition from the site.
2) Unzip it into a folder in an area of your choice.
3) Download MAME32, the visual front end (which is available separately for some reason).
4) Unzip the contents of that folder in the same folder where you unzipped the contents of the MAME zip.
5) Add the line 'joystick 1' to your 'dir.txt' file in the 'ini' subfolder as described in my first post.
6) Download any ROMs of interest and place them in your 'roms' folder, which is automatically created when you set up MAME.
7) Boot up MAME and pick your game from a list. If it doesn't run at first, try an alternate version until you find the one that matches the game you downloaded.

When you know what you're doing, the setup process should take about 15 minutes. None of that is as easy as some of the old NES and SNES emulators, but as Leroux said, there are some really interesting games you might not know about and they're perfect for reviewing on a site like this one. The reason I haven't done more of it is the same as the one sash gave: I have too many other games on my plate already for which I have physical copies (and in my case, reviews due to appease the publishers who sent them my way).

By the way, I even got Willow to work on MAME, and that took effort. I had to download two different versions of the ROM and mix/match files between the two zips in order to get a complete, working version. I may review that before this is done with (I've already taken screens).
overdrive overdrive - June 17, 2008 (07:06 PM)
So part of being successful with certain games on MAME is downloading from different sites and mixing/matching files until you get a full set. That's good to know. I've had MacMame for a couple years (and all my arcade reviews have come from that emulator), but was frustrated with it because a number of shmups I wanted to play wouldn't run because of a message saying "x" number of files were missing. And since the site I was getting them from is a very reliable one, I was thinking the problem was with MAME and not the download itself. Food for thought....
honestgamer honestgamer - June 17, 2008 (11:29 PM)
Yeah. Sometimes a site will have multiple versions of a file, too, so just look in the zip folders and see if they contain those missing files, then mix and match as needed. :)

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