How to play arcade games on your PC with MAME: play retro games on your computer with this Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME)

The Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) lets you run old arcade-game code on your PC. It’s a well-supported open-source project, so obtaining the emulator doesn’t involve trudging through endless pop-ups – it’s a painless process and you can be playing games in minutes.

How to play arcade games on your PC step 1: Download and extract the MAME files

How to set up MAME on your PC

MAME is constantly being updated for better performance and support for more games; check the website for the most recent version. Expand the self-extracting EXE into a convenient folder and you’re ready to go.

How to play arcade games on your PC step 2: Download and extract some ROMs

As well as the main software, the MAME website also offers a selection of free ROMs. These are real arcade classics – Rip Cord, for example, came out when James Callaghan was Prime Minister – and, crucially, they’re all legal. That makes this a good place to start learning how to use MAME. Download the ROM of your choice and extract it into its own folder within the “roms” folder created when you extracted MAME.

How to play arcade games on your PC step 3: Launching the ROM emulator

MAME doesn’t have a friendly GUI interface – it’s a command-line application. The easiest way to launch your chosen game is to hold down Shift, right-click the folder MAME has been extracted to, and choose “Open Command Window Here”. To launch a ROM, simply type “mame” and then the name of the folder into which you extracted your ROM from step two.

How to play arcade games on your PC step 4: Playing and configuring your game

How to set up MAME on your PC

By default, MAME games are controlled with the cursor keys and the Ctrl, Alt and Space keys. You can configure this – and many other aspects of the game, such as screen rotation, brightness and contrast – by pressing Tab to open the configuration menu. Alternatively, you can download a third-party front-end such as Turbo MAME, which lets you set your configuration options in a friendly Windows interface.

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