7 Classic Arcade Games You Can’t Play (Easily) On MAME
Our friends over at Gameroom Junkies are some serious classic arcade and pinball fans. So serious, that they’ve got one of the best podcasts you’ll find on iTunes about collecting, restoring and playing arcade games and pins. Co-host Preston, who lives in Atlanta, was kind enough to share his thoughts on 7 Classic Arcade Games You Can’t Play (Easily) On MAME. Preston would know, since he plays arcade games every chance he gets. Be sure to Like Gameroom Junkies on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and download their podcast. We’re big fans of it! Check out Preston’s article on 7 Classic Arcade Games You Can’t Play (Easily) On MAME.
Whether due to limited space, availability, or financial resources, not everyone can have their own game rooms filled with classic arcade games. For the rest of us, there’s MAME. Yes, MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator), has been satisfying the nostalgia of a generation for years though stand-alone PC’s or integrated into an upright arcade cabinet. The benefit of MAME is, of course, that you can play literally thousands of games all-in-one compact unit. You may be surprised to find, however, that not all the classic games you remember from the ’80s can be easily replicated through MAME. Unless you want to have a control panel comparable to the wingspan of a 747, there are several classic games you will just have to wait to play until you can find the real thing.
You can jam all you want to the Peter Gunn theme song on this 1983 classic, but you won’t be able to play this game on MAME without having tons of special controls. Pretty much any driving game is difficult to play in MAME because of the accelerator and steering functions, but add to that the high-low shifter, machine gun triggers, and rocket launcher buttons means you won’t be playing this on your PC anytime soon.
To ignore the fact that this is truly one of the most beautiful arcade cabinet designs ever created, and that the glow from the control panel black light is simply mesmerizing is an injustice to this game. However, aesthetics aside, you won’t be getting the full experience of Tron on your home MAME setup without a few special controls. While a flight-stick with a trigger isn’t uncommon, using that in combination with a spinner knob means if you want the regular buttons and joysticks needed to play most other games, your control panel is starting to head toward NASA command territory.
Well, you can play this game in MAME, but you may notice something different. Ignoring that this was originally a vector-based game that used a special X-Y vector monitor, if you’re using the original ROMS, you’re missing out on another visual element -- color. That’s right, this is one of several games that was programmed as a single color and used a black and white monitor, but was able to achieve colored artwork by simply adding a colored plastic screen on top of the monitor tube. Other games that used a colored gel overlay include Space Invaders and Battlezone.
You may not understand what he’s saying, but everyone loves Q*bert. He’s truly an '80s icon. While this games controls are incredibly simple, it is almost impossible to play without a dedicated setup. You would think a basic 4-way joystick would be the easiest control to master, but what you may not realize is that the joystick on the original game was tilted 45∘. Just a simple shift makes playing Q*bert on a traditionally-oriented joystick almost impossible. Don’t believe us? Go try it yourself and see how well YOU do!
There’s just something about having a gun stock to your shoulder while you eye down digital targets on a screen before pulling the trigger that makes this whole genre of games just out of reach for most MAME enthusiasts. The technical element that makes these games unique is that each shot is registered with a light gun, which most MAME setups don’t support. Also, the games used mirrors to reverse the projected image, so if you pulled up the original ROMs in your unit, everything would be backwards. What’s this mean? No Chiller, Crackshot, Crossbow, or Combat for you!
We’ve already discussed the difficulty of having controls that are specific to one game or another, and this rare gem is no exception. It doesn’t use a joystick, a spinner, or steering wheel. This unique Atari arcade unit uses a roller that only scrolls left and right. Sure you could get away using a trackball, but where’s the fun in that? Finding an original cabinet is a difficult task, so if you’re not a stickler for originality, it may be the only route you can go.
The mother of all geek Classic Arcade Games You Can’t Play (Easily) On MAME is a vector-based classic made by Atari in 1983. In the arcade you could fight T.I.E. Fighters and fly the Death Star trench run all day long. In the home environment? Not so much. While viewing what was originally presented with a color vector monitor in a cringe-inducing raster display is enough to make almost any arcade aficionado shudder, the X/Y directional flight yoke means you won’t be making the Kessel Run anytime soon. Original flight controls for this classic arcade game sell on eBay for upwards of $300 by themselves, and the inability to play this game seamlessly in MAME means arcade cockpit versions can easily sell for $5000 or more.