M.A.M.E. is an emulator program which as faithfully as possible reproduces the control code necessary to enable you to run genuine image files made from genuine arcade ROM images on your computer. The processors emulated include Z80, 8039, 8086, 6502, 6802, 6808, 6809 and 68000, and also emulation for the custom chips which are used specifically for audio in many cases as well as some of the encrypted protection chips. The actual driver code for the ROMs is written in portable 'C' code in the PC DOS version.
M.A.M.E. is produced primarily as a documentation project to preserve classic arcade games, but a nice side effect of this is that you can also play them :) It currently supports over 5,145 games in its latest complete version (0.88 at the time of this update). The majority of these games are from the 1980's and should include at least a few of your own personal favourites, providing you played games of this era of course. M.A.M.E. also supports SNK NeoGeo games.
With the sourcecode for M.A.M.E. made freely available, ports are available on many platforms, including MSDOS, Windows, UNIX, MACINTOSH, Acorn RISC OS, BEOS, Digital Cameras! and even the Amiga (68000 series and PPC). The WIN32 version is released first and closely followed over the next few hours/days/weeks by the others, so classic arcade gaming is now available to many millions of home users. Most versions are straight recompilations, so obviously this means a 680x0 Amiga binary couldn't match a P4 or AMD Athlon PC for speed :) but the MAC version for example has an asm coded core for 68000 processor emulation, and there are custom versions available of the DOS port for various processor types and various reconfigurations of the source (ASM 68k source version, Pentium, AMD, NeoGeofree, Autofire Version etc). The WIndows GUI version I choose to use also includes game history, flyer, marquee and control panel artwork, title screenshot and game snapshot pics.
My first experience of M.A.M.E. was during a search on Altavista for Crush Roller (which I later discovered was a bootleg version of Make Trax), which was my favourite arcade game from many years ago. (To this day I never know what posessed me to do this search!) and I was led to the now legendary Atmospherical Heights pages, and within half an hour I was playing the genuine arcade version of Crush Roller on my own PC, with full sound and 100% perfect gameplay. This to me was amazing, and I was hooked!
This was version 0.23 way back around May 1997, at which time around 90 or so games were playable, and the progress since has been nothing short of astounding! Back in those days the releases were frequent (usually weekly, sometimes more often!) and a few games were added at a time. Nowadays the releases are around every couple of months with anything from 1 to 50 games added each time, with a variety of enhancements and bug fixes included.
Of the games in v0.88 the vast majority are playable, and many are 100% perfect with precise colours, graphics, sound and even speech in some games, either emulated or via extra audio sample files. v0.31 onwards included native .zip file support included so all games and samples can be kept compressed on your hard disk to save space. You can also record and play back your games, and this has led to the development of the hugely successful MAME Action Replay Page where MAME players compete against each other on all emulated games. There are a variety of extra utilities available, including software to audit the roms to check the latest updated versions of the games are installed, and helping keep them up to date automatically if you like.