MAME – How to Play Classic Arcade Games With LaunchBox


MAME is an emulator of classic arcade and console games, such as Street Fighter II: Arcade Edition. When launched through LaunchBox, double clicking any game will start it for playback; or press Tab key for in-game MAME menu access.

This paper presents algorithms designed to reduce the computational complexity of MAME’s embedded tree approach, as evidenced by simulations showing it performs nearly as well as comprehensive searches.

Getting Started

MAME is a multi-platform and open source emulator designed to showcase the inner workings and preserve software of a variety of machines. Although its primary objective is preserving these machines’ inner workings and software (showing their inner workings can help preserve software too!), playing these machines is also an added benefit of MAME.

MAME requires full ROM sets in order to operate correctly. These ROM sets contain all the code for every game in an arcade cabinet – each cabinet functions like its own custom computer console with multiple circuit boards that require their own processor system; MAME emulates this reality and in order for any one MAME game to work, you need all its associated ROMs from that specific cabinet in order for it to function as intended.

These ROM sets can be found online; some may not be legal to download in your country. Once all the necessary ROMs have been collected in an appropriate location for download, MAME setup can begin – this guide uses Windows versions but most information should translate well to other versions as well.

As the first step of setting up MAME, open a command prompt (Start > Run) and execute these two commands to create the MAME directory and folder titled “ROMs”. When these have been created you can begin MAME setup.

Once MAME setup is complete, a folder called “ROMs” should contain all game archives that must be imported into LaunchBox from MAME. These should be in alphabetical order according to its list of games within MAME.

Rollback ROM sets, which include all files that were altered between any two releases of MAME, can help if you need to switch your current romset back to an older version in case something goes amiss.

Once all ROMs have been downloaded and placed in their appropriate folders, they can be added to LaunchBox Emulator list. When all is added you should be able to run MAME in LaunchBox just like any other emulator; should there be any issues, testing standalone MAME program might help make sure that issue lies outside GameEx itself.


MAME is an emulator designed to recreate the hardware of many vintage arcade machines on your computer, preserving their heritage should they become extinct over time. As it’s an open source project it is free for download & use; however it should be noted that MAME uses ROM images of original games that may contain copyright issues so you should acquire these legally or risk breaking the law!

LaunchBox provides the easiest method of configuring MAME on a PC, automatically downloading, installing and connecting MAME ROMs as well as providing handy tweaking solutions to keep things running smoothly.

LaunchBox can be easily obtained by visiting their website and clicking the download button, filling in your email address to receive the installer, then double-clicking to start installation process – once completed LaunchBox will automatically launch MAME!

At the heart of MAME is getting hold of a full ROM set for your machine. A ROM set consists of multiple ROM files containing code for all arcade games; for this reason you need an entire ROM set rather than just individual game ROMs as many share blocks of code, making it nearly impossible to run individual games independently without sharing code with one or more unrelated titles.

Once your ROM set is assembled, LaunchBox makes the rest effortless. It automatically matches ROMs to your MAME version and imports them for playability. However, be aware that if the MAME ROMs you purchase belong to a more recent release than what your MAME installation supports then a rollback rom set may be needed so that they can easily rebuild themselves for that version of MAME.


Once your settings have been verified (I suggest testing Pacman or 1941) you’re ready to play MAME. GameEx offers two methods for starting MAME directly: Launch MAME directly; or creating your own config file that tells MAME which games to load and how they should be configured – useful if you have specific controls you want to use with MAME; this may also come in handy if MAME can be tricky to configure; just try making small changes at first and testing before making drastic ones; if a setting doesn’t suit, change it back; or delete your config file and start from scratch again!

If you are running MAME through a frontend instead of its command line interface, you must change its settings in order to enable joystick input. MAMEUI includes options specifically tailored for this task while RetroArch’s user interface also offers similar settings.

Final step in setting up MAME is filling your Roms folder with a full ROM set that matches the version of MAME that you’re running (since MAME often updates, it is crucial that all ROMs match). A good resource to find such sets would be Mame Setup Wizard; alternatively you could search online.

Be mindful that some machines require BIOS and CHD files in their Roms folder for proper functioning, so make sure these are also present. When everything is ready, let the games begin!

If you want to add a high score table to your MAME setup, just click on the High Scores button in the MAME menu. This will open a window allowing you to connect to the MAME database and record your scores online – you can even link your Facebook account and share results there too – an ideal way of showing off your gaming prowess to friends! There are other options here too so be sure to explore. Additionally, turn Mame GUI on here if desired for an improved graphical user interface experience


If your games won’t load, the first step to consider is whether your emulator is up-to-date. As MAME is a free open source project, its developers are constantly improving it; sometimes this causes older ROM sets to stop working as they’re emulated at different levels. To address this, either download the latest ROM set from CLRMamePro or use its Rom Manager feature (much quicker and simpler than doing it manually).

Another potential issue could be that your machine cannot support the CPU speed that you have chosen, due to MAME’s interpretive CPU back end that uses algorithms instead of full emulated machine translation to approximate machine code. If your computer cannot keep up with MAME’s interpretive back end then its controls may misbehave or malfunction as expected.

An issue commonly experienced is when the ROM set you have chosen doesn’t match up with the version of MAME that you are running. This often happens because MAME developers frequently update ROM set file names based on newer information regarding individual machines; making old files unusable in later MAME versions. Redownloading all the files separately to change them over manually (or alternatively use a ROM manager for automatic management) usually solves this problem.

Some users of MAME may experience issues with its autofire plugin. This is likely due to MAME 0.216’s removal of its built-in autofire function and increased functionality provided by its plugin counterpart. To disable the built-in autofire feature entirely, open MAME without selecting a system and select Configure Options at the bottom of the screen (use Tab to move focus); under “Plugins,” turn off Autofire by turning it off at the end.

Altering the autofire setting within the emulator’s configuration file could also work; however, these config files are encrypted so one mistake could stop MAME from starting up properly.

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