PCZ ISSUE 128 - MAY 2003



Indignant ELSPA members might be surprised to hear it, but the main man behind the mighty MAME has his own set of ethics and morals when it comes to the behemothic emulator. The project’s originator and co-ordinator Nicola Salmoria (who recently, local colour fans, completed his graduate thesis – yes, he does have a real life too – which can be downloaded from many emulation sites for the Italian-fluent stalkers among you) takes both a purist and Puritan approach to certain games which fall within MAME’s emulation umbrella, and will not allow them to be included in official builds of the program.

Examples include Pong (on the purist grounds that its function in MAME is technically via simulation rather than emulation, since the original coin-op functioned on solid-state technology rather than ROM files), some Neo Geo prototypes, and a whole slew of arcade gambling games (on the more Puritan grounds that, well, gambling’s a bit iffy). That this self-censorship doesn’t also extend to MAME’s many extremely explicit X-rated Japanese coin-ops is something we should all be grateful for.

Anyway, completists should know that these forbidden titles do still have a home in the emulation community, and that home is the self-explanatorily-titled MisFit MAME. MFM is a special build of the emulator which includes only games which aren’t found in the official one.

Not only do the likes of Pong and the gambling games reside there, but also hundreds of homegrown “hacks” of the more popular coin-ops. (MisFit MAME has swallowed up the defunct PacMAME, which offered several hundred versions of the various Pac-Man games hacked in endlessly inventive and bizarre ways – vector graphics, sprites and sounds from the infamous Atari VCS version, and versions where all the characters look like Elton John.) PC gaming’s own Jeff Minter, for example, contributed a remake of Ms Pac-Man called Ms Yak-Man, with the ghosts replaced by fluffy sheepies and the central character transformed into, obviously, a yak.

And while we’re on the subject of the Peruvian-mammal-obsessed one, competitive Emu Zone readers might be interested to know that the Llamasoft forums have for some time been playing host to a very well-organised MAME league, where users can battle away at a different game every week in a continuous series of 10-game seasons.

It’s a friendly, welcoming site, (assuming you can put up with the constant animal references and general hippy undercurrents), and if you want to add that little bit of edge to your MAMEing experience, it’s well worth a “trip”. (Did you see what Emu Zone did there?) Plus, most of them are rubbish, so it won’t be as dispiriting as wandering in to the average CounterStrike match. Tell them Emu Zone sent you.


Super Derby – it’s Too Immoral For MAME!

Clearly, hippies also dream of electric sheep.










Cruising On Broadway (Spectrum/Dragon 32, 1983)

It’s not easy to create an action game with absolutely no graphics, but that’s what Jeff Naylor achieved in this 16K Spectrum masterpiece, celebrating its 20th birthday this year. Screens made up of half-a-dozen one-pixel-thick lines, inhabited by characters each made up of a single coloured space, conceal a game which is nevertheless almost unparallelled in the history of gaming addiction. With just a single randomly-moving chaser in near-silent pursuit (the game’s sound is another example of the power of well-applied minimalism), you must “paint” every line in each screen (or “frame”) before moving on to the next.

There are just four levels, (six in the later Dragon version), after which the game loops round with two chasers, then one fast chaser, then two fast ones. But Emu Zone guarantees you now – you’ll NEVER get that far. Games so simple you simply can’t accept you’ve been beaten by them are the heart and soul of addiction, and it’s hard to imagine how you could possibly create one simpler than Cruising On Broadway.



(Left) Yes, people used to pay money for this.


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