back to article Arcade emulator MAME slips under Apple radar

The popular arcade emulator MAME is now available in the iTunes store, for free, but don't expect it to stay there for long as Apple has never tolerated this kind of thing before. MAME emulates the hardware of old arcade consoles, only needing the requisite ROMs to be able to play thousands of games - from Centipede to Joust …


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  1. James Hughes 1

    Mr Dot? Mr Fecking Dot?

    C'mon people get with the program.

    Mr Do!

    Jesus Christ. Get some people older that 15 to proof read your stuff!

    1. Charles 9

      Um...wrong context?

      i think they're saying "Mr. Dot" as in Mr. Dot EATER. Think a certain circular yellow sprite being chased around a maze by four ghosts.

    2. sheep++;

      @ James Hughes 1

      Eat your own dog food Mr. Hughes and proof read your own comments - e.g I suggest "than" rather than "that". But Merry Christmas etc. No offence intended. :-)

  2. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up

    Well if it got through the approval process despite being, you know, *MAME*, then maybe Apple are tolerating this kind of thing now.

    AFAICT from the contract, as long as it doesn't allow you to download ROMs, but only copy them in (which can be done using iTunes, BTW) then it should be OKish, apart from the obvious "incitement to copyright infringement" thing.

    Interesting because I have a GTA Radio player which I'd like to put up but this would rely on the same basic mechanism - copy the files from the GTA disc to the phone using iTunes, in technical violation of copyright. Hmm, Christmas project? :)

    Anyway, thanks for the heads up. Downloading iMAME right now ...

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Up

      Contary to the implication in the article it comes with games, thus meeting the requirement (and the supplied games are copyright free), in addition (and I'm sure where the rules are bent) you can also add other ROMS (as long as they are in 0.37b5 format and you put them in the right place).

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        Ignoring all that says that MAME may not be sold, must include the complete source code (including all that required to build binaries - i.e. the Apple API's no doubt) and that the name is a registered trademark.

        Apple should never have approved it in the first place and whoever submitted it and approved it are likely to get into trouble if MAME kick up a fuss.

        1. ThomH

          @Lee Dowling

          On the contrary, it isn't being sold, it's being given away and MAME's legal information doesn't define a redistribution — the app store download could easily be argued to be part of a redistribution, not a complete redistribution in itself. So they'd be fine if the source is offered by other means. Indeed, if the iOS code has been contributed to the main branch of the project then the app store release isn't even a redistribution.

          Re: the trade mark, there's no reason to suppose MAME haven't given approval and whoever uploaded it will have provided assurances to Apple to the effect that they have approval at the point of upload.

          If the MAME team haven't granted approval and say so to Apple then it will be taken down. But they won't have been wrong to allow it through in the first place — it's not Apple's place to do legal background checks on all products and in any case MAME's own terms don't make it clear that this release isn't permissible.

  3. Tchou


  4. Corborg


    ....if it stays, sales of the iCade will rocket.

  5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "ROM files ... are still illegal to distribute."

    They're only illegal to distrubute if you don't have permission to distribute them. Amstrad have specifically given permission to distribute the Spectrum ROMs /for/ /use/ /in/ /emulators/.

    1. Quantum Leaper

      Only 21...

      There are only 21 legally distributed roms out of 8000+, which free for use in emulators, has 20 of them listed, the other legal "rom" is Galaxy Game, which has not be posted to Mame site, yet. Galaxy Game isn't a binary file but a source listing which is converted into a binary when loaded.

  6. Stefan 2


    This puts a dent in my "Android versus iPhone - Look what Android can do that iPhone can't" argument!

    1. Richard Lloyd

      No dent in argument detected...

      > This puts a dent in my "Android versus iPhone - Look what Android can do that iPhone can't" argument!

      One word: MAME4droid

      Been in the Android Market since early September and not under any threat of being pulled, unlike iMAME. Be careful about the ROMs you download (apart from their legality of course) - you'll often find a dozen or more versions of an arcade classic and many of them don't seem to work with MAME4droid (and since the core code is the same, iMAME probably would have the same issue).

      I've been running MAME4droid on my HP TouchPad with Cyanogenmod 7 and it's a sweet little time-waster! My fave is Phoenix, but I'm sure everyone's got their own fave from 80's arcade machines.

      Oh, for futher emulation joy, try Beebdroid - now that's an emulator I suspect you won't ever see on iOS devices...

  7. Subtilior

    For most iOS applications which have some concept of owning files, you can copy files back & forth using iTunes. Hopefully you could do the same with ROM files for this app. Anyone know?

  8. RetroTom
    Thumb Down

    New port of Old version

    This is actually a port of Mame4All, based off Mame 0.37b8 which was released around October 2000.

    That's 11 years ago, this is a really retro version of MAME. It's actually the same one that got ported to the GP2X and other mobile platforms, it requires less power to run than newer versions, but has a far smaller support library and inferior support for many games, with a great number of hacks added to get things up to speed on older mobile platforms at the expense of correct emulation. Don't expect it to be running your Street Fighter 3, Boogie Wings or Ketsui because it won't, even the emulation of classics like Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands leaves a lot to be desired in such an old version.

  9. Steve Loughran

    not available in UK App Store

    UK readers will be disappointed to know that this isn't in the UK App store "yet"

    1. Markl2011

      It looks like it's been removed then. I downloaded it this afternoon.

    2. Stu

      Yes it is, I got it on my iPad this afternoon.

      So just how are we meant to put other arcade ROMs on iMAME then, that is with NON-jailbroken devices? I stopped JBing my i devices years ago, too much of a pain after Apple release updates, plus I never trusted russian hackers&co to not plant some nasty surprise deep in there somewhere.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You aren't meant to.

        That's the price you pay for buying Apple: loss of control over your own devices.

    3. Jon Lamb

      @Steve Loughran

      It was this morning when I downloaded it onto my iPad and iPhone.

  10. Greencat

    Link (since the article didn't include one)

  11. JohnnyGStrings

    Just tried to dl and it says "Your request could not be completed" even though it appears in the search results - looks like they're on it already!

    P.S. Already jailbroken here with mame installed anyway was just checking it out ;)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "a really retro version of MAME"


    There's something about the concept of a "retro version" of a retro machine emulator.

    Not sure what it is yet.

    It'll come to me, unless I vanish in a puff of self-recursion first.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Officially pulled

    Apple says you aren't allowed to use this anymore.

    Enjoy your walled garden. itards.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Enjoy your massive case of penis envy.

      1. Steven Roper

        It's not penis envy

        It's perfectly understandable contempt.

  14. RetroTom

    Another legal one...

    Gaelco (Spanish arcade developer) also made their game 'World Rally' freely available from their official site

    They actually worked on this hand-in-hand with MAME developers Manuel Abadia and Elsemi to ensure it got properly emulated. Probably also doesn't work in iMAME but if there are droid ports of newer versions you should be able to run it legally on those :-)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "There's also the matter of how one installs a ROM onto an iDevice that lacks an easily addressable file system."

    Maybe when it was first released but I have several programs that let you load files onto the iphone via a simple web server iFileExplorer for instance which will then load other programs depending on what you're opening, also a number of programs have the ability to have files uploaded to them in a similar manner. Such as pdfreader, I've had a few others over time.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    probably already been mentioned...

    ... but a small touch screen interface is completely wrong for the bulk of games you can get for Mame. Tiny virtual controllers either over the screen or tucked away make it near impossible to recreate the original gaming experience.

    Tablet devices fair a little better, but the tactile experience you get from a proper joystick and large pushable buttons was part and parcel of the gaming experience.

    Even on a keyboard, the experience is not the same.

    Having said that, you can get joysticks for the iPad, which would actually make it a brilliant Mame device come to think of it. Hmmmm...

    1. NogginTheNog
      Thumb Down


      Defender without a proper metal-shaft joystick to abuse just isn't the same!

  17. Nuno trancoso

    Like this?

    No, no subliminal advertisement, just something i've lusted after ever since i was using MAME (and that was way back when my Amiga was still alive...).

    The one with pockets too empty afford these beautiful toys... Used to have quarters but SF2 Tournament Edition was just too tempting...

    1. MacGyver

      Or just build a cabinet...

      You can build a whole arcade cabinet from scratch for less money than an iPad.

      Just search for "arcadecontrols" and "HAPP", believe it or not, the hardest part to find is the damn CRT monitor. It is a nightmare to find a rounded 27" CRT CGA/VGA/SVGA monitor these days.

      If only they made 4:3 LCD monitors in that size it might be an ok substitution, but they don't, and 16:9 looks all kinds of wrong in an arcade machine.

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