As we approach the 20th anniversary of the first MAME release, we’ve got a really exciting update for you. There’s so much awesome stuff in this month’s release that there’s no way we can possibly cover it all here. MAME is a team effort, and we’d like to thank everyone who’s contributed towards making this release as awesome as we think it is. One very exciting addition is support for another version of the East German Poly-Play system, with German and Czech ROM sets providing ten games, six of which are new. Protection on Future Flash/Laser Base has finally been emulated, so you can take a look at Hoei’s take on Missile Command. A dump of the damaged microcontroller (MCU) from Tatakae! Big Fighter makes this title and Sky Robo finally playable. Another eagerly awaited addition is the Hot-B prototype Hangzo.
Serial ports have been hooked up on Race Drivin’ allowing you to link two MAME instances over TCP, reproducing the multi-player experience with linked cabinets. To do this, use a null modem slot device and configure it for 38,400 Baud, 8 data bits, even parity, and 1 stop bit. It would also be possible to connect a MAME instance to a real board set by forwarding the connection to a serial port on the host system.
We’ve received a contributed PortAudio output module and integrated it in this release. This provides a cross-platform low latency audio output solution. Performance should be similar to Steinberg ASIO on Windows 7 or later without the licensing issues, and better than SDL audio on Linux. It can be enabled by setting the sound parameter to portaudio on the command line or in an ini file. Of course, all the other audio output modules are still supported, so if you're happy with your current setup you don’t have to change anything.
Although we haven’t added a huge number of new microcontroller (MCU) dumps in this release, substantial work has gone into improving systems where we already have dumps but the emulation is lacking. MCU emulation was added to Puzznic, Joshi Volleyball and Gladiator. For Puzznic, this places player data at the correct location in RAM and supplies the game with a pseudo-random number sequence rather than a stream of zeros. Joshi Volleyball now behaves better in service mode, allowing coins and inputs to be tested. Gladiator now honours the coinage DIP switches. The MC68705 core has had a complete overhaul, and all drivers using it have been reviewed. This fixes lots of subtle issues: for example Change Lanes will now skip the full memory tests if configured to ignore them in DIP switches, timings have improved in Arkanoid, and the Apple II mouse card is slightly improved. We now emulate the ’705 family well enough to support stand-alone MCU programmer boards.
Other improvements include working sound in Pole Position bootlegs, improved video in Winning Run, preliminary banked 256 colour mode for the NEC PC-9821, kana input on the Sharp X1, a VME bus system with preliminary support for the miniFORCE 2P21 chassis, additional Aristocrat Mark 5 peripheral emulation allowing non-US games to boot, Corvus hard disks for the DEC Rainbow 100, preliminary work on Atari Stunt Cycle (displays the playfield), fixes for the Aussie Byte and Otrona Attaché, and support for octal and binary numbers in debugger expressions.