Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Setting up the software

The PC won’t be with me until November – So that’s out as a starting point.
The Monitor is arriving Friday, so that’s out, for now.
Can’t order the Joystick and Encoder until the 15th, and then have to wait for delivery. Out.
Without any of these I can’t start building the cabinet. That’s out too.

So what can I do?

I can start selecting my games.

I got myself a pack of roms, there are approximately 9000 files in the pack.
Granted not every file is a game, there are Bios files and other technical stuff, but mostly its games.

What I’ve done in the past with emulators, what I think most people do, is go through and pick out the games I get most nostalgic about and play those. Ah Space Harrier, the memories...

But, going back to how this all started, I wanted to find the games I hadn't played yet, I wanted to discover new-retro experiences.

So I did what anyone would do in the circumstances, I Googled it.
‘MAME Hidden Gems’… ‘Obscure MAME’… that kind of thing… you know what I found? The same 9 or 10 games repeated over and over – Apparently everyone should play ‘Juno First’ (You really should actually).

So I did what anyone would do in the circumstances, I started playing the games. All of them.

I’m still deciding where to go here – I might run another blog parallel to this one – The Hidden Gems of MAME – something like that, or I might just include them in here. But anyway, for now…

I've installed MAME onto the laptop I use for everything. I don’t actually have it set up like a laptop, it’s stashed behind a unit in my games room, plugged into the TV, and accessed usually through one of my tablets – I really need a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard but never quite get around to buying them.

After firing up M.A.M.E. through the mGalaxy front end on the laptop I then use the excellent ES FileExplorer app on my Nexus 7 tablet to bring up the contents of my M.A.M.E. rom folder through my home network.
I use mGalaxy because it lists the games as the file names, this makes finding them on the tablet a lot easier.

And then I go at them, select a game, if it doesn't work at all I delete the file using the app right away, if it does work I’ll play it for a while (I try to do at least one ‘level’ of each) and then decide if it’s a keeper or not.

Additionally, and this is what inspired this blog really, I've been noting down the games that take me by surprise.
Sometimes these games have a great core idea that makes them stand out, others are interesting takes on established genres, but generally these are the games that I've never heard of before, the games that make me feel guilty for having not played previously. These are the games where quality, originality, creativity, and challenge are more important than big name franchises or gimmick controls.

Basically, these are the games that inspired this project.

So, going through alphabetically I've just reached the ‘Ns’.
I've deleted anything that that didn't work, or was just plain terrible. There have been over 3000 of these.

Getting on for a thousand have made the cuts so far. Many of those are well known greats; 1942, Double Dragon, Marvel vs Capcom, etc.

Quite a few aren't though. More than I expected are those special games I keep on about, and despite having to trawl through seemingly endless Donkey Kong Clones and dozens of practically identical, untranslated Mahjong games (Why do they all have you play against schoolgirls?) these hidden gems are keeping me hugely excited about building my own cabinet. 

So I happily to suffer the pain of Gals Panic - because it turns out Hyper Duel is just a letter away…