Mame32 Support Documentation v.2002-03-12

this is a copy of the document prepared for the distribution package, it lives at: www.classicgaming.com/Mame32QA/support.htm


Mame32 History. 1

Getting Started w/ Mame32. 1

Mame32 Support Files. 2

Beautify your Mame32: the Mame32 Art Packs. 3

Mame32 Recommended Graphic & Sound Settings. 3

Mame32 Troubleshooting. 3

Support, Testing, Bug Reporting. 6


Mame32 History

Mame32 is the GUI version of Mame.  It has an attractive, elegant, graphical interface which allows the user to bypass having to type command line parameters, although you can still pass Mame32 these arguments, for example. ‘Mame32.exe dkong -r 1024x768x32 -refresh 85 -effect sharp’. For many, it’s easier to click the icon of the game.

1997.02.05 - In the beginning there was Mame, the DOS text based program authored by Italian programmer Nicola Salmoria in 1996 and released on Feb. 05. This was the main version, worked on by the vast majority of the hundreds of Mame developers over the subsequent years.

1997.08 - Mame32 was the first port of Mame to the Microsoft Windows platform.  It originally came out in August of 1997, added the GUI and a considerable amount of new code to transition to Win32.  It was worked on by Jeff Miller, Chris Kirmse, Michael Soderstrom, and Mike Haaland in turn.  Mame32 releases follow the Mame DOS releases by a few days to a few weeks over the next four years.

2001.05.24 - With the inexorable phasing out of DOS, the authors of the DOS based Mame ported it to the Microsoft Windows platform as a command line application.  Evolutionally similar to MameDOS, it is run by typing in arguments from a command prompt, and has no GUI. [many people try to double click it, which opens up the command line window briefly, then closes].  Its original name was Mame[w], it is now known simply as Mame.

2001.07.24 - Mame32 is re-positioned, with the familiar GUI grafted onto the new Mame Windows engine.  Mame32 is currently maintained by a small group of three to four people and released shortly after Mame[w].

Getting Started w/ Mame32

1.        Mame32 runs on Win9x, WinME, WinNT, Win2k, and WinXP.  Ensure you have the latest and greatest DirectX version for your OS from Microsoft. NT4 users will need SP4 or greater. (both available for download at www.microsoft.com). Note for Windows 95 users [and NT4SP3]! Windows 95/NT may need the common controls update, available from the Microsoft web site, to prevent property sheet errors when going to options for the games or options/default options menu, it is called 401comupd.exe and was available here at the time of this writing: http://www.microsoft.com/msdownload/ieplatform/ie/comctrlx86.asp.  You should not need this file if you have downloaded Internet Explorer since version 4.

2.        Download the latest binary zip file [not the source] of Mame32:

Chris Kirmse’s Mame32 Site / John IV’s Mame32QA Site

3.        Create a directory/folder on your hard drive i.e. c:\Mame32

4.        Open this directory and copy the just downloaded Mame32 zip file into it.

5.        Using an archive program like WinZip or Pkunzip, extract the contents of the Mame32.zip (ensure you use the -d option in Pkunzip to get recursed subdirectories).  In WinZip select Extract from the Actions menu, be sure the Use folder names checkbox is checked.

6.        Place your game roms into the sub-directory called c:\Mame32\roms, which you may have to create [note game roms are not distributed w/ Mame32, additionally, do not email about them]. It's preferable to leave the roms in their zip format, and just place the zip files into the \Mame32\roms directory.  Also see section below about getting parent/clone roms, and BIOS roms if the game fails to start or complains about missing files.

7.        Some games require sampled sounds [space invaders, donkey kong, etc.] these are available at www.mame.net .  If a game requires samples it will show on the games property tab [alt-enter] Place your sample zip files in our example into the sub-directory called c:\Mame32\samples that you may have to create [note that the sample zips will have the same name as the game roms] Donkey Kong's roms are called dkong.zip and Donkey Kong's samples are also dkong.zip but they go in different directories.

8.        Double click the Mame32 icon, hit F5 to refresh your game list.  Enable the joystick and mouse in options • default options • controllers. Double click the game you want to play.  Insert coin with the 5 key, start the game with the 1 key [assumed standard keyboard mapping vs hotrod/se].  Remap controls by using the [tab] key once you are in the game.  Global settings can be made by using the ‘general input’ menu.

9.        Match the video settings here if you like: www.classicgaming.com/Mame32QA/settings/settings.htm

Mame32 Support Files


File Name

Location / Description



This contains icons for every game in Mame32 and the tree control on the far left.  Place it in the \Mame32\icons directory, it remains zipped to save slack space.



These are a series of files that contain in-game screenshots of every parent game in Mame32.  Download the split packs and combine their *.png contents into a single file called snap.zip, place that in \Mame32\snap directory or place all the *.pngs themselves freestanding into the \Mame32\snap directory. [display by clicking/toggling on the screenshot area]



This contains numerous images that are used as the background for the Mame32 GUI [beneath the game list, behind the screenshot/folder areas]. Download this and place it in \Mame32\bkground. [rename the one image you want to use bkground.png and place that single file in \Mame32\snap.]  You can also use the rotate.exe program [including my batch file] to choose a random/sequential file and use that for the background.



These contains images of the original promotional material sent to arcade owners when the games came out, exhorting them to buy the games.  Combine the *.png contents of the packs into flyers.zip in \Mame32\flyers, or leave them freestanding in \Mame32\flyers.  [display by clicking/toggling on the screenshot area]



These contain images of the actual arcade machines themselves, showing what they looked like in their native habitat. Place these files in \Mame32\cabinets, combine the *.png contents and call it cabinets.zip or leave the files freestanding in the \Mame32\cabinets directory.  [display by clicking/toggling on the screenshot area]



This file contains designer’s names and eventually design history. Very interesting.  Place this file in \Mame32 alongside Mame32.exe. [note: history.dat information will only display in screenshot mode, not during flyer/cab/marquee mode]



This file facilitates the creation of hi-scores in a large number of Mame32 games. This file is needed if the original arcade game did not maintain the hi-score table after being reset or turned off. Note that this file is an externally supported database, not every candidate game is supported in it.  Place this file in \Mame32 alongside Mame32.exe and verify that you have a \hi directory.  You must use this file to get hi scores in most early games.



Written by Joel Conover, this program rotates your bkground images so you can have a new look for Mame32 everytime you run it.  See the enclosed batch file for a quick reference.  The batch file grabs an image from the \Mame32\bkground directory and copies it to the \Mame32\snap directory.

Beautify your Mame32: the Mame32 Art Packs

Mame32's flexible GUI framework allows for some beautiful customization including font color, icons, and background images that tile around screenshots, take a look: www.classicgaming.com/Mame32QA/gallery/gallery.htm. For Mame32's official art packs including icons of all working games, flyers, cabinets, screenshots for all games, and afore mentioned background images please see: http://www.classicgaming.com/Mame32QA/down.htm.  Also see the table above for other extras.

Mame32 Recommended Graphic & Sound Settings

Optimal Graphic Settings: Mame32 will now take advantage of your recent video card’s ability to do hardware stretching and will stretch a game to fill your monitors dimensions.  See: www.classicgaming.com/Mame32QA/settings/settings.htm for more info on recommended settings and how to match classic Mame32 output.  If your hardware stretch choice is grayed out, your video card or driver doesn’t support it.

Mame32 Troubleshooting

As with any program there are bound to be some hiccups, here are some suggestions to common perceived difficulties. Also, remember, Mame32 is now based on the core Mame[w] - if a problem exists in the Mame[w] code we inherit it. Always ensure before reporting problems with Mame32 that it *doesn't* happen in the Mame[w] version. If it does, there's not much we can do about it.  Mame is an ongoing documentation project, as such, some game may break from version to version as core changes occur beneath them.  Use a prior working version of Mame if the game you want develops problems.

1.       'My roms aren't being seen, the roms I had in version x don't work anymore.'

1.1.             This is a question that gets asked a lot, why do my old rom sets no longer work w/ newer versions of Mame32?  Mame is a documentation project, sometimes old rom sets are found to be using previously miss-dumped or damaged roms, which then need to be replaced as found.  Small color proms are also still trickling in. As new versions of Mame come on board the developers add support for new iterations and often add these files for missing games [or they will delete redundant files], this necessitates using that new updated set. Examples you might see are donkey kong, pacman, etc. from .33b. Run an audit on the game in question [highlight game, use alt-a to audit], it will tell you what files you are missing.  Those will likely have been added or altered recently. You will need to locate the changed files or download a new updated set. Note: do not email the Mame or Mame32 teams about roms.

1.2.             Mame utilises the idea of a parent / clone relationship for its games.  If you are trying to play a clone or a bootleg of a game, you will need the roms for the clone game, and the parent set.  Mame32 indicates the parent set of a clone at the bottom of the game properties tab. [alt-enter].

1.3.             Mame also utilises the idea of having single zip files to house the BIOS files for a large number of similar games, the NeoGeo games for example, share four BIOS files in every game.  Mame will look to neogeo.zip as the BIOS zip, if you have this file along with the other NeoGeo games, it will use it, otherwise Mame expect the BIOS files in every NeoGeo game. DECO cassette, CVS, and Playchoice are also BIOS games.  You will get errors if you do not have the BIOS files in some form.

1.4.             If you're getting the corrupt ROM message, secondary click on the game in the list and choose properties, do an audit on that game [or use alt-a] and you will likely find that you are missing a file or two. See item 1.1. above, it's probably a missing rom.

1.5.             F5/Refresh in the GUI. (do this anytime you alter your roms, renaming etc.)

1.6.             Ensure you have the appropriate folder view toggled, i.e. 'all games' and it doesn't have filtering on it to stop the display of the game you're looking for.

1.7.             Use the options • reset to default menu choice and check all of the items, restart Mame32.

1.8.             Final option, manually delete the registry key for Mame32 by running regedit.exe: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Freeware\MAME32

2.       Crashes & Non-Functioning Topics

2.1.             Delete the .hi, .cfg, or .nv files for the game that's troubling you.

2.2.             Check to see that you have a valid zip file and it's not corrupt or read-only.

2.3.             The game’s entry in hiscore.dat may be causing the crash, remove the entry and try again.

2.4.             If you're crashing during an audit or an F5 refresh, you probably have a corrupt .zip, extract it and re-zip. Pkunzip -t *.zip. Note the file that dies during the audit and concentrate on that one. Also verify that if you do not use zips that the folder is not empty, or contains partial or damaged roms.

2.5.             If seeing crashes or weird screen coloration, try disabling running background apps [in Win98, use msconfig.exe], Norton Crashguard, popupkiller, viruscans, fast find, the office bar, Intellimouse, even IE subscription updates, etc, try moving Mame32 away from compressed [DriveSpace, DoubleSpace, stacker] drives.  IntelliMouse and Office Toolbars are a known offenders in this category.  Also disable items in your system tray, like the CD player, etc.  You may also need to download and install the latest version of DirectX from Microsoft to prevent some errors.

2.6.             Some recent viruses that attach to .exe’s will cause page faults and access violations in Mame32 when you attempt to run it.  Use an anti-virus check and verify Mame32 is not infected.

2.7.             Use the options • reset to default menu choice and check all of the items, restart Mame32.

2.8.             Final option, manually delete the registry key for Mame32 by running regedit.exe: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Freeware\MAME32

3.       Performance Related Topics [sound scratchiness and stuttering]

3.1.             Mame32 will start to crackle, scratch, or echo if the game you are running is too taxing for your processor [Taito F3, Midway Wolf Unit, CPS2 games require a lot of horsepower].  You can visually confirm this by turning on FPS display with F11, and frame skip to auto with F8.  If the FPS dips anywhere or frame skipping rises anywhere during the game play, you know it’s maxing out your CPU and sound breakup could occur. The new blitter effects [partial scanlines, RGB effects] will impose further strain on your system, upwards of 50%. FYI, an AMD Athlon 1900 XP is able to do all current Mame32 games [.58] at greater than 100% fps at a resolution of 1600x1200x32 using RGB effects [the most stressful Mame32 settings].  Throw as much hardware at Mame as possible; CPU makes the most difference, followed by RAM and then video card speed.

4.       Joysticks and Gamepad Topics

4.1.             To enable the joystick and mouse, remember you need to toggle them to the on position the first time you run Mame32, options • default options • controllers.

4.2.             Mame32 relies on DirectInput for joystick support, ensure your game pad is seen as present and active in the game controller control panel: start menu • settings • control panel • game controllers.

4.3.             Verify your joystick is seen as ID #1 in the game controllers control panel rather than being assigned a higher number.  If using multiple gamepads, ensure each one has its own ID#.

4.4.             Daisy chained gameport Microsoft Sidewinders [original] in Win2k do not work.  Use USB gamepads instead. Single Sidewinders may also cause odd behaviour like ghost button presses.

5.       Misc. Tips and GUI Related Topics

5.1.             Getting property sheet errors on setting defaults or game properties? Get the Microsoft common controls update here: http://www.microsoft.com/msdownload/ieplatform/ie/comctrlx86.asp, or update to IE4 or greater.

5.2.             If you are seeing icon palette corruption in the GUI when returning from a fullscreen game, try bumping up your desktop color depth to 24bpp or 32bpp.

5.3.             You can quickly navigate through games in the details view by simply typing the name of the game, the highlight will jump to that game.

5.4.             Select a random game with ctrl-R.

5.5.             If you have the screenshots in the \snap directory and you are only seeing the default Mame image in the screenshot area on the left, you are toggled into another art mode.  Click the screenshot area to toggle between : screenshot, flyer, cabinet, marquee views.

5.6.             Mame32 does not equal Mame[w].  If you have Mame[w], attempts to double click it will bring up a dos prompt, or command window and then it will close.  Mame[w] needs to have command line parameters typed out and sent to it.

5.7.             There may be some issues using the pure white color in the GUI as a font color choice or as a highlight, try silver or a slightly off white.

5.8.             To alleviate screen tearing in some scrolling games, it is necessary to check use triple buffering and match game refresh rate, while setting refresh to ‘auto’.  This will kick your monitors refresh rate down to 60Hz or the closest your monitor can do to the game’s refresh rate [see F11].

5.9.             Sometimes due to the Windows color scheme chosen, some small black ‘dots’ can display on the Mame32 icons in large icon view.  Try a different Windows color scheme ‘window’ setting.

5.10.          Vector games like asteroids look and work better if you disable hardware stretch and triple buffering, bump up the gamma to 2, and force a resolution like 1024x768x32.

5.11.          Seeing corruption in the screenshot/flyers/cabinets images? Resize the viewable area; Mame32 decimates the image if the area to display the image in is too small, resulting in colored patterns. [you can increase the viewable screenshot area by turning off status bar, and toolbar, and widening/heightening the screenshot pane].

5.12.          If you’re having trouble saving your keyboard mappings and configuration, verify that the *.cfg files are not read-only and that you have a \cfg directory.

5.13.          If your tab menu no longer working or you can’t access it. You’ve mapped it accidentally to another key; delete the default.cfg file in the \Mame32\cfg directory.

5.14.          Hi-scores not being saved anymore.  Mame32 now uses an external ‘database’ to handle hi-scores for games that didn’t originally support that feature [wiped hi-score table upon power down] .For earlier, non-NVRAM games get the hiscore.dat file from www.mame.net, place it in your Mame32.exe directory, and ensure you have a \hi directory created. Remember not all games are converted to this method yet, see the hiscore.dat file itself for the list of supported games.

5.15.          Some of the largest games supported by Mame32 [NeoGeo mainly] can run into the hundreds of megabyte range when they are uncompressed into memory, this combined with Mame32 in memory, plus OS overhead can lead to very slow performance as Windows swaps the information out to disk if you don’t have enough physical memory.  256M or 512M is recommended for all current games [.58].

5.16.          The screenshot area was grayed out in Windows XP because of the inclusion of a preliminary file in Mame32 version .54 called Mame32 manifest.  Remove that file to view the screenshot area artwork again.

Support, Testing, Bug Reporting

For breaking information on troubleshooting techniques or issues related to the latest release as well as updated art, icons, cabinets, and screenshots go to the Mame32 QA/Test & Art Dept. www.classicgaming.com/Mame32QA .


The current list of Mame32 issues can be found here: http://www.classicgaming.com/Mame32QA/bugs.htm

These bug entries do not include DCRs [Developer Change Requests / Feature Requests].

Now that Mame32 is built upon the main distributable Mame[w], there should be less bugs reported against it since it should functionally match gameplay in Mame[w]. Remember; always ensure that the problem doesn't happen in the Mame[w] version before reporting a bug. Check and report Mame[w] bugs here: http://www.Mame[w]orld.net/mametesters/report.html .


Mame32 discussion currently occurs at: http://communities.msn.com/Mame32QA/messageboard.msnw


john iv
Mame32QA@hotmail.com [note: put 'Mame32' in the subject line or you will be spam filtered.]

This document was previously quickstart.htm, but it evolved beyond getting the app up and running hence the name change.