Monday, October 17, 2005

Once were warriors.

Galaga Posted by Picasa

In the late '90's, I had a copy of MAME which is an arcade game emulator where you can load up all your favourite arcade games and play them for free. Whilst I was recovering from the dental surgery, I decided to give it a crack again and see if I was still capable of handling the arcane dark arts required to piece the whole deal together.

A little history on MAME which I had fairly early on in the piece.

On December 24th, 1996, Nicola Salmoria began working on his single hardware emulators (for example Multi-Pac), which he merged into one program during January 1997. He named the accomplishment by the name of Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, or MAME for short (pronounced as the word 'maim' in English, other languages may differ).

The first official release was MAME 0.1, which was released on the evening of February 5th, 1997 (23:32 +0100). Using a modular and portable driver oriented architecture with an open source philosophy, it soon grew into immense proportions. The current version recognizes almost six thousand ROM sets. Because MAME releases happen whenever they are ready, at one point the wait between new versions was almost 4 months. To help the agony of the users, a public beta system was used, with a beta release happening every 2-3 weeks on an average. However, now the beta designation has been removed in favor of a good old 0.xx version number. Also a work-in-progress -page exists, if you really want to know the latest information.

Even though MAME allows people to enjoy the long-lost arcade games and even some newer ones, the main purpose of the project is to document the hardware (and software) of the arcade games. There are already many dead arcade boards, whose function has been brought to life in MAME. Being able to play the games is just a nice side-effect. The huge success of MAME would not be possible without the talent of the programmers who joined to form the MAME team. At the moment, there are about 100 people on the team, but there is a large number of contributors outside the team too. Aaron Giles is the current coordinator of the project.

It used to be the case that you loaded the basic MAME binary file and then added some applications over the top of it hopefully ending up with a slick windows operating system. There were conflicts, bugs and heartbreak all around as things that were supposed to match DIDN'T. If you managed that step, it was a case of locating the ROM (like a game cartidge) for the particular game. It took AGES to sort out the open source shamozzle out (one of the reasons I don't use Linux.... it's way too finicky).

Anyway, there's a ready to use version of MAME out there, WIN32 (seen here as which I located. It was then a matter of purchasing* some ROM files to load up on the emulator. Unzip the ROMS to the correct directory and in no time you're playing arcade games for FREE..... well sort of.

My particular favourite has been Galaga. Memories came flooding back of battling the upright arcade machine as it devoured my twenty cent pieces like candy in my teenage years. Galaga is particularly challenging and yet with a little practise you could make your twenty cent piece last the best part of an afternoon. The game starts off easily and then gets more challenging as you go along. The bombs increase in number and kamikazee dive bombers increase in their ferocity. Every three or so screens, you get a "Challenging Stage" where you try to shoot 40 out of 40 craft and get big bonuses (10,000)for getting them all.

There are techniques with Galaga. Newbies hide in the corner which is useful in the first couple of stages but doesn't work later on when the bombs rain down. There's the "Galaga shuffle" which more experienced users utilise, where you stay in one position and then quickly move away as the enemy craft drop bombs to the position where your gunship once was. There's the technique of letting your ship get captured early on so that you can capture it back and then have TWO guns for even more fire power. There is the bezerker technique and then there the "cool and reserved" technique, I tend for a bit of a mish-mash , staying in the middle to draw the enemy craft out, firing like a madman, the white of my eyes matching the crazy madman's laughter.

A friend and I have been having a "Galaga Challenge" over the past few days. I loaded her computer up with it and it has become a little bit of an obsession. Her kids approaching their teenage years have been bitten by the bug and can't believe that we had "Such cool games in the old days."!

The person with the highest score in the Galaga Challange is getting the kudos and the glory. Yesterday I got a text message on my cellphone.
91190....will i leave computer on 4 U 2 c?......HOT!!!

So I suppose I'll have to brush up on my skills....the gauntlet has been thrown down..... my best to date is around 61,000.

There are a couple of other games I've been playing, Moon Cresta, ( learnt whilst on a cricket camp at a ten-pin bowling alley when I was 12).... Bank Panic ( A western shoot em up quickdraw sorta thing... which I honed my skills on at an outback South Australian pub in my late teens) and one of my favourites which is more a strategy game QIX (Played at university).

Galaga I used to play when visiting a friend in a small country town, the raucous Galaga machine sat in the corner of a takeaway. He was a wizard getting regular 100,000 scores without raising a sweat. I become "average" after awhile. A LOT of my hard earned coin went through this thing.

My friend here, had the same recollections when I pulled up the Phoenix game. "I used to play that at the Northmead recreation centre when I was doing my athletics training.", she said..... and she diidn't even SEE the game, the SOUNDS brought back those memories.

Therein lies the mystique, these games tend to make you go through some sort of nostalgia, there seemed to be a sense of "happiness" whilst playing these things. Nostalgia IMHO is history viewed through rose coloured glasses, which necessarily isn't a bad thing.

Terrific fun.

*DISCLAIMER. The ROMS are copyrighted and therefore not to be downloaded, you have to purchase them. After all, the evil Taito and MIDWAY corporations having fleeced you as teenagers for your money all those years ago, reckon they're due for a double dose in your autumn years!


  • Galaga rules. I play it every day.



    By Anonymous jeff, at 8:10 am  

  • Great Blog you have here! I am going to bookmark this one.

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    Play until you drop but whatever you do don't let your boss catch you!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:16 am  

  • hey galaga is an awesome game i just bought it this morning and scored a 64000 ur tips are great

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:06 am  

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