MAME, for the uninitiated, is the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, a project to preserve the inner workings of arcade machines of the past. A curious side-effect is that the games are (mostly) playable.
I’ve been a fan since the late 90s and have almost continuously kept my ROM collection up to date, recently with the help of Pleasuredome, but I’ve not actually been playing any games in a long while, neither have I been keeping up with new developments.
Recently though, I find myself tired of HD gaming (I’ll get back to you Skyrim, when the DLC is here) and found myself wanting to get some MAMEing done, so I went to grab my old go-to MAME variant MAME32 (been using the official builds in conjunction with clrmamepro) and… turns out it has been renamed MAMEUI, and that it has been EOLed.
It still works, but with the explosion of the number of games by MAME supported the ancient controls it uses just cannot cut it anymore. UI refresh is annoyingly slow.
Despite working with and liking the command line for most other things, I just don’t like using MAME from the command line. So, the search for a front end goes on.
IV/Play is a minimalist front end commissioned by John Hardy IV (long associated with MAME32/MAMEUI) and it is not quite what I’m looking for. A tad too minimalist, maybe.
Next I found QMC2, successor to the venerable QMamecat. QT4, so it’s cross-platform. It also supports MAME, MESS and UME*. Plus, it looks like the old MAME32 which I’m immediately comfortable with. Great.
I also found Emu Loader which looks fantastic, plus it supports multiple emulators (Demul, Daphne, ZiNc etc, apart from MAME). Together with its sister app EmuCon which handles console emulators, you’ll just need two front ends to rule them all.
I’m leaning a little towards QMC2 at the moment, since I really only dabble with other emulators, but both should be great choices.
* UME is an effort by David Haywood (maintainer of MAME from 2003 to 2005) to combine the code bases of MAME and MESS, without stripping any functionality out.