Years ago I did a simple MAME starter guide which 1) wasn’t all that useful 2) is now terribly outdated. Thus, this update, now with pictures! This only covers getting MAME running on Windows. Please leave any feedback or request for clarifications in the comments.
Step 1: Download MAME
Grab the latest stable release from the official MAME site. At the time of writing, it is MAME 0.147.
You’ll want one of the Official Windows Binary Packages. You have a few choices:
Most of the time you’ll want the 64 bit binaries if you are running a 64 bit version of Windows. If unsure, grab the i686 binaries. The i686 label should apply to any CPU released after the Pentium II. One should never require the debug binaries.
These are all self-extracting archives, so place the file you’ve downloaded into a directory where you want MAME to go the double click on it. After it’s done extracting, you can delete the file you’ve just downloaded.
Next, you’ll need some ROMs. Note that there are a few ROMs which have been released for free, non-commercial use. These are available on the MAME website. Look for the ROMs link in the navigation bar.
Pick any one to test. It should go into the roms folder.
Move the Zip file you’ve downloaded into it. There’s no need to extract the Zip file. Now execute mame64.exe. You should see the game you’ve downloaded listed. Just highlight the game and press enter, and the game should start.
You can also launch the game from the command line: <MAME executable> <ROM name>
So to start Teeter Torture from my example, I type in the command line: mame64 teetert
For more ROMs, from my older post:
To obtain more, Pleasuredome is the best way if you can work BitTorrent. The total size of the ROMs stand at almost
1630 gigs currently, and so might take a while. The MAME ROM torrents are ratio-free, but please do not abuse the ratio. Some games require CHDs which are compressed hard drive images, but these are generally not worth it as most PCs are too slow to emulate these games properly(modern PCs can easily handle these games).
Or if you prefer, you can request for one of the Lazarus guys to burn you a copy. Read the instructions carefully, and note that I have never used their services.
Note, of course, that it is illegal to download and use ROMs in most cases, so it’s all at your own risk. Note also that MAME updates ROM definitions as better dumps become available, so some older copies of ROMs may not work.