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Post February 10th, 2010, 7:22 pm
suits00 User avatar
Guru Supreme
Guru Supreme

Posts: 138
Location: Mame Addicts Hang Out

Hello MameAddicts,
I've seen various members get to the point of installing software on their MAME cabs. The most fun part, other than playing the games, is picking what front end to use. Their are various frontends out their and this is a review to help guide you along the way to pick one that best meets your needs. I will place the ones that I have personally used first and I will also list the specs of the test computer. Keep note that I am by no means an expert on these frontends and have not tried everything that could be tried, so my disadvantage list is fairly low. However, if anyone has personally tried any of these and can add to the list you are more than welcome to do so.

Test Computer Specs:
Operating System: Windows XP Pro, Service Pack 3
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 processor 3200+ 2.21ghz
Ram: 1GB of Ram or 896 MB of Ram including the on board graphics card
Graphics Card: Nvidia Geforce 6100

Note: The listing are in no particular order
Mamewah:
This is the frontend that I have been using ever since I tried MAME. I like it from a number of reasons, one of which is that its very flexible and runs anything that I tried with it so far. It's very reliable as well with no crashes which I believe is due to its interface.

Advantages:
-Small size: About 430kbs of ram
-Easy editable Ini files
-Plays custom start up/preview movie
-Plays custom preview movie for each game
-Runs any executable
-RUNS MULTIPLE MAME VERSION (MAME CMD, MAME32/UI, MAME++)
-Plays window media player music or custom music or movies contained in proper directory
-Filters game list
-Can have custom lists (favorites, etc)
-Starts quickly (fastest out there IMO)
-Can be set up to have computer boot up to it, completely hiding windows
-Customizable skins, also comes with a skin maker so you can make your own (put in a family photo if you want)
-Custom sounds
-Can be navigated with keyboard or joystick
-Been around quite sometime so there is tonz and tonz of help if you struggle
-Comes in vertical form for vertical cabs
-Supports pinball games
-Got your very own Mamewah Guru (Suits00)

There are also some disadvantages:
-Have to edit manually through ini files which can be hard for beginners (very frustrating)
-updated every now and then (so not very often)

Here are some of the emulators that I have tried on mamewah that worked for me in the past:
MAME CMD
MAME 32
MAME32 ++.117
Daphne
CPS3
Zinc
Zsnes
Project 64

Here are the links for Mamewah:
Official page where it can be found: http://mamewah.mameworld.info/
Wiki Help Page:
Some in action videos:
Vertical-

Normal-


3d Arcade Frontend
This is one of the most unique and most realistic frontend to an actual arcade. Just imagine, you actually walk through an actual arcade with all the arcade cabinets and pinball machines you can dream of at your disposal all YOURS YOURS YOURS. You navigate in first person view and when you walk to a cabinet in the virtual arcade it plays the preview of that game. It also plays all the classic sounds of an arcade (music, coins inserts, etc).

Advantages:
-Fully customizable to suit your preferences
-Controllable by arcade controllers or keyboard
-you can filter your arcade cabinets (rearrange)
-Can create your child hood arcade hangout
-Plays custom start up/preview movie
-Plays custom preview movie for each game
-Can be set up to have computer boot up to it, completely hiding windows
-Customizable
-Custom sounds
-supports pinball
-Plays mp3, movies, music videos in a VIRTUAL ARCADE/ROOM
-You can create your own arcade
-The mother of all eye candy
-Essentially lots of frontends in ONE: Don't like the full arcade environment? it has a wheel similar to Hyperspin Don't like the wheel? do the the cylinder arcade. Dont like that? do the The listbox menu. If that's not what you are looking for do the The shooting menu. And if that doesn't tickle your fancy do the The texture overlay menu type.

Disadvantages:
- Somewhat advanced level of set up difficulty (I didn't find it that hard though, but I haven't used it in a while), but I think am going to give it another try cause my own review excited me, lol
Edit: After trying this again, it was actually quite easy. They do have a extensive walk through page and the configuration was as easy as browsing to the appropriate directories. So this disadvantage goes out the window.
- Heavy on CPU resources when in 3d arcade mode

Here are the links for 3D arcade:
Official page where it can be found: http://www.mameworld.info/3darcade/
Forum for help: http://echo.messageboard.nl/2243/
Some in action videos:
3D


HYPERSPIN:
This is the frontend that I recently got into, it has lots and lots of goodies/eye candy. Its fairly new but amazing in terms of what it can do. It full utilizes the artwork, movie previews, sounds.

Advantages:
-Easy editable configuration files like mamewah for advanced users
-Easy configuration made available through the configuration application called HyperHQ
-Plays custom start up/preview movie
-Plays custom preview movie for each game
-Plays window media player music or custom music contained in proper directory
-Filters game list
-Can be set up to have computer boot up to it, completely hiding windows
-Customizable skins, also comes with a skin maker so you can make your own
-Custom sounds
-Can be navigated with keyboard or joystick
-Everything can be placed in one folder for easy navigation
-Comes preconfigured all you have to do is place necessary files in appropriate folders/directories
-Active updates
-Supports pinball games via Hyperpin

Disadvantages:
-Big file size around 300 mbs and to fully appreciate its potential you must download all the game preview files/artwork/etc which will runs you lots of giga bytes of hard drive space
-There was some minor lagg on the tested computer, not very noticeable though
-Might take a while to set up cause of all the eye candy stuff
Here are some of the emulators that I have tried so far:
MAME CMD
(I will try more in the future I just haven't tried more because I haven't been playing any other systems as much as MAME)

Here are the links for Hyperspin:
Official page where it can be found and help page: http://www.hyperspin-fe.com/
Some in action videos because you really have to see this thing in action to appreciate it:
Hyperspin-


Hyperpin-


Maximus Arcade:
I tried this a while back and its pretty neat. Have a very cool navigation menu for easy access to emulators and is fairly easy to set up.

Advantages:
-Easy configuration made available through the configuration application
-Plays custom start up/preview movie
-Plays custom preview movie for each game
-Plays window media player music or custom music contained in proper directory
-Filters game list (custom lists etc)
-Can be set up to have computer boot up to it, completely hiding windows
-Customizable skins, also comes with a skin maker so you can make your own
-Custom sounds
-Can be navigated with keyboard or joystick
-Active updates
-Really like the navigation on this, very clean
-Intro video skip

Disadvantages:
- You have to pay for it ($25, not too much but its not that great compared to some free frontends)
-I could not get it to run more than one Mame version (specifically mame 32 ++)
-Theme editor was not all that great for me
Here are some of the emulators that I have tried so far:
MAME CMD
Mame32 (didn't run quite so well)
Mame32++ (didn't run, could be just me)
Zinc (had trouble with this one)

Here are the links for Maximus Arcade:
Official page where it can be found and help page: http://www.maximusarcade.com/
Some in action videos:
Maximus:


GAMEEX:
I tried this a while back and its also pretty good, similar to Maximus but better IMO. It is based on media center I believe and that goes along way to those familiar with windows media center. Very nice and clean type of frontend.

Advantages:
-Easy configuration made available through the configuration application
-Plays custom start up/preview movie
-Plays custom preview movie for each game
-Plays window media player music or custom music contained in proper directory
-Filters game list (custom lists etc)
-Can be set up to have computer boot up to it, completely hiding windows
-Customizable skins, also comes with a skin maker so you can make your own
-Custom sounds
-Can be navigated with keyboard or joystick
-Active updates
-Multiple languages
-High score support
-Plays streaming video
-Is basically like windows media center (plays cds, dvds) (registered version)
-Rotated monitor support (registered version)
-Automatic updates (registered version)
-Creates game snaps in image or video (registered version)
-Runs other MAME versions (registered version)
-Runs very smooth
-User friendly GUI
-Got your very own MAMEAddicts Guru ready to help (Chris)
-Active community

Disadvantages:
- You have to pay for it ($25, not too much and its better compared to Maximus with the stuff that the premium version unlocks) Its worth it IMO
-Too media centery (if that's a word)

Here are some of the emulators that I have tried so far:
MAME CMD
Zinc (had trouble with this one)

Here are the links for Gameex:
Official page where it can be found and help page: http://www.gameex.net/
Some in action videos:
Gameex


MALA
I have never actually tried this one but I have heard and seen good things but it was too similar to Mamewah for me to try it.

Advantages:
-Rotatable in any direction (0, 90, 180, 270) on the fly for horizontal and vertical screens
-Controllable by arcade controllers with configurable controller settings for all front end functions
-Controller detection: rotate and load game list depending on the controls that were touched (cocktail tables)
-On the fly programming of keyboard encoders
-Mouse support for trackballs, spinner and dials
-Virtual shift, key, full control with less controls
-Keyboard hook and hotkeys: No need for wrappers or specialized emulator versions
-Hardware Support: MaLa Hardware (LED + LCD), Ultimarc PacDrive (LED), BetaBrite Displays, serial LCD, GGG LEDWiz (LED), Ultimarc UltraStik360, ...
-LED Attract mode
-Comprehensive game list filter options and memorized filter sets
-Plugins - including support for hardware like LedWiz, Serial LCD's & Ultrastick (you can make your own if you can code in C++ or Delphi)
-No ini file editing
-Plays custom start up/preview movie
-Plays custom preview movie for each game
-Can be set up to have computer boot up to it, completely hiding windows
-Customizable skins, also comes with a skin maker so you can make your own
-Custom sounds
-Active updates
-Visual pinball

Disadvantages:
- Even though there are no ini files, its still a hassle to set up
- Not to much eye candy so it can be boring


Here are the links for MALA:
Official page where it can be found and help page: http://malafe.net/
Some in action videos:
MALA


Hope this will help you in choosing the frontend suitable for you and again feel free to add to this post.

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