Stop scrabbling around to work out which key does what.
Have you ever loaded a MAME ROM for the first time and found yourself flailing around, trying to figure out which buttons it uses and what they do? Sometimes you’ll play for a while before you realize you have a smart bomb button that’ll wipe out the mass of enemies onscreen in one fell swoop. Other times you’ll completely miss the point of the entire game because you’re missing some vital details about keys or objectives scrawled on the cabinet itself, and, obviously, you don’t have access to the cabinet.
attempts to catalog the exact controls of every MAME-compatible title
ever, along with names and directions. There are even extra fields
for information about what to do during the game, in case there are
particularly nonobvious game mechanics.
Controls.dat supplies controls information
for each title in the MAME library in an abstract dataset (much like
the Catlist game listing in
), then frontends and
emulators can take advantage of it by providing a listing of buttons
and their effects. You’ll flail no more, at least in
figuring out the controls. If you’re running a MAME
cabinet with light-up buttons, it may eventually even light up the
buttons used by that particular game!
However, at press time, the
is still in progress and is actually in a reasonably heavy state of
flux. Right now, and hopefully for the future, the FAQ page for the
provides plenty of useful information.
In particular, the site’s maintainers argue that “[there] are other sources for similar data, like MAME’s listinfo, or KLOV (http://www.klov.org), but these sources are either inaccurate or incomplete.”
Consult the FEDev message board (http://fe.mamehost.com/yabbse/index.php?board=10) for information on where to download the latest version of the file, where you can help classify or add items, and to learn about frontends that use the file. It’s also possible to browse any individual record for one particular game (for example, http://fe.mamehost.com/controls/report.php?theGame=19xx) and see the information in them from the web site. If you register, you can add to the knowledge base by entering game information yourself.
Here’s the example entry from the
Controls.dat file for the brawler Bad Dudes vs.
[baddudes] gamename=Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja (US) numPlayers=2 alternating=0 mirrored=1 tilt=0 usesService=0 P1NumButtons=2 P1Controls=8-way Joystick+joy8way P1_BUTTON2=Jump P1_BUTTON1=Attack P1_JOYSTICK_UP=Up P1_JOYSTICK_DOWN=Down P1_JOYSTICK_LEFT=Left P1_JOYSTICK_RIGHT=Right
There’s extra information in the
miscDetails= field, too, which can be invaluable
for working out how to actually play the game.
Here’s this game’s extra
Holding down attack while standing still will charge up a super punch. Pressing jump and attack at once will do a super kick at the expense of some of your energy.
Other files, such as MAME’s
listinfo, already map out this information, but
the notes in the
Control.dat file tend to be
more practical than a straightforward plot/background description.
As mentioned before, we’re still somewhat in the
Wild West when it comes to
integration into frontends. Here are three ways you can see it in
This standalone application shows the layout of controls from
Controls.dat files. However,
it’s not a fully fledged
frontend, just a building block.
This frontend from the author of Johnny5 uses the latter for
Controls.dat support. This is a complex but
excellent frontend well worth exploring.
This larger frontend from the United Kingdom also integrates Johnny5 and has many similarities to the classic ArcadeOS frontend.
Controls.dat accounts for about 500 MAME titles
right now, with thousands to go. The project continues to make swift
progress; you’re likely to see it integrated more
and more into the existing MAME framework, making for a better, more
satisfying emulation experience for all. Hurrah for