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Retro Gaming Hacks by Chris Kohler

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Add Sound to Your MAME Experience

Use WAV samples to replicate the original arcade sounds.

One day not too long ago, you were thinking of Q*bert. You closed your eyes and suddenly you were back in front of the machine that used to stand in the lobby of your local pizza parlor. You put in a quarter, slammed the machine to get it to drop in, and the game started up with the familiar fanfare. You weren’t just seeing the game with your mind’s eye, you were hearing it, too. The “bwip,” like a drip of water, as Q*bert bounces down the pyramid. The “oooooowwww” as he falls off the edge. And of course, the infamous “@!#?@!” when Q*bert was stomped by a Coily.

With these sounds playing a nostalgic symphony in your brain, you boot up Q*bert in MAME. But something’s wrong. Some of the sound is gone. The familiar fanfare is there, and so is the “bwip.” But the good stuff, the scream and the cursing? To heck with this emulation stuff, you think. They’ve missed the best parts! But before you email the MAME creators (subject line: “@!#?@!”), ask yourself: did you download the Q*bert samples?

Whither Samples?

In the early days of arcade games, designers used some interesting means to produce sound effects. The eponymous “pong” that sounded when a ball bounced off the paddle in that seminal arcade hit was jury-rigged by designer Al Alcorn to be produced from parts that were already built into the machine’s design.

…I’ve seen articles written about how intelligently the sound was done and how appropriate ...

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