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Retro Gaming Hacks by Chris Kohler

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Build a MAME Cabinet

Craft your own stand-up MAME cabinet for realistic arcade play.

More and more accurate as every new iteration of MAME is, the popular arcade machine emulator will always have one insurmountable design flaw: no matter how perfectly it emulates arcade machines, it does so on something that isn’t an arcade machine. No matter how authentic a video game may look and play on your computer, it will never feel like the real thing.

If you truly want to feed your thirst for nostalgia and experience these games the way they were originally intended, you’re going to have to build yourself a MAME cabinet: an arcade cabinet with a dedicated MAME computer running inside. A well-built MAME cabinet can be indistinguishable from a “real” arcade game when done right—plus it has the advantage of being able to play thousands of different arcade games instead of being dedicated to playing only one!

Planning Your Personal Cabinet

Building a MAME cabinet isn’t particularly hard, but it can become both expensive and disastrous in a hurry if you don’t do some simple planning before you start building. One of the most important decisions you can make is determining what general era and type of games you plan on playing the most. This will help you make several specific decisions about your cabinet later, such as the control panel layout, minimum computer specs, and even monitor orientation (horizontal versus vertical). I have seen MAME cabinets dedicated to playing a small handful of classics, ...

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