Arcade emulators can be split in 2 categories:
- Multi-Arcade-Machine Emulators
- Single-Arcade-Board Emulators
There are a huge variety of Arcade Machines, this is why Arcade Emulation is complex.
In this guide, we will focus on 2 families of emulators, and give you the main keys to understand Arcade Emulation, we will group the Emulators in the 2 families described above.
There are two families of multi-system arcade emulators available: FinalBurn and MAME.
These emulators are available in multiple versions to allow users to best match a core/emulator with their games.
ROM set version
libretro: mame (current)
MAME is the usual emulator used for common Arcade games (the likes of Pac-Man, Asteroids, etc.)
FBNeo is specialized in Fighting Games and Beat-them-up.
FMV LaserDisc Arcade Games
DAPHNE / Hypseus
FLYCAST / Demul
SEGA MODEL 2
SEGA MODEL 3
FLYCAST / Demul
SEGA NAOMI 2
FLYCAST / Demul
- ROM, ROM set, and romset: Arcade games are packaged as zip files, most of which are composed of more than one individual 'ROM' file. That is why some resources refer to an individual arcade game as a ROM while other resources refer to an individual game as a ROM set or romset.
- ROM version or romset version: Each version of an arcade emulator must be used with ROMs that have the same exact version number. For example, MAME 0.37b5 ROMs are required by the MAME 2000 emulator, but will not work correctly with the MAME 2010 emulator, which requires MAME 0.139 ROMs.
Arcade ROMs can be formatted four ways:
- Full Non-merged: All romsets can be used standalone because each zip contains all the files needed to run that game, including any ROMs from 'parent' ROM sets and BIOS sets.
- Non-merged ROM: All romsets can be used standalone because each zip contains all the files needed to run that game, including any files from 'parent romsets'. The only exceptions are games which use BIOS ROMs, which are formatted as 'Split' and must be kept in the same folder as the game romset which uses it.
- Split: Some romsets that are considered clones, translations, or bootlegs also require a "parent" romset to run. In some cases the parent is not the most popular or best working version of the game, however. For example, in a Split set
pacman.zip(a clone), will not work without
- Merged: Clones are merged into the parent romset zip, meaning that more than one game is stored per file.
Merged rom sets are not supported, as only the main game will be seen in RetroBat and launched by Mame core.
We recommend the use of Non-merged rom sets.
Do not rename the zipped ROM files. Scrapers will recognize the games with the .zip filename and match them with the right game.
Some games need extra samples files to work, they should be placed in the following folders:
- For fbneo:
- For mame2003:
- For mame2003plus:
- For mame2010:
- For the current mame and standalone mame:
Some arcade games can use extra files (originally these were physically stored on a disc) called CHD (sometimes IMG).
The CHD folder must be placed in the rom folder and must have the same name as the game's ZIP file.
For example, for
kinst.zipthe game will be looking for
A big chunk of information from this page has been sourced from libretro documentation: