I've now put some hard hours into Mame X, and I'm pretty damn impressed with what the porters for the Xbox have done. Its basically the PC version of Mame .61, and runs a LARGE amount of arcade games pretty accurately. Most of the earlier, smaller classic games like Dig Dug, run effortlessly, while some of the beefier games, like Mortal Kombat 2, chug a bit. Due to memory constraints, Mame X can't run games larger than 54mb uncompressed, and starts having framerate and sound issues with games at around 43mb. So for you folks who were anxious to start playing Esp Ra De, or King of Fighters 2000, sorry, your out of luck. To compensate slightly, the programmers made 2 versions of Mame X, one that has better compatability with most arcade games, and a Neo Geo/CPS-2 version, that has most of the game drivers stripped out except for the Neo Geo and Capcom CPS-2, to allow larger games to run. You press B to switch between the two versions. You'll get to know which version you're running, because the menu will be a different color. (er, and it will say at the bottom of the screen, but who reads, nowadays?)
I noticed that sometimes that Mame X will hang when you exit a game, and play another. It seems to happen only with certain games, as well. Its a bit annoying, but if you reboot, everything's fine.
The game menu is straightforward, and simple. The font used is large, and easy to read. You can go up and down with the directional pad, or if you have a lot of games, you can use the left and right triggers to scroll faster. They ARE analog, so if you press a little they'll scroll slow, press all the way in, and you're flying. Nice touch. Press A to select a game, press left then right on your d-pad to simulate "OK" on a keyboard, and you're ready to go.
The input setup is rediculously customizable, with almost every action being able to be mapped to a button, or combination of buttons. Don't like having to press Back and Start to get back to the games menu? Change it. Wish that the 2nd Players button config was different from your own? No problem. I was originally going to put up a small gripe about the fact that you can only press pause, and get into the configuration menu from the first controller, until I found out that it could be changed. Very nice.
I will admit that while basic movement games, like DoDonPachi, Final Fight, Dig Dug, etc. are fine with the Xbox's directional pad, fighting games like Street Fighter, and quick, intensive games, like the later levels of Pac-Man Jr. and Mr. Do! are frustratingly difficult. Its like the d-pad doesn't always register quick movements. Looks like it might be time to invest in a joystick.
From most of the games that I've played thus far, the sound is pretty faithful. Hearing the first stage music of R-Type on my entertainment center speakers for the first time was a great experience. Games that were programmed in stereo will correctly alter between the left and right speakers. Note: Some games like Donkey Kong use samples to simulate an accurate emulation. Make sure that you have samples enabled in your .ini file, otherwise you won't be able to hear them.
Beautiful. This is sort of letting me know that I should probably get the s-video mod for my Neo Geo, because the games look better on the Xbox, than they do on my Neo. Everything is clear and bright, with the exception of vector-based games, which look sorta fuzzy. The high-res games like Toobin' look especially snazzy. Metal Slug was gorgeous, and had me realizing all over again that 2D gaming should still be encouraged on modern consoles.
I really can't recommend Mame X enough. Having access to all of the classics is great, and being able to put together your own compilation of arcade games, instead of being at the mercy of the "greatest hits" that companies put out is priceless. Its one of the "Top 3" emulators for the Xbox right now, in terms of quality, compatability, and presentation. Its sort of a bummer that the larger games can't be played yet, but with the huge list of games that are playable on Mame, that's a small gripe, indeed.
Recommendation: I actually have 2 copies of Mame X installed. One is for Neo Geo games, and the other is for all the other arcade games. That way, the Neo Geo games get their own dedicated menu, have their own 4-button setup, and the other arcade games won't have Neo games mixed in when you switch between the regular mame, and neo-geo/cps friendly mame.
MS Xbox w/Matrix mod
Evox Bios / Evox 1.8 Menusystem
Mame X Review
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