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How do I launch MAME?

To launch the MAME in Windows, you first need to open up a command prompt. The easiest way to do this is to choose "Run" from the Start menu and type "cmd" in the dialog box (for Windows 98/Me you need to type "" instead).

In the command prompt, you need to first switch to the directory where the mame.exe program lives. To do this type:

cd <directory>

Executing MAME once you are there is easy. MAME takes a game name (using an 8-character abbreviated name) followed by optional parameters:

mame <gamename> <parameters> 

The parameters are not required, so to just launch a game, type for example:

mame robby

This will run the game Robby Roto with the default settings. If you want to specify parameters, try this for example:

mame robby -ror

This will run the game Robby Roto with the screen rotated clockwise 90 degrees. For a complete list of parameters, see the WINDOWS.TXT file that is included with MAME.

For more flexible control over your configuration, you can create a mame.ini file (use the command mame -cc to make one initially) and modify that file.

To find the 8-character or less abbreviated name for a game, you can either check its ROM file name (minus the .ZIP extension) or you can search for it at .

How do I "press OK"?

When you run a game, MAME displays important messages (copyright notice, problems with game), then asks you to press OK to proceed. Press the O key, then the K key.

If you are only using a joystick, you can also "type" OK by wiggling the joystick left and then right. Actually, you can use whatever input you have configured for "UI left" and "UI right", which by default is the same as player 1's left and right, eg. the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard, or left and right on joystick 1. To change these defaults, see How do I configure the keys?

I get through the copyright and info screens, but the game won't start or work at all.

There are three possibilities:

  1. Read the info screens carefully to see if the game is working. Do not just blindly skip them. They actually tell you important information.
  2. Some games require you to do something special to start them. (For example, you must keep 1 pressed when starting Super Pang.) Check the game-specific information, either in this FAQ or in the driver source code for answers.
  3. Some drivers may be broken and therefore don't work. Check MAME Testers for information on known bugs.

Why does it take so long for the game to start?

Most arcade games have a POST (Power-On Self Test) process where they go through and check to make sure all of the hardware components are working on. This is similar to what happens when you first turn on your computer. For some games, this passes quickly, while for others it takes quite a long time. Usually you will see a bunch of garbage and colors flash by on the screen while all of the video RAM is tested. Just be patient and the game will eventually start running.

When I start the game, I see a bunch of scrambled colors, or odd references to coins, ROMs, RAM, etc

Have you ever seen an arcade game power up at the arcade? It goes through self-tests, diagnostics, etc. to be sure its hardware is okay. Some games have a VERY long self-test when they start. Be patient; the self-test will eventually end and the "attract" screen will appear. If you think you're having a real problem, check the Troubleshooting sections.

Can I skip past the startup tests?

No. MAME aims to accurately reproduce the arcade hardware. This includes allowing the startup tests to proceed as normal. If you are impatient, you are welcome to "fast forward" through this part of the process. By default, the "fast forward" key is mapped to the Insert key on the keyboard.

How do I start the game?

Remember, these are not re-creations of arcade games, but the original arcade games themselves. In order to play an arcade game, you must first insert a coin or two. By default in MAME, the "insert coin" switches are mapped to the keyboard keys 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Once you've inserted enough coins to have a credit in the game, you need to start the game. Many games had separate buttons for 1 player start, 2 player start, etc. By default, MAME maps these switches to the 1, 2, 3 and 4 keys on the keyboard.

Some games didn't have separate start buttons; instead you just pressed any of the game's action buttons to start a game. For these games you need to press one of the action buttons. By default, the first three buttons for all games are mapped to the Left Control key, the Left Alt key, and the Spacebar.