Welcome to the Part 2 Addendum I created to address some of off topic, yet still relevant issues out of Part 2.
The YouTube videos:
First of all I need to apologize if it seemed like I was knocking The Lumberjackass video when mentioning the Maximus Arcade initial install. My complaint isn't so much with The Lumberjackass’s (yes, that's really the name, I’m not being sarcastic) channel or video, but rather that X-Arcade decided to go with a video that skipped a few integral steps. Again, I’m not blaming or degrading The Lumberjackass videos, but if you look at his channel you’ll see that building MAME cabinets is kind of a specialty of his. So his video is kind of aimed at someone who has already been messing with MAME for a while, not someone fairly new to it like me. I do have experience with other emulators, as I’ve written about before but MAME and its idiosyncrasies hasn’t been one of them, so the video left me a bit lost since other important details had been left out.
If you have MAME experience and need some guidance on building an arcade cabinet of your own, you may want to check The Lumberjackass channel.
I also wanted to talk a little more about Simply Austin and his Hyperspin videos. I’ve watched a lot of how to videos, on a myriad of subjects on YouTube, but this by far has been one of the best I’ve run across. The videos are long, but the host does go step by step in setting up Hyperspin and nothing is skipped. My decision to go with Maximus Arcade wasn’t based on his video’s, but based on the fact that I realized I would never have the time needed to invest into setting up Hyperspin as it should be. If I decide to setup Hyperspin later you can be rest assured I will head right back to Simply Austin’s videos, since he has number of them of for setting up the ultimate version of Hyperspin.
Running the X-Arcade Cabinet:
Besides a computer the X-Arcade cabinet is also open to a few other operating methods. The workings of the cabinet allow for the adding of consoles as well, something with a r/w/y RCA component output. The PS1, 2, and 3, the XBOX, XBox 360, N64, GameCube, and Wii all have special adaptors sold through X-Arcade, that plug into the controller ports, and then allow the Tank Stick to connect with them from there. Of course you have to program the Tank Stick to match with the controller's inputs, so if you plan on doing that you're going to need that P/S 2 keyboard I discussed in Part 1.
Now, if you’ve read my blog before you know I’ve covered the PlayStation 2’s huge library of arcade game collections. So when I couldn’t get the computers and front ends lined up I considered just skipping it, getting the PS1/2 adaptor, and just arcade gaming that way. To be honest I’m still interested in bringing in a second PS2 in to possibly do this, since straight off the internet ROM’s can sometimes have issues, and often this is debugged out of them before being added to a gaming collection.
X-Arcade mentions on their website that they plan on eventually offering a Jamma adaptor. However, I have no idea how long this concept has been in the wind for, so I’m not holding my breath on getting it anytime soon. If you don’t know what Jamma is, I could best explain it as being like a cartridge system for arcade cabinets. The concept was that an arcade owner could easily convert and unprofitable cabinet into a profitable one by switching out the boards, and than changing the superficial artwork on the outside of the cabinet. NeoGeo, would take it a step further with their MVS cabinets, by adding the different spin of allowing their proprietary system to take multiple game carts, and sometimes as many as four different games could be played on a NeoGeo MVS. Eventually with the changes in technology most Jamma boards followed in NeoGeo’s footsteps and took on more of a cartridge like appearance, as well as allowing a single board to feature multiple games.
One of the more popular boards out there now is the 60 in1 Arcade Classics board, which seems to be a common find in a lot of “Retro Conversion Cabs”, that sell for $2k+. The board itself though is relatively cheap, selling for about $40-$50 on eBay, and although I can buy it, and a Jamma motherboard, the issue is ultimately how to connect it to the Tank Stick, and monitor. Jamma motherboards usually have a specialized wiring harnesses that connect right to every stick and button on the controller, something that can't be done with the Tank Stick unless I’m willing to rip it apart, which I’m not.
I did however find one other option, something known as a Game Elf. The Game Elf can connect into a Jamma motherboard, but also features additional outputs for USB, and monitor, plus allows PS2 controller input. This means that by purchasing a few readily available adaptors and a power source, I can connect this board into the alternate slot set aside for a console on the X-Arcade. The Game Elf comes in various versions, the newest of which features 619 games, but as you could probably guess most of the games aren’t anything special. At its core though there are several arcade "must have’s" and for the most part the ROM’s are working and debugged which is nice. The only issue is that the operating system is a bit of a mess since it takes a while to dig through all the games. It’s a nice option considering, but it’s something I’ll have to think about.
Some of you might also have asked why I just didn't buy a pre-built Hyperspin hard drive. To be honest the temptation was there, but I had a lot of reservations. Tuning into Simply Austin for the first time he made mention of these drives himself, and how most of them don't work well. Considering he was willing to give me his time and the knowledge to build a Hyperspin drive myself for free (he doesn't sell these) I felt his word of caution was worth noting. Now, I've seen pre-made Hyperspin and Retro Pi systems for sale since and have given them consideration, but I without seeing these things in operation up close, I think I'll be keeping my $100+ in my pocket.
In my past emulation articles I've warned of the many pitfalls of ROM hunting. Sometimes it's a matter of risking privacy and hard drive, and in others it's just about getting a trashed ROM. But one thing most of us never give a second thought to is the legality of ROM’s. To be honest I doubt the Namco legal team is going to file a suit against anyone for downloading a 30 year old Galaga ROM, but the law still says that in order to legally possess a ROM you must own a physical copy of the game, or a legally purchased electronic copy.
When it comes to arcade ROMs though owning a “physical” copy isn't that easy, since machines aren't always easy to come by or cheap. Thanks to the above mentioned PS2 many arcade games and their ROM’s do come on collections, but the question is does that count as ROM ownership for an arcade ROM? For the above mentioned Galaga I own copies on the NES, Wii Virtual console, a PS2 Namco Museum collection, and on a plug and play system, but does that count the same as owning an arcade ROM?
To be honest it's more than likely a moot point since as previously stated I doubt Namco, Rom-Star, Midway or whoever is going to file a cease and desist order against me for having a ROM of theirs in my X-Arcade that's in completely private use.
As far as getting ROM’s though I'm going to mention, as I have in the past, that my current source is Emuparadise. For the most part the ROM’s here work, and don't come with gifts of Trojans and viruses. You will however, have to be exposed to a lot of advertising (not really a problem when its the League of Angels girls), but considering its a worthwhile cost for clean ROM’s and emulators.
First of all I don’t work for X-Arcade or anything so keep in mind nothing here is a sales pitch, but rather the plight of a MAME gamer trying to make his own system in an X-Arcade shell.
In coming weeks I hope to give you guys a look at the guts of my X-Arcade cabinet, and hopefully let you know if I decide to bring in a PS2 or Game Elf.