This is pretty cool. Developer Patrick McCarron decided to re-outfit his Mortal Kombat II arcade cabinet, which held dedicated hardware for running that game as well as a handful of others, with a more versatile MAME emulator setup. MAME stands for "multiple arcade machine emulator" and does just that: runs the ROM files of tons and tons of different arcade games.

Originally planning to use a Mac Mini to pull of this feat, Patrick decided he’d put one of his many older iOS devices to the task instead. It took some technical know-how to put it all together, which he details on his blog, but in simplified terms he transplanted the guts of an iCade into the arcade cabinet and rigged an iOS version of MAME to run through video out into the cabinet’s CRT monitor. The results can be seen in the following video.

Now, because he’s a developer Patrick was able to compile the MAME code into an app that ran on his device without needing to jailbreak. For normal users this scenario would probably require jailbreaking and running iMAME4All. Also, the iMAME app that slipped past Apple's approval process late last year and was subsequently pulled would work too, if you happened to grab that when it was still available.

Since the iCade hardware isn’t built for 2-player support, that eliminates playing multiplayer on the cabinet setup, which is kind of a bummer. And there are various other quirks associated with going this route for an arcade emulator setup. Still, it’s a pretty sweet hack that shows how versatile an iOS device can be with the right inventiveness and know-how.

Patrick plans to continue tweaking the setup to improve it, and even dreams of a similar setup built into a portable arcade stick with an iOS dock that could stream games through AirPlay to be played wirelessly on a big screen TV. Sign me up for one of those, please.

[Infinite Shamrock via 9to5Mac]

  • medicalbenko

    Keep it up!! I am totally going to get this 🙂

  • ducksFANjason

    Pretty cool! Wish I was that good with hardware to pull something like this off 🙂

  • Gamer_Kev

    I couldn't get the video to play, but as a retro gamer myself, I have to say it sounds cool. Though I don't have room for a real arcade cabinet, I have been playing around with the idea of getting an iCade unit. I have most if not all the major arcade collections available on the app store so it would be a lot of fun to use the iCade unit for my retro fix from time to time. The only thing I'm concerned about is that I use an Otterbox case for my iPad and I'm wondering if I will have to go through the trouble of disassembling the case every time I want to use the iCade.

    • Tranceaholic

      The iCade works with Bluetooth and the iPad simply rests inside the unit, so you should be able to use your iPad with the iCade with the Otterbox on.

      • Gamer_Kev

        Thanks, that's good to known.

  • Frank Condello

    "...dreams of a similar setup built into a portable arcade stick with an iOS dock that could stream games through AirPlay to be played wirelessly on a big screen TV"

    Here ya go:

  • BulkSlash

    Very interesting, I was looking into compiling my own version recently and found some posts that indicated iMAME4all was using some APIs only available when jailbroken. It looks like someone has taken the time to convert the app to use the standard Apple APIs.

  • Derek Brown

    This looks simply dope! I'm thinking with today's technology, anything is possible.

  • Adam Daieh

    I got loads of Cydia apps and tweaks installed in my phone. I got the repository here in WWW.JAILBREAKHOME.COM