After our mid-morning meal – ravioli, peaches and a few veggie crackers for Evan, and a big ol’ baked potato for me – we guys were sitting around the house, our bellies full and both of us verging on full-blast sleepy, when a random Google search lead me to MisfitMAME. Put simply, MisfitMAME is a modified version of MAME that allows you to run various and sundry… well… unofficial versions of certain games. Some of these are well-known graphical and game play hacks that apparently don’t make the cut for MAME itself (such as Popeye Pac-Man, the game for which I was Googling), and some of them, frankly, are user-made. Some of the user-made hacks are as cheesy as, well, the multifarious useless hacks of Atari 2600 games that are floating around out there. But there’s something neat about the fact that they hacked arcade code. Now, yeah, much like the 2600 hack scene, you wind up with completely pointless modifications such as a version of Pac-Man where the ghosts all wear Elton John glasses (WTF??), interesting mods such as Pac-Man Unleashed and a hack that turns the graphics of Pac-Man into a replica of 2600 Pac-Man, and actual seen-in-the-arcade hacks such as Popeye Pac-Man. Stuff like Pac-Man Unleashed and 2600 Pac-Man at least show some humor and imagination; the two zillion minor graphical or speed hacks of Pac-Man, I could do without.
However, Popeye Pac-Man is a case where I really have to take issue with the actual MAME team: it was out there, in the arcades. I remember it. I played it. It should be in MAME proper, like fellow Pac-bootlegs Hangly Man and Pirhana are. I can understand the position that MAME and its ROM set shouldn’t be loaded down with every stinkin’ Pac-hack that ever existed, especially not newly-concocted variations, but I have to take issue with this selective eye toward the historical record of what was in the arcades and what wasn’t.
So in that respect, I recommend MisfitMAME. There’s a lot of silliness going on in its ROMset (which, FYI, happens to be sitting in alt.binaries.emulators.arcade at about 45 days old), but there are also some valid entries that have been buried. This is one trip to the island of misfit games that’s worth taking.