Raspberry Pi MAME Tips (Cheats, ROMs, Frontends)

If you want to build an arcade device, you will often bump into the term MAME; software that helps you access all the classics you love. If you have just acquired a Raspberry Pi, you must wonder how you can use it as an arcade emulator. Luckily, I have all the answers to your questions.

So, can the Raspberry Pi run MAME? The Raspberry Pi is compatible with MAME, although it isn’t as effective as PCs that are more powerful and have better technology. Thus it is challenging for the gadget to efficiently run the most updated MAME versions as other systems do. However, your Pi has some great MAME options, like the MAME 2003, 2003+, and the AdvanceMAME. The key is to use the proper variations for your device and the matching romsets.

Building an emulator can be tasking, especially when doing it for the first time. Therefore, if you want to convert your Raspberry Pi into an emulator machine, you need the right software. Understanding if the Raspberry Pi can run MAME, the best MAME for Raspberry Pi, the best MAME Frontends, and the best cheats for MAME is important.

MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) is the perfect software to design a gaming machine that travels back in time. With more than 5000 original titles running on the platform, it is understandable to want access to them on your Raspberry Pi, but does it support the software?

The Raspberry Pi is compatible with MAME but with some limitations. The updated MAME versions don’t operate well on the gadget because Pi isn’t as powerful as advanced PCs, and the hardware doesn’t have unique construction to accommodate the software.

However, some MAME variations work great on the Pi, and you can always access most of the games through the platform. However, before deploying the updated romsets for your device, it is imperative to find MAME that your emulator supports.

MAME provides various emulator versions for its users, and you can always go for the latest or the special ones for your Pi. With each updated type, MAME introduces better features for its users.

For instance, you can access more titles, and the system will have fixed bugs from the previous versions. You will also notice other improvements in the newest MAME. Usually, the platform makes updates and notifies users on its page.

Therefore, you can check the developments and differences with the previous versions under the “whatsnew” file on each link. Moreover, each variant comes with a unique design for use in other systems and gadgets.

In this case, if you need the proper setup for your Raspberry Pi, you will go for a version compatible with RetroPie. The good news is that there are also other emulation channels you can use to play arcade games.

However, your choice will rely on your preference and the Raspberry Pi you are currently using. For instance, Pi1 owners incline to mame4all while Pi2 and 3 users tend to use lr-mame2003, which is quite famous for RetroPie.

Additionally, you will notice that RetroPie usually supports multiple arcade emulators to give users a range of choices and a chance to experiment and find one that works perfectly on their devices.

This way, you can have more arcade games at your disposal since different emulators support various titles. If you are launching the game through the emulationstation, you will notice the “Runcommand” tab, and you can pick the emulator you want to use by tapping certain buttons.

Note that your MAME version, in this case, should equal your romset. It is also fascinating that you can choose your romsets according to your favorite games that your emulator supports.

Best MAME for Raspberry Pi

RetroPie and other systems offer users various emulator versions for use on their Pis. Each has distinct properties, compatibilities, capabilities, and configurations, making selecting the right one for you quite tasking. If you are not well familiar with MAMEs for Raspberry Pi, I have the details you seek about the best emulators for our Raspberry pi and any related information.

Undoubtedly, the favorite MAME for Raspberry Pi is the lr-mame2003 and the updated 2003+ version. These two have the best input functionalities, deploy the most recent romsets, access the most fun titles, and come with impressive features.

The best part is that your device can accommodate more than one emulator allowing you to use both or more depending on your needs. The AdvanceMAME is also famous among users, thanks to its capabilities and matrix versatility.

New MAME users usually opt for the lr-mame2003 or the 2003+ alternative. These two have proven to have better features and enable access to more games than other emulators. Thus, they are a viable option if you need great emulators for your Raspberry Pi. Also, the 2003+ is an updated version of the 2003 model. However, most of its features have extended to the lr-mame2003. Thus, there is only a slight discrepancy in terms of playability.

The MAME 2003+ emulator focuses on performance and is compatible with several gadgets. You can use it on your phone, computer, or any other viable device. It is less demanding than earlier MAME versions and significantly modified its predecessor, the MAME 2003. Using the older version as a stepping stone, the 2003+ evolved in all the otherwise absent capabilities in xmame version 0.78.

You get more configurations and control options from the 2003+. For example, the emulator can implement various RetroPad Layouts that you usually select from the Device Type under the Controls icon.

The emulator can take the pad layout if you adore Street Fighter and love the 8-button modern fight stick controller design. Similarly, the MAME 2003+ can be a classic gamepad that you would find in conventional Xbox 360 controllers.

On the other contrary, there are other effective emulators that you can use on your Raspberry Pi to access arcade games. One highly-recommended MAME is the AdvanceMAME. Like the 2003 and 2003+, this version also boasts some of the best emulator features and utilizes new romsets. Out of the other compatible variations with the Pi, the AdvanceMAME has a more elastic input matrix.

The three MAMEs are a user’s go-to for the best MAMEs for the Raspberry. However, you can deploy other excellent emulators on your gadget, depending on your needs. You can opt for the mame4all-pi or lr-name 2000, 2010, 2015, or 2016. Each has distinct capabilities and features and supports various games.

Besides, if you are uncertain about the perfect one for your Pi or want the best of both worlds, RetroPie allows multiple MAME versions to run on the same device. You can use runcommand to use several emulators at once. This way, you can tell the system which emulator you want to run as long as the ROMs are compatible. However, you will require a unique romset for each emulator.

It’s important to note, using MAME emulators may not be entirely legal and done at your own risk, as the arcade games provided by using MAME could still be under copyright restrictions.

Best MAME Frontends

Retro games would not be available without dedicated emulators to help run the classics. MAME has numerous frontends that you can maneuver effortlessly using specific commands. As long as you have the perfect emulator, you will have the best gaming and other impressive capabilities, but where should you start?

Hypersin is one of the most popular MAME frontends that is straightforward to customize and manage games. Alternatively, the open-source Launchbox and Arcade are highly innovative and work better with MAME.

Attractmode is another competitive launcher to consider when you need the most out of your arcade gameplay. Here are other frontends that you can use depending on your personal preferences.

For starters, the frontends come with various features to enhance your gaming experience while playing older titles. For instance, if you settle on Attractmode, you’ll have to install your preferred MAME from its official website. It may be slow to download but get faster if you use a binary file. Next, install your chosen games onto the ROM folder, then proceed to configure MAME.

To install AttractMode in your gaming device, create a file within the MAME folder and name it AttractMode as you set up the application, ideally a 32bt. You can start the frontend, click the TAB to navigate to the configuration options, emulators, and finally MAME. From here, you’ll need to update various commands that will assist the launcher in maneuvering games from the Pi. Once you are through, you can now list it in the PC startup folder.

Unlike most frontends, AttractMode runs effectively on most MAME versions, plus it offers many alternative control options such as spin dial, gamepad, and joystick. However, thousands of gamers incline to Hypersin due to its clarity, reliability, and outstanding functionality. It allows you to customize features that improve your gaming. Moreover, creating menus for your videos and games with this fantastic application doesn’t require any particular expertise.

Even beginners can find it user-friendly and simple to install. To hook your system to Hypersin, you will download MAME from its actual site and launch it before installing the frontend. Open the HyperHQ, select the settings tab and pick MAME from the open window. Next, text “C:\MAME\mame64.exe” on the executable and type “C:\MAME\roms\” beside the ROM path.

Back to HyperHQ, pick the control tab then the keyboard sub-tab from where you can now set your preferred controls. With Hypersin, you can use a trackball, keyboard, spinner, or mouse to maneuver the keys. Launchbox is also an impressive frontend application that can independently transfer all your games automatically from the ROMs.

It is free, compatible with most MAME versions, and a brilliant choice if you need an elegant frontend launcher. The operating system can support both Android and Windows gaming platforms. If you already have the Launchbox in your device, you will need to open the frontend and go straight to the menu, tools, Manage Emulators and finally add your selection.

Best Cheats for MAME

Since MAME has been a retro arcade game emulator for decades, the chances are high that other players have found a way to bypass the system and develop cheats. These processes facilitate smooth operations of the games despite them being classics. There are numerous mods for MAME, but I will focus on the most effective cheats.

You may find cheats from certain websites for MAME 2003 and 2003+. You can download the cheat.dat file and place it in the same folder as the MAME2003 emulator for these emulators. Using these cheats is done entirely at your own risk as there could be legal implications or malware packaged in the cheat files.

While playing, enable the cheat from the in-game menu by pressing the TAB and letting the game cheat run simultaneously with the title you are playing. This way, you can beat some of the tricky levels in arcade games. You can also install mods via cheat sites, a convenient method for MAME 0.221 and 0.227.

Every cheat runs on a particular MAME version, and you will notice that older cheats aren’t practical with the current emulators. You can obtain them from different application websites and use one when the other fails. Each mod that you download will have exceptional capabilities that you can take advantage of during the gameplay.

By accessing these sites, you’ll find the website “pugsys cheats.” You can open it and click on MAME cheat files. The following window will contain a long list of cheats that support different versions, and you can choose the one that resonates well with your MAME variation.

Next, unzip the file you have selected and put it in the same folder as the MAME emulator. Start the MAME app, and below the screen, find an options button. Click it, then turn the cheat on and save the changes.

While playing, hit the tab in MAME and enjoy the incredible mods. Remember that older cheats may contain many bugs, thus you should avoid them if you want uninterrupted gaming. Cheats can help you improve your gameplay, make the tricky levels significantly passable, or make you invisible to your rivals to assist in crushing your competition.

Other modes can include unique moves in your gameplay and particular play patterns to help you win. In certain instances, gamers use the cheats to pause a game, attend to other personal matters, and come back later to resume where they left off. This system generally works incredibly and makes retro gameplay more fun.


If you want to access classic games from your Raspberry Pi, you will need an emulator, and one of the most effective in the market is the MAME. It opens up a world where you can relive timeless arcade games. It has multiple variations with distinct capabilities and are compatible with multiple devices.

However, most Raspberry users incline to the MAME 2003 and 2003+ that have the best input functionalities and deploy the most recent romsets. You can also use AdvanceMAME or mame4all-pi. RetroPie even allows you to deploy more than one emulator in the same system, giving you the opportunity to maximize your gaming experience.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is a technology expert based in the UK, with experience across a number of technology areas from phones, tablets, computers to gaming.

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