These overlays (sometimes known as bezels) display art on top of the game you're playing. To use them, you need a PC or Raspberry Pi (or other compatible system) running some version of MAME and the associated game software, as well as a widescreen (16x9) monitor mounted vertically. To display the overlay while playing a game, download the artwork file for that game overlay (it must have the same filename as the game), place it in the Artwork folder within your MAME directory and launch the game. (For instance, the software for the game Magic Sword is called msword.zip, so it requires a file in the Artwork directory also called msword.zip.)
All overlays are 4K resolution (2160 x 3840), and listed dimensions are for the game screen, relative to a 4K vertical monitor. The actual game screen size will depend on the resolution of your monitor.
Most of the overlays include multiple presets that let you choose the size of the game screen, access a "dark" version designed to look more like a dark arcade, and sometimes other options. To choose a preset, press Tab while running the game to bring up the MAME menu, select Video Options, and select a preset from the list.
Some overlays include Curved presets designed with a curved screen port, to better simulate the look of a CRT monitor. These presets work best if you are using a geometry shader that adds a curved look to the game screen. For an optimal experience, you may need to adjust your shaders to match the curvature of the screen shape in the overlay. If you are not using a geometry shader, you are using a shader that adds a curved bezel, or if you prefer a rectangular screen port, choose a Straight preset where applicable.
Take the wheel as Officer Bob and apprehend speeders and scofflaws in this somewhat humorous top-down driving game from Atari. APB is more complex than it looks at first glance, requiring you to not only navigate city streets at high speeds but aim a reticle and hit your Siren button to issue tickets and pull over more dangerous suspects. Get too many demerits and you’ll be the one getting arrested. This cabinet is known for some… eclectic artwork, as well as its flashing marquee lights when you hit your siren, which we recreated in the MAME version of this overlay, along with two screen sizes. Now hit the streets, rookie, and let’s be careful out there.
Building on the success of Asteroids, Atari upped the ante with Asteroids Deluxe, which brought several new gameplay elements into the mix. Chief among them was a fix to a well-known exploit that allowed players to play for long periods by exploiting the saucers' inability to shoot across the screen boundary, as well as the addition of a shield, new "killer satellites" and a colorful painted backdrop that added additional depth to the one-color, 2D gameplay. MAME does a good job of simulating the backdrop, but you may need to adjust the vector graphics contrast to suit your taste.
A somewhat odd but reasonably effective tie-in to the 1989 Tim Burton film, Atari's Batman is a hybrid beat-em-up that combines fairly typical platform-based punching and kicking with interstitial driving and flying levels that add some variety to the formula. Batman leans into the camp of its source material, with copious digitized images and voices from the movie that help liven it up between dispatching scores of generic henchmen and the occasional boss (including multiple run-ins with the Joker himself). Our favorite brooding man-bat feels surprisingly vulnerable, but the graphics are pretty good for its era despite uneven animations, and without the bothersome need to keep pumping in quarters, it's a fun throwback to the dawn of the 90s.
Battlezone was a highly advanced game for its time, featuring a true 3D wireframe battleground and a cabinet with realistic tank-like controls and a periscope-like viewfinder – the fact that the gameplay mechanics were relatively simple didn't detract from its appeal in arcades. Players drive a tank around a sparse landscape filled with 3D primitives and enemy tanks, firing at enemies and moving two joysticks in the direction of the tank's treads (so to turn, you must push one forward and one back). The game's success helped pave the way for other 3D Atari titles, including the popular Star Wars, and the US Army was so impressed it commissioned a variant, The Bradley Trainer.
Black Widow was a conversion kit for Gravitar, which wasn’t a huge hit when it was released, and it plays like sort of a cross between Tempest and Robotron: 2084. Players control a spider who shoots the bugs crawling in its web to turn them into dollar sign-shaped “grubsteaks” (you know, like spiders do), using one joystick for movement and the other for firing. Some bugs lay eggs, which hatch into more annoying bugs, while others explode or fly around, Galaga-style, and yet another large bug called the Bug Slayer roams around and competes with you to clear out the tasty intruders. The game’s colorful vector graphics set it apart from a lot of games of its time, and it’s actually pretty addictive.
Blasteroids is an example – like Smash TV, Rampage World Tour and Strike Force – of a later arcade game that updated a popular early 80s formula with improved graphics and more complex gameplay. Blasteroids takes the basic premise and gameplay of Asteroids and adds elements that were in vogue in the late 80s – pre-rendered 3D graphics, powerups, branching level structures and boss fights. These additions add more depth to the gameplay, but they also make it a fair bit easier to get into early on, as you can take multiple hits and replenish your shield in addition to grabbing more powerful weapons. The game also adds the ability to transform your ship into three different types (focusing on speed, armor or firepower) and allows two players to team up, including the ability to dock your ships together into a more powerful ship. Though you could argue these updates overcomplicate a game concept that has a certain purity and simplicity, Blasteroids has enough polish and a gentle enough difficulty curve that it’s fun even for people who don’t love Asteroids.
An early-80s Atari classic that is celebrated as much for its beautiful MC Escher-esque cabinet art as for the game itself, *Crystal Castles* is a somewhat surreal take on Pac-Man-style "eat the dots" gameplay, within a series of three-dimensional castles filled with fantasy baddies. Players control Bentley Bear, whose insatiable greed compels him to pick up all the gems from every level, evading sentient crystal balls, aggressive trees, swarms of bees and a flying witch along the way. The game's trackball controls added a level of novelty common to several Atari games of the era, while the levels (rendered using a technique known as trimetric projection, says Wikipedia) feature 3D twists and platforms that require quick thinking and dexterity to navigate quickly.
Cyberball was a clever way to make football a bit more appealing to arcade nerds (and arcades more appealing to sports fans) – by adding robots and an exploding football. The original Cyberball cabinet featured two screens, allowing head-to-head team play that was unusual for its time. The sequel, Cyberball 2072, added new game modes and a lot more plays. Provided you have the right files, you can play any variant of Cyberball with this overlay – the single-player screen will appear where it should, and the second screen will just be invisible. (You will need to be able to access all the game's clones if you want to choose which version to play, and you may need to set your controls accordingly.)
Best not to ask why someone would visit a place called "The Planet of the Robot Monsters" in the first place, and thus need to escape from it, but in fairness, the brochure was a bit vague. A pulp comic book sci-fi adventure that makes up in gameplay what it lacks in tastefulness, EPRoM used a "hall effect" joystick that allows players to move and shoot in many different directions. It works best with an analog joystick, but also works fine with a standard 8-way stick. We reproduced the most fun version of this cabinet, which had an enormous graphic header to go with its enormous screen bezel (this overlay includes a Large version with less bezel and more blastin').
An overlooked classic, Food Fight challenges Charlie Chuck to reach his ice cream treat on each level before it melts, while being pursued by several aggressive chefs who try to demonstrate healthier eating habits by pelting him with produce. Inspired somewhat by Robotron: 2084, the game's primary gimmick is the ability to pick up the colorful food strewn about each level and toss it at the chefs in self-defense. Food Fight featured a tour de force in emerging new tech from Atari at the time, showing off hardware that would go on to power Gauntlet with state-of-the-art sprite handling abilities and a unique action replay mode. Sadly, its sales numbers didn't quite match the expectations of publisher Atari, who wanted Charlie Chuck to compete with popular mascots like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, but its charming presentation and gameplay (and even the fonts) make it a snackable treat. (Note that the original game used an analog joystick which rotates your aim while moving, requiring some fine tuning to emulate properly.)