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.
A classic beat-em-up for many reasons (its gameplay and sound effects, its premise, even its title), Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja is second only to BurgerTime as Data East's best-known title. "President Ronnie has been kidnapped by the ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Ronnie?" asks the game's intro, and of course, the answer is always yes (even if it takes lots of quarters to get there). Bad Dudes was not unique in its punch-and-kick mechanics, but its timely (for the 80s) ninja theme and weapons and its distinctive visual style have made it a standout in its genre. Note the presence of Data East quasi-mascot Karnov as the first level boss, and the surprisingly convincing pixel art portrait of Ronald Reagan at the end exclaiming "Hey Dudes thanks, for rescuing me. Let's go for a burger... Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
Break on thru to the other side (of the destroyed bridge) in BreakThru, the 1986 driving/shooting/jumping game from Data East. BreakThru challenges you to fight your way through five stages of enemy lines to recover your stolen PK430 aircraft, driving an armed and armored supercar through miles of highly militarized terrain. The game's key attraction is the car's ability to jump over obstacles, including huge avalanches, missing bridge sections, islands and more – just try not to dwell on the weird physics of the car's jump animation. Occasional falling powerups grant you brief weapon upgrades, but the combination of the swerving/dodging/jumping action and the game's rudimentary shooter mechanics make your car feel relatively fragile. You have to admire that slick 80s logo though.
An early 80s classic that combined the maze chase craze with Donkey Kong-style platform mechanics to create something fresh, BurgerTime tasks chef Peter Pepper with assembling massive burgers layer by layer while avoiding a kitchen full of other food, apparently slighted by his choice of lunch. The scaffolding he runs across resembles a Pac-Man-style maze, but the addition of falling burger ingredients adds a layer of strategy, with a limited number of food-stunning pepper shakes as a last defense. BurgerTime's colorful graphics, whimsical cartoon foods and classic soundtrack made it a popular 80s draw and continue to make it a game worth revisiting.
One of the classic platformer action games of the late 80s, Karnov combines a bizarre fantasy setting with relatively deep and difficult gameplay for its genre. There isn't a great deal of story behind Karnov – you play Jinborov Karnovski, a fire-breathing Russian strongman in search of treasure – but the strategy behind the game involves a great deal of memorization and uncovering of secrets to succeed. The positions and actions of the cavalcade of fanciful enemies (sword-wielding monks, djinn, dinosaurs and centipede women to name a few) don't change but pretty much require multiple playthroughs to learn, and there are a number of power-ups and weapons hidden around the levels. Karnov the character became a mascot of sorts for Data East, appearing as a boss in Bad Dudes and making cameo appearances in several other games in addition to being a playable character in Neo Geo fighter Karnov's Revenge.
Something of a hybrid between Heavy Barrel (with the same rotating joystick, similar power-up system and relatively slow framerate) and Contra, Midnight Resistance puts players in the combat boots of a heavily armed commando as he tries to rescue his family from the clutches of an evil organization. Infiltrating its dystopian future lair involves dispatching numerous bad guys and their vehicles (including trucks, helicopters, planes and eventually an entire battleship) while dealing with many environmental hazards across the game's heavily platform-centric levels. The game includes fairly clever use of its rotating joystick controls and platforming environments, requiring you to constantly change your targets to deal with bosses and other enemies within constantly changing levels. You can emulate the controls on MAME several different ways (a rotating joystick if you can get one, a spinner/flight stick combo, or mapping buttons to the rotation), though it may involve a learning curve to deal with everything this game throws at you.
Movie tie-in games were relatively rare in 80s arcades, and RoboCop is one of the few of those that's still worth talking about decades later. The game loosely follows the plot of the movie, though without much context, deploying our cyborg hero first in the streets of Detroit and then in a series of gritty industrial environments to take out waves of bad guys and ultimately rescue "the President" (of the country, presumedly, it is never really spelled out). Bosses come in the form of trucks, construction equipment and, most importantly, several different flavors of ED-209 robots, which feature increasingly dangerous weapons. Like other Data East run-and-gun and beat-em-up games of the time, such as Bad Dudes and Sly Spy, the pace is relatively slow and success is more about timing than reflexes. The visuals, soundtrack and samples from the movie ("Your move, creep!") give the game an enjoyably 80s feel that will make you say "I'll buy that for a quarter!" (sorry, we had to say it).
Sly Spy is one of a surprisingly few James Bond-inspired arcade games, and it translates its secret agent theme to Data East's run-and-gun formula mostly successfully. Sly Spy sends its unnamed agent in pursuit of terrorists from the Council for World Domination across a variety of action set pieces, including falling from a plane, riding a motorcycle, fighting underwater in scuba gear and ultimately across a range of enemy fortresses, all while shooting waves of enemy henchmen. The game's bosses are appropriately Bond-like, including a shark, tigers, a snappily-dressed dude with a lethal hat and a Jaws-like enemy with metal arms instead of teeth. It even includes a final scene with the evil mastermind threatening to kill the agent in a mechanical contraption, though it could have been much more. Though not as well-known as Bad Dudes or RoboCop, Sly Spy captures the thrill of being a secret agent in a satisfying run-and-gun package.
Note that Sly Spy was released as Secret Agent in Japan, and some versions show up in MAME under that name (secretag). Our MAME overlay download includes two Zip files, one named slyspy.zip and one named secretag.zip, so you will need to unzip the downloaded file and then use whichever Zip file matches the name of your game.
Vigilante is a bit of a throwback for its time, in that it didn't adopt either the 3D movement of games like Double Dragon or the platforming mechanics of Bad Dudes, instead opting for more sophisticated graphics and sound applied to a simpler formula akin to Irem's original Kung-Fu Master. Your goal is to rescue Madonna (sadly not the Madonna) from the clutches of endless waves of "skinheads" with full heads of hair. There is very little strategy to Vigilante, only timing, as there is little subtlety to enemy attacks, and once you get the nunchucks you can easily beat the game. But the colorful graphics and fantastic synth soundtrack make it worth a few punches (it has a very satisfying punch sound, you have to give it that).