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.
Alien 3 is often considered the low point of the movie series (despite being directed by the great David Fincher), but it also spawned this 1993 light gun game from Sega, which was better received than its inspiration. Alien 3: The Gun loosely follows the setting of the movie, but with a focus entirely on gunning down hordes of attacking aliens across numerous industrial-style levels. Its gun mechanics differ slightly from the usual, in that you never actually run out of ammo but must pause shooting periodically for your gun to recharge. The game's engrossing sprite-based graphics and frenetic style make it an enjoyable taste of early 90s shooting action.
Sega's Alien Syndrome brought frantic alien blasting to arcades the year after Aliens brought it to theaters, and though the game's sensibility is decidedly less dark, it manages to squeeze a fair amount of tension out of its gameplay. The game's two protagonists, the strangely child-like Ricky and Mary, venture into a series of alien-infested ships to rescue their kidnapped comrades and escape before the ship self-destructs, fighting a boss alien once they reach the end of each level. Maps located around the levels help you locate your friends, and weapon power-ups help you mop up increasingly aggressive aliens, but really the timer is your most dastardly foe as you navigate the game's corridors. The game's cabinet was known for its plastic three-eyed alien topper, which didn't fit in our overlay, but you can imagine it there staring down at you menacingly.
Altered Beast follows the ancient Greek quest of one or two unnamed characters, brought back from the grave by Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena from Neff, the king of the underworld. A beat-em-up with relatively simple platform mechanics, Altered Beast's key draw is a unique transformation mechanic that turns the relatively weak humans into powerful hybrid wolf, dragon and bear characters. Despite the novelty, the game is a bit of an odd... beast, with a relatively slow pace that doesn't quite deliver the satisfying punch of beat-em-ups like Final Fight and other contemporaries – but that didn't keep it from grabbing a place in the pantheon of late 80s classics.
The arcade translation of Choplifter was a relatively rare instance of a home computer game being ported to arcades rather than the other way around. The original was a popular game for the Apple II, featuring relatively simple graphics and straightforward gameplay common to computer games in 1982. The 1985 Sega arcade translation added more colorful graphics and fast-paced action, and also dramatically raised the difficulty level, with air- and ground-based enemies bombarding you from the first seconds of the game, making it a very different experience from the almost relaxed pace of the original. Whether because of or despite this, Choplifter found arcade success, though it is perhaps still best known as an early computer game hit.
Congo Bongo borrowed much of its core concept from Donkey Kong — chasing a giant ape across increasingly treacherous levels while avoiding obstacles and enemies — but added both graphic sophistication and a level of charm that made it stand on its own. The hunter protagonist's motivation is merely spite (Bongo lights his tent on fire in the game's intro), rather than rescuing a damsel, and his quest for revenge requires dodging monkeys, rhinos, snakes and other unfriendly animals along the way. Congo Bongo's key innovation was its 3D isometric levels, not unlike Zaxxon before it, which added a new dimension (literally) to the levels and required a new way of thinking to avoid the various hazards in your path.
Gain Ground combines action and real time strategy in a way few arcade games did, with a huge set of playable characters and levels that require both reflexes and planning. It most resembles Gauntlet, one of its key inspirations, but each level is a single screen and requires you to figure out the best combination of warriors and tactics to defeat all the enemies and/or get all your warriors to the exit. The strategy aspect is not deep, it’s almost more of a puzzle game, but it does require more thinking as the levels progress. Our version reimagines the original wide cabinet in a more standard cabinet format, but retains all of the art and character information. The MAME version includes two screen sizes and light and dark versions.
Golden Axe is one of the best-known classic hack-and-slash games of the 80s, featuring addictive button-mashing gameplay and a greater degree of combat flexibility than many games that preceded it. The fantasy story takes place in the land of Yuria, where the evil Death Adder has kidnapped the king and stolen the powerful Golden Axe, leading a trio of warriors to set out to defeat him. The three player characters each have different strengths and attacks, but they play similarly, including the ability to use magic potions to clear out a horde of enemies and to ride various mounts that feature different attack abilities. Beating up the giggling gnome and taking his potions remains one of the great guilty pleasures of 80s arcade games.
Expanding upon the success of hack-and-slasher Golden Axe, the sequel refined the graphics and gameplay in numerous key ways, adding all new player characters, rideable mounts with their own special attacks, stationary weapons and an expanded magic system that had increasingly dramatic effects depending on how many potions you have. The Revenge of Death Adder also added increasingly complex stages, including countrysides, castles, caves and ships that expand the game universe, and brought back the treasure gnome everyone loves to beat up.
Joining the maze game craze rampant in the early 80s, Sega's take on the genre was novel enough to stand out from the crowd, and created one of the company's first arcade hits. Pengo features a lovable red penguin who is constantly harassed by blob-like enemies called Sno-Bees, who runs around a maze made of slidable ice blocks that also spawn his antagonists. As the Sno-Bees zero in and break down the maze blocks, Pengo can fight back by crushing them with sliding blocks or vibrating the ice walls to stun and then crush them himself. Pengo's constantly-shifting maze and ability to turn any part of the maze into a weapon give it a level of strategy that goes beyond the maze clones of its era, as your enemies are constantly both hunting you and making it harder for you to kill them.
The sequel to Shinobi, Sega's Shadow Dancer continues its predecessor's platform-based shuriken-em-up gameplay but adds a trusty canine sidekick, Shadow, to help in your quest take down a terrorist organization. The unnamed ninja protagonist can send Shadow ahead to subdue enemies, which handily distracts them from sending slow-moving knives and bullets your way. (Don't worry, the dog can't die, but he will shrink to a harmless pup if attacked.) Carrying over Shinobi's gameplay mechanics, Shadow Dancer failed to pick up on the health bar and "insert coins to continue immediately" trends, sending you back significantly when you take a single hit, which adds to its difficulty. But you can take it – you are a ninja, after all.