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.
Blaster is a strangely psychedelic title from legend Eugene Jarvis that continues the story of Robotron: 2084 within a unique mashup experience. The game is a first-person space shooter that sends you in search of a lost outpost known as Paradise, following the destruction of the human race by the Robotrons (so, it starts on a high note). Your quest takes you through several distinct stages, including what is essentially a first-person Galaga, a psuedo-3D landscape filled with arches and giant robots, a vaguely Defender-like sequence, and more. It's a satisfying, if somewhat rudimentary, pre-3D space shooter experience that still holds up today, primarily for its over-the-top sensory overload visuals. The original cabinet used a 49-way optical joystick, best emulated with an analog joystick, but works fine with a standard 8-way joystick.
In addition to its better-known hits like Defender and Sinistar, Williams released a number of rather oddball games during its 80s run as one of America's dominant arcade manufacturers. Bubbles was one of those games, a curious experience that puts players in control of a sentient soap bubble whose job is to clean up his resident sink of ants, crumbs and grease while avoiding sponges, scrub brushes and razor blades (truly a gritty slice-of-life concept). Your bubble grows over time, gaining a somewhat creepy face as well as the ability to fight back against your cleaning rivals, and you can also steal a broom from a tiny cleaning lady to swat roaches and other enemies. In addition to its status as an arcade curiosity, Bubbles was also one of only a few games that got Williams' Duramold plastic cabinet treatment.
The first game by Eugene Jarvis and one of the most iconic and popular arcade games of all time, Defender's relatively simple concept masks its high level of difficulty. Players control a ship trying to rescue humanoids on a planet's surface from capture by aliens, while avoiding their increasingly aggressive attacks. Development of the game began as Williams was chasing the success of Space Invaders and Asteroids, but ended up introducing numerous new concepts and ideas to arcade games that influenced an entire generation of games, including more complex control schemes, scrolling environments, multiple competing objectives and more challenging gameplay. Defender was followed by sequel Stargate the same year, which added various new enemies and mechanics.
Known for 80s arcade hits like Defender and Robotron: 2084, Williams also released a few odd titles that didn't generate quite so much buzz, and Inferno definitely falls into the latter category. Sort of a mashup of Crystal Castles and Robotron but with dual joysticks that only move diagonally, and a strangely creepy vibe, the game sends one or two heroes into a series of maze-like caverns to battle cyclopes, tanks, nymphs and "boom boom birds" sent by the Grand Lizard. The mazes have multiple height levels and their narrow corridors can be a challenge to navigate without properly configured controls (ideally you need a flight stick and another joystick, but you can make it work with two normal sticks and a nearby button). If you're looking for a weird 80s game you may not have played that's unmistakably Williams, delve into the depths of Inferno.
If you asked 80s arcade fans what they would consider cool and exciting, "ostrich jousting" probably wouldn't have been at the top of the list – but that didn't stop Williams from hatching a hit with Joust in 1982. Oddball game ideas were Williams' trademark, and Joust was no different – it pits two bird-riding knights against similar opponents in aerial combat, with floating platforms providing an additional level of strategy and complexity. A pterrifying pterodactyl also stalks complacent jousters who stand still too long, which was itself the subject of a minor controversy when gamers discovered an exploit to endlessly kill the pterodactyl, requiring a fix from Williams. Joust was an 80s hit that remains popular, due to its combination of simple, elegant gameplay and consistent challenge.
Joust 2 flapped into arcades in 1986, attempting to build on the success of its predecessor. Subtitled "Survival of the Fittest," It was kind of an odd duck – er, ostrich – in the Williams lineup, as it came during the arcade slump of the 80s and was designed as a conversion kit for vertical cabinets, hence the switch from the original horizontal format. It kept the basic formula but added more sophisticated graphics and sound, new enemies, the ability to transform into a slow-but-strong pegasus and a range of new level designs (many supposedly M. C. Escher-inspired). The game's aesthetic also evolved into a sort of fantasy/sci-fi hybrid, with metallic platforms and a giant robot "boss" (really more of a humanoid building defeated by pushing four buttons). Joust 2 becomes frantic and chaotic in its later levels, but fortunately you can keep on hitting that coin button.
Moon Patrol, developed by Irem and released in North America by Williams, is an engaging sci-fi experience that is both challenging and surprisingly chill. Taking the wheel as a Luna City police officer patrolling the beat of Sector Nine, players must contend with driving obstacles in the form of boulders and craters, and flying enemies that fire dangerous projectiles, with shooting, jumping and speed all factors in their success. But the increasingly menacing landscape scrolls by at a relatively gentle pace, courtesy of novel parallax scrolling graphics, and the visuals are cheerful enough that it never feels overwhelming. Ported to countless platforms, Moon Patrol played best in the arcade, where the cacophony of other machines and the smell of pizza (if it was a Chuck E. Cheese) transported you to a place far away.
Mystic Marathon is one of Williams' more obscure titles, released only as a conversion kit during the mid-80s downturn in arcade popularity, but that's all the more reason to give it try. The game pits you against other gnome-like creatures in a footrace across a series of islands, dodging both obstacles and various woodland creatures determined to slow you down (despite the game's title, it's actually more of a sprint). Unfortunately the MAME emulation of Mystic Marathon is inaccurate, causing the sky and water to look purple and the rocks to look pinkish (it still plays well despite this). We painstakingly restored the original bezel art and 3D rendered a control panel, to reproduce the original cabinet experience as faithfully as possible.
Before Eugene Jarvis brought us his classic Smash TV and Total Carnage, he designed the first big game of the newly reformed Williams Electronics, the controversial NARC. Picking up on the drug hysteria and pop culture excesses of the 80s, NARC sends two heavily-armed officers (wearing brightly-colored motorcycle outfits, for some reason) to take down Mr. Big and his K.R.A.K. drug syndicate. You can arrest the hordes of pushers and thugs the game sends at you, but why bother when you have a rocket launcher? Known for its high-res digitized graphics (and flying body parts), NARC updated the run-and-gun formula with a style and flair that helped define the arcades of the late 80s and beyond.
Robotron: 2084 was part of a string of hits for legendary game designer Eugene Jarvis, and is fondly remembered today as one of the great American games of the golden age of arcades. Created by Jarvis and Larry DeMar at their company Vid Kidz following the success of Jarvis' Defender, Robotron is set in the titular year as robots have taken over the world, and the player must race to save the last human family from their digital clutches. The twin-stick control scheme, a product of necessity as Jarvis had broken his wrist during development and could not easily push buttons, is the game's defining feature, and makes it possible to navigate the growing chaos as the player shoots enemies, picks up the humans and avoids enemy fire. The game's simple concept and challenging gameplay made it a hit in the 80s and kept it in the hearts of many gamers ever since.