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MAME is a multi-purpose emulation framework. Play arcade games and more.



MAME Wiki:


Arcade Database (Lookup required files for MAME ROMs, or what a MAME short name refers to):

MAME Table of Contents

  1. Getting Started with MAME

  2. MAME Tips and Tricks

Getting Started with MAME

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MAME Configuration

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  • Type of Emulator: Flatpak
  • Config Location: /home/deck/.mame
    • Contains the following folders and files:
      • mame.ini
      • cfg
      • Plugin folders will appear here after enabling them in MAME
  • Storage: Emulation/storage/mame
    • Contains the following folders:
      • artwork
      • ctrlr
      • ini
      • samples
  • ROM Location: Emulation/roms/arcade
  • BIOS Location: Emulation/roms/arcade
  • Saves: Emulation/saves/MAME/saves
  • Save States: Emulation/saves/MAME/states


  • ~/.mame is an invisible folder by default. In Dolphin (file manager), click the hamburger menu in the top right, click Show Hidden Files to see these folders.
  • MAME [Standalone] shares its Emulation/roms/arcade folder with Arcade - RetroArch MAME Current. Turning both of these parsers on in Steam ROM Manager will cause duplicates in your App List.

Works With

  • Steam ROM Manager
  • EmulationStation-DE

MAME Folder Locations

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These file locations apply regardless of where you chose to install EmuDeck (to your internal SSD, to your SD Card, or elsewhere). Some emulator configuration files will be located on the internal SSD as listed below.

$HOME refers to your home folder. If you are on a Steam Deck, this folder will be named /home/deck (you will likely not see deck in the file path when navigating using the file manager).

Paths beginning with Emulation/.. correspond to your EmuDeck install location. If you installed on an SD Card, your path may be /run/media/mmcblk0p1/Emulation/roms/... If you installed on your internal SSD, your path may be /home/deck/Emulation/roms/..

Note: Folders with a . (.mame, .var, .local, .config, etc.) at the beginning are hidden by default. In Dolphin (file manager), click the hamburger menu in the top right, click Show Hidden Files to see these folders.


├── cfg
│   ├── default.cfg
│   └── ___empty.cfg
└── mame.ini


├── artwork
├── ctrlr
├── ini
│   ├── mame.ini
│   ├── plugin.ini
│   └── ui.ini
└── samples

How to Update MAME

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How to Update MAME

  • Update through Discover (Shopping bag icon)
  • Through the Update your Emulators & Tools section on the Manage Emulators page in the EmuDeck application

How to Launch MAME in Desktop Mode

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How to Launch MAME in Desktop Mode

  • Launch MAME from the Applications Launcher (Steam Deck icon in the bottom left of the taskbar)
  • Launch the script from Emulation/tools/launchers,
  • Launch the emulator from Steam after adding it via the Emulators parser in Steam ROM Manager

MAME File Formats

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  • .zip
  • .chd

BIOS Files

BIOS will be searched through 3 folders:

  • Emulation/roms/arcade/
  • Emulation/bios/mame/*
  • Emulation/bios/

Note: EmulationStation-DE will ONLY work with the BIOS in the arcade folder

MAME Hotkeys

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Hotkey MAME
Coin for player Select
Start for player Start
Fast Forward Select + R2
Load State Select + L1
Save State Select + R1
Exit Emulator Select + Start
Exit Emulator STEAM + DPad Left
Quick Menu* STEAM + DPad Down


  • If you make any changes in the Quick Menu while in game, make sure to use one of the Exit Emulator hotkeys to close out of the game to ensure any changes you made are saved. If you use STEAM + the Exit game button, your changes will not be saved.
  • Steam Deck Button Layout

MAME Tips and Tricks

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Maintaining ROM Versions

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Ideally use ROMs that are the same version as MAME's version. MAME often releases improved versions of ROMs to fix issues. Issues are less of a concern with the most popular classics because most of those haven't changed in years. But to avoid having to track multiple different versions of your ROMs, most people just keep their ROM sets updated as the emulator updates.

To understand how MAME works, look up the difference between merged and split ROM sets, and learn what a sample and a chd are and how they're used in conjunction with ROMs to deliver a playable game.

Reference image:

Note: Refer to, for additional information.

How to Configure Multiplayer

Multiplayer for MAME is configured out of the box, no additional configuration is needed.

You may need to re-arrange the controller order in Game Mode for your controllers to function as expected. See How to Re-Arrange the Controller Order for more information.

How to Determine if a ROM Requires BIOS

Some ROMs for MAME may require BIOS to run. For this section, these ROMs will be split into either System or Software ROMs. To delineate between the two simply, System ROMs are typically arcade ROMs and Software ROMs are usually computers or video game consoles.

How to Determine if a System ROM Requires BIOS

  1. In a folder of your choice, right click anywhere in the folder, and click Open Terminal here
  2. Enter:
    • flatpak run org.mamedev.MAME -listxml > mame.xml
  3. This command will create a mame.xml file in the folder you chose in Step 1
  4. Right click mame.xml, click Open with Kate or a text editor of your choice
  5. Search the file (either using Ctrl + F or by clicking EditFind) and type in isbios
  6. You will see a line that generally looks like the following:
    • <machine name="MACHINENAME" sourcefile="PATH/FILENAME" isbios="yes">
    • For example
      • <machine name="neogeo" sourcefile="neogeo/neogeo.cpp" isbios="yes">
  7. Let's break this line down, using neogeo as an example:
    • <machine name="neogeo" sourcefile="neogeo/neogeo.cpp" isbios="yes">
      • isbios="yes" means BIOS are required for the Neo-Geo MV-6F
      • The machine_name= gives you the name of the BIOS file. BIOS files for System ROMs always have a .zip file extension. For neogeo, the bios will be
      • The list of files below the manufacturer typically comprise the files in a merged file. Using a merged may take up extra space but guarantees you have the BIOS necessary to play any Neo-Geo MV-6F ROM
  8. Place your BIOS in Emulation/bios or Emulation/roms/arcade (the latter is required if you are playing through EmulationStation-DE)

Recreating this file whenever MAME updates will get you the latest list of which System ROMs require BIOS.

How to Determine if a Software ROM Requires BIOS

  1. Open
  2. Search for the name of the console or computer in the search box, respecting punctuation and hyphenation when possible
  3. On the respective console or computer's page, scroll down to Required Files, and click SHOW MAME REQUIRED FILES
    • Example
  4. Place the file(s) in the list in Emulation/bios or the matching ROM folder (the latter is required if you are playing through EmulationStation-DE)
    • For example, if you are playing through EmulationStation-DE, place in Emulation/roms/gamecom
How to View Compatibility for Software ROMs
  1. Open
  2. Click SOFTWARE on the left side
  3. Search for your console or computer in the SYSTEM box and click Search
  4. You will see a full list of the ROMs for that respective console or computer. The circle color in the top right of each box is the game's compatibility
    • Green: Supported
    • Yellow: Imperfect
      • Some pages may explain the specific issues affecting the game
    • Red: Not Supported

How to Determine if a ROM Requires a CHD File

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Game ROMs for MAME are primarily .zip files. Some of these games require additional files to run. These additional files are primarily .chd files.

To determine if your ROM requires a .chd file:

  1. In Desktop Mode, open Konsole
  2. Enter:
    • flatpak run org.mamedev.MAME -listroms ROMSHORTNAME
      • Typically, the short name of the ROM is the file name. For example, the file name for Street Fighter III 3rd Strike is and the short name is sfiii3
      • You can also use to locate a MAME ROM's short name
  3. You will get an output similar to below:
    ROMs required for driver "sfiii3".
    Name                                   Size Checksum
    sfiii3_euro.29f400.u2                524288 CRC(30bbf293) SHA1(f094c2eeaf4f6709060197aca371a4532346bf78)
    cap-33s-2                                   SHA1(5a090956fc6d68e496ac42854199059898f2fe16)
  4. The line without a file size or a CRC is the .chd file required. The line with a file size and a CRC is the file located within the zip file
    • For example, sfiii3_euro.29f400.u2 is the file located in and cap-33s-2 is the .chd file required to run
  5. Create a subfolder matching the shortname in Emulation/roms/arcade and place the .chd file in the subfolder
    • For example, with sfiii3, create a sfiii3 folder in Emulation/roms/arcade and place cap-33s-2.chd in Emulation/roms/arcade/sfiii3
    • Place directly in Emulation/roms/arcade

How to Configure Controls on a Per Game Basis

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  1. While in game, press STEAM and DPad Down
  2. Select Input Settings
  3. Select Input Settings (this system)
  4. Configure controls
  5. To ensure your controls are saved, press STEAM and DPad Left to exit out of the game
    • If you press STEAM and use the Exit game button, your controls will not be saved
  6. Your controls will be saved as a file to home/deck/.mame/cfg/GAMESHORTNAME.cfg
    • You may also share this configuration file with others

How to Add Custom Bezels

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  1. Open Emulation/storage/mame
  2. Copy bezel files, in .zip format, into this folder, named the same as the ROM.
  3. Done.

Note: Use the Bezel Project to locate bezels for your MAME ROMS:

How to Enable Shaders/Scanlines in MAME (Standalone)

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  1. In Desktop Mode, open /home/deck/.mame/mame.ini
  2. Under the OSD VIDEO OPTIONS section, set video to bgfx
  3. Under the BGFX POST-PROCESSING OPTIONS section, set bgfx_screen_chains to the shader of your choice, for example: crt-geom-deluxe
  4. Save your changes to the file

Note: Other shader values can be found here:

How to Configure MAME to Work With EmulationStation-DE

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EmuDeck installs both MAME (Standalone, installed as a flatpak), and RetroArch's MAME core.

In order to use MAME (Standalone), make sure your ROMs are in Emulation/roms/arcade.

In order to use MAME (Standalone) for EmulationStation-DE, make sure you are selecting MAME [Standalone] in the Alternative Emulators menu.


  1. In EmulationStation-DE, press the Start button
  2. Scroll down and select Other Settings
  3. Select Alternative Emulators
  4. Scroll down to Arcade and select MAME [Standalone]

How to Roll Back MAME to an Older Version

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  1. In Desktop Mode, open Konsole
  2. To see a list of prior versions of the emulator, type:
    • flatpak remote-info --log flathub org.mamedev.MAME
    • Each version will have a long accompanying alphanumeric string (the “commit” code). Copy the string for the version you want to downgrade to.
  3. To downgrade to the version you want:
    • flatpak update --commit=put_commit_code_here org.mamedev.MAME
    • Replace put_commit_code_here with the actual code you located in Step 2.
    • If this line does not work, you may need to type:
      • sudo flatpak update --commit=put_commit_code_here org.mamedev.MAME