Mamewah FAQ

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This Wikipage explains how to install software or modify your computer's settings. Build Your Own Arcade Controls Wiki recommends reading the manuals or "readme" files of the software. If you are changing settings on your computer make sure you understand what you are doing. In doubt let a more experienced user execute the steps for you.

Please note that the contents of this website is a collection of advise and experience of many hobbyists. None of the individual contributors or operators of this website can take any responsibility for the results or consequences of any the information presented on this web site.

General Configuration

Q: MAMEWAH won't run properly, I keep getting [insert error here] when I try to run it. Whats up?

A: Make sure you have DirectX8 or above installed. Also, make sure you have installed the system files from the MAMEWAH downloads page, as instructed ;)

Q: When I run [game name] from MAMEWAH it doesn't work. What's up?

A: Could be a number of \mamewah\mamewah.log, and see what it says. The commandline in mamewah.log is how MAMEWAH is attempting to launch the emulator. Run the emulator manually from a commandline to figure out how to launch it, then use MAMEWAH's Execution Settings to try and duplicate the commandline format.

Q: I get a 'runtime error 13, type mismatch' when i try to run Mamewah?

A: This could be caused by a version mix-up, or corrupted list files. Delete the \mamewah\files folder, and it should fix your problem.

Q: Why don't my snapshots show up?

A: First, make sure you installed the system files ( from the MAMEWAH downloads page). If this fails, try: Start > Run > regsvr32 paintx.dll . This should register the PaintX.dll component which is required to decode PNG files

Q: How do I get movie previews to show up in MAMEWAH?

A: Edit the relevant \mamewah\ini\emuname.ini file, and set 'movie_preview_path' accordingly, eg 'c:\mame\previews', and set 'movie_artwork_no' to the Artwork # you wish to display the previews in (eg 1). You may also want to tweak the '### Movie Options ###' in \mamewah\mamewah.ini - see \mamewah\docs\ini.txt for more details.

Q: How do I specify an order for my emulators to appear in the menu?

A: Use numbers to preceed your emuname's, eg 1-mame.ini, 2-fusion.ini, 3-zsnes.ini etc. - they are displayed in alphanumerical order.

Q: Mamewah is configured in 'mamewah.ini' to exit by CHOICE. However, when I hit Escape, it doesn't give me a choice?

A: By default, ESCAPE is mapped to EXIT_TO_WINDOWS, you need to remap ESCAPE in your ctrlr file, for defaults, the default.ini in \ctrlr folder.

Q: Is there a way to disable the screensaver option in Mamewah?

A: Change 'delay' to 0 in the 'mamewah.ini' file.

Emulator Configuration

Q: What version of MAME should I user?

A: Assuming you are running Windows, you want to use the "Windows Commandline Version", the "Win32 Binary" file. You can get the latest here:

You can also click on the link, "Older MAME Versions" in the left hand margin to download previous versions.

Q: Can I use multiple rom paths?

A: Not as such, but for MAME if you use the 'verifysets_vs_listxml' (or _listinfo for old MAME versions) list_generation_method then you can - just make sure you have your rom paths setup accordingly in your (MAME) mame.ini file.

Q: Can I use multiple rom extensions?

A: As a rule, no - I recommend you use the same file type for all roms for a given emulator (eg .zip). However, setting 'rom_extension *' will allow all files to be listed, BUT if the emulator requires 'send_rom_extension 1' then the emulator/game will probably not launch correctly.

Q: I changed the rom path for MAME and now it won't run the games!

A: You need to ensure that mame knows where your roms are located. Either edit the 'mame.ini' file for MAME, or use the '-rp c:\path\to\roms' command line flag in your emulator ini configuration.

Q: How do I display/use CatVer category information in MAMEWAH?

A: Edit the relevant \mamewah\ini\emuname.ini file, and set 'catver_ini_file' accordingly, eg 'c:\mame\catver.ini'. Then refresh the main list for the category information to be read.

Q: When Mamewah launches a game, it runs in a minimized window. How do I fix this?

A: First, ensure you are using Windows Commandline MAME (not DOS MAME or MAME32). Next, ensure 'frames_to_run' is not set to 1 in \mame\mame.ini. If the problem persists, use '{safelaunch}' in your emulator_comamndline - some systems seem to require this.

Q: Launching [emulator name] or [PC game/app] results in MAMEWAH hanging. WTF?!

A: MAMEWAH is probably not hanging, the emulator/app is running in the background. In \mamewah\ini\emuname.ini, try adding the {dosbox} and/or {safelaunch} flags. NEVER use the {autodosbox} flag for any emulator other than MAME.

Q: What do the {dosbox} {nodosbox} {safelaunch} {nosafelaunch} options do?

A: When some commandline applications are launched (eg MAME), a 'dos box' appears onscreen prior to the app going fullscreen. {nodosbox} hides this box, {dosbox} just leaves it showing as normal. So, {nodosbox} is preferable (visually), but not all emulators will work properly.

When using {nosafelaunch}, Mamewah tries to go to/from emulators more cleanly (visually). This varies on system, but I find it helps for MAME in particular when running at low-res. So, {nosafelaunch} is preferred, but might not work for all emulators.

Basically, ALL emulators will work with '{dosbox}{safelaunch}' (this is default when the flags are excluded)...but some will look better with {nodosbox} and/or {nosafelaunch}.

List Questions

Q: Why do some of my games not show up? I have merged rom sets.

A: the MAME devs removed the -verifysets switch which was used to use to determine if you have merged sets. Currently, it is recommended that you un-merge your rom sets.

Q: In the option menu under game list options, when I choose remove game from list, why will Mamewah will not remove the game from the list?

A: You cannot remove games from the Main (default) list. This option is for custom lists. For information on creating custom lists, see the section on List Creation

Q: Is there anyway to NOT display games which don't have a catver.ini entry? When I try to filter for a category it shows all games in a specific category as well as everything which hasn't been entered into the catver file yet?

A: This is basically a bug. However, it is does not pose a big issue with an updated catver.ini file.

Q: My list of MAME games is showing up, but it shows the rom name only, and not the actual title of the game?

A: Change the list_generation_method to rom_folder_vs_listxml (for recent versions of MAME) or rom_folder_vs_listinfo (for older versions)

External Applications

Q: How do I launch CPViewer / Johnny5 / any other controls.dat viewer from MAMEWAH?

A: Use the app_x_ options within \mamewah\ini\emuname.ini. First point to the viewer by setting 'app_x_executable' suitably, eg 'c:\cpviewer\cpviewer.exe'. Then set the 'app_x_commandline_format' to '[name] -clone [cloneof]'. You can also set 'auto_launch_apps' to 1, 2 or 3 (depending which app. number you used as 'x') - this will auto-launch the viewer every time you launch a game, prior to launching the emulator. Finally you can use the shortcut set in \mamewah\ctrlr\default.ini as 'LAUNCH_APP_x' to launch the viewer any time you like.

Q: How can I use WinIPAC to program my IPAC from MAMEWAH?

A: First, edit mamewah.ini, and set 'winipac_file' accordingly, eg 'c:\winipac\winipac.exe'. Then set 'mamewah_ipc_file' to your standard IPAC file, which contains the key mappings for controlling MAMEWAH (eg 'c:\ipc\mamewah.ipc'). Now edit \mamewah\ini\emuname.ini, and set 'ipc_file_or_path' to your emulators relevant IPC file, eg 'c:\ipc\stella.ipc'. IF this 'emulator' is for PC apps, then you should point to a folder which contains the IPC files for each game, eg 'c:\ipc\pcgames'. MAMEWAH will use WinIPAC to reprogram the IPAC each time an emulator (or PC app) is launched, and reprogram it back to the MAMEWAH IPC mappings after quitting.

Q: When I try to launch DOS program shortcuts with the PC App. support they don't work, why not?

A: DOS Program shortcuts have the .PIF extension - MAMEWAH can only use .LNK (Windows) shortcuts for it's PC App. support. To get around this, create a batch file to launch the .PIF file, and then create a shortcut to the batch file.


Q: If my ctrl file (ctrlr\default.ini) gets messed up, can I just delete it, and have Mamewah restore it to the defaults?

A: The ini files update themselves but the ctrlr file(s) do not - you need to grab a new ctrlr file from a suitable Mamewah download.

Q: When I launch my emulator (Daphne/ZSNES) from Mamewah, it loads fine, but none of my keys work. I know that I have configured the keys correctly for the emulator. What's going on?

A: Usually this is an indication that even though the emulator APPEARS to be running over top of Mamewah, it is not the window with "focus". In other words, when you are pressing keys, you are actually pressing keys for the frontend and not for the emulator.

Try messing with the {safelaunch}/{nosafelaunch} and/or {dosbox}/{nodosbox} paremeters in your ini file you use in MameWAH to launch the emulator.

Q: Why won't my HotRod / X-Arcade / other control panel work with MAMEWAH?

A: The default ctrlr is setup for MAME defaults. The HotRod, X-Arcade and possibly other similar products uses the number pad keys (as opposed to 'normal' cursor keys) so you must make some changes in \mamewah\ctrlr\default.ini:


Q: How do I get my trackball to work in MAMEWAH?

A: Edit \mamewah\ctrlr\default.ini, and set 'mouse 1'. By default up/down on the trackball (or any mouse device) will scroll up/down the games list.

Q: My mouse / trackball / spinner doesn't work when I launch games from used to work with MAME32 so what's up?

A: Settings such as enabling mouse input are MAME settings, which should be set in (MAME) mame.ini when using Windows Commandline MAME. See for further help.

Q: How do I get my PC joystick device to work in MAMEWAH?

A: Edit \mamewah\ctrlr\default.ini, and set 'joystick 1'. By default up/down on joystick 1 will scroll up/down the games list. Note that joysticks are numbered in the order they appear in Control Panel > Game Controllers, so you may need to edit the joystick no. throughout the ctrlr file. Note that setting 'joystick 1' enables all joystick input, this can only be set to 1 or 0 (enable or disable).

Q: Why does my analog PC joystick device behave funny in MAMEWAH?

A: You can play around with the relevant _deadzone, _saturation & _sensitivity settings in the \mamewah\ctrlr\default.ini file, however I am not entirely happy with the analog joystick support (I will try to improve in future). In the meantime, I recommend you set _analog 0, and your joystick will be treated the same as a digital stick.

Q: My Tornado spinner does not work. I placed the 'mouse 1' in the mamewah.cfg file but I still get nothing.

A: You probably need to map it to do something...use MOUSE_UP / MOUSE_DOWN / MOUSE_LEFT / MOUSE_RIGHT in ctrlr\default.ini. You also need to make sure to configure your emulator to enable mouse input.

Video Questions

Q: I am using an ArcadeVGA card and the proper screen resolution for the games. What's the problem?

A: First of all generate a mame.ini file for MAME with 'mame -cc' and in the .ini file

You set 'resolution auto', and 'hwstretch 0'. You might need to tweak a few other settings too but that should be good for starters.

If you are using the ArcadeVGARes tool to generate ini's, you need to modify MAMEs 'mame.ini' file (not Mamewah's 'ini\mame.ini') for the following line of the location of where you placed the ini files:

### Windows path and directory options ###
rompath                 f:\mame32\roms
samplepath              f:\mame32\samples
# inipath                (not set)  <----------------*HERE*

Layout Editing

Q: How do I get my layouts to show up?

A: Read \mamewah\docs\layouts.txt.

Supported Features

Q: Can I use animated GIF's in MAMEWAH?

A: Not currently :(

Q: Are there any plans to add support for playing .mng files?

A: Not any time soon...unless DirectShow adds the ability to play them. Unfortunately they cannot be played back as easily as normal video formats. I may look into it in the future tho...but as I say not any time soon.

There is an .mng to .avi converter created by Buddabing located *[here]

Q: Does Mamewah support vertical screen rotation?

Hopefully one day it will happen, but in the meantime you can use hardware or software rotation.


Q: How can I boot to Mamewah when my computer starts up?

A: When windows starts, the default "Shell" application is explorer.exe, which starts up your taskbar on normal windows boot. You can modify this shell to be any at startup.

1. Go to your Mamewah folder and edit your mamewah.ini file
2. Near the bottom of the list of options is app_to_run_on_exit enter explorer.exe next to it and save the file.
3. Start Menu->Run and enter regedit
4. Navigate to the item HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\IniFileMapping\system.ini\boot
5. If there is an item in there called Shell right-mouse click and select modify
6. Change the first three letters from SYS to USR
7. Navigate to the item HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
8. Right-mouse click "Winlogon" and select New->String Value
9. Name it Shell then right mouse click Shell and select modify and enter the full path to your Mamewah executeable eg. c:\emu\mamewah\mamewah.exe

If you have problems starting your computer after making this change, you may need to use Safe mode (pressing F8 on bootup prior to Windows logo) to recover/change the setting back to explorer.exe

Q: How can I improve performance of Mamewah?

A: Use the lowest resolution possible for your layout. Using no background image will enhance performance, but if you must use one then make sure it is exactly the same dimensions as the main form (ie the resolution) - eg for a 640x480 layout use an image of 640x480 pixels, this will help reduce flicker. Try to avoid using transparent objects where possible. Use as few 'Artwork' objects as possible, and make them as small as possible. If using emulator and/or list specific layouts, use the same resolution, colour depth and refresh rate for all layouts.

Use as few sounds as possible - avoid the 'navigate' sound in particular if you are having performance problems. Don't use background music (MP3's etc. take CPU power to decode).

Use as few different inputs per event as possible, eg using only 'cursor up' will perform better than 'cursor up or mouse up'. In some cases you may be able to use emulator or list-specific ctrlr files for separate inputs (eg if using swappable control panels). Disable keyboard, mouse and/or joystick devices where possible.

Make sure refresh_images is set to 0. Set keep_image_aspect to 0. Using small lists will improve performance on Win98 systems when switching lists. Don't use movie previews.


Q: The menu is not working!

A: Perhaps you have accidentally locked the menu...edit mamewah.ini and ensure 'locked 0' is set (not 'locked 1').

Q: How do I setup my LCD screen to work with MAMEWAH?

A: In mamewah.ini, edit these settings:

lcd_com_port (place your serial (COM) port no. here) lcd_settings (place settings here*)

  • baud rate (110/300/600/1200/2400/9600/14400/19200/28800/38400/56000/128000/256000), parity ([e]ven,

[o]dd, [n]one, [m]ark, [s]pace), data bits (4-8), stop bits (1, 1.5, 2) - eg 9600,n,8,1 (this will vary depending on your screen etc.)

In your \mamewah\ini\emuname.ini (eg mame.ini):

lcd_display_file_path (place your lcd file path here*)

  • This is the location of your LCD files; basically text files (with .lcd extension) for each game, containing text you wish to be displayed when the game is launched (& any additional characters required by the screen for carriage return etc.).

eg puckman.lcd:

PuckMan - 4-way joystick

Making the .lcd files is down to you...but check out Silver's 'MAME LCD Gen' program at ;)

lcd_fe_text (text to display while in the FE, eg 'MAME - Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator' *)

  • It is also recommended to add your LCD screens 'clear screen' characters as the first part of lcd_fe_text

When in the FE, the lcd_fe_text for the selected emulator will be displayed on the lcd screen. When you launch a game, the corresponding .lcd file will be read and the contents sent to the screen via com port lcd_com_port. Quitting the game will reset the lcd to lcd_fe_text.

Q: Can I use my parallel port interfaced LCD screen with MAMEWAH?

A: No, serial port only :(

Q: Why won't some of my MP3's play?

A: It seems that some MP3's may require the ID3 tag to be in v1 format, not v2 - try converting the tag (eg using Winamp).

Q: Can I setup MAMEWAH to run vertically?

A: Unfortunately MAMEWAH cannot rotate natively. BUT if you have a video card capable of hardware rotation (eg ATi Radeon), or if you have portrait software (eg PivotPro), then you can create a vertical layout - simply reverse the X and Y no. of pixels, eg 480x640.

Q: Can I use MAMEWAH with an ArcadeVGA card?

A: Yes, I would recommend a resolution of 368x240 or similar. Some users like to use 640x288 for maximum screen area without interlacing. Either create your own layouts using the Layout Designer or try my 'Classic' Layouts from the MAMEWAH downloads page.

Q: Can I merge all my emulators / games into one list?

A: At the moment, no :(

Q: I get a screen flicker after I quit a game...why?

A: Try setting MAMEWAH to the same resolution, refresh rate & colour depth as your desktop (or vice versa).

Q: (Windows 98 Specific) When I switch lists it sometimes takes ages to move to the next list, what's up?

A: This is down to the way MAMEWAH is written - it only stores one list in memory at a time. In Windows 98 clearing the current list causes a delay when switching lists - reduce the no. of games in the list(s) in question to speed it up.

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