Welcome to the official wiki for MESS (Multi Emulator Super System), part of the MAME1) project. MAME is a source-available project which documents the hardware for a wide variety of (mostly vintage) arcade machines, computers, video game consoles, and calculators through software emulation. As a nice side effect to this documentation, MAME allows software and games for these hardware platforms to be run on modern PCs. Prior to version 0.162 (May 2015), MAME only supported arcade machines, and MESS was a separate emulator for all other types of systems, built on the same code base, although there has been increasingly close cooperation between the teams for many years.
AS OF VERSION 0.162, MAME AND MESS HAVE BEEN COMBINED INTO A SINGLE EMULATOR! It is still possible (for now) to compile a separate MESS executable, but only the combined version is available as an official download (this combined build is just called “MAME”, and supports all of the same features MESS used to). Please note that much of the documentation on this wiki and elsewhere has not yet been updated to take these changes into account.
The goal of this wiki is to document how to use MESS, the technical architecture of MESS, and the systems emulated by MESS. If you want to help, register a user name and look at the pages already in the Wiki to get an idea how things are currently laid out here.
As of version 0.163, MESS supports 1,081 unique systems with 2,199 total system variations and is growing all the time (you can find a complete list of the supported systems here). However, not all of the systems in MESS are fully functional.
Artwork files for use with MESS can be downloaded at the MESS Artwork Project.
Collections of cheat files for use with some systems emulated by MESS can be downloaded at Pugsy's Cheats.
SysInfo, which contains details of the original machines and basic usage instructions, can be downloaded at ProjectMESS.
For completeness of information, you can also use MESSInfo.dat, which lists, for all systems and drivers, any changes present in “whatsnew” and SVN.
Previous MESS Versions is an interesting historical section that takes the whatsnew.txt files from previous MESS releases and creates new wiki-fied and hyperlinked versions of them for easier browsing and identification of contributors.
For information on external frontends to provide an optional alternative GUI to the MESS emulator, you can consult the MESS User's Manual.
The following systems supported by MESS have had permission granted by their respective copyright owners for free distribution of the system ROMs (and sometimes other software as well). Note that such permission generally does not extend to third-party software or add-ons, and usually still prohibits commercial use (which is also prohibited by the MESS license).
Below, you can find some documents about MESS and its usage.
MESS is now part of the MAME repository on GitHub, where you can follow the development (or take a look at the wiki sidebar!). If you want to contribute and help with coding, there is a general ToDo list on the Wiki.
There are also unofficial mirrors of the project commit histories:
Bugs should be submitted to MAME Testers.
The goal of this project is to identify, acquire and dump the systems needed for emulation. The project strives to preserve all game consoles, handheld and computers (basically anything not found in an arcade). The MESS Dumping project parallels the work of the MAME Dumping Project. The project has a couple of different sub-pages:
Some MESS contributors have set up personal user pages on this Wiki, where you can find info about their activities, their collections, WIPs and other stuff.