It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for the classics. Imagine how stoked I was, then, at the idea of playing classic arcade titles on my iPhone and iPad. We’d gotten a taste of it previously with iMAME, but the app was quickly pulled from the App Store. Those of us who were lucky enough to get it before it disappeared found the general compatibility with available ROMs to be, well, lacking.
Introducing Gridlee, a simplistic puzzler where you control a character using a joystick to guide him in his quest to collect orbs on a pseudo 3D field. The game is terrible. The sound is subpar, the graphics are uninspired, and the controls are loose. Why am I telling you about this game when we were just talking about arcade machine emulators? In case you haven’t figured it out, Einstein, you don’t download Gridlee to play that particular game. You see, Gridlee (the game) is simply an arcade ROM nestled warmly in the filesystem of what is otherwise a very cleverly put together port of MAME, the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.
The way it works is you find arcade ROMs that you’d like to play, like Pac Man, or Defender, or Joust, or Mortal Kombat II, and then you dump the ROM images into the game’s ROM directory using an number of 3rd party apps to connect to your iOS device (iExplorer, iFunBox, etc.). Upon loading the game, the welcome screen changes from the typical Gridlee introduction to a listing of the available ROMs in the folder, with a traditional iMAME-style controller with which to navigate.
Gridlee hit the App Store on January 25, and when the title’s abilities were discovered word quickly spread. Everyone feared the game would be pulled, but so far it’s still sitting pretty in the App Store, undisturbed, so it may not violate the App Store’s policies by using an emulator as a game wrapper, after all.
The emulator works surprisingly well, and has incredible compatibility, so if you’re a fan of emulation, or just want to tinker around, it’s worth a download. You can’t beat free, after all.
For more information, and detailed instructions on getting this working, check out Cult of Mac’s post.