Adafruit has created the world's smallest Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) arcade cabinet using Raspberry Pi Zero computer.
MAME arcade cabinets are popular all over the world and they attract a large number of video game geeks. A regular arcade cabinet takes a lot of space, but the one built by Phillip Burgess of Adafruit is extremely small, with a screen size of 0.96-inch. However, the MAME arcade cabinet is fully functional and playable.
"The idea came about while discussing a gaming 'bonnet' — a small accessory board precisely fitted to the Raspberry Pi Zero form-factor — which would include a few basic controls and a tiny monochrome OLED display," says Burgess.
The small MAME arcade cabinet was a spontaneous weekend project and it is not as polished as Adafruit's serious undertakings. The cabinet is also not a complete kit that the company plans to sell. However, Burgess has published a detailed guide, which could help creative gamers to build their own version of the arcade cabinet.
The Raspberry Pi Zero is available for $5. It has a single-core processor clocked at 1 GHz, 512 MB of system memory, a HAT-compatible 40-pin header and composite video and reset headers. The system also packs a micro SD card slot, where the arcade cabinet's operating system is stored.
Burgess says that one of the major challenges he faced while making the tiny arcade cabinet was adjusting the image quality on the small screen. Burgess used a program called nanoscreen, which can scale the original imagery at a 1:4 ratio using 4×4 pixel averaging. This helped Burgess to preserve the details of the games on a small display.
The final dimensions of the cabinet produced are 67.2 x 33.6 x 35.8 millimeters deep (2.65 x 1.32 x 1.41 inches).
The MAME arcade machine can play several loved games such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and more. However, playing these games on the tiny cabinet is extremely difficult.
Adafruit has posted a video on YouTube that shows games being played on the MAME arcade cabinet. The video has been watched by more than 16,000 times as of writing and many people are praising Burgess' efforts.
"Wow!! That is so cool!! and impractical. Huge sausage fingers trying to manipulate tiny controls. That thing belongs in the entertainment room of a very cool and modern [dollhouse]. Then you could show visitors the cool to-scale fully operational game console next to the tiny popcorn machine model," says a commenter
Check out the tiny MAME arcade cabinet in action.