Back in 2011, an app called iMAME surfaced in the App Store that allowed you to run thousands of classic arcade titles by sideloading the games onto an iOS device. Apple has never really allowed emulators in the App Store, and iMAME was swiftly pulled.
Now another app has crept into the App Store that allows you to emulate old games. It likely won’t be in the App Store long, so get it while you can!
The app in question is a free game called Gridlee that was released in the App Store yesterday. On the surface, it allows you to play the unreleased Gridlee 80s arcade game, but if you dig down deep, you’ll find a hidden feature: the ability to emulate all kinds of classics using the MAME4iOS platform.
Some TouchArcade forum members looked through the iOS app’s directory and discovered a ROM folder. And sure enough, you’re able to sideload old ROMs and play other games within the Gridlee app. The MAME platform the app is using is actually more advanced than what was in iMAME. There’s iCade integration to let you play the games with physical arcade controls on your iOS device.
One forum member went a little nuts and installed dozens of games, including Aliens, Contra, Donkey Kong Jr., Galaga, PAC Man Jr., Phoenix, Pitfall II, and a whole lot more. To install your own, you’ll need to hook your iOS device into your Mac, open up iExplorer, navigate to the Gridlee app’s ROM folder, and drag the individual games in. A good collection of MAME ROMs to try out is available here. Not every game is guaranteed to work.
Make sure to download the Gridlee app before it’s gone if you want to play around with the hidden emulator. Apple is sure to catch on to this one soon.