Grab It While You Can: MAME Arcade Emulator Returns To The App Store In Disguise

The iCade was made for this.

The iCade was made for this.

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.

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  • howie_isaacks

    By posting this you helped Apple catch on much sooner. I guess ad clicks are more important to you huh? You should rename the site “Cult of Blabber Mouths”.

  • TheKDoherty

    Now that I have Gridlee, iExplorer and downloaded a number of ROMS… a quick HOW TO on how to put it all together would e nice :-)

  • extra_medium

    Now that I have Gridlee, iExplorer and downloaded a number of ROMS… a quick HOW TO on how to put it all together would e nice :-)

    It says right in the article

  • extra_medium

    By posting this you helped Apple catch on much sooner. I guess ad clicks are more important to you huh? You should rename the site “Cult of Blabber Mouths”.

    They would have caught on either way.. At least now hundreds more people know about it

  • bdkennedy

    Got it!

  • stjoey164

    For anyone having problems, here’s a quick tutorial.

    1. Download and Install iExplorer (http://www.macroplant.com/iexplorer/)
    2. Plug your iPhone into your Mac or PC and launch iExplorer
    3. Navigate to this location on your iOS Device:
    iExplorer\[YOUR iPhone NAME]\Apps\Gridlee\Documents\roms
    4. Place your Roms in that folder

    Important: You need the Roms from the MAME 0.139u1 Romset.
    Enjoy this awesome emulator.

  • stjoey164

    Now that I have Gridlee, iExplorer and downloaded a number of ROMS… a quick HOW TO on how to put it all together would e nice :-)

    DONE. Read my last post.

  • RAG

    I am not sure what I am doing wrong. I am downloading the ROMS and then dragging them into the ROM folder in gridlee in IExplorer but everytime I open up gridlee on my iphone it just shows the original gridlee game on the app.

  • jbeck22

    where do you get roms from the MAME 0.139u1 Romset?

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too. All DMs excepted.

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