Pulstar on Mame 2010/2003?

I’m having an issue running the SNK titles Pulstar and Ironclad in Mame 2003 or Mame 2010 libretro. They run okay on Mame 2002 on my windows machine, so I’m a bit at a loss what I should do. To zip them up, I put all the roms and bios in the zip with them. I left all locations bios for the rom in the folder. Usually Mame asks me which one I want to use, I notice here that the core just chooses for me. I have other roms, like blazing star, metal slug, and shock troopers working fine with the method I chose on 2010. I did notice that when I browse the Pulstar zip file, it does not see any files in it like it does with other games.

I’m pretty noob with Mame, but I have a vague understanding that I may have to use mame version-specific bios in some cases. Is there a way to know how I set things up on a per rom basis?

Sorry if this is a bit vague, I feel like I’m stabbing in the dark, and the Mame guys refuse to help because it’s a libretro-specific version.


I don’t know what you mean with "MAME 2002" as libretro provides only the “MAME 2000” core which is based on MAME 0.37b5

If you use one of the newer cores you have to update your roms as MAME is very picky about roms - they must match exactly what MAME expects them to be.

The MAME FAQ covers this.

Why does MAME report “missing files” even if I have the ROMs?

In brief,

  • ROMs can change as better ROM-dumping techniques are invented or as details of game behaviour are more meticulously recorded. The latest version of MAME generally is optimised for the latest versions of game ROMs and may not work with older ROMS that lack some data.
  • ROMs for different games sometimes had a lot in common (e.g. Galaga and Galaxians) so to save space, ROMs were split so that one ROM depended on resources in a “parent” ROM. Disk space is no longer an issue but old ROMs survive. There are “unmerged”, “split” and “merged” ROMS. You need the right ones.
  • ROMS sometimes depend on external data that was originally stored separately these are sometimes in CHN files.
  • Some ROMs depend on a common platform ROM, e.g. a common Atari system-ROM.
  • MAME’s original objective was to document old arcade games. Providing backwards compatibility with older ROMs isn’t a top priority and this is complicated by the fact that IP issues mean that MAME cannot be supplied by the developers with ROMs.

You can check here on which version a mame core is based:

For example:

  • "MAME 2003"
    MAME 0.78 for libretro. Compatible with MAME 0.78 romsets.
  • "MAME 2003-Plus"
    Updated 2018 version of MAME (0.78) for libretro. with added game support plus many fixes and improvements

RetroArch works best with split romsets where rom and bios are separated:

├── neogeo.zip
│   ├── 000-lo.lo	    crc=e09e253c
│   ├── asia-s3.rom	    crc=91b64be3
│   ├── sfix.sfx	    crc=354029fc
│   ├── sm1.sm1	            crc=97cf998b
│   ├──	sp-e.sp1	    crc=2723a5b5
│   ├──	sp-j2.rom	    crc=acede59c
│   ├──	sp-s.sp1	    crc=c7f2fa45
│   ├──	sp-s2.sp1	    crc=9036d879
│   ├──	usa_2slt.bin	    crc=e72943de
│   └──	vs-bios.rom	    crc=f0e8f27d
└── pulstar.zip
    ├── 089-c1.bin      crc=63020fc6
    ├── 089-c2.bin      crc=260e9d4d
    ├── 089-c3.bin      crc=21ef41d7
    ├── 089-c4.bin      crc=3b9e288f
    ├── 089-c5.bin      crc=6fe9259c
    ├── 089-c6.bin      crc=dc32f2b4
    ├── 089-c7.bin      crc=6a5618ca
    ├── 089-c8.bin      crc=a223572d
    ├── 089-m1.bin      crc=ff3df7c7
    ├── 089-p1.bin      crc=5e5847a2
    ├── 089-p2.bin      crc=028b774c
    ├── 089-s1.bin      crc=c79fc2c8
    ├── 089-v1.bin      crc=b458ded2
    └── 089-v2.bin      crc=9d2db551

MAME 2003-Plus neogeo.zip has additional bios files:

    ├── asia-s3.rom	        crc=91b64be3
    ├── mame.sm1	        crc=97cf998b
    ├── mamelo.lo	        crc=e09e253c
    ├── neo-epo.bin	        crc=d27a71f1
    ├── neodebug.rom	        crc=698ebb7d
    ├── sfix.sfx	        crc=354029fc
    ├── sp-e.sp1	        crc=2723a5b5
    ├── sp-j2.sp1	        crc=acede59c
    ├── sp-s.sp1	        crc=c7f2fa45
    ├── sp-s2.sp1	        crc=9036d879
    ├── uni-bios_1_0.rom	crc=0ce453a0
    ├── uni-bios_1_1.rom	crc=5dda0d84
    ├── uni-bios_1_3.rom	crc=b24b44a0
    ├── uni-bios_2_0.rom	crc=0c12c2ad
    ├── uni-bios_3_3.rom	crc=24858466
    ├── usa_2slt.bin	        crc=e72943de
    └── vs-bios.rom	        crc=f0e8f27d

recommended site to search for information of arcade games (including versionspecific rom-names, checksums):

recommended tool to verify romsets:


No, that’s not really the source of the problem here, the problem is asking them support for 10-20 years old version of their software. Imagine you fixed something 10 years ago and someone comes at you telling the issue still exists but they are just using outdated version of your software : that’s really annoying (i experienced it with the FBAlpha - now FBNeo - cores so i can confirm).

Anyway, back to the subject of neogeo support in retroarch, and a little out of subject with your original question, i might recommend using FBNeo instead of MAME (any version), neogeo is one of the systems where FBNeo is superior to MAME. FBNeo’s dat files for clrmamepro are available from https://github.com/libretro/FBNeo/tree/master/dats

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I agree with FBNeo and Neo-Geo games, but like MAME i presume FBNeo has a “rolling” release cycle (don’t know how to express this correctly in english)
AFAIK FBNeo follows roughly the MAME changes and therefore roms can change as well.

This sometimes can confuse new users, as they often don’t understand how to dump/update roms, so a fixed core is more usefull for both the user and the developer as well (for not forcing them to answer the same question over and over again :wink: )

For this reason i build myself a custom FBNeo2019 core with proper paths like i did it with MAME in the other thread

It was a bit different than with MAME, but it succeeded. (i can outline the necessary steps if wanted)

No, that would just end up with people being confused about the versions, reporting already fixed issues to the wrong people (same as MAME). If anyone wants to make snapshots of fbneo as official cores, please don’t name them FBNeo20XX, that would seriously piss me off, thanks.

Back to the problem of “rolling” romsets, apart from new additions i wouldn’t say romsets in fbneo change a lot (because most of the supported systems already have good dumps, i don’t think neogeo dumps changed a lot over the last 15 years), and those few romset changes are necessary for better emulation.

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I fully understand you, was meant for personal copy only and not directed towards you, so sorry for the misunderstanding.

And thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

Hi BarbuDreadMon, Thanks for your reply.

Yes, that makes sense as well. I am reacting to a specific message I got. I got an auto-moderation when asking this question on the Mame reddit that they wont support (a whole list of other platforms). I wasn’t just assuming this lack of support, it was explicitly denied.

Thanks so much! I’m still new to Mame, so this is the kind of information I was looking for.

I meant I had been using 2002 as Mame stand-alone on my older computer. Now I’m using Mame 2010 in retroarch. My setup of Pulstar that works for 2002, didn’t run in 2010. Almost all of my other games that ran on my 2002 setup work fine in 2010, so I didn’t realize I must change them. I think I can figure it out now though. Thanks again

Yeah, i understood that part :slight_smile: . I was just thinking it was a good moment to explain why those official fbalpha/fbneo snapshoted cores would be, imho, bad and unnecessary (because i see requests for them from time to time).

fbneo worked with all my romsets as they already were with no issues. thanks for the help. :slight_smile: