Friday, October 4, 2019

On Apple II emulation by MAME

I’ve always used AppleWin to emulate Apple II games. Back in 1996, it came bundled with the Roberta Williams Anthology as a means to play games such as Mystery House and Time Zone, and was the only real option. Even today, it’s generally recognized as the most compatible and user-friendly emulator for the system, and with the recent support for WOZ format disk dumps, it’s even made strides toward solving the problem of copy protected disks.

Now, thanks to Data Driven Gamer, I’ve come to realize that I’ve taken it for granted that Apple II games are floppy disk games. Certainly this holds true for the vast majority of well-known games on the system – Akalabeth, Ultima, Wizardry, Castle Wolfenstein, and the aforementioned Williams adventures are among the most famous of the early ones, and I’ve already covered a few. However, as it turns out, most of the games made during the first few years of the system’s life were originally released on cassette tapes, which AppleWin doesn’t support! It’s not terribly hard to find pirate disk conversions and compilations, but I would rather have peace of mind knowing that I’m not playing a buggy or modified conversion.

And so, once again, I turn to MAME for cassette support, as I did for Scott Adams’ TRS-80 games. The method here is very similar to that, but has some subtle differences.

As of this writing, MAME is at version 0.214, and these instructions work with MAMEUI of this version.

Get MAMEUI here:

Download this package, containing images of each cassette Apple II game that I intend to play for the 1981 phase of DDG, which I’ve sanitized for easier loading and better compressibility:

Extract the package into your MAMEUI directory, overwriting the folders there.

Additional Apple II cassette images and their manuals may be downloaded here:

Launch MAMEUI.

On the left-hand side of the window list a list of categories, such as “All Systems” and “Available.” Right click the one called “Computer” and click “Audit.” Wait for this process to finish.

Locate the machine “Apple ][.” Right click->Properties.

Under Display, you want “Run in a window” checked. Trust me on this.

Under Miscellaneous, you’ll want “Show Menu” checked.

OK out, and do the same for the Apple ][+.

The next step depends on whether the game needs Integer BASIC or Applesoft BASIC. Of the included games, Maze Game and Escape! need Integer BASIC, while B-1 Nuclear Bomber, Midway Campaign, and Galactic Empires need Applesoft BASIC.

To load Integer BASIC, double-click the Apple ][ icon. The Apple ][ will boot. Press Ctrl+B and then press Enter to load BASIC. You’ll get a “>” prompt if it worked.

To load Applesoft BASIC, the easiest way is to double-click the Apple ][+ icon, making sure that no floppy disks are mounted. The machine will boot but not do anything useful. Press Ctrl+F12 to reboot into BASIC mode. You’ll get a “]” prompt if it worked.

Whether you are in Integer BASIC or AppleSoft BASIC, you now need to mount a cassette file.

The Media drop-down menu lets you mount and unmount cassette files, and control playback. Use it to mount the cassette image of your choice.

The next steps may vary for different cassette files – check the instruction manual, but for any of the games in my pack, simply type LOAD and hit enter, and then in the Media drop-down menu, Cassette->Play.

If done right, then the LOAD command should finish a few seconds before the tape is done playing, which shouldn’t be much longer than a minute for any of the game in my bundle.

Then, type RUN and hit Enter to play the game.


  1. I've been tending to play the original versions of games in my own blog, figuring they are probably closer to the designer's intent. Unfortunately, they've also tended to be pretty buggy. I imagine there was less playtesting done back then. The most annoying example I've come across is Ultima II, which is actually impossible to complete in the original Apple II version if your character doesn't start with a large strength attribute. This is due to a bug in the original version that made it impossible to increase your strength during the game. There are patches for such things, but as you say, they come with their own risks...

    I don't know that there's a catch-all solution for this, just that I've been having to do more research on the various versions before I play, especially for microcomputer/PC titles.

  2. There are some really nice Apple 2 games that you can download and play on your computer by using emulators.

  3. Booting up Apple ][ and getting "a2.chr NOT FOUND (tried in apple2)", followed by a number of other items NOT FOUND. Any help?

  4. Found the log:
    ********** STARTING apple2 **********
    a2.chr NOT FOUND (tried in apple2)
    OPTIONAL 341-0016-00.d0 NOT FOUND (tried in apple2)
    341-0001-00.e0 NOT FOUND (tried in apple2)
    341-0002-00.e8 NOT FOUND (tried in apple2)
    341-0003-00.f0 NOT FOUND (tried in apple2)
    341-0004-00.f8 NOT FOUND (tried in apple2)
    sc01a.bin NOT FOUND (tried in votrax apple2)
    341-0027-a.p5 NOT FOUND (tried in a2diskiing a2diskii apple2)
    341-0028-a.rom NOT FOUND (tried in d2fdc apple2)
    Fatal error: Required files are missing, the machine cannot be run.
    ********** FINISHED apple2 **********

    1. You should have these files in your ROMs folder. Do you have them all?


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