DICE 0.8, the CPU-less arcade games emulator
DICE is a small emulator dedicated to recreating on a modern computer the arcade games based on discrete circuits, ancient and bizarre entertainment machines where the electronic components required for the game experience were soldered individually on the circuit board and where there was no trace of a CPU. It’s an obscure and fascinating kind of emulation, the one served by DICE, and the offering of emulated games grows richer and richer with every new version of the software.
The emulation of discrete circuit-based arcades is a complex and troublesome practice, which is largely neglected by MAME – as a matter of fact the most popular and advanced arcade emulator ever created in this universe – because of the aforementioned lack of CPUs (the basic component of MAME’s traditional emulation structure) and because of the requirement to recreate the individual circuits in the slightest detail starting from the games original documentation. DICE aims to accurately emulate the discrete circuits of the CPU-less arcades with full sound and custom controls, and in doing so it needs a PC with a central processor powerful enough to keep up with the task.
The discrete circuit-based arcades are an important phase in the history of video games which includes classics like Pong, the first arcade game ever created and the first title developed by Atari in 1972. For this reason, waiting for MAME to improve enough to implement a higher number of games with no CPUs besides the aforementioned Pong, the work done by the DICE Team is a fundamental contribution to the preservation of the gaming relics from the Seventies.
During the past days DICE reached version 0.8, a release featuring a new command-line parameter to avoid automatic switching to fullscreen mode (-window) and preliminary support for the Mac OS X operating system. But above all, DICE 0.8 adds the following four new games belonging to the somewhat unknown era of the CPU-less arcades: Crossfire (Atari, 1975), Clean Sweep and Wipe Out (Ramtek, 1974), Pin Pong (Atari, 1974). A brief description of the basic gameplay of these four gaming relics is available, together with download links for the 32-bit and 64-bit Windows versions of the emulator, on DICE’s official site.