MacMame 0.37b9 has been released, the latest beta version of MacMame's arcade-machine emulator.

Once beta-testing is complete the full version will let Macintosh users play thousands of games developed for coin-operated arcade machines, reports MacCentral.

The application will be distributed as freeware. Organizers, MacMAME.org, say: "MacMame is part of the Mame project, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of arcade videogames through emulation."

A MacMame spokesman said: "MacMame achieves this by running the original program code found in the arcade games. As such, it is much more than a reproduction – it is essentially that same game running via an emulated layer inside your Macintosh."

MacMAME uses ROM (read-only memory) images culled from arcade classics. It enables the Mac to read these ROM files and to emulate the information stored within them, meaning arcade fans can enjoy the real look and feel of arcade classics.

While the emulator is under development, arcade ROM files are hard to find, and are of questionable legality. The development of MacMame could open the door to legal distribution, should copyright-holders choose to release them.

A note on Macmame.org's Web site reads: "ROMs are required by MacMame in order to play they games. They contain the program and graphics data for each game. However, you must own or have license to each ROM-set that you wish to use in MAME. The catch is that most companies won't sell you ROMs or provide a means for you to purchase them."