Cabinet-friendliness is an aspect of computer software in which every function is 100% controllable using a MAME-like arcade control panel. In the case of emulators or games, if the software is controlled by MAME's default control scheme, or the controls can be redefined to match MAME's, and the software requires no keyboard intervention, then it may be considered cabinet-friendly.
In MAME, the default keys for player 1 are: UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, CTRL, ALT, SPACE, L-SHIFT, Z, X, C, V, 1, and 5 (coin); the default keys for player 2 are: R, F, D, G, A, S, Q, W, I, K, J, L, 2, and 6 (coin); ESC is used to quit. Keyboard encoders, such as Ultimarc's I-PAC 2 PC interface, are designed work directly with MAME, and therefore send only these keycodes to the PC.
Mouse / Trackball
Games which are primarily controlled by a mouse may be considered cabinet-friendly, given the fact that cabinet builders often install a trackball assembly in their control panel.
Examples of Cabinet-Friendly Software
Emulator frontends, such as Wah!Cade, are designed to be operated using the same keys as in MAME.
Jukebox programs, such as MultiJuke, are specifically designed media players that are controlled by MAME's keys.
Examples of Cabinet-Unfriendly Software
- Most PC Games (with some exceptions). Role-playing games, flight simulators, first-person shooters, and adventure games all generally require full use of a keyboard, and therefore should not be considered candidates in game cabinets.
- Emulators for post 16-bit era systems, such as the Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation, and beyond. These systems have controllers with upwards of 10 buttons and one or two analog joysticks in addition to the directional pad. This is often more controls than should be present on a typical arcade control panel.
Varying Degrees of Keyboard Intervention
Some users may feel that a certain amount of keyboard intervention is forgivable as long as it does not disrupt the natural flow of gameplay. For example, if a game requires keyboard input for the sole purpose of high-score name entry, this may be perceived as tolerable.
On the other hand, if the cabinet builder does not plan to include a keyboard in his/her finished product, or if the keyboard is inconvenient to access (e.g.: behind a locked cabinet door), then anything less than 100% cabinet-friendliness would be unacceptable.