With the Apple TV 4 developer kit in the hands of developers, select software makers are experimenting with different ways to take advantage of the iOS 9-based tvOS operating system. Developer Kevin Smith has created a MAME Emulator for the new Apple TV that is based on a similar port for iPhones and iPads. These special software kits allow users to run vintage video games on their modern devices, such as Frogger and Metal Gear Solid.
The video below shows some of these games in action. As MacRumors notes, the A8 chip in the new Apple TV is able to handle these simulated games fairly well. The developer explains on his YouTube channel how the emulator was developed:
The original work is based on iMAME4all which is a iOS universal app, port of MAME 0.37b5 emulator by Nicola Salmoria for all iOS devices (iPad HD, iPhone 4G , iPod touch and older) based on GP2X, WIZ MAME4ALL 2.5 by Franxis. I created a target for tvOS and set about getting the code to compile for arm64 (Mandatory for AppleTV), fixed a varierty of compiler and linker errors. Removed code which was incompatible with tvOS frameworks and simplified code to work on tvOS. Added a basic icon compatible with tvOS. I added some tweaks to the source to allow the pause button to exit the game and supporting the resolution for the 1080p display. The controller being used is the SteelSeries Stratus XL and paired to the AppleTV via the Bluetooth settings. Most games are running well though there are some sound issues with Metal Slug and Street Fighter which I suspect are arm64 related which I still need to investigate.
The developer notes that he is using a third-party gaming controller to play these gaming titles. The Apple TV includes a Bluetooth remote control with microphones and accelerometers, but the new box is also able to support third-party controllers for a more varied experience. Over the past several years, MAME Emulators have appeared on and off on the App Store with Apple moving quickly to remove the apps from the App Store. It is to be seen if Apple follows a similar policy with the Apple TV, and this would not be too surprising given that both devices run similar App Stores.