Marvel Super Heroes Arcade: Play as bosses on MAME

In the home version of Marvel Super Heroes, the secret codes to play as the boss characters – Dr. Doom and Thanos – have been known for a long time. For the Arcade original (which nowadays is mostly played via emulators such as MAME), the codes are also circulating, but many sources offer incomplete information, suggesting that it should work a certain way, when it does not. The most accurate instructions I found, that work flawlessly and consistently, are in this GameFAQs entry and/or this Youtube video.

In short:

  1. It can only be done on the Japanese version of the game
  2. The system has to be set to Free Play
  3. The first coin switch must be held down while inputting the button sequences

The last bullet prevented me from succeeding at first, as I am used to play as Player 2. As it turns out, even if you are selecting Player 2, the switch that must be held down is the one for Coin 1.

For the codes to work, hold down the switch before pressing Start to get to the select screen. Then while holding it down, input one of the button sequences below to select the appropriate character. I am using the standard convention (straight from the Arcade operator’s manual), where LP, MP, HP, LK, MK, HK stand for Light, Medium or Heavy, Punch or Kick, respectively.

CharacterButton SequenceAlternate Button Sequence
Dr. DoomMK-LP-Down-LK-MP???

For Thanos, some sources list the first sequence, some the second; both work (verified). This suggests that there might be alternate sequences for the others, but I did not see them anywhere.

MAME-Specific Instructions

For MAME, the ROM to use is mshj.zipMarvel Super Heroes (Japan 951117). It did not work in any other version I tried, including the the earlier Japan 951024 release.

Important: Before launching the game, you must disable coin lockout. In my version of MAMEUI it is done in the ROM properties (through the right-click context menu or by pressing Alt+Enter), in the “Miscellaneous” tab, or by appending coin_lockout 0 in the game’s file in the ini folder. If you don’t disable coin lockout, you will see a “Coinlock disabled” popup when pressing the Coin button, and the input will be ignored.

To enable Free Play, if you cannot read Japanese, follow the instructions in the first link above, or memorize the order of entries from the English ROM. Remember to use whatever button is assigned to “Coin 1” in the game’s inputs.

General Remarks

  • Hold the Coin button before pressing Start. If you only hold it down at the select screen – it is too late.
  • As mentioned in several places – input the codes at medium speed, not too slow and not too fast.
  • A character will be selected as soon as you press the first action button in the sequence, but do not worry – continue with the sequence, and by the time the character jumps out of the portrait, it will change to the fighter of your choice.
  • You can let go of the Coin button as soon as you are done with the code; no need to wait until you see the character change.
  • It works in two-player mode just as well – both players can select any of the hidden warriors (even the same one), as long as the Coin button is held until both players have finished inputting the button sequences.
  • If you lose a match in single-player mode, and continue, the hidden fighter will be already highlighted on the select screen. To choose him again, simply press any attack button, without moving the cursor. Note that Anita uses Thanos‘s portrait, but it will still select her.
  • If you want to select a different hidden character, you must begin holding the Coin button before hitting Start at the Continue screen. The same applies if you want to select any hidden warrior after losing a match in two-player mode.

Hidden Character Special Moves

The list on StrategyWiki is accurate. When playing as Thanos, the normal effect of any Infinity Gem in your possession can be activated using the standard D-DB-B-PP move. When your infinity bar fills up, any of the six Infinity Gauntlet specials can be called upon, using the corresponding B-D-DB-(Attack), regardless of any gems you possess.


1 thought on “Marvel Super Heroes Arcade: Play as bosses on MAME”

  1. Thanks for this. I can now get it to work in MAME by disabling coin lockout. I’ve also tried it on my CPS2 board but it doesn’t work. I guess it’s because I am unable to change the coin lockout using my supergun (which is a shame).

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