Well, I got bored with my routine and I went ahead and played with both emulations. Surprisingly (for me), I had better luck with the fruit machines. At least I got a graphic display with Andy Capp and was able to play the bloody game!
I'd already downloaded a bunch of VPinMAME games and their corresponding tables (and sample files for some of the games). Once I got everything installed proper (I assume I did, since the program starts and loads the tables), but all I end up with is some cheesy little high score display thing. I did the MAME bit and inserted my coins and pressed 1 to start, but nothing beyond that seemed to work, plus for some reason, there didn't appear to be a table to look at. What gives? The .vpt files are in the tables dir, sounds in the samples dir, zipped roms in the roms dir - so how come I don't have the nice 3D flashy screen that I see on the screenshots?
I haven't tried Visual Pinball yet, but it looks extremely cool and I already have the bug to create a table (if I had the time, which I don't...), but I should maybe cool my jets until I get it at least up and running first.