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What's an Amiga? *NSF56K*

TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
edited February 2012 in Games and Technology
Do we even have NSF56k warnings anymore?

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Anyways, I've spent about a year now exploring the Amiga Format and I've had a blast. Today, getting into Amiga gaming is easier than it's ever been, and I'm of the opinion that it's a style of retro gaming that is worth looking into. It's no secret on this site that I adore retro gaming - I wouldn't hesistate to call the 16-bit generation my favorite in all of gaming. The conventions, styles, and general methods of gameplay from that period of time remain fun to me to this very day. That isn't to say I reject modern gaming, but rather, if I have the choice, I will go back to that period 9 times out of 10. As someone who grew up with the Sega Genesis and SNES, I've found that there are entire catalogs of games of similar style and complexity out there for the other, more obscure formats. This is basically the sister thread to my What's a Turbo Grafx 16 thread, intended as a primer to getting into Amiga gaming and fleshing out the mystique surrounding it.

What is Amiga?
The history of Amiga is long, complex, and fascinating but, being that this is a primer thread, I'll skip to the heart of the discussion. Amiga is a series of computers brought out by Commodore in 1985 (the same year the NES was released in North America). This description, however, sort of sells the format (the correct term when describing the Amiga as a whole, instead of "console") short. When people say computer, most people will think of something akin to DOS or Windows, but Amiga isn't really like that. It's more like a video game console than anything else, which goes back to its conceptual roots, where it was originally envisioned as a video game console that could be expanded into a personal computer. As such, it shares more features in common with console gaming than most other computers. In parts of the world, namely the UK and eastern Europe, Amiga was the most popular and primary gaming format by a wide margin from about 1986 until around 1993, completely dominating the NES, SMS, Genesis, and SNES.

Global Popularity (or lack there-of)
That last line might have caught you off guard. Amiga bigger than the NES, Genesis, and SNES? If that's the case, why is it virtually unheard of in the US and Japan? Well, for a multitude of reasons, the Amiga simply did not catch on in those regions (at least, not to the extent it caught on in Europe). The circumstances surrounding this are explained in detail in that Amiga History link I posted above, but the long short of it goes all the way back to the Video game Crash of 1983. While it's mostly assumed that the crash was global (and to an extent it was) the reaction to said crash were not universal. Where as, in the US, we pretty much abandoned gaming until the industry was revived in 1985 by Nintendo, in Europe, the crash signified a switch from dedicated gaming consoles towards gaming computers. Rather than buying machines completely dedicated to gaming, from the early 80's until the mid 90's, Europeans bought into machines which looked like a computer, but behaved like a game console. It's during this period that the greatest European gaming computers took over the market, from the ZX Spectrum 48k, to the Atari ST (Atari remained a huge gaming force in Europe well into the 90's, unlike the US). The best, and most supported of these gaming machines was undoubtedly the Amiga, which was low cost compared to the IBM PC or Macintosh, but boasted graphics and sound on par with a Sega Genesis.

Features of the Amiga Format
The Amiga format is defined by two characteristics - its CPU and its GPU. At the heart of the Amiga format the motorola m68k processor, a 16-bit (and later, 32-bit) CPU operating at roughtly 24 mhz (usually). Those with an eye for retro-gaming will likely know this processor as the same processor that powered the Sega Genesis, Neo Geo AES and MVS, and numerous other game machines (like the Sharp x68k, Capcom CPS2, Tandy FM Towns, etc). The M68k inside the amiga is much faster than those typically found in consoles, however (the Genesis, for example, operates at 7 mhz, while the Sega CD's m68k operates at 14 mhz). The most defining component of the Amiga, however, is it's GPU. Upon release, the Amiga was undoubtedly the most advanced home electronics equipment ever released, and it remained that way until about 1990 (when the SNES was released). It's imperative that one remembers the time frame when the Amiga was released. In 1985, computer gaming largely was black and white. Console gaming still looked more like the Commodore 64 than anything else. Comparable computers offered CGA (read, 4 colors - cyan, magenta, yellow, green, and white (and black)) colors. The average computer looked like this:

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The average console game looked like this:

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The amiga, by contrast, looked like THIS:

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This image of King Tut is one of the most enduring images of the Amiga. It was very widely shown off as a display of the graphical capabilities of the Amiga at the time, and this, along with a strong endorsement by Andy Warhol, established the Amiga as the first multimedia computer. Before apple became associated with video editing and photoshop, Amiga was there doing the exact same thing with it's incredible video toaster hardware and Deluxe Paint (probably EA's greatest piece of software ever). If you were in television or film, you used an Amiga at the time to do video editing. If you worked in print, you used an Amiga with deluxe paint to do your work. If you made games, for the NES, SMS, Sega Genesis, SNES, etc - you used an Amiga with deluxe paint to create your sprites and backgrounds. In short, the Amiga was the format of choice when it came to anything video or audio.

Speaking of that audio component, the Amiga boasted the most impressive audio hardware hardware of any machine for quite a while. It was only when the Sound blaster 32 eventually released that it found an equal. Amiga games use a format called .mod, short for modulation, which provided a number of channels to play music created using samples. It's perhaps most comparable to midi, although it has certain restrictions which gave it its own unique flavor. Like just about every great gaming machine, the music for the Amiga has a very unique sound which is instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with the hardware. The best way to demonstrate the awesome capabilities of the Amiga is to compare music written for the Amiga to its contemporaries:

This is stage 1-1 (wilderness) from Golden Axe on the System 16 arcade board:



This is the Sega Genesis version:



And this is the Amiga version:



This is the Rave music from Cool spot on the Sega Genesis:



This is the SNES version:



And this is the same song from Cool Spot on the Amiga:



Whether you prefer the Amiga version or not is up to you (I personally much prefer the Amiga versions of both songs above) but what is undeniable is that there is a certain sound inherent to the Amiga versions. Again, keeping a reference to the time this hardware was released will give you a much better appreciation for the sort of power it had.

Games on the Amiga were distributed in two formats - 3.5" Floppy disk:

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And 650 mb CD-Rom. Disc art for these CDs range from console-quality, like this chuck rock 2 label:

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to well-below shareware and freeware quality labels, like this Guardian label:

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Games for the Amiga don't need to be installed, in fact most cannot be installed. Nor do they have to be manually launched from the OS (called workbench on the Amiga). To boot a game, you simply pop the disk into the Amiga and turn it on. The machine will then boot into the game. Turning the Amiga on without a game inserted will result in a purple screen prompting a game to be inserted, as most Amigas didn't support a hard drive (and thus, workbench itself was distributed on floppys which were booted into just like a game):

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Additionally, unlike the IBM PC or Macintosh, or virtually any modern PC, the Amiga didn't need a specialized computer monitor. Although most amigas were shipped with a standardized (and incredible) 1080S monitor from commodore, the machines were intended to be used with a standard TV, and most software was written with a normal TV in mind. Almost all Amigas feature a standard RF-out port, or an A/V port. In fact, finding an amiga with a VGA-out port is actually pretty hard to do, as, on most models of Amiga, VGA-out was sold as a separate add-on. Today, this is the ideal Amiga setup:

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Like most European gaming computers, the Amiga used a standard Atari 9-pin controller port. This is both a blessing and a curse. For the vast majority of the Amiga's life, but any sega or atari controller works with it. As such, most games use only 1 button and up to jump, but you can modify an SMS or Genesis controller to map up to a second button easily. A few games use button 2 on sega controllers, but due to the way the A button is read on a genesis controller (it shares the pin with the B button and is toggled via a high-pin switch), 3 button gaming isn't feasible on an Amiga.

With the introduction of the CD32, however, the Amiga did get a standardized 6-button controller which works with many late-amiga games, and is only compatible with the Amiga (i.e. you can't use it on a genesis). Unfortunately, it's pretty much trash:

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There exists only 1 third party CD32 controller, but luckily it's goddamn awesome. It goes by two names, either the "honey bee controller" or the "competition pro CD32" (not to be confused with the competition Pro, which was an extremely popular 2-button joystick for the amiga). It is essentially a mashup of all the 16-bit controllers - shape and D pad of the genesis, button layout of the SNES, and turbo switches of the Turbo Grafx 16. I have two of them, and it's probably my favorite controller from that era:

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Additionally, every Amiga supports a 2-button mouse (usually plugged in to controller port 1) and, obviously, a keyboard.

Models of Amiga

When I got into the Amiga, I was at first completely overwhelmed by the number of models and configurations of Amigas that existed. Amiga 500, Amiga 600, Amiga 1000, Amiga 2000, Amiga 1200, Amiga 3000, Amiga CDTV, Amiga CD32, Amiga 4000, OCS, ECS, AGA, and so forth. To add to the confusion, the Amiga models aren't sequential, and thus it's not enough to simply choose a large number and expect a great Amiga. The Amiga 2000, for example, is in some ways inferior to the Amiga 600, and was released earlier. Some versions might lack a specific port or interface, some have less ram, some have more, some are compatible with a hard drive, some are not, etc.

In reality, there are only 2 models of Amiga you need to worry about - the Amiga 500 and the Amiga 1200, and each of these comes in two main flavors (computer or console). Though it's all, at the heart, essentially the same hardware with minor tweaks and upgrades, pretty much all Amiga gaming can be broken down into these two types.

For the sake of simplicity, I'll say that the Amiga 500 is comparable to a stock sega genesis in that the vast majority of games released for the format are Amiga 500 games. The Amiga 1200 can be compared to the 32X, in that it saw a speed increase in the CPU, and the graphics chip (called AGA) was improved (although not as drastically as compared to the Genesis->32X transition). More importantly, the Amiga 1200 is mostly backwards compatable with the Amiga 500 library, outside of a handful of games.

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The Amiga 500

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The Amiga 1200

Now as I mentioned, these two models themselves can largely be bought in 2 different configurations - one shaped like a computer, and one shaped like a console. The Amiga 500 and 1200 refers to the computer shaped models, while their consolized counterparts are the CDTV and CD32 respectively. The CDTV is an Amiga 500, sans floppy drive, that is massive and shaped like an old-school VCR. The CD32 is an Amiga 1200 that is tiny, looks like a Sega Genesis, and also lacks a floppy drive.

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Amiga CDTV

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Amiga CD32

Now your first inclination might be to assume the consolized versions are superior. In a lot of ways, they're easier to get into - they're familiar, easy to set up, and aesthetically pleasing. However the lack of a floppy drive really hurts - the vast majority of Amiga games are floppy only. And while you can add a floppy drive to both, doing so is expensive - more so than picking up an additional Amiga 1200 or Amiga 500 to go along with your CDTV or CD32 would be.

As I mentioned, the Amiga 1200 can play most Amiga 500 games (the number of games which cannot be played on an Amiga 1200 today is insignificantly tiny) making it overall the best selection if you're getting into Amiga. The Amiga 1200 was faster (featuring an 68030 32-bit CPU over a stock 68000 16-bit CPU), more ram standard (2 mb over the 512kb in the 500), and had an improved GPU (which allowed for AGA (advanced graphics accelerator) games instead of the standard OCS (original chip set) graphics of the Amiga 500 or the ECS (Enhanced Chip Set) of the Amiga 600). There do exist a tiny number of CD32 exclusive games (as in, games only released on Amiga in the CD32 format), most noticeably Flink (which also saw a Sega CD port).

Disadvantages of Amiga gaming
While, over all, I enjoy the experience the Amiga gives me, I cannot simply ignore some big downfalls associated with Amiga gaming. While, overall, I'd compare the experience of playing an Amiga to that of playing a Super NES or Sega Genesis, in many ways it is noticeably inferior.

Getting into Amiga gaming involves getting around a lot of barriers. I dont think most are willing to do the research or put in the money needed to make playing on an actual Amiga worthwhile. you really do need the competion pro controllers, and the good games go for anywhere between $40-$70 after shipping from the UK. When you do wind up with a sweet, full setup, its actually a decent console-like experience. but I suspect many people who impulse buy will be turned off by the prices involved. cheap games tend to be shitty games, like oscar or dangerous streets.

And thats not even getting into specific quirks about amiga gaming in general. Suffice to say you need to temper your expectations. If you go in expecting, for example, full screen gaming, you're going to be disappointed. the vast majority of games run in small windows that are maybe 70% of the total screen, normally in the upper right corner of the screen.

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A screenshot of Shinobi that shows off the black boarder surrounding the screen. And dont expect to use every button on that gamepad - you'll be lucky to get 2 buttons at the most. And this leads me to the concept of up for jumping. See, most Amiga games used only 1 button (since most simply used Atari 2600 or similar joysticks) so that button was used for firing most often. In truth, most game from that era didn't need more than 2 buttons, especially platformers which mapped jump to a button. Thus, to get around this limitation, most developers would map the up direction on the joystick to jump. In Great Giana sister, for example, jump jumps while the button is used to throw fireballs. For this reason, it is very wise to track down an Amiga Gravis gamepad, which has up mapped to a button, especially if you've cut your teeth on mainstream consoles. The good games on the cd32 that weren't quick and dirty ports will normally run closer to full screen, and will spare you the "joy" of pressing up to jump, but those sorts of games are rarer.

I hope you dont demand music in every game. or sound effects. or both. some games will give you the choice of one or the other, but not many will let you have both.

If you go in with an open mind and can get passed these flaws, Amiga gaming isn't terrible. But dont let that 32-bit claim fool you, you're getting something much closer to the sega genesis than a sega saturn (and in 9 out of 10 cases, if a game is released on both the genesis and Amiga, the genesis version is better). that said, the few games which are really worth playing exhibit none of these flaws, but as I noted, you will have to pay a bit for those games.

The biggest flaw, however, revolves around actually obtaining and using the hardware.

Importing an Amiga
As I mentioned earlier, the Amiga was a massive hit in Europe, but it didn't make a huge splash in the US or japan. In fact, the CD32 was never even officially released in the US, seeing only an extremely limited release in japan (as in, less than 100 units). Because it's a much more European-centric format, the overwhelming majority of its software is written for the PAL standard, not NTSC. For this reason alone, getting an NTSC Amiga is not recommended, as in most cases you're going to be missing out on 90% of the format's best titles. But, as anyone who has ever looked into the subject is well aware, getting something meant for PAL to display correctly on an NTSC screen is an extreme exercise in frustration.

Luckily for you, the reader of this thread, I spent over half a grand trying out various hardware solutions so that you don't have to. If you do chose to import hardware, don't skimp on the video converter - cheap solutions simply won't work. I first tried a cheap Pal->NTSC converter and it never powered on. I tried other video converters of varying quality, and most got hung up around the need for a non-interlaced signal. After trying almost a dozen converters, I found one that works perfectly with both the Amiga 500, and Amiga 1200 (along with the Amiga CD32):

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The Atlona CDM-660 typically goes for about $150 online, although you can find it for cheaper if you really look around. It'll convert both an S-video and composite video signal both ways (either PAL->NTSC, or NTSC->PAL). In truth, this is an awesome piece of hardware that, if you're really into retro gaming, has uses beyond just the Amiga. The only major downside is that it doesn't support RF-input, requiring an RF->Composite converter if you're looking to get into, say, Amstrad CPC gaming. But for it's cost, it's very useful. Compared to other converters, the video quality is excellent, without a hint of ghosting or blur that typifies these sort of converters (in fact, when outputting through S-video, the picture quality is almost too crisp).

This isn't all you're going to need, however. European outlets output at 220v, while our American outlets output at 110v. You're going to need a power inverter to get this machine turned on. Unfortunately, places like fry's tend to only stock plug converters, which simply change the size and shape of the plug. Do NOT use these - they're cheap and will MELT within hours. They're extremely dangerous and you're better off just lighting your $20 on fire, as its safer. I use this instead:

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These are a bit pricey - I paid $60 for mine (well,$120 actually, since I have two) but they're high quality and most importantly they are SAFE. You can safely keep this baby plugged in 24/7 without worry. Make sure you get something rated for at least 300 w - I went with 500 w actually just to be certain.

With both that video converter and the power inverter, you can safely connect your European Amiga to an American TV and outlet and enjoy the full range of what the Amiga offers. Best of all you can connect two Amigas to that video converter at the same time - my CD32 connects via S-video and my Amiga 1200 connects via composite, with a switch on the back to change video. I daisy chain the inverters and thus my entire setup looks like this:

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Games can be easily imported via Ebay, although you can expect to pay between $40 to $70 for complete games (box, manual, disks) after shipping. Some games will require the manual as a form of copy protection, although there exists projects online to provide digital copies of Amiga manuals for the purpose of defeating this copy protection (thus enabling second-hand sales).

I realize however that this is way, way more than I could ever hope most people would go through to experience Amiga gaming, which leads me to the subject of emulation.

Emulation - Legal, modern day Amiga experience

For me, there is nothing better than experiencing the real deal on real hardware. For most, however, the best option is to play Amiga on their modern PC. Unlike grey-area emulation of console games, Amiga emulation is 100% legal, and is, for most, the preferred way to experience the Amiga today. Following Commodore's closing, ownership of "Amiga" changed hands many times until, today, it resides with the people who put out Amiga Forever. Amiga Forever is an incredible package - $30 gets you legal copies of every Amiga kickstart rom, along with a legal copy of Amiga Workbench 3.1, and a registered copy of Win-UAE, the actual emulator. This is everything you will need to run Amiga games (and programs) on a modern PC. With this setup, you can either A) Run real Amiga CD32/CDTV games on your PC via your CD-Rom drive, or B) Play freeware/public domain games. Tons of developers have released their entire amiga libraries online for free, including Delphie software (Another World, Flashback) and Team-17 (Super Stardust, numerous others).

I have a decent Amiga library today - 53 games across both CD and Floppy. Which leads me to the meat of this topic (and likely why people are still reading this):

TheSonicRetard on
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  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    Games worth playing
    There is absolutely no way I could ever hope to cover every Amiga game worth playing - it has a library into the tens of thousands, much larger than even the Genesis and SNES. There are numerous ports from the mainstream consoles of varying quality (in general, if it comes form Japan, it's probably a terrible port), and an unlimited number of public domain (read: homebrew) games. Quality ranges from among the best 16-bit games ever released, to the worst games of all time. One of the biggest problems about getting into Amiga gaming is figuring out what to play - you can easily drown in the library unless you have some direction. Thus, I'm going to limit my discussion to the top 10 games I've found on the format, which are largely exclusive to the format (i.e. no mainstream console port, although they may exist on other European computers, probably the Atari ST). Before I do so, however, I want to express the ways in which the Internet has made getting into retro-consoles so much more fun and easier.

    When I get into a new console or computer, I really get into them. I love to read the history, read articles and reviews on software, both written today AND from the time it was alive. I just like taking it all in - it's like a whole other world of gaming to explore. In many ways, this research process is just as fun to me as actually playing the games. Thus, I feel it's important to point out the two most important research tools I used:

    Lemon Amiga
    Lemon Amiga is the best Amiga website in the world. It is a large database of just about every Amiga game ever released, with a powerful search engine that lets you filter results. Users can offer quick reviews, ratings, or even detailed, multi-page reviews. You can search by developer, by aggregate ratings, by publisher, by format (i.e. Amiga 500, Amiga 1200, CD32, CDTV, etc). You can even search for games which have been ported to other formats, like Sega Master System or Arcade ports. Each game has a variety of links, such as magazine reviews online, fansites, screenshots, boxart shots, advertisements, manual scans. Everything you could ever possibly need. It ties in closely to the next site I'm going to talk about:

    The Online Amiga Magazine Rack
    I wish there was something like this for US magazines - The Amiga Magazine Rack is an on-going project to convert every amiga magazine from about 1985 to 1998 into a digital, searchable format. There are thousands of full magazines on this site, indexed by page number and content. You can, for example, search for a specific game and it'll return pages from magazines featuring cheats, guides, reviews, interviews, previews, etc for that game. You can also view entire issues online. As I mentioned, Lemon Amiga ties in closely with this site, with every game on that site linking to content on this site, so that when you search for, say, Chuck Rock on Lemon Amiga, you'll get interviews and reviews from a variety of Amiga Magazines hosted on this site. This is a very cool resource, as it gives you a window into the viewpoint of Amiga from the time period when it was alive. I've gone through and read entire catalogs of many magazines - my favorite has to be Amiga Power, which is setup very similar to both GamePro and Nintendo Power. CU Amiga also is a great magazine, and Amiga Format is another I recommend (Amiga Power is a sister magazine to Amiga Format, which concentrates entirely on games while Amiga Format is more about software and Amiga in general. Think the difference between EGM and EGM2).

    One last link before I get into the games: 100 Amiga games in 10 minutes is part of a series of videos on youtube and is an excellent look into Amiga gaming. If nothing else, if you've made it this far into this topic and are still curious about Amiga gaming, you should watch that video. It gives you an extremely quick look into what the format has to offer, and it'll only take 10 minutes of your time. The music is, of course, awesome.

    Now onto my top 10 games list (in no particular order):

    Lionheart
    When I first saw this game, I knew it had classic written all over it. The very first Amiga game I ever saw screenshots of, and the game which alone got me into Amiga gaming. It's the very first game I picked up. A true Amiga exclusive, with excellent visuals that doesn't require anything other than a stock Amiga 500. It's a hack and slash platform game, similar to Blackthorne if you're familiar with that. Incredible graphics and music. Remember once again that this is from hardware that, at the time, was competing with the NES.
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    Shadow Fighters
    It's testiment to this game's quality that I'm including it on my top 10 list, because I was sure I'd hate it the first time I saw it. Everything about this game seems stacked against it - it's a 1 button fighting game on a format notorious for terrible fighters with a terrible art style (it seriously looks so ugly). Yet after spending extended amounts of time with it, I can confidently say that it's not only the best fighter on the system, but one of the best fighting games of that entire generation. Despite playing with 1 button, each fighter has 9 normal moves, and between 5-10 special moves on top of that. A balanced, fun fighter that is worth digging up. It comes from Gremlin Games, which I'll get into later on.

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    Lotus Trilogy
    This series of games survived the fall of Commodore and eventually wound up on other systems sans the Lotus license (as Top Gear) but the originals on the Amiga remain the best in the series. Incredible music and varied gameplay from each game in the series, it's one of the best remembered series on the format. Lotus 1 is a standard racing game, while Lotus 2 is the best Outrun clone you can find, and Lotus 3 plays like a mix of Lotus 1 and Lotus 2. Like Shadow Fighters, this one also comes from Gremlin games. You'll be noticing these guys name quite a bit. They're still around today, I might add. You might know them, as they're a high profile developer: They changed their name to Sumo Digital a few years ago.
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    Fightin' Spirit
    I said Shadow Fighter is the number 1 fighting game on the Amiga, but this one has to be 1b. A single glance at this game will tell you that the developers are gigantic Neo Geo fans, as interviews have confirmed. It looks, sounds, and most importantly FEELS like a neo geo game, specifically fatal fury. It's also one of the most full featured games on the entire format, taking full advantage of the 6-button CD32 controller.
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    Zool 2
    When I first got my Amiga, Mr_Grinch on this site recommended that I stay away from Zool, because as a Sonic fan I'd hate it. In actuallity, I was familiar with Zool from the Sega Channel days. He was right to steer me clear of it, as Zool 1 is a terrible game, with awful controls, no level design, and poor art direction. Where he screwed up was not recommending me the sequel, which is massively improved in just about every way, to the point where I'd call it one of the best 16-bit platformers around. It's also a game which got better as it went along - the Amiga 1200 port improved upon the Amiga 500 version, and the Amiga CD32 version wound up being a hell of a game with exclusive levels and a kick-ass soundtrack (along with proper controls). There exists a Jaguar port (which I own) but it's a straight 1:1 Amiga 1200 port, complete with up-to-jump. It's made by, you guessed it, Gremlin Games.
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    (Super) Stardust
    These two games - Stardust and Super Stardust - are likely the best known Amiga games today, due in large part to their incredible, well-performing PS3 sequels. Brought out by Team-17, one of the best developers on the Amiga, these games play true to their PS3 successors, taking the standard Asteroids concept and injecting it with a serious amount of awesome modernization. These games are actually a bit deeper than the PS3 sequels, featuring currency, a shop, a story (with cutscenes!), and an interesting 3D tunnel minigame. The CD32 version is the best available.
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    Alien Breed
    The best way to describe Alien breed is that it's the overhead missions from Contra 3 expanded into a full game. There are numerous alien breed games on the amiga, and late in the Amiga's life it became the format's premiere FPS, with the last Alien Breed game running on an engine that rivaled that of Quake. However, those games required incredibly beefed up Amigas, and thus most refer to the overhead games. They're incredibly fun in 2-player mode. If you've ever played Loaded on the PSX or Saturn, it's a lot like that.
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    Turrican Trilogy
    I said I'd avoid games which were massively ported, but it's impossible to talk about the Amiga and not talk about this series of games. Although C=64 fans also claim this game as their killer app (and with good reason), most will say that the definitive port belongs to the Amiga if they don't claim the C=64. The best way to sum up these games is a mix of Contra and Metroid. They're incredibly well polished, and among the best action games of any platform from that era. Both the C=64 and Amiga ports demolish any other version of the game - the Sega ports are massively inferior, and the TG-16 port is awful. The Atari ST ports are also notably inferior. This is about as close as the Amiga ever came to a mainstream world-wide hit.
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    Beneath a Steel Sky
    If there is one single game out of this entire topic that you should play above any other, this is it. The Amiga was home to some of the best adventure games of all time, featuring killer ports of the monkey island games. But this game takes the cake. I have this game in both 15-floppy format and CD format. The CD32 version features full voice acting which is actually really good. A tale set in a post-apocalyptic world, it's one of the most refined adventure games I've ever played, bringing the formula down to the the simplest mechanics - all that's needed is a 2 button mouse. The boxed versions of this game come with a comic book detailing the events leading up to the intro of the game that was drawn and written by Alan Moore. This game is actually freeware today, and fully compatible with ScummVM. Even if you find this whole Amiga deal isn't for you, you should still check out this game.
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    Ruff n' Tumble
    Probably the poster-boy for just how far ahead of the competition the Amiga was, this game is fully playable on a stock Amiga 500 with an OCS. Fantastic art direction and one hell of a plaform game to boot. The best way to describe this game would be a slow Gunstar Heroes. This game was made by an all-star team of Amiga developers and it shows.
    DigVy
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    EAYsx.png
    RTEgJ.gif
    89T5A.png

    Keep in mind, this is only a personal top 10, and I could hash out several more of these lists before I start to get into bad games. It's impossible to compress the entire Amiga library into a single post and do it justice, this is simply intended to get people interested in exploring the library.

    What about Demo scene?
    This could be an entire topic in and of itself (and Hardcore Gaming 101 has an excellent article on the subject here), but the Amiga format largely popularized the Demo scene (which began on earlier PCs like the C=64). Demo scenes grew out of crackers who wanted to personalize cracked releases of games - they'd brand their releases with increasingly elaborate intros. These crackers, those men who gave birth to an entire art form, still exist today - Razor 1911 for example. But many of these crackers realized they had more fun creating the demos than just cracking the game, and soon shifted their talent towards creating full demos. These are simple programs that set out to stretch the very limits of what is possible on the amiga visually and audibly. There are decades worth of demos out there, and it's impossible to say which are the best, as the technology behind them was often shared (or imitated, or competed against, or all of the above).

    The Amiga demoscene exists to this very day, with thousands of demos releasing every year. These really should be seen on real hardware, as youtube videos just aren't nearly as impressive. Many historic graphical tricks were berthed from these demos, from parallax scrolling to h-blank interrupt polling. If you're a graphical geek, this is as good as it gets.

    Because I can't possibly mention demoscene without providing at least ONE example, I'll link one of the best known demos of all time: State of the Art



    Conclusion
    I spend a lot of time at retro-gaming sites, everything from Sega-16 to racketboy to assembler. Across the most hardcore retrogaming sites, knowledge of the Amiga is still iffy - I think the format has a stigma about it which has been hard to shed. The difficulty in getting a working setup has provided a barrier which prevents many from getting into what is an awesome form of gaming. For too long, Europeans have horded one of the best-kept secrets in gaming, and it's time the Amiga stretch its legs. If I've inspired even one person to take a closer look at Amiga, then I've done my job.

    I'll close this post with a few pictures from my own personal setup:

    qWhhK.jpg
    My power inverter next to my Amiga 1200. The Amiga 1200 has its on-and-off switch on the PSU, which is external, so I have it setup next to the machine itself for easy power on and off.

    w0ykd.jpg
    The Atlona CDM-660 PAL->NTSC video converter.

    zo6MX.jpg
    My CD32 running Shadow Fighters

    Credits
    TSR thanks:
    MR_Grinch
    Hardcore Gaming 101
    Lemon Amiga
    Arstechnica
    TheNewGuy
    KoolKitty89
    The entire EnglishAmiga board
    Paperweight of the Assembler forums

    TheSonicRetard on
  • The_SpaniardThe_Spaniard Registered User regular
    Youtube videos not loading for anyone else?

    Xbox 360/One Gamertag: SpanWolf - PS3/PS4 Gamertag: Span_Wolf
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  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    Youtube videos not loading for anyone else?

    Should be fixed now, it was a BBCode error

  • Big ClassyBig Classy Registered User regular
    Awww yeah. This brings back memories. Lotus 2 was incredible. Didnt it have a track editor?

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  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    Big Isy wrote: »
    Awww yeah. This brings back memories. Lotus 2 was incredible. Didnt it have a track editor?

    Yes it does! A surprising amount of Amiga games feature level or track editors. It wasn't wide spread enough to be considered a standard feature or anything, but you found them way more often than you did on other consoles or computers.

  • Big ClassyBig Classy Registered User regular
    I lent my copy of the game to a friend and he lost it. We didn't find it till years later...... Under the fridge in the kitchen <img class=" title=":lol:" class="bbcode_smiley" />

    camo_sig2.png
    My Backloggery PSN: Bigisy24
  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    Big Isy wrote: »
    I lent my copy of the game to a friend and he lost it. We didn't find it till years later...... Under the fridge in the kitchen <img class=" title=":lol:" class="bbcode_smiley" />

    I'm looking to get big box copies of the Lotus games. I currently have Lotus Trilogy for the CD32, but it came in a CD case. I have 6 big box games - Stardust, Shaq Fu, Shadow Fighter, Fightin Spirit, Mr. Nutz, and Beneath a Steel Sky. I like the Big Box games - they look awesome on my shelves.

  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo Crushing pussy; Marry a man Registered User regular
    It's true, everybody had an Amiga. Normally 500s. Not me though, I had a huge penis, I mean a 1200. And it didn't play that many games. And that made me sad.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • eobeteobet Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    I had an Atari ST... and the lack of Dungeon Master in this thread is shameful.



    EDIT: On the action side, the lack of Speedball 2 and Supercars 2 is also disturbing...

    eobet on
    Heard the proposition that RIAA and MPAA should join forces and form "Music And Film Industry Association"?
  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    It's true, everybody had an Amiga. Normally 500s. Not me though, I had a huge penis, I mean a 1200. And it didn't play that many games. And that made me sad.

    I bought a boxed Amiga 1200 Dynamite Pack last december, and in addition to Oscar and Dennis (aka Dennis the Mennace), and, of course, Workbench, it also came with Deluxe Paint 4 (and it's HUGE manual).

    Deluxe Paint is an incredible program. It was photoshop before there was photoshop. The manual is also cool, because it goes deep into how HAM mode works on a code level. Also, a lot of the example pictures come from Desert Strike, which was still in development (and whose art was apparently made in Deluxe Paint). Both Desert Strike and Deluxe Paint were by EA.

  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    eobet wrote: »
    EDIT: On the action side, the lack of Speedball 2 and Supercars 2 is also disturbing...

    But speedball 2 was ported to like every system ever, and I said I was going to concentrate only exclusive games (Turrican being the exception).

    And why would I mention Supercars 2 if I didn't even mention Super Skidmarks or ATR, 2 superior over-head racers?

  • lu tzelu tze Registered User
    edited February 2012
    In the features section you define the Amiga almost solely in terms of its hardware. I'd argue that the operating system is at least as impressive, and well worth mentioning.

    Someone posted this video in the last Amiga thread we had, I think it showcases it pretty well:



    See that? Pre-emptive multitasking in 1985... Something everyone takes for granted now, but Apple didn't get it until the year 2000.

    lu tze on
    World's best janitor
  • FeriluceFeriluce Adrift on the morning star. Hoquiam, WARegistered User regular
    My first computer was an A500. Went to an A2500 from there and finally a pretty souped up A1200... which is in my closet. It's PAL (got it in NZ) so I'd have to spend a bit of cash to see if it still works or not. Workbench was a fantastic OS imo.

  • eobeteobet Registered User regular
    eobet wrote: »
    EDIT: On the action side, the lack of Speedball 2 and Supercars 2 is also disturbing...

    But speedball 2 was ported to like every system ever, and I said I was going to concentrate only exclusive games (Turrican being the exception).

    Ah, missed the exclusivity part. Then what about the Shadow of the Beast series?
    And why would I mention Supercars 2 if I didn't even mention Super Skidmarks or ATR, 2 superior over-head racers?

    Man, fuck that noise! :P

    Heard the proposition that RIAA and MPAA should join forces and form "Music And Film Industry Association"?
  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    lu tze wrote: »
    In the features section you define the Amiga almost solely in terms of its hardware. I'd argue that the operating system is at least as impressive and well worth mentioning.

    Well, this is meant to be really an Amiga gaming thread, hence why I didn't get into accelerator cards, CD32 expansions, WHDLoad, top applications, or the OS. But you're right, Workbench is a great OS and if you'd like to go into detail about it, feel free to. One feature of both the OS and the Amiga hardware that I've never seen duplicated anywhere else is the ability to change resolution within a window. Having 2 windows running at 2 different resolutions is still pretty mind blowing today.

  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    eobet wrote: »
    Ah, missed the exclusivity part. Then what about the Shadow of the Beast series?

    Those are also on just about every system ever. And while you could argue that Shadow of the Beast is just as iconic to Amiga as Turrican (or maybe even more-so since Turrican gets claimed by numerous C=64 fans as well), I'm of the opinion that only Beast III is worth playing - the other two are maddeningly difficult and their level design is... well, questionable.

    EDIT: I will say, however, that the Beast games have pretty much the greatest box art EVER. Psygnosis used to have the best style boxes. I am looking for a complete bigbox collection of the beast games based on their boxart alone.

    TheSonicRetard on
  • lu tzelu tze Registered User
    edited February 2012
    lu tze wrote: »
    In the features section you define the Amiga almost solely in terms of its hardware. I'd argue that the operating system is at least as impressive and well worth mentioning.
    Well, this is meant to be really an Amiga gaming thread, hence why I didn't get into accelerator cards, CD32 expansions, WHDLoad, top applications, or the OS.
    Ah sorry, didn't notice this was in gaming. I'll bang my drum elsewhere.
    But you're right, Workbench is a great OS and if you'd like to go into detail about it, feel free to. One feature of both the OS and the Amiga hardware that I've never seen duplicated anywhere else is the ability to change resolution within a window. Having 2 windows running at 2 different resolutions is still pretty mind blowing today.
    I'd forgot it could even do that. That's bloody amazing.
    I'm of the opinion that only Beast III is worth playing - the other two are maddeningly difficult and their level design is... well, questionable.
    Did anyone ever play 1?

    I know plenty of people who had it... but actually played it? The disk swaps, oh god.

    lu tze on
    World's best janitor
  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    lu tze wrote: »
    I'm of the opinion that only Beast III is worth playing - the other two are maddeningly difficult and their level design is... well, questionable.
    Did anyone ever play 1?

    I know plenty of people who had it... but actually played it? The disk swaps, oh god.

    I played it on the Sega Genesis. That is actually a decent port of the game, as it retains much of the parallax scrolling which made it so visually impressive on the Amiga, but without the disk swaps.

    I don't find disk swaps to be that annoying, personally. I had X-wing on the PC, so I'm used to dozens of swaps per game. Although, I will concede that WHDLoad makes multi-disk games a lot more enjoyable. I installed Beneath a Steel Sky, for example, to get around the disk swaps.

    Luckily, as most games in europe were priced per number of disks included, most games tend to be 2 disk games, with a third disk usually containing a fancy animated intro and nothing else. That makes dealing with the disk swaps much easier.

  • KlykaKlyka DO you have any SPARE BATTERIES?Registered User regular
    I had an Amiga 500 and the games on it were amazing.
    One of my favorites was always this:


    The music is FANTASTIC.

    Another one that blew me away was this:


    Again, AMAZING music.

    SC2 EU ID Klyka.110
    lTDyp.jpg
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo Crushing pussy; Marry a man Registered User regular
    Turrican was one of the seminal games of my childhood. I think that was what that inspired my brother to get into the industry.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    Man, the oldest thing I played was a Caleicovision. Amiga does look nicer.

    steam_sig.png
  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    Cantido wrote: »
    Man, the oldest thing I played was a Caleicovision. Amiga does look nicer.

    Well, the Colecovision released in 1982 and competed more against the Atari 5200, which itself was a consolized version of the Atari 8-bit computer line from europe (i.e. the Atari XE). The Amiga is from an entire generation beyond that (and competed against Atari's generational successor, the Atari ST).

    You can think of the Colecovision, Atari 8-bit, and C=64 as being akin to the NES, while the Amiga and Atari ST were more of an SNES compared to those computers/consoles. If that makes sense.

  • Panda4YouPanda4You Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    It's true, everybody had an Amiga. Normally 500s. Not me though, I had a huge penis, I mean a 1200. And it didn't play that many games. And that made me sad.
    Yeeeeeah... wasn't there some compability issues between 1200s and "normal" amigas? I never had one, but I read a few amiga magazines back in the day, for some reason, and remember seeing something along those lines.

    Panda4You on
    "In this discussion of copyright it's actually appropriate to call it theft:
    This music is being (preemptively) removed from the public domain; it's being stolen from the people."
  • Mostlyjoe13Mostlyjoe13 Thanks Gort! The Dream RealmRegistered User regular
    edited February 2012
    As an American gamer I remember the Amigas being everywhere in the stores for about a decade, but they were always the far more 'eh' alternative. I think this was that weird era when while I had a NES my family had a Zenith PC. Hell, around that time I had a personal Trash 80 to play with. Basically Amiga being too PC-like kinda hampered it as the American PC market was already pretty saturated. We had gotten if memory serves me the 386+ era and a lot of Amiga titles started seeing ports. (Not all mind you.) Pure console development was dominated by Japan imports and PC gaming was in his first 'golden era'. And while technologically amazing the Amiga kinda hit the market with the same impact that the ill fated 3DO or Neo Geo of a later era. Expensive, pretty, impressive, but impractical.

    But damn if I didn't eat up the post Amiga era of Demo music as the PC scene started emulating it in the early mid 90's.

    Mostlyjoe13 on
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    PSN ID - Mostlyjoe Steam ID -mostlydeadman
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo Crushing pussy; Marry a man Registered User regular
    Panda4You wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    It's true, everybody had an Amiga. Normally 500s. Not me though, I had a huge penis, I mean a 1200. And it didn't play that many games. And that made me sad.
    Yeeeeeah... wasn't there some compability issues between 1200s and "normal" amigas? I never had one, but I read a few amiga magazines back in the day, for some reason, and remember seeing something along those lines.
    It was the 3000 and 4000 that would play nothing but Putty. The 1200 played most things, but would sometimes have odd little problems with games. I remember that some got special enhanced releases too (Like there was a version of Zool, which had better graphics and whatnot).

    I also had a hard-drive and a CD-drive. Both of which were almost entirely useless. The CD version of Jungle Strike wouldn't respond to joystick controls, which was incredibly annoying. And I must have spent hours trying to get Civilisation working as an install (because fuck swapping disks). Interesting though.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • RamiRami Registered User regular
    We had Deluxe Paint, the manual I remembering about 3-4cm thick. I spent a lot of time playing Zool, never played the sequel though. Probably the game I spent the longest time playing was Lemmings 2, cementing at an early age the superiority of mouse control.

    Steam / Xbox Live: WSDX 3DS FC: 2637-9461-8549 AC:NL Trading List
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  • CampyCampy Registered User regular
    Holy nostalgia batman! I never owned an Amiaga, but used to get as much time playing them at friends houses as I could. Amongst the many awesome games played there was one which I've never been able to put a name to/track down. It was a isometric topdown view shooter with various aliens, some of which for some reason I remember as looking like Weetabix... You could fall off the edge of the levels, but could grab back on and crawl back up. Between levels there was some sort of maze-ish race section which I could never do aaaaand thats all I can remember other than I loved playing it.

  • CygnusZCygnusZ Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    I basically remember Amiga as being the system that had the best PC-ports in the early 90s. Bard's Tale, Starflight and Defender of the Crown looked like such trash on my XT/AT CGA display, but the Amiga versions were amazing.

    EDIT: Wait a sec, did Amiga get arcade perfect ports like X86000 did?

    CygnusZ on
  • SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    Amiga 500 was good times. They kept limping for a while too, I'm fairly sure we used ours until '95 or so for word processing and stuff, and some games were still being released by then. I even recall running some very rudimentary 3D rendered shooter on it.

    The game I played most was this gravity based onscreen competitive shooter that you could create levels in? I really can't remember the name.

    The fact that workbench booted quickly of a single floppy into a functional OS is pretty amazing.

    Steam: SanderJK Origin: SanderJK
  • lu tzelu tze Registered User
    edited February 2012
    Campy wrote: »
    Holy nostalgia batman! I never owned an Amiaga, but used to get as much time playing them at friends houses as I could. Amongst the many awesome games played there was one which I've never been able to put a name to/track down. It was a isometric topdown view shooter with various aliens, some of which for some reason I remember as looking like Weetabix... You could fall off the edge of the levels, but could grab back on and crawl back up. Between levels there was some sort of maze-ish race section which I could never do aaaaand thats all I can remember other than I loved playing it.
    Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters.

    That game was fucking awesome.


    lu tze on
    World's best janitor
  • Lindsey LohanLindsey Lohan Registered User regular
    Amiga was a neat system - a buddy of mine actually had one in college as his primary system back in 1996ish. The only real complaint I have is presumably due to the lack of popularity over here a ton of the games (especially platformers) have that distinct European feel to the graphics - much like every Ocean game back in that generation. Unfortunately by the time I played it much it was fairly aged looking compared to my shiny new PS1 so it was more a novelty/retro item for us to play.

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  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    man there are some serious omissions here

    what about frontier: elite 2?

    bitmap bros shit like speedball 2: brutal deluxe and chaos engine (clearly best version)

    then other stuff like dragon wars, swords of twilight, etc etc

    dat amiga so good

    obF2Wuw.png
  • Lindsey LohanLindsey Lohan Registered User regular
    I was going to read the TG16 thread but getting a malware warning - anyone else get that?

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  • BeastehBeasteh THAT WOULD NOT KILL DRACULARegistered User regular
    pretty sure i had a commodore amiga 500+

    many, many childhood days spent sat playing dizzy egg, lemmings, cannon fodder, pinball dreams, etc etc

    i recently asked about what happened to our old amiga: 'oh it's in your cousin's attic, has been for years'

    so i am dusting it off this weekend!

  • BeastehBeasteh THAT WOULD NOT KILL DRACULARegistered User regular
    edited February 2012
    I think my fondest memories of amiga were the crack intros



    Beasteh on
  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Austin, TXRegistered User regular
    Great OP, read the whole thing and would read again.

    I missed out on the C64 and Amiga, as we never really could afford them. My childhood was basically all Nintendo/Sega until high school when I got my first PC, outside of playing on friends PCs or C64s.

    To share my Amiga memory, when I got my first PC, it was about a year before the internet really became a thing, so I spent a lot of time on BBSes. The town I grew up in had several local ones (one was run by the head dude of Cheat Happens, Chris O'Rorke). One I remember was called Red Dwarf, and it was an Amiga BBS. I was always curious about the programs I would see posted there, but of course unable to run them. There was a girl I would talk to online (and on the phone) that lived in town, and I remember she had an Amiga. Sometimes I'd ask her what she was doing, and she'd say she was playing some game I had never heard of, but I was always jealous, because they always sounded so cool.

    camo_sig2.png
  • BeastehBeasteh THAT WOULD NOT KILL DRACULARegistered User regular


    summer 1992, this was pretty much my theme tune

  • Linespider5Linespider5 Agent of Etc.Registered User regular
    eobet wrote:
    I had an Atari ST... and the lack of Dungeon Master in this thread is shameful.


    OH MY GOD.

    I thought I was the only one.

    ...Granted, my experience in Dungeon Master largely involved throwing my weapons at enemies rather than direct combat, and eventually letting my entire group starve to death after eating all the screamer slices and not finding any more food, but the majority of my gaming childhood involved a basement room stuffed to the gills with games and machines that didn't seem to exist anywhere in in Wisconsin the world, and that no one but my father seemed to ever know about.

    2014png.png
  • DietarySupplementDietarySupplement Registered User regular
    The kid mode dungeon in Dungeon Master (for the Apple IIGS, at any rate) was awesome. You basically got all the great items right away and went and killed the dragon.

    Skull2185 wrote: »
    Basically, (PlayStation) Home is Second Life Ultra Light? Most of the cool stuff, none of the creepy blimp on blimp fucking.
  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Panda4You wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    It's true, everybody had an Amiga. Normally 500s. Not me though, I had a huge penis, I mean a 1200. And it didn't play that many games. And that made me sad.
    Yeeeeeah... wasn't there some compability issues between 1200s and "normal" amigas? I never had one, but I read a few amiga magazines back in the day, for some reason, and remember seeing something along those lines.
    It was the 3000 and 4000 that would play nothing but Putty. The 1200 played most things, but would sometimes have odd little problems with games. I remember that some got special enhanced releases too (Like there was a version of Zool, which had better graphics and whatnot).

    I also had a hard-drive and a CD-drive. Both of which were almost entirely useless. The CD version of Jungle Strike wouldn't respond to joystick controls, which was incredibly annoying. And I must have spent hours trying to get Civilisation working as an install (because fuck swapping disks). Interesting though.

    Today, a harddrive is NOT useless as there exists WHDLoad, which lets you install virtually any game onto the HDD, including games which are incompatible with the Amiga 1200 (which work under WHDLoad). Additionally, WHDLoad has a subproject which aims to patch every Amiga game to have full CD32 controller support. There are already hundreds of Amiga games which now support the CD32 controller under WHDLoad.

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