- Computers & Software
We love the Commodore Amiga!!
The Commodore Amiga has a place in our hearts (just like the ZX Spectrum - this is our favourite of the 16-bit retro computers) so we decided to go full on retro and create a page devoted to this wonderful machine to bridge the 8-bit to 16-bit gap.
There are thousands (perhaps millions?) of us that love Commodore's famous machine that became the premier computer for home gaming taking over where the ZX Spectrum, VIC 20, Commodore 16, Commodore 64 and to a lesser extent, the Commodore 128 left off.
The Amiga is another machine that deserves some love from us so please join in and bask in the shimmering aura of late 80's and early 90's gaming...
The Commodore Amiga logo
The Commodore Amiga still looks good
16 Bit gaming on the Commodore Amiga
The Amiga was a 16-Bit personal computer released by Commodore in April of 1987.
Either way the Amiga (mainly the 500 and 1200 ranges) is remembered as being a superb all round machine.
Home enthusiasts had been used to machines with memory (RAM) in the region of 48K - 128K (with 128K being regarded as a large amount of memory!)
Well along came the Amiga with a whopping 512KB of RAM, a built in floppy disk drive and four channel sterio sound.
New and powerful technology had arrived - and you wanted to get your hands on it.
So please join us as nostalgia takes over and we look back over the lifespan of the Commodore Amiga.
Who ever ventured to Another World?
Did you ever play the brutal sport of Speedball? Who ever made it to Elite?
See our links to amiga games reviews, software houses, the programmers. We've got it all.
Take a long and leisurley stroll down A500 lane....
Arcade conversion Space Harrier on the Commodore Amiga
A fine collection of Commodore Amiga music
Lifespan of the Commodore Amiga
The Commodore Amiga endured a long and successful life.
After it's launch in 1987 it quicky became a popular choice with home users - both the new buyer and those looking to upgrade from their 8-bit model.
The Amiga fended off most other competition (such as the Acorn Archimedes - although this machine carved out a uniqe niche for itself) and only the Atari ST rivalled it in the popularity stakes.
The machine was a very good 'all rounder' boasting superb graphics and sound (making it the ideal games machine and it really took over from SID and AY Music) and also being very good for processing budgets, music creation, artwork (Deluxe Paint packages were superb and allowed those of us with artistic flair to create brilliant pictures) and so on.
But games is what we are all about - and games became the forte of the Amiga range of computers.
As the eighties gave way to the nineties, the Amiga really emerged as the number one choice for home gaming.
All models of the Amiga were generally ahead of the crowd in terms of technological capabilitiy and many fantastic games were released on the Commodore machine.
From it's inception in 1987 to around 1995 the Commodore Amiga reigned supreme as the top dog in the 16-Bit arena (despite the best efforts of the Atari ST and the excellent but expensive Acorn Archimedes).
Various versions of the machine appeared over those eight years which kept the whole 'Amiga scene' fresh and vibrant. For many years no other computer or console could touch it...
An A500 set up as a gaming machine
The Commodore Amiga Workbench Icon
TV Advertisement for the Amiga 500
Amiga Models A500
The first model of the Commodore Amiga to appear was the Amiga 500.
Launched in 1987 this machine sported a huge 512KB or RAM and a fantastic sound chip capable of 4 channel sound.
With it's built in disk-drive, two joystick ports, pre-installed operating system (called workbench) and advanced (at the time) graphics the Amiga 500 quickly became an excellent choice for gamers, musicians and graphics artists.
A colour monitor could also be attached to the machine but most users simply opted to connect to their TV set with many people owning colour televisions by this point in time.
The capabilities of the Amiga hardware soon became apparent. It was a far superior beast to the popular 8-bit machines in terms of graphics, sound and all round capabilities.
Games such as Lemmings, F-29 Retailator, The Chaos Engine and Shadow of the Beast really showcased just what the machine could do.
A lot of users actually hooked the computer up to their sterio system to play the sound and music through the speakers, which was a lot better than the sound that most televisions could produce.
The 4 channel sound really came into it's own if you did this.
Playing Alien Breed this way with the lights off was a scary experience I can tell you!
An Amiga 500+
TV Advertisement for the Amiga 500 and 500+
Amiga Models A500+
TheAmiga 500+ (or 500 plus) was officially released onto the market in 1992.
It was basically an enhanced version of the standard 500 model and was notable for introducing new versions of the Kickstart ROMs and Workbench (the standard Amiga operating system).
You got a nice little animated request to insert workbench rather than the 'hand with disk' icon.
Some minor improvements in the custom chips (the Enhanced Chip Set - ECS) were also made.
The enhancements over a standard A500 were minimal - although the new model sported 1MB of RAM as standard (as opposed to 512KB).
The 500+ did have a few problems though. Some games were incompatible with the new Kickstart ROM (games such as Full Contact, SWIV and Treasure Island Dizzy) and thus failed to load.
To use these incompatible games programs such as relokick could be used to load and image of ROM version 1.3 into memory and boot the machine from there allowing the programs to run.
To help market the 500 plus it was sold with bundled software such as the 'Cartoon Classics' pack featuring Lemmings, The Simpsons (Bart V the Space Mutants) and the computer game of Captain Planet.
Having the original and addictive 'Lemmings' along with your new Amiga was a brilliant way to introduce you to the world of Amiga gaming.
Despite being a decent upgrade on the standard A500 the A500+ was a short lived machine and was superseded by the Amiga 600 a mere six months later, which in hindsight was a pretty bad move by Commodore.
I must say that I owned an A500+ and loved it - I found it to be far better than the A600.
An Amiga 600
TV Advertisement for the Amiga 600
Amiga Models A600
It lacked a numerical keypad making the machine a bit of a space saver - but the missing keypad was actually a hindrance with certain games.
Some titles (such as flight simulators) required a lot of keys for in-game play and the lack of the keypad made some of these games unplayable.
The model did have new versions of Kickstart and Workbench but basically offered little over the A500+.
The RAM memory could be upgraded to 2MB via the trapdoor RAM expansion slot (in the same way a 500+ could be upgraded), and an extra 4MB of 'fast RAM' could be added by using the PC Card slot.
The A600 failed to live up to it's predecessors success and reputation and was the last '16-Bit' Amiga released.
Commodore tried to freshen it up by releasing it with bundled software packs such as the 'Lemmings Bundle' and 'Robocop Bundle' but the A600 gave way to the next generation of 'low end' Amiga's (not including the likes of the Amiga 4000).
Commodore would probably have been better sticking with the A500+ (which really was the logical upgrade to a standard A500) and devoting more time developing their new advanced graphics chip.
An Amiga 1200
Amiga Models A1200
The Commdore Amiga 1200 (A1200) was a third generation machine from Commodore aimed at the home user. It was released towards the end of 1992.
The system directly competed against the Atari Falcon, but really ended up (perhaps inadvertently) sparring against entry level PCs and 16-bit game consoles.
Unfortunately by the end of 1993 (despite having huge success with the Commodore 64, Commodore 128 and the Amiga) things were not going well for Commodore and they suffered heavily from cash flow problems.
Despite the A1200 being a success Commodore went into liquidation and the latest model in the Amiga range almost vanished from the market place.
Despite being a significant upgrade on the A500 and A600 models (including 2MB of RAM as standard), the A1200 proved not to be quite as popular. Various reasons for this included:
- The A1200 graphics capabilities stood up well in comparison to the competition, but compared to VGA and its emerging extensions the Amiga no longer commanded the lead it had in earlier times; it was merely on a par with the rest. This is a shame as for years the Amiga had been streets ahead of anything else in the 'home' market - the A1200 should have ensured that it stayed that way.
- The Amiga's custom chips cost more to produce than the commodity chips utilized in PCs, making the A1200 more expensive in relation to PCs than the earlier models such as the standard A500.
- Fewer retailers stocked and sold the A1200 (especially in the United States).
- The A1200 received bad press (somewhat unfairly) for being incompatible with a number of A500 games. To be fair most of these incompatible titles were older games.
- Some industry commentators felt the trusty 68020 CPU was too old and slow to be competitive and that the machine should have been fitted with at least an '030 CPU. In true fashion of being kicked while you are down, complaints were also made about the capabilities of the AGA chipset. Commodore had earlier been first working on a much improved version of the original Amiga chipset (with a codename of 'AAA') but when that fell behind schedule they had been forced to rush out the much less improved AGA chip. Unfortunately Commodore went bankrupt before the improved chip could be completed and marketed - a real, real shame.
Enthusiasts kept the Amiga 1200 going for years as many peripherals were available for the machine.
The speed of the A1200 could be boosted, extra RAM could be added and hard disks were also available to provide permanent data storage and make the machine a bit more 'PC like'.
To be fair to the A1200 it was a good machine (with a few flaws, but what machine doesn't have any?) - as far as Amiga user's (and us) were concerned, the old magic was still there.
Even today it is possible to purchase a new 'old stock' A1200 (from Amiga Technologies) with models still being sold online.
I'm sorely tempted I can tell you...
The ill-fated CD 32
TV Advertisement for the Amiga CD 32
Amiga Models CD 32
The Amiga CD32 was released in September of 1993 and was Commodore's attempt to make a spash in the console market.
The CD 32 is widely regarded as the first 'true' 32 Bit gaming console and was based on the technology of the A1200.
The console was basically a CD drive with ports to attach game-pads and all games to be released for it were on the compact disc format (a vast improvement over floppy discs).
It was possible to upgrade a CD 32 unit by adding a keyboard, mouse, hard disk etc and turn it into a personal computer, but why would you want to do that? Surely it would have been easier to just buy a standard A1200 machine!
One rather nifty feature of the CD 32 was the in-built MPEG decompression which allowed it to play video CD's which was quite remarkable at the time.
Despite selling roughly 100,000 units the CD 32 came at a time when Commodore where in real financial trouble. As Commodore slipped away, the CD 32 struggled to compete against new gaming consoles that were released.
Many of the games released for it were re-hashings of older Amiga titles (in some cases with no improvements at all which did not go down well with many gamers) and little in the way of new titles were developed to showcase the consoles capabilites.
A few notable titles such as Microcosm, Gloom and Super Stardust prevented the CD 32 from falling into complete oblivion, but the situation with Commodore basically ensured the demise of the console.
The CD 32 has became a bit of a cult item in recent years, and is less well remembered than machines from Nintendo and Sega. Many second hand models can purchased online by enthusiasts.
Speedball II on the Commodore Amiga
True Classics - Speedball 2
Speedball 2 is a true classic Commodore Amiga game. The Bitmap Brothers bettered the original Speedball and Speedball 2 is one of the most talked about and remembered Amiga games.
The frantic mix of arcade action, violence and 'invented' future sport (no doubt inspired by the move Rollerball), superb metallic style graphics and pumping soundtrack made Speedball 2 an instant classic.
Gathering money and improving your team with better players made the one player option truly excellent - seeing your brand new star midfield player steamroller the opposition always raised a chuckle.
Playing against a friend was equally good - it must go down as one of the most satisfying two player experiences on the Commodore machine.
The game is still playable even by today's standards - it really is one of those titles that has stood the test of time pefectly.
Ice cream, Ice cream...
Formula 1 Grand Prix on the Commodore Amiga
True Amiga Classics - Formula 1 Grand Prix
Formula 1 Grand Prix by the legendary Geoff Crammond is another true classic Amiga game.
For the first time ultra realism in a formula 1 game had been achieved.
From the accuracy of the circuits (all real tracks) to the mechanics of the cars the game was a brilliant and in depth racing experience.
Being able to play a full formula 1 season and tinker with your car's settings made this game something you could come back to again and again.
Formula 1 enthusiasts loved it, racing gamers loved it - it was just so absorbing.
Formula 1 grand prix is a classic game, and is best played on an A1200 for a little extra smoothness.
Final thought on the Commodore Amiga
You know we can't help but look back on the Amiga and the company behind the great machine, Commodore with a tinge of sadness.
Commodore have a legacy of two of the greatest machines in the history of home computing in the Commodore 64 and the Amiga. On top of that they also had other popular machines such as the Commodore PET, VIC-20 and the C128.
Commodore went from a multi-million unit selling manufacturer to bankrupcy which is a truly scary thought.
If only they had devoted more time in developing their new 'AAA' graphics chip. If only they had not released the Amiga 600 - the 500+ was a better machine.
If only they had found a more cost effective way of manufacturing the A1200. If only....
Things could have been different. Put is this way, for years the Amiga was the leader of the pack when it came to home gaming.
No consoles or other computers of the era could match it in terms of sound, graphics, playability and general innovation - only the Atari ST came anywhere near it; everything else was way behind.
If the Amiga had remained far and away the best throughout the 1990s then who knows what may have happened?
To think that perhaps the market could be split 'three ways' today.
PC users (who do have the best PC games to pick from), MAC users and Amiga users. "Hey, I'm an Amiga, have been since the eighties." It's got a ring to it.
Thankfully with the likes of Amiga technologies, on-line auctions and good emulators, the Amiga scene is very much alive and kicking, and probably will be for many years yet.
The Amiga was (and still is) a fantastic computer.
Now where's my copy of Speedball 2?......
Classic vertical scrolling shooter Hybris on the Commodore Amiga
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