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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Commodore Amiga: a Visual Compendium

Currently active on crowdfunding web site Kickstarter, "Commodore Amiga: a Visual Compendium" is the follow-up project to "Commodore: a Visual Compendium", a book designed and created by Sam Dyer.

At the time of typing the Amiga book has 24 days left to run on Kickstarter, yet has already reached a whopping 213% of the initial target funding amount. Why the enthusiasm for this? It could simply be down to the affection held for the Amiga. It could be that following the success of Sam's first book people know he'll do an excellent job with this, or it could be that the amazing bonuses and stretch goals are enticing people to help finance the project. Most likely it's a combination of all three.

The lowest amount you can put down to get a physical copy of the book is £25. At this level you get the book, a PDF copy of the book and an exclusive hand written demo scene postcard to go with it. Not too shabby at all, but it's some of the higher tiered levels that have really proven popular, 

For £60 you get the book, a PDF version of the book, a handwritten demo scene postcard, your name in the book and, most importantly, a full boxed copy of the legendary Putty Squad. The £75 version gets you the same as above, but the box is also signed by the development team.

Unfortunately, all of the Putty Squad tiers have all gone, but there are still a load of other amazing lower and higher priced tiers. £50, for example, gets you the book, a PDF copy of the book, your name in the book, a Simon The Sorcerer poster signed by author Simon Woodroffe. Another £50 tier swaps the Simon poster for some Lemmings bead art, signed by Lemmings creator Michael Dailly.

There's a mass of lower and higher priced tiers still available, and you can find details of them over on the Kickstarter page.

Since the Kickstarter went live the first stretch goal was reached. Passing the £50,000 mark has meant that all backers will receive an engraved Amiga bookmark. If the £60,000 milestone can be reached all backers will receive a lovely Another World poster, and, if the big milestone of £75,000 is attained an exclusive Shadow of The Beast CD made specially for this Kickstarter, will be given away to all backers. Each of David Whittaker's legendary tracks will be remade by Tim Wright AKA Cold Storage.

With what promises to be a fantastic book, some fantastic backing tiers and amazing stretch goals you'd be mad to miss this one.

Check out the Kickstarter video below, and get yourself over to the Kickstarter page.






Sunday, 12 October 2014

Installing a Gotek Drive in my A500

Over the past few months I've been reading much about Gotek drives, and that if flashed with a specific firmware, they can be used on classic Amiga systems.

My main Amiga's an A1200 tower, and while that's packed with games that can be run via WHDLOAD I have two issues - the first being that not all games will run on my current set-up, and the second ia that my A1200 tower is a desktop machine, meaning that if I fancy some gaming I've got to do it sat at my desk.

I also have an Amiga 500 hooked up to a CRT TV via RGB SCART. The picture quality is A1, and I also have a nice big beanbag in front of the TV. This, I felt, was a prime candidate for a Gotek drive conversion. Now, the one thing I wanted to make sure I avoided during the conversion was making any modifications to the Amiga 500's case. I'd seen photos of users who'd replaced the internal drive with a Gotex, and had expanded the original drive slot to make the Gotek's buttons and USB slot accessible. This was something I did not want to do.

After a quick search on Ebay I found a seller who was not only selling a beige (well, you've got to make sure the colour scheme matches, right?) Gotek drive, but it was flashed and ready to run on Amigas. Perfect! I also found a user selling floppy power and data extension cables, so I got one of those ordered, too.

The drive arrived the following day, and keen to get the device tested I opened up the Amiga 500, disconnected the power and data leads from the floppy drive and hooked them up to the Gotek. The seller had warned me that if I saw '---' displayed on the digital display of the Gotek it meant that the USB drive I was using wasn't compatible. A couple of sticks later and I found an old 2gig USB stick I'd got from Play.com that worked.

My Gotek drive temporarily installed using the original floppy drive cables
With a compatible USB stick found I then copied the SELECTOR.ADF file to the root directory, created a few sub-folders and copied a couple of ADF files over to those. I then powered the Amiga up and sat back.

A few seconds later I was greeted with the familiar blue Workbench screen, and then the Selector menu system loaded. From here it was simply a case of selecting the ADF image I wanted, the Selector program resetting and the game loading as if it were from floppy (this includes the same speed as if running from floppy!)

The following day the extension cables I ordered arrived in the post. It was now time to make a proper job of installing my Gotek drive in my Amiga 500.

Out went the old floppy power and data leads and in went the new ones. To keep the original floppy drive secure I was hoping to leave it in the A500 case, run the new cables on top of the drive and through the floppy disk slot on the side of the case. Unfortunately, while it seemed like a nice idea it was simply too tight a fit, and the top case of the Amiga wouldn't close properly. I popped the lid back off, removed the floppy drive and placed it carefully in the Screen Gems box the machine originally came in.

Next, I passed the floppy data and power cables through the floppy disk slot on the side of the A500 lid, placed the lid back on top, put the screws back in and hooked up the Gotex.

Ocean's "Beach Volley". Panned by Amiga Power, but I love it
As you can see from the above photo, having the Gotex sit outside the external case may not be as neat as situating it inside, but doing it this way I have an un-bastardised case, and it doesn't look much different from when I used to have DF1 sat on top of the machine.

I'm really pleased with my new Gotek setup. It's given my Amiga 500 a new lease of life, and at the same time it's meant I can play those classic Amiga titles without having to sit at my computer desk.

If you're interested in getting hold of a Gotek drive and wish to learn more I recommend you check out the below video from Kookytech. It covers everything you need to know about the device in an interesting and informative way.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Pixelated Platformer "Boxx" Released

If you're a visitor to the English Amiga Board you'll have no doubt stumbled upon Cammy's excellent tutorial for the games creation system "Backbone". While the games created using the utility regularly receive stick for being resource hungry (running most Backbone authored titles on anything less than an 030 machine is pretty painful) it gives those with little or no programming ability a chance to create their own Amiga games.

Using Cammy's tutorial as a guide YouTube user Lemming880 has had a fantastic go at putting his own game together, and it looks rather stylish. Rather than go for flash graphics and effects, he's instead gone for pixelated and brightly coloured sprites and platforms.

Titled "Boxx", you can see the game in action below.



The game can be downloaded from the Aminet by going to http://aminet.net/package/game/jump/Boxx, and of you want to learn how to design and create your own games with Backbone you really need to read Cammy's tutorial over on the English Amiga Board.

My thanks go to the hardworking team over at Lemon Amiga for the heads-up on this one.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Unofficial CD32 Ports Project

Yet again it's been a number of weeks since the last blog update, and for that I apologise.  I am, however, pleased that my return to the bits and bytes of the Amiga Gamer blog is accompanied by some news that is bound to interest the CD32 users out there.

Clearly of the opinion that there were a stack of Amiga titles released over the years that, with a bit of work, could run on Commodore's 32-bit console, Amiga user earok set to work, alongside a number of others, on porting over a mass of classic Amiga titles.

I'm not sure how many weeks or months the conversion team have been working on porting these titles, but for the initial set of releases they're planning to unleash one game per day over the course of September, with a 160 games compilation landing on the 30th.

Not only do these releases feature full control pad mapping, but Cannon Fodder, for example, includes a CDXL version of the music video which originally required the expensive FMV add-on, while Flashback features a CDXL video of the intro from the 2013 re-release. All releases also come with full front and rear CD case artwork, which look absolutely gorgeous.

At the time of typing this article up, the releases so far are:

Sep 1st: Flashback
Sep 2nd: Tearaway Thomas
Sep 3rd: Cannon Fodder (+ CDXL Intro)
Sep 4th: Rick Dangerous Collection
Sep 5th: Super Cars Collection
Sep 6th: Kick Off Collection
Sep 7th: The Great Giana Sisters
Sep 8th: Lemmings CD32 Collection
Sep 9th: Dune II Sep
10th: Rally Championships

For up-to-date Unofficial CD32 Ports news follow the thread over on the English Amiga Board, and for download links visit The Unofficial CD32 Ports blog.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Ultimate Guide to Amiga PD Games - Physical Book Coming Soon!

Published in digital form to Amazon, and on the receiving end of some glowing feedback since it was released back in April, "The Ultimate Guide to Amiga PD Games" has been selling steadily over the past three or four months.

During this time a number of people have asked whether a physical release is in the pipeline. Well, it looks like it is. Here's Christian;
"I have submitted the text file to Amazon's Create Space (on demand printing service) so I should be receiving a physical book version to do a final proof read - then it should be available for purchase. 
In terms of the price - it is currently £20.99 - I wanted to try to keep it under £20 but I think it is due to the number of pictures and the size of the pictures - Also the book is large at around A4 rather than A5 size - I have also added an honorable mentions section following on from some feedback on games that readers thought should be included - this may go if it has a significant impact on reducing the price.
Will provide more updates over the coming weeks - thanks again to everyone who has bought a copy of the e-book version - I have uploaded a newer edition (1.1) which should be available as a free update and removes some known errors. 
Once this project is complete I hope to get back to working on some PD games for the Amiga - work commitments permitting"
Update! Since posting the above, things have moved on somewhat. Here's Christian with a short update;
"Proof Copy of physical book version of our "Ultimate Guide to AmigaPD games" has been ordered and should arrive later this week. 
Fingers crossed there are not too many changes to make"
I will, of course, post once the book goes on sale or can be pre-ordered. In the meantime you can keep up-to-date with the book developments by following AmigaPD on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, 15 August 2014

ST to Amiga Conversion of Slap Fight in the Works

Originally released into the arcades by Taito way back in 1986, and subsequently across numerous home computer formats by Imagine Software in 1987, Slap Fight failed to receive an Amiga conversion.

A cracking shoot-em-up with some really neat power-ups, it's a real shame that Commodore's machine was denied a conversion of the game.

Well, it's now possible that an ST to Amiga version may finally surface, as English Amiga Board member StingRay recently posted the following;
"I may create an Amiga port. So far it's fun (protection was pretty useless, though). See screenshot"
At present this is all the information regarding the project that's surfaced. Naturally, if anything else comes to light I'll update the blog.

In the meantime, check out the excellent Atari ST version below.



(Video courtesy of YouTube user alex76gr)

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Tales of Gorluth - First Batch Sold Out

If you were planning to order a copy of the Zelda-like RPG, Tales of Gorluth, directly from the author, well, you're too late. Such was the demand for the CDROM only title that the author has sold all of his initial batch.

The good news is that Amiga Kit will be stocking the title, and it's now available to pre-order at the following link: http://amigakit.leamancomputing.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=1200.

Priced at a mere £11.80 (a slightly odd price, but there you go), the game boasts over 5 hours of gameplay, 64 colour graphics, more than 40 pieces of music and 3 separate quests. The CDROM contains both English and German versions of the game.

Demos of the game can be downloaded here (English), and here (German).

You can see the game in action below. Note, the music playing in the video is from the game.



My thanks go to the Lemon Amiga team for the heads-up on this.