Sunday, 25 September 2016

Reshoot on Amiga CD32

This weekend I had a look at Catacomb 3D on CD32 and there is also another new game for Amiga CD32 in 2016! We now have Reshoot for Amiga CD32 (Amiga 1200/4000 as well) which is available now for EUR36 from and Ares Shop.

I purchased and received my copy in the post last week prior to the Adelaide Retro Computing meeting, which gave me the opportunity to show it to plenty of Adelaide attendees on the CD32.

Here is the Game box and internals - the game itself was written by Richard Lowenstein, with graphics supplied by Australian Kevin Saunders:

As you can see from the system requirements on the back of the box, the game runs on a stock standard Amiga CD32/1200/4000 with no accelerator cards or extra memory needed.

Inside you get a miniature Amiga Joker magazine with a "review" of the Reshoot game, which is actually the instructions!

I am impressed with the quality of the gamebox packaging and CD - it looks exactly like a professional CD32 title from when the system was still available!

Here is Reshoot in the CD32 ready to run:

Here is the game title screen:

The graphics are nice but the screenshots below don't do it justice:

There is a nice Retro soundtrack and spot effects during the game.

I should say from the outset that this game is really hard. Really. I like to think I am good at shoot em ups like this but I don't last long at all!

I was hoping to show more screenshots of the game once I mastered it a little bit, but I sucked so badly at the game I never got the chance! The bullets fired at you follow you around the screen, which makes it quite hard to avoid being killed quickly.

As mentioned I took the game to the Adelaide Retro computing meeting this month with an Amiga theme and had Reshoot running on the CD32 on the big screen for everyone to play on the night. Feedback was positive, but people agreed it was a tough shoot em up!

I think the game itself is attractive, plays fast and looks great.

Others will probably have better luck than me - I will certainly give it another go soon though, as I don't feel I did the game enough justice to do a full review of it. I did want to show it here though.

I include a publicity shot below from the developer from further into the game, which I never got to  -so you can get an idea of the harder (!) enemies later on:

Maybe I am just getting older and no longer as good at these types of games as I think I am! Please don't take my word for it being tough, please try it for yourself!

So there you have it - we have two new games for Amiga CD32 (and other Amigas too) in 2016. Catacomb 3D and Reshoot and the promise of even more games in the works - how fantastic! :-)

Catacomb 3D on Amiga CD32

It is amazing to see that we have new games for Amiga CD32 in 2016! Today I want to take a look at  a new CD32 game called Catacomb 3D, which is a sneak preview of the game provided to me by Pascal Papara ahead of it's release. Thanks mate!

For those who know their game history, they will know that Catacomb 3D was originally written on the IBM PC in 1991 by ID Software, and was the prequel to the classic game Wolfenstein 3D.

Catacomb 3D was a landmark 3D game that lead to ID Software classics like Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny, Doom, Quake and the whole first person shoot em up game genre which is still very popular today.

I am embarrassed to say I have never played Catacomb 3D before, and so the first time I have ever played it is as a port to the Amiga CD32 in 2016!

The funny part was I remember back when these 3D PC games in the 1990's were being touted as not being able to be run on an Amiga and was a strong reason why many people went PC to play these games.

How wrong was that decision - we have Doom, Quake, Heretic, Hexen, Wolfenstein 3D, Descent, Rise of the Triad and many other PC games from that era that run fine on Amiga!

And now, in 2016 we have the game that started it all, Catacomb 3D on Amiga CD32! It was ported by Bzili, and will be released soon as commercial game to purchase as a CD32 title from Ares Shop, Ebay and potentially other vendors that are interested in distributing it!

As with most ID Software titles of the period (Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3d), the main menu to the game allows you to start new games, load a game (I would assume saving doesn't work given it is CD32 - not tested):

You can even play a simple pong game from this menu called Skull N Bones!

Anyway, distraction aside, lets get into the game proper, starting with the CD32 controls, included in the manual to come with the game:

From the main menu we can choose Easy/Normal/Hard game style - I wimped out and chose Easy:

We start entering the level called "The Approach":

Still makes me smile seeing this running on a CD32!

In this game you need to locate the exit gates to progress to next levels, but there are keys to find, as well as additional weapons that can help defeat the enemies along the way:

The longer you hold done the fire button, the more powerful the shot you fire. The level is indicated by the level of the nuclear explosion graphic on the right side of the display.

The Health boosters (called Heals) are essential to get anywhere in this game as you need to keep healing yourself as you go along. These functions are mapped to various buttons on the CD32 joypad as shown earlier.

Health is shown graphically with your head on the top right, which turns into a skull the more times you are damaged. You die if it changes to a full skull!

A little later in the level and you can see the blue circle indicating an exit gate:

I then moved on to the next level, Nemesis's Keep:

Things start getting trickier from here as we need colour coded keys (located in the level) to open locked off sections of the level:

Here is the red key:

Making things even more interesting is that you can shoot the walls, some of which reveal secret tunnels and passages - some even lead to whole secret levels!

Here is an example hidden room, which I shot at a wall to reveal:

As always the enemies are close at hand to slow down my progress:

Moving through the game, and several levels in now things seems easy enough until you start finding some really nasty enemies that require a lot of shots, nukes and bolts to kill. I found myself healing constantly and realised this game is definitely not easy:

It was about this time that my luck ran out in the Brick Chamber, with two nasty enemies taking me apart and with no bolts, nukes or heals left I was easy meat:

Oh dear, game over:

This game will also run on Amiga 020 systems like Amiga 1200 and 4000, and ideally runs best with 4MB Fast memory. It does run ok on 2MB memory though, like on my Amiga CD32 I tested here.

Catacomb 3D is a very fun and challenging game. I am grateful for the sneak preview of the game on CD32 and it is expected to be released very soon to purchase, so keep an eye out for it!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Amiga MIDI on the MIST FPGA

Today I decided to take a quick look at the MIDI functionality on the MIST FPGA system. I had assumed it was included to work with the Atari ST core only, but as I found out the MIDI ports work perfectly well on the Amiga core too!

Those who have been following my blog for a while would have seen my original coverage of the MIST system here, which I bought from, and of course I had it on display at the Adelaide Retro Computing Group meeting this month.

I decided to hook up my trusty Yamaha MIDI keyboard to the MIST to try things out:

For those following my blog from the beginning would know this keyboard from when I tested MIDI using AmigaOS 4.1 on the AmigaOne X1000 way back here.

In this case though, I am using Workbench 3.1 on the MIST with the keyboard connected via MIDI cables. I then fired up Bars & Pipes Professional to try out an example MIDI song:

I am very pleased to report it works perfectly. You don't need to take my word for it though, I uploaded a YouTube video showing it running MIDI from the MIST so you can hear it for yourself:

Have to admit it was kind of nostalgic getting this working as I used to use MIDI on the Amiga 2000HD (which I still have) with this keyboard back in the early 1990's.

At that time I was using Sequencer One, a freebie on an Amiga Format cover disk. So, suitably nostalgic, I decided to try that out next:

I am pleased to report Sequencer One worked really well also with the MIST MIDI ports and my keyboard - no configuration needed:

I then tried out Octamed Soundstudio, which required MIDI output to be turned on in the settings to work, but then worked fine - Octamed can convert .MID files on the fly, meaning I could try out more songs I had in .MID file format:

Last but not least I tried out Music-X, which I had never used before but was pleasantly surprised how nice it was.

I think I might have to play with MIDI some more on the MIST when I have some more time!

For now though I am very happy that MIDI support on the MIST works so well using the Amiga Minimig AGA core. Another great reason to own a MIST!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Adelaide Retro Computing Meeting September 2016

Today I am covering the September 2016 Adelaide Retro Computing group meeting with an Amiga theme. For this meeting we had special guests Trevor Dickinson from A-EON Technology and Robert Bernardo from Fresno Commodore Users Group fly in especially for the event!

I didn't know we picked the same t-shirt to wear for the night! heh.

Before the meeting I met up with Trevor (freshly flown in from NZ) and took him to Rundle Mall to grab a bite to eat. Rundle Mall is the main shopping district in the Adelaide CBD.

Here is Trevor in Rundle Mall, standing next to the iconic Spheres (commonly used as a meeting point and known locally as the balls):

We then made our way to the meeting venue. As we were a bit later than usual, George and Theo from the group committee helped out a bit earlier with the table setups ahead of our arrival. I then had to quickly assemble a very large array of Amiga stuff I brought for the meeting!

I decided to bring an AmigaOne X1000, AmigaOne A1222 (Tabor), MIST FPGA (Minimig AGA), and a CD32 with the brand new Classic Amiga CD32 game called Reshoot I received this week - doesn't get much newer than that!

It took a long time for me to set up, everything before the attendees arrived, but Trevor was very keen to start using the systems once I did!

Also pictured in front is the A.L.I.C.E laptop that Trevor brought along especially for the meeting, but more on that a little later:

I first met Trevor at AmiWest 2014, and it was fantastic to have him here in Adelaide to enjoy our Amiga themed meeting this month!

Trevor also brought in and distributed these interesting Boing Ball recycled page notebooks at the meeting! Thanks for these - I am sure our attendees are as glad to have them as I am! :-)

As mentioned Robert Bernardo from the Fresno Commodore Users Group also flew in from the USA to be here - he is also attending the Melbourne Amiga user Group and Sydney Amiga User Group events while he is here.

Here is Robert together at the meeting with a keen attendee running her own business called JMV Grafix, who produces documentation and graphics for Geos and the Commodore 64 for sale:

Here is an example book from JMV Grafix , which were available for purchase on the night:

Given the Amiga theme for tonight's event, we had no shortage of Amiga systems on display, both Classic and Next Generation. Here is a rare A500 Plus model with memory expansion and internal cpu mounted hard disk expansion - very rare to see one of these Amiga 500 Plus machines in Australia:

Here is the Amiga 500 Plus running Brilliance:

Aron brought along his trusty Amiga 600 along with doing his usual soldering table duties (thanks for this Aron!). The Amiga 600 was running very nicely indeed with wireless internet access via a PCMCIA wireless adapter card.

Running not so nicely and receiving attention from Aron during the evening was this Amiga 2000HD system that was brought in:

Here is another Amiga 2000 brought in on the night, with the case removed - this system has a SCSI HD internally installed:

Mick brought in his NG Amiga - a Sam 440-flex system running AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition:

Mick works on and contributes lots of Amiga OS4 software ports, and so he is quite active in the NG Amiga community.

Here he is with Trevor:

Next up was this very cool expanded Amiga 600 system with built in CD drive!

This Amiga 600 has a ACA620 accelerator installed, as well as a special modified laptop power supply, which bypasses the need to use a normal brick power supply.

The star of the machine for me though was the built in slot load CD drive - there is so little space inside a A600 to squeeze it in but here it is:

In addition to my own CD32, someone else also brought in a boxed CD32 and CRT TV: - here running the Alien Breed/Qwak game CD:

Of course we also had other system too, for example this older PC laptop running Amiga emulation was brought in:

A signed Commodore 64 was also in display:

On the Commodore 64, a company called RGCD is continuing to produce new games on cartridge for the Commodore 64 in 2016 - here is Bomberland which was brought in to display at the meeting:

Theo brought in this Altair system:

Also interesting was this Intel SDK-85 system, displayed at the event:

The system Intel was then powered on to show it does actually still work:

The event was well attended, and people quickly got chatting about all things Amiga and Retro computing!

As this was the first time an AmigaOne A1222 had been displayed in Australia, Trevor was keen for people to see the system is a very capable system - it was busy running Amiga emulation, productivity apps and games too!

Trevor seemed a little jealous of my progress in Super Tux Kart.. :-)

Some interesting Commodore 16 systems and music making hardware for the C16/64 was also brought in:

George brought in his SX64 portable system to try the music making software and CMK-49 hardware out, with Robert involved too:

We then started out main presentation for the evening, with Trevor Dickinson covering A-EON Technology's current projects for Next Generation and Classic Amiga in 2016:

Needless to say we were all fascinating to here all about what A-EON Technology is working on:

One of the projects A-EON Technology is working on is the A.L.I.C.E laptop, which is A Laptop Incorporating a Classic amiga Experience. It runs on a standard Acer x86 laptop, and can run the Classic Amiga, AmigaOS 4.1 Classic experiences alongside your normal Windows or Linux installations.

It can also run linux applications in a way (called Rabbit Hole) that integrates with the Classic Amiga setup, which is running AmiKit X.  Here trevor is using Libre Office running on the Classic Amiga environment for the notes he is using during the presentation.

After his presentation was finished, he kindly fielded questions from the attendees for quite a while, covering topics from Classic Amiga add ons like the Prisma megamix, where he explained the technical software development reasons for the delay of shipping this product (which makes perfect sense), and where A-EON is at with the AmigaOne X5000 and A1222.

He even hinted at some future projects that he didn't expand on, but needless to say they are committed to the NG and Classic amiga platforms in 2016 and beyond. It is wonderful to have new systems and software being produced by them!

It was a great presentation and we are very grateful to Trevor for taking the time for fly in especially for our event!

Let's take a closer look at the A.L.I.C.E system Trevor brought in. Here is the boot menu where you can select from Windows, Ubuntu Mate Linux, Classic Amiga (Amikit X) and AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Classic environments to boot from:

As you can see the AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Classic environment is actually running under FS-UAE on a linux distribution that boots directly into the environment from power on (you can press F12 to see the FS-UAE control options while it is running):

Next, I tried booting it into the AmiKit X environment, which is a highly customised AmigaOS 3.1 build with the new Rabbit Hole functionality:

With the Rabbit hole functionality, you can launch linux applications like Libre Office, Firefox, Skype, VLC, etc, all from within the Classic Amiga environment, and they integrate seamlessly with it:

Here is Libre Office running within the AmiKit X environment:

It was snappy and performed well while I was mucking around with it.

This is an exciting development, as it means we will be able to buy a standard laptop that can run other normal day to day computing needs in 2016, but can function as a Classic Amiga while doing it! Exciting indeed, and I look forward to when we are able to buy one!

Moving back to the meeting itself, my NG Amiga table setup was getting quite the workout by this time, with brand new AmigaOS 4.1 game Amiga Racer with my requested Australian Holden Commodore HSV car being raced quite a lot on the night!

I also had Tanks Furry, Wings Battlefield, Reshoot, Amiga Racer game boxes and games running on the night:

My AmigaOne A1222 got plenty of looks and plenty of questions  to me and Trevor about it during the evening:

I covered the case and build of the AmigaOne A1222 extensively in this blog - this entry about the A1222 in the new case is worth checking out for the people (and there were many) that loved the case I put it in and wanted to know where to get it.

Also pointed out to me from one of the guys who made them originally, was this 3.5 inch external floppy drive made in Adelaide for the Classic Amiga:

Never actually seen one of these drives myself before, so I was glad to see it tonight!

 The second hand tables were doing good business as usual:

It was great to see the kids really enjoying playing new games on the AmigaOne X1000 - here they are playing Voxelnoid:

Here is Trevor and George chatting about A-EON's current and future plans:

It was a truly great evening and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came to the event and especially to our special guests Trevor and Robert!

I had a great time and I am really looking forward to the next meeting!