AMIGA alive

AMIGA alive

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Happy anniversary, Easy1541!

Ok, not reeeally Amiga, but then still very Amiga, is Fabrizio Farenga's Easy1541 website.

If you ever considered somehow doing something useful with your Amiga regarding the C64, it might have been to build an Easy1541-compatible cable, connect the Amiga to a Commodore 1541 5.25 inch floppy drive, and modify disk contents using Fabrizio's "Easy1541" software (see links below).

It's been 25 years since "Easy1541" was created, and many Amiga/C64 users have chosen this solution to access their C64 disk drives and images.

To celebrate the software's 25th anniversary, Fabrizio has created a website that takes his creation to the next level: "Easy1541" goes online!

You can upload disk images, and retrieve individual files from it, or upload individual files, and retrieve a disk image created from those files.

Certainly a useful tool everyone should bookmark, and a nice way to keep the spirit alive!

Click the link below to check it out:

https://www.easy1541.com

Happy 25th anniversary, Fabrizio & Easy1541! 

 

 

If you want to know more about Easy1541, it's probably best to take a look at the AmiNet package: http://aminet.net/package/misc/emu/Easy1541

Friday, October 22, 2021

Prevue Guide guru meditation live on air

One of the strengths of the Amiga - at the time - was that it generates a "native" PAL/NTSC video signal, compatible with that of any home TV, making it naturally suited for video and broadcasting production. 

Genlocking - the inter-locking of two video signals, allowing blending, chroma-keying, overlaying, etc. - was the latest thing, and the Amiga could provide such a video signal without any expansion devices.

Probably completely unknown in Europe, a US company created a TV channel out of this combination. It lauched in 1981 as "Electronic Program Guide" using Atari 8-bit computers for image generation. Until about 1998, moving to several Amiga setups and undergoing several name changes including "Prevue" and "Prevue Guide", it provided TV program information, weather forecast, celebrity interviews, etc. In it's final Amiga version the software called "PrevueGrid" was able to display video feeds on a split screen, and play back audio feeds, while displaying channel programs. After 1998 the company continued under a different name, and the Amiga platform was gradually replaced with PCs. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PrevueChannel.png

So what you saw on your TV on this channel at the time was provided by an Amiga computer (together with video feed, genlocking, and other broadcasting devices). Fast-forward to the present day, YouTube, and a worldwide community supplying video content. A seemingly endless amount of original material, digitized footage, and captured broadcast video are freely available on the internet - including hours of recorded Prevue air time. Which is great, both for Amiga enthusiasts, and TV viewers that enjoy the nostalgia. 

But the fun part comes with the mishaps. Of course something goes wrong every once in a while, and AmigaOS running PrevueGrid is no exception. As is the person operating the Amiga computer in question. This results in an enjoyable mix of low-res video, genlocking gone wrong, Amiga and PrevueGrid system reboots, and other little glitches, together with oldskool TV programming - a nice look back at 1990s broadcasting technology and content.

Here are a couple of video links to get you started:

The Saddest Prevue Guide That Ever Lived 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLoEMcIPdbI

Prevue Guide Guru Meditation 10/9/91
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC6MKcmETWE

Prevue Guide failure (with reboot) May 31, 1991 (part 1 of 4)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybx1HDMw6wk

PREVUE Guide / Channel rebooting - Commodore Amiga Guru Meditation visible
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x9Vado0S7M

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Additional sources:

http://prevueguide.com

http://prevueguide.com/wiki/Prevue_Grid (software)

http://prevueguide.com/ULVSG/Index.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Pop_(American_TV_channel)

Monday, October 18, 2021

AMIGA alive software: xiffview 0.5

Yet another update of IFF ILBM imageviewer xiffview for Linux computers. Now it can double- or triple-scale image, display individual bitplanes, give color information, and a couple of other features have been added.

xiffview is slowly turning into quite a usable tool. In addition to the aforementioned, it also got a brand new status bar for user messages, a rudimentary online help, and it displays pixel coordinates when the mouse moves over the image.

When the mouse pointer is positioned over a color palette cell, color information is displayed on the status bar in RGB8 and RGB4 format.

Using keys F1 to F8 you can disable display of individual bitplanes of the image, which might be helpful for sprite data generation, color analysis, and other things.

The C code generated by command "to-sprite" now contains a placeholder "xSPRITENAMEx" in the variable names used. You can use it to search-and-replace with your desired sprite name - for example, if you replace it with "ship", this will give you varnames like "sprite_ship_newvsprite", "sprite_ship_colors", etc.

xiffview 0.5 displaying one of four ILBM bitplanes

As always, see AmiNet readme file for more information.

You can download xiffview from AmiNet:
http://aminet.net/package/misc/unix/xiffview


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Games galore #25: Shadows of Sergoth (pre-order), 1987 Rescue in Berlin, Jackal, Jake and Peppy, Crazy Columns full version released

Are you not entertained? Don't worry, we have more new Amiga games!

"The Shadows of Sergoth" available for pre-order

We've reported about beautiful dungeon-crawler game "The Shadows of Sergoth" before, when the first demo was released - let's just sum it up quickly: it's a quite polished enhanced version of an 2018 Amstrad CPC game of the same name, it looks and sounds great, is almost 3d, and if you like this kind of stuff you need to have it.

Since Oct. 6th you can pre-order the full game as digital download, and physical, boxed edition. The box contains three floppy discs, a printed instruction manual, a real compass (!), a die with 20 faces, stickers - and you get the digital download on top of that. That's a really nice package.

The full game requires 2MB ChipRAM (as opposed to 1.5MB ChipRAM for the demo), a faster Amiga is recommended (A1200 / 68020), and the release date has been set for Nov. 13th 2021.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FBB0s54VkAQk1RC?format=png&name=small

Go to DOUBLESIDED GAMES' online store to place your pre-order, or download the demo:
https://doublesidedgames.com/shop/commodore/commodore-amiga/the-shadows-of-sergoth/


Additional sources:
https://doublesidedgames.com/the-shadows-of-sergoth-for-the-commodore-amiga-is-now-available-for-pre-order/
https://twitter.com/DSidedGames/status/1445783848839639048

Jackal Amiga port (demo, work-in-progress)

1986 Konami arcade game "Jackal" (aka "Top Gunner") gets a remake for OCS/ECS Amigas. "Jackal" is great, it's a bit like "Commando" meets "SWIV", and being an oldskool arcade title, it's got that certain look and feel that just makes you want to play.

After a first demo was released in August, a second one was in September, proving the author's dedication, but this is still work-in-progress. The pictures below are taken from the game's website (see link below), and you can find demo videos on YouTube. The graphics are obviously appealing, and there's a nice rendition of the original arcade music playing along - but being an unfinished product everything is of course still subject to change.

https://img.itch.zone/aW1hZ2UvMTE2Mjg5OS82ODEyMDkzLnBuZw==/347x500/9995Yt.png

https://img.itch.zone/aW1hZ2UvMTE2Mjg5OS82ODEyMDk0LnBuZw==/347x500/lc2XPH.png

Go to NeesoGame's Jackal web page for more details, and name-your-own-price download (currently demo release no. 2):
https://neesogames.itch.io/jackal-amiga-port

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2021-09-00051-EN.html
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2021-08-00069-DE.html

1987 Rescate in Berlin / 1987 Rescue in Berlin

This kind-of-movie-spin-off point-and-click adventure game by Jose A. Gonzalez / Irongate was announced with a preview video early this year. 

In quite an obvious reference to John Carpenter, you direct this very Kurt Russel looking guy through various screens, examining objects and talking to people, on your quest to find some important floppy disk. 

With nice, detailed graphics, and sprites with big heads, "1987 Rescate..." (or "1987 Rescue in Berlin") features Jose's characteristic visual style, and you get to hear some really decent music, including a cover of Carpenter's "Escape from New York" theme, and everyone's favourite song, "Girl from Ipanema".

Since July the full versions in Spanish, English, Italian, and Czech is available as digital ADF, and boxed edition with printed manual.

Here's a video from Amiga Fan's YouTube channel (2021-08-12):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhAGoa3w5hY

Go to the game's web page for more details and order:
http://www.xente.mundo-r.com/jojo073/pages/1987.html

Additional sources:
https://www.amigafrance.com/forums/topic/1987berlin/
https://forum.amiga.org/index.php?topic=75264.0
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2021-08-00048-DE.html

Jake and Peppy, Apollo (Vampire) V4 SAGA game

Maybe the first "true" next-generation Amiga game is "Jake and Peppy" - it exclusively requires a Apollo Vampire V4 SAGA board to run on.

It's basically a top view shoot-em-up - with an amount of on-screen colors and graphical detail unseen on the Amiga before, and a crisp 16-bit soundtrack. Apollo Core's 68080 with AMMX, and the Vampire's enhanced video and audio capabilities make it possible. This is not your 30 year old floppy disc game - this is shiny and new, super high-res, super smooth, eye-poppingly colorful, dizzying arcade action for those who are not afraid of FPGA.

Here's a video of "Jake and Peppy"'s latest features, from Quetzal's YouTube channel (2021-08-29):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKdIq1qII0A

You can download "Jake and Peppy" demo from AmiNet:

http://aminet.net/package/game/demo/Jake_and_Peppy_0.80B

Additional sources:
http://www.apollo-core.com/knowledge.php?b=3&note=36454

Crazy Columns 1.02 full version released

We've reported about Tetris-style game "Crazy Columns" before, so we'll keep it short and snappy: a new version has been released!

Some of the new features are an online highscore table, animations, and added sound effects. And it's still 1 or 2 players, keyboard or joystick, multiple playing modes and difficulty levels, and runs on any Amiga with 512KB ChipRAM.

Here's a video from Salvatore Forenza's YouTube channel (2021-08-31):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKSk67zZgmE
Go to...
https://www.crazy-columns.hoffer-industries.com
...to download the game, and support the author with a little donation!

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2021-08-00055-DE.html


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...and some bonus gaming news:

Lionheart Java remake

Now this is really pretty cool: Byron 3D Games Studio has created a Lionheart remake - in Java!

Lionheart is among the best known and most beautiful games ever on the Amiga - maybe the most beautiful - and this remake gets it right: it looks pixel perfect identical. There are of course little differences here and there, but overall it's just... Lionheart. Nothing less, nothing more. Perfect.

https://www.b3dgs.com/v7/page.php?lang=en&section=lionheart_remake

If you're into game development (in Java) you can take a look at the LionEngine that's been created for the game remake:

https://www.b3dgs.com/v7/page.php?lang=en&section=lionengine

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Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for "Games galore #26"!


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Support Amiga game development! Buy a game!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Games galore #24: Blood, Cybersphere, MeMo, "Creeping Me Out: Hex Night" demo

Even more games, no time to lose: more first person shooting, yet another puzzle game from Simone Bevilacqua, and two point-and-click adventures in this issue of Games galore.

"Blood"

Shortly after "Exhumed" (or "Powerslave") another MS-DOS first person shooter based on the "Build" engine was ported to the Amiga by BSzili: "Blood", originally from 1997, first shown on the Amiga in June 2021, and uploaded to AmiNet in September, goes deep into horror territory, with graveyards, crazy monks, and rolling heads.

It's an exciting 3d shooting game that requires a powerful AGA Amiga with FPU - 68040 and higher - Kickstart 3.0 or higher, 32MB of RAM, harddisc, and, just as "Exhumed" does, game data files from the PC version (see links below). 

(Note: the AmiNet readme says a 68060 is required, but we have seen video of "Exhumed" running on 68040, so we're assuming "Blood" has the same CPU requirements, thus probably runs on 68040, too.)

Watch a video of "Blood" running on Amiga 1200 / 68060 @ 66 Mhz with Roland SC-88 MIDI expander music (yay!) on anouk33's YouTube channel (2021-08-03):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbC-Tk4QH6o

You can grab "Blood" from AmiNet:
http://aminet.net/package/game/shoot/nblood


Additional sources:
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/09/blood-classic-ms-dos-fps-makes-its-way.html
http://www.jonof.id.au/buildgames/blood.html (PC shareware / game data)


"Cybersphere"


We take the occasional look at the next-gen Amiga gaming scene with "Cybersphere", a point and click adventure from GDG entertainment, not to be confused with the Breakout-style 1994 OCS/ECS Amiga game of the same name.

"Cybersphere" was announced in June 2021, and by now we can purchase the finished product - see links below.

Being a Hollywood-MAL based piece of software, it requires quite some harddisc space, and is available for many platforms - the game CD contains versions for AmigaOS4, MorphOS, AROS (x86), plus Windows 32-bit (runs on 64-bit systems, too), Linux 32-bit (runs on 64-bit systems, too), and MacOS.
 
Here's a video of "Cybersphere" from AMIGA FACTORY's YouTube channel (2021-06-19):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8rFhIVwJUY

Check out the game's website for more details...
https://www.gdg-entertainment.it/cybersphere.html

...or just directly go to the online shop for purchase:
https://www.bitmapsoft.co.uk/product/cybersphere-collectors-edition/


Additional sources:
https://blog.amigaguru.com/introducing-a-brand-new-game-cybersphere-by-gdg-entertainment/
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2021-06-00038-DE.html


"MeMO" updated

Simone "saimo" Bevilacqua at it again - over the summer of 2021 he's updated his variation of the good old "Memory" card game concept with bugfixes and new features. "MeMO" is actually a pretty old game that dates back to 1996.

What sets "MeMO" apart from the competition is that it's a saimo game, which means it looks great, plus it has some super laid-back fusion music, allows two players to play simultaneously - a feature rarely seen in computer card games - and it has some AI trickery designed to make "MeMO" a totally non-frustrating experience.

The game requires 68020 CPU, 1MB ChipRAM plus some other RAM, ECS chipset, PAL video, and AmigaOS 2.0 (or higher).

Here's video of "MeMO" from Simone Bevilacqua's YouTube channel (2021-08-01): 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YyQbO4NEw0

Go to MeMO's itch.io page for more information, and purchase/download:
https://retream.itch.io/memo

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2021-06-00068-DE.html


"Creeping Me Out: Hex Night" public demo

We've reported about the game before so we won't go into too much detail here - but a new (v1.0j, July 2021) demo release of Michael "Mixel" Dawes' beautiful point-and-click jump-and-run adventure "Creeping Me Out: Hex Night" is certainly worth mentioning.

Here's the - pretty impressive - "CMO Hex Night Demo Launch Trailer" from Mixel's Lab on YouTube (2021-06-28):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwM-AXMSCck

Go to the Mixel's website to download the demo:
http://mixelslab.com/cmo-hex-night-amiga/

Additional sources:
https://twitter.com/MFDawes/status/1410241306987798532
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2021-07-00004-DE.html

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Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for "Games galore #25"!


* * *

Support Amiga game development! Buy a game!

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Competition Pro: An unconvenient truth

Actually I don't like the Competition Pro joysticks too much. A kind-of review.

I think the Competition Pro puts unnecessary strain on your wrist, and has some other disadvantages.

Classic red-black color scheme Competition Pro joystick

You'd probably intuitively grab the Competition Pro's stick more or less from above. That position, plus the height of the body, the placement of the fire buttons, that'll make you put your thumb towards the edge of the top casing instead of across (unless you use the fire button on the opposite side), and the small footprint area of the bottom casing, makes the entire construction work kind of like a lever, twisting your wrists in opposite directions. Depending on the individual specimen of Competition Pro joystick, the spring and microswitches involved with stick movement / directions might be pretty strong, requiring unnecessary force, potentially increasing wrist strain. In addition to the sub-optimal way the (probably left) fire-button-hand is placed regarding overall grip and stability, pushing down the button creates an unnatural motion of the stretched out thumb more towards the index finger than towards the center of an imaginary Tennis ball in your hand, quickly exhausting the thumb's muscles. If the fire buttons slightly tilt, and cant, which they occasionally do, exhaustion is even quicker.

And then, while most microswitches are great, they're also sometimes pretty loud, esp. when put into a bulgy casing like the Competition Pro's. Depending on the situation the clicking of the switches can get a little annoying.

I prefer Quickshot I's, which you'd typically grab more or less horizontally, thus typically applying some downward force. Combined with a much wider footprint area, overall lower-profile body, the (body) fire button positioned less close to the body's edges, and suction cups on the bottom, the Quickshot stands much more firmly, esp. on hard, plain surfaces. It's pretty usable even with one hand only.

A 30 year old, heavily used SVI Quickshot I - is it better than a Competition Pro?

The Quickshot I doesn't have microswitches, but you can easily service it's open tin switches, and they're hardly audible when in use. The stick wears out over time, reducing force required. With a stick moving that smoothly, you can put your steering hand's fingers near the lower end of the stick, creating super fast changes in direction, and almost eliminating wrist strain from both hands.

Of course the Competition Pro is still a great product. It has a lot of advantages - it's die-hard construction and build quality, iconic looks, comfortable ball-stick, and more. Many people got used to it, and rightfully love it.

Certainly not everyone will agree with the above analysis of the Competition Pro's construction and handling. And to be honest it's not 110% serious - it's based on very little test data, and heavily biased. ;-)

But one day it just had to be said: The Competition Pro is not necessarily the best, the only usable joystick in the world. This is just an example where personal experience differs from widespread opinion. Why not try a different joystick? Computec has some not-so-fancy-looking, but really well-working models. Quickshot I and II are great microswitch-less designs. And there are many others.

Computec Quick Gun Turbo Pro - a great Competition Pro alternative

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Games galore #23: Supercars II AGA, Chases of Death, Swapped Arts, JetHuntERS, Primal Blade

There's no short cut, we gotta get them all: an updated racing classic, and lots of work in progress.

Supercars II AGA

Top-view racing classic "Supercars" gets a new release in AGA shape that goes by the name of "Supercars II AGA". This actually isn't a new game, but more like an updated version of "Supercars II". You still drive around a course on a scrolling map, still try to outmaneuver, or simply blast away, your opponents - and it's still great fun, or maybe now even more, with 256-color graphics and some other little enhancements.

Here's a video of "Supercars II AGA" from laurent blot's YouTube channel (2021-07-14):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSHy247A2Wo

You can download "Supercars II AGA" (v0.85) from author JOTD's Amiga web page:
https://jotd.pagesperso-orange.fr/amiga.html

Additional sources:
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=106982
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/06/supercars-2-aga-rebuilt-adapted-to.html

Coagulus' "Chases of Death", "Swapped Arts", "JetHuntERS"

Early this year, developer Coagulus published previews of three games he's working on:

Chases of Death

A remake of a simple, but highly addictive 3d-racing-and-shooting game, that was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1983 as "Deathchase" and got very positive reviews. You drive your motorbike through some sort of stylized forest, avoiding crashing into a tree, and hunting for some other motorbike. 

Left: ZX Spectrum "Deathchase" (1983), Right: Amiga "Chases of Death" (wip)

Swapped Arts

...for AGA Amigas looks like some sort of puzzle game involving some of the painting masterpieces of the old masters - but this is really just an early preview, currently one can only guess what the actual gameplay and appearance of "Swapped Arts" might be when it's finished.

JetHuntERS

This is a sequel to Coagulus' own "JetHunt", which was very much inspired by side-view cave-exploration classic "H.E.R.O." released in 1984. But gone are the days of quiet and calm cave rescue missions - it's the JetHunt "Elite Reconnaissance Squad". The game preview looks like a straightforward horizontally scrolling shoot-em-up with nicely drawn imagery, and some demo-ish visual effects.

 JetHuntERS (wip) title screen

Keep in mind that all three games are work-in-progress, lots of changes are to be expected, and so far no release dates have been given.

Visit Coagulus' YouTube channel for the game previews, and updates on his developments:
https://www.youtube.com/user/Coagulus/videos

Additional sources:
https://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?p=1481611
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2021-05-00043-DE.html

 

Primal Blade

In June 2021, developer and 3d-artist Dante Mendes shared a video clip of his upcoming game "Primal Blade" on twitter.

It shows a really beautiful looking side-scrolling fantasy jump-and-run, hack-and-slash game with parallax scrolling, Copper effects, sound effects, and some decent music playing along. If you liked "Gods" and "Shadow of the Beast" you'll certainly like this one, too.

A druid going up in flames in "Primal Blade" preview video
https://twitter.com/dantemendes/status/1402281507474100224

Keep an eye on Dante's twitter page for future "Primal Blade" updates:
https://twitter.com/dantemendes

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2021-06-00026-EN.html

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Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for "Games galore #24"!


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Support Amiga game development! Buy a game!