Towns was meant to compete with NEC mostly. It failed miserably though, and became mostly a school multimedia device.
FM Towns VS X68000. Is an interesting one, Towns had better CPU and CD-ROM. But X68000 has better graphics and sound hardware.
Oh, and X68000 Lemmings has 2 player mode with dual mice support as. Standard mice are also trackballs, so no tables required.
The X68000 supports dual mice too? Interesting, since the aforementioned two-player Lemmings mode was something I previously thought exclusive to the Amiga and ST versions, and the ST handicaps the second player because they have to use a digital joystick on the second port; the system simply can't handle a mouse on it.
X68 has the best FM synth, the YM2151. But FM towns has a big advantage for sample playback though, with 8x 8-bit channels. X68 […]
FM Towns VS X68000. Is an interesting one, Towns had better CPU and CD-ROM. But X68000 has better graphics and sound hardware.
X68 has the best FM synth, the YM2151. But FM towns has a big advantage for sample playback though, with 8x 8-bit channels. X68 only has one 4-bit ADPCM channel which is not so hot. I tried porting my MOD player to the X68 and encoding ADPCM on the fly, as described in Inside X68000, but it sounded pretty bad 🙁
Same for the X68000/X68030. Nobody's really gone into much detail on their respective custom chips, though.
The X68 has chunky graphics (with 16bpp), planar graphics (4 bitplanes), character-mapped graphics (1 or 2 layers), and sprites (128). All at the same time. It's jaw-dropping for 1987. Still above average in the early '90s. I'd say the only weak point was the 32KB of memory for sprite/tile graphics, compared to 64KB that Sega and SNES had. The resolution topped out at 768x512 on a 31KHz monitor, or 1024x424 / 1024x848 interlaced on a 24KHz monitor (these are what the PC-98 used). Later models had a 50MHz pixel clock so it could do 1280x1024 interlaced at 31KHz. The chunky graphics were limited to 512KB of VRAM though so anything above 512x512 had to drop down to 16 colors for the chunky layer. Alternatively, the chunky layer could stay in 64K color mode but it would only cover a 512x512 window.
Hmmm, what else? The 64K color mode is not necessarily direct-RGB. The top and bottom bytes of the color go through a lookup table (just like they would in 8bpp mode) which makes it possible to do some color-cycling effects. And the other layers (text/sprite/BG) have a separate set of tables for their palette.
Eight PCM channels on the FM Towns? That's double what Paula could do! Sounds like one of the planned AAA upgrades, come to think of it, until Commodore decided R&D for upgrading their custom chipset was too expensive.
Maybe there's some tracker software out there that can utilize that particular aspect of the FM Towns sound hardware. Perhaps you've already ported one.
The X68000's graphics system does sound pretty crazy for the era, enough to put a typical Mac II graphics card to shame. Sounds almost like having SVGA/XGA years ahead of the PC market. As for the color lookup tables, that does make me wonder what sorta demoscene trickery could be done with it...
Well, for me the original Links was a "killer app". Or at least, it was a game that was widespread among PC gamers, just because […]
Links 386 Pro is something that would've been off my radar (it's a golf game), but it apparently was quite a killer app that pushed people to upgrade back in the day - something the PC would be known for repeatedly in the '90s as hardware got exponentially faster, and game engines eager to take advantage of it.
Well, for me the original Links was a "killer app". Or at least, it was a game that was widespread among PC gamers, just because of its graphics and sound. Nothing to do with golf I guess 😀
Links is also the game that popularized the RealSound(tm) technology: reasonably clean sample playback on the PC speaker using a clever PWM technique.
For me personally, the C64 and Amiga were all about clever programmers doing all sorts of hacks to exploit the hardware in ways that their original designers never anticipated, to get amazing graphics and sound out of the machine. Links is one of the first games that showed: Hey, you can hack the PC as well.
I've heard about developers basically bit-banging PWM out of the PC speaker to play samples in some earlier games, though it's not CPU-efficient at all to do so and still sounds worse compared to how the Mac does it (also software-based and basically done in the blanking period between display frames).
I never really encountered much of that, though; later games just gave you very basic beeps and bloops as a very crude fallback to not having at least a Sound Blaster. It was the '90s, so I experimented with these settings more out of curiosity than anything, which also led to my distaste for the infamous CGA cyan/magenta/white/black palette that made me wonder why anyone thought this was a good idea compared to what even a lowly C64 could do.
Yes, I only know the Video Toaster from magazines here in Europe. It was quite a success story for the Amiga, and it was amazing […]
I suspect that's because most of those were former Video Toaster systems - the one niche where the Amiga had any particular relevance in the US.
Yes, I only know the Video Toaster from magazines here in Europe. It was quite a success story for the Amiga, and it was amazing hardware and software for its time. But they only made an NTSC version, so its use in Europe, where we use the PAL standard, was limited.
I suppose this also goes the other way: most games and demos were developed for the European market, and targeted PAL systems. I wouldn't be surprised if various games didn't even work properly on NTSC Amigas. I know most demos do not. The timing is different, and the resolution and aspect ratio are different.
So the US experience with an Amiga would have been different to the European experience.
And you'd be right, on both accounts. It's skewed enough to the point where the American Amiga audience actually prefers to import PAL systems because of this, though you can switch modes in the Early Boot Menu on Kickstart 2 and later, and the A4000 has a hardware NTSC/PAL jumper.
I've even contemplated replacing the tube lock switch on the A4000 with something that runs to the NTSC/PAL jumper in question, since there are some cases where you want to run in NTSC mode instead (Mac emulation with the Emplant board, NTSC versions of games - yes, they exist, they just don't seem to be archived nearly as well as the PAL equivalents).
What makes things far more difficult is finding a compatible display. Our SDTVs never had SCART or a similar RGB interface, and despite the colors on the RCA jacks, component video isn't RGB and requires a transcoder. On top of that, they won't hold vertical sync and will likely cut off the top and bottom lines if you tried feeding them a PAL-spec signal, even if you got past the color encoding differences.
That leaves us with finding old 1080/1084 monitors (which do both modes without further adjustment if you dial in the vertical hold just right), adapting a PVM/BVM, or getting a scandoubler like the OSSC that will then let us use 31 KHz VGA monitors. None of these options are what I'd consider cheap; if anything, my PEXHDCAP/SC-500N1 capture card is more affordable than most dedicated displays.
Good luck finding an affordable 68060 accelerator for either the A1200 or A4000 nowadays, though. The closest I can think of is the A3660 board - a modified A3640 that still inherits a bunch of the A3640's flaws like no on-board RAM - and those still cost hundreds of dollars fully-built!
I think the Blizzard 1260 and the Apollo 1260 ones are the most popular.
I saw an A1200 with a Blizzard1260 with SCSI attachment, an Indivision AGA, a RapidRoad USB, a Disk-On-Module as opposed to the usual CF card, upgraded Kickstart ROMs, a transparent A1200.net case, and other things I can't quite remember back at VCF Southeast 2018.
I knew that thing must've been worth well over $1,000 in today's crazy market just for being AGA with a 68060, certainly not something I could've afforded.
Keep in mind that I just saw an A1200 (UK PAL system, if the keyboard's any indication) sell here on eBay for $510 + shipping. Add the cost of a 68040 accelerator, and you're probably over the typical $600-800 eBay selling price of an A4000 already, even if said '040 accelerator is likely to not have the slower memory access problems of the A3640.
This really skews the value proposition toward big-box Amigas over here, for anyone who wants to go all the way with upgrading one. The only challenge might be finding A3000/A4000 CPU boards, seeing as most of these accelerators are European designs, and those machines weren't big sellers over there, with their lofty workstation-level price tags and lack of a PAL Video Toaster.
Also on that note: I've noticed that most of the comparison in here is between IBM-compatibles and Amigas, never Macs and Amigas. Perhaps it's because you can just emulate a Mac on an Amiga, same 68k CPU and all, but nobody ever mentions color 640x480 being the standard on Mac ever since the Mac II brought color and NuBus to the platform. There's even games like Prince of Persia that look better on Mac than both the PC and Amiga versions because of this.
I would say it's because the Mac was never a popular gaming platform. Probably a combination of its niche market positioning and pricing.
That didn't seem to stop Bungie, Ambrosia Software, Pangea Software and a bunch of other developers one bit, and Mac gaming really hit its stride in the '90s as they tried to push into the consumer market with more affordable LC and Performa systems, as well as the usual trickle-down from old Mac IIs and Quadras being gradually replaced by Power Macs, in turn replaced by later Power Macs and especially the iMac.
The Macintosh may have been the minority compared to all the IBM PC-compatibles, but they did see home use here - far more than any Amiga model, even the 500. Kind of a shame, because the Amiga was clearly superior at the time and Commodore should have marketed it better, particularly toward the desktop publishing market that would have played to its graphics-oriented strengths and ultimately wound up becoming Mac-dominant because of the LaserWriter, PageMaker, and then QuarkXPress.
I still think it's worth bringing up the Mac just because a beefed-up Amiga can easily emulate one, though, and this means tapping into all of those '90s exclusives or multiplats that were generally better than the PC versions of the time (Wolfenstein 3D, X-Wing/TIE Fighter, maybe System Shock and Absolute Zero too?), as long as they don't require a PowerPC CPU. (Besides, a used Power Mac G4 or earlier is still far, far cheaper than even the Amiga 500 around here, often selling for under $100, even under $50 depending on what model you want, just so long as it's not the MDD or TAM.)
...Actually, that makes me think: why isn't there a version of UAE specifically tailored to old Power Macs that lets them run AmigaOS 4 quasi-natively like it currently does under WinUAE on x86 IBM-compatible descendants, and like the Amiga itself does to the Mac under ShapeShifter or Fusion? I mean, if they're not going to just let AmigaOS 4 run natively on a Power Mac anyway like MorphOS does, that's the next best thing.
IDK if someone has already mentioned this, but the Amiga 2000 series had ISA slots as well as zorro slots. This meant that you could install a bridgeboard that let your Amiga double as a PC. There were bridgeboards with processors all the way up to the 386 or 486 if I'm not mistaken. The drawback is that all storage peripherals (floppy drive, hard disk, and cd-rom) were completely separate from the Amiga drives, so it was more like having two systems crammed into one case.
I'm well-aware, and even thought about using mine as a space-saving measure to have a DOS PC with real ISA slots and an Amiga in one box... if it worked. Still haven't assessed why it's braindead ever since a friend returned it to me with some trace repair work done, and it'd at least see the CPU and boot before I left it with him, albeit unstably due to corrosion on the addressing lines.
If anything, the bigger problem is how crazy expensive those bridgeboards are, and how Commodore themselves topped out at just a 386, with third-party Golden Gate bridgeboards being the 486 examples. I guess the Golden Gates are like OrangePC boards to Apple's own DOS Compatibility Cards on the Mac side of things, except those don't give you ISA slots.
Also, for reasons I don't understand, some of the ISA slots are missing the 16-bit section of the connector despite the traces and vias being present. Having more 16-bit slots would certainly help with expansion if someone made a Pentium II-class bridgeboard or better, and unlike the later A3000 and A4000 with their mere 4 card slots, the A2000 has 7 slots, three of which are just Zorro II, two of which are Zorro II + 16-bit ISA (and your bridgeboard goes in one of those slots), and the final two are 8-bit ISA only.
This means you can deck out both the PC and the Amiga sides of the system a bit, and it's especially important in the A2000's case since there isn't a built-in hard drive controller at all, meaning you'll probably be using up a Z2 slot just for a period-appropriate SCSI card or a Buddha Flash IDE controller.