Amstrad has a history of releasing cheap devices that tried to jump on the bandwagon after the wheels had already fallen off. The e-m@iler tried to mix Internet access, email, telephone, answering services and Sinclair Spectrum games into one device.
|3rd Generation Competitors|
|Atari 7800||Famicom / NES||Sega Master System||Commodore 64 Game System|
|Region||Release Date||Discontinued||Lifetime Sales|
But Alan Sugar was well known for being able to sniff out a promising new market and so, when Nintendo and Sega hit the shores he realised he could take his existing 8 bit system, remove the keyboard and leverage the existing range of games. They gave it a futuristic, spaceship design and bundled it with a joypad that was pretty reminiscent of the NES pad.
On paper this was a good move, the Amstrad had an amazing library of games and could certainly compete with the NES and Master System. It already had joystick support, so converting games across was a breeze and Amstrad’s existing supply and sales chain would work for the new machine.
But the GX4000 didn’t release until 1990, which meant that it was competing with the Mega Drive and then the Super Nintendo. Whilst it had a fighting chance against the 8 bit era, it was entirely outgunned in the 16 bit world, they weren’t the only company to make this mistake though, Commodore followed with the C64GS.
There is a fairly large software library for the GX4000 and developers have ported other titles across in recent times. There are a couple of issues to look out for. The PSU is not great and can cause component damage to the GX4000 if it’s unplugged or plugged in whilst turned on (usually this just means you have to replace the voltage regulator).
It’s recommended you use a replacement PSU (9 – 12v 1a center positive) instead of the included one.
|Processor||Zilog Z80A 4 MHz (PAL)|
|Custom Chips||ASIC with Support for sprites, soft scrolling, programmable interrupts, DMA Sound|
|Video||12-bit colour palette (4096 colors)
Up to 32 on-screen colours (16 Background, 15 Sprites, 1 Border)
|Audio||3 × 8-bit stereo PCM channels)