Lets Play: Defender of the Crown

Re-enthused We play Cinemaware’s epic strategy action game, Defender of the Crown, on the CD32

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We take a look at Outrun Ports

Outrun is probably one of the best loved Arcade racers out there.  Designed by Yu Suzuki in 1986 it utilised the hardware created for the earlier Hang On and Space Harrier titles.

Because it was an incredibly popular Arcade machine it was ported to many consoles, we take a look at it on:

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Sony MPF520-1/04 PC FDD to Amiga conversion

The external floppy drive that I was using with my CDTV died and replacements were a little expensive (ok, they weren’t that bad but I was impatient).  So I figured, how different could an Amiga FDD be from a PC one?

Turns out there are a couple of differences, the signals on pin 2 and pin 34 are reversed (Density Select, Ready Change) and the drive needs to identify as DS0 if it’s the internal drive on a normal Amiga or the external drive on the CDTV (PC drives don’t because they’re generally picked up using cable select).

How this works will vary depending on your drive, but for my Sony model it was very simple.  It requires two wires, two track cuts and a jumper change.

Basically we need to cut the connection that pins 2 and 34 are on, and then put a wire from 2 to a solder point that was pin 34‘s original destination and between 34 and a solder point that was pin 2‘s original destination.

You should be able to work out where they are from the pictures, be careful when cutting to only cut the one track and don’t cut yourself.

If you want to revert the drive you can just run a wire between the pins and their original solder points.

The jumper is at the back of the drive, next to the motor.  If it’s on 0 and 1 (nearest the motor) then it’s set to be DS0, if it’s on 1 and 2 then it’s DS1.  If you want it to be internal on an Amiga or external on a CDTV then it needs to be DS0, if you want it external on an Amiga then set it to DS1.

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Commodore CDTV

Commodore CDTV

4th Generation Competitors
PC Engine Megadrive Super NES Neo Geo AES Neo Geo CD Philips CDI NEC SuperGrafx
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan NA  NA  NA
North America Mar 1991 1993
Europe Mar 1991 1993

Commodore’s second attempt at taking the living room.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that this was based on the Amiga 500, a machine well known for it’s games, they did not position this as a console.  Instead the CDTV was advertised as an educational system.

The CDTV was also incredibly expensive, especially when compared to other consoles at the time.  The CD Rom drive was a very early model and, as well as being slow, needed a caddy to play discs.

The price meant that potential buyers would buy Nintendo or Sega instead and because of poor sales there was little support from developers.  This was especially galling considering how easy it was to port software from the A500.

The CDTV had extensive upgrade options available.  As well as all the bits needed to make it into a fully fledged Amiga (Keyboard, Mouse and Floppy Drive) there were several memory upgrade options and even upgrades for video.  By default the CDTV outputs to RGB or Composite, but there were options that added RF / RCA and Scart.

It was even possible to add genlock options, meaning the CDTV could be used for one of the Amiga’s strengths, video editing.

At the end it was too expensive and was aimed at a market that had already failed with the Philips CDI.  Considering how powerful the Amiga hardware was this was a poor result by Commodore.

All of these errors were fixed in the CDTVs successor, the CD32.

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Commodore 64 Game System

Commodore 64 Game System

3rd Generation Competitors
Atari 7800 Famicom / NES Amstrad GX4000 Sega Master System
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan NA  NA  NA
North America Dec 1990 1991
Europe Dec 1990 1992

Commodore was a huge player in the 8 bit computer field but when Nintendo and Sega started to make huge in-roads into homes they realised they had to do something to fight back.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen until 1990, at this point the Amiga, Commodore’s 16 bit computer, was already out and doing well in Europe (not quite so well everywhere else), but Commodore decided to use their 8 bit Commodore 64 machine as the base for the console, in a similar move to Amstrad with the GX4000.

In fact, the C64GS is just a 64 with all the ports covered up and a new ROM in place.  If you open it you can see all of the tape connectors and keyboard points are on the motherboard.

The problem is that by the time the 64GS was released it was already facing the 16 bit consoles, a machine that would barely have the power to face the 8 bit ones had no chance with the 16 bit versions.

On top of that there was very little software, not all existing cartridges would work because there was no keyboard, indeed at least one title that claimed to be compatible wasn’t because it needed keyboard input to start.

The Game System was a huge flop, and it caused Commodore to step away from the console market for too long.

 

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Amiga CD32

Amiga CD32

5th Generation Competitors
3DO Jaguar Saturn Playstation Nintendo 64 FM Towns Marty PC-FX Pippin Playdia Loopy
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan NA NA NA
North America NA NA NA
Europe 17th Sep 1993 1994 100K

The history of Commodore is long and complicated.  But by the time the gaming industry recovered from the crash they were doing ok with the Amiga platform.  But this was due to change, Europe had been a stronghold for them but the NES and, to a lesser extent, Sega MasterSystem were about to hit and hit hard.

Commodore tried a couple of times to compete, first with a consolised version of their hit Commodore 64 8-bit computer and then with a living room friendly version of their Amiga platform, the CDTV.

Both were huge flops.  The C64 Game System just didn’t have the power and the CDTV was a confusing and expensive system.  Whilst it had some power it just wasn’t marketed well.

Their final attempt was again based on the Amiga, but this time it got pretty much everything correct.

The CD32 was the first 32 bit console and was based on the Amiga 1200, in fact with the addition of an extension board it was possible to add peripherals like a keyboard and mouse to make it a fully fledged computer.

The machine itself was powerful, priced fairly well and had the advantage of having a library of existing Amiga titles that could be easily ported across.  The controller is a fairly weird inverted look, but is surprisingly comfortable.  The buttons, however, feel slightly cheap, as does the D-Pad.

There are some truly great titles for the CD32 and programmers, even now, are porting across other Amiga titles across, including the awesome Supercars 2 by Gremlin.

Unfortunately, despite a strong start, the CD32 failed selling just 100,000 units.  This was due to a number of factors, first Commodore missed a patent payment to XOR.  This meant that they were unable to sell the CD32 in America.  Then their available stock was stuck in the Philippines, the factory refused to release it due to an outstanding bill.  Unable to pay the bill, the patent payment or to sell more units, Commodore filed for Bankruptcy.

A few companies purchased the Commodore name but they didn’t want to release new machines, just use the name to shift various items.  An ignominious end to a revolutionary company.

Specs

Processor Motorola 68EC020 @ 14.32 MHz (NTSC) 14.18 MHz (PAL)
RAM 2 MB
ROM Kickstart 3.1 ROM with CD32 extensions
1 KB non-volatile EEPROM memory for game saves
Custom Chips Advanced Graphics Architecture (AGA)
Akiko CD controller and performs chunky planar graphics conversion
Video 24-bit colour palette (16.8 million colors)
Up to 256 on-screen colours in indexed mode

  • 320×200 to 1280×400i (NTSC)
  • 320×256 to 1280×512i (PAL)
Audio 4 × 8-bit stereo PCM channels)
28 kHz maximum DMA sampling rate
Removable storage Double-speed (300 KB/s) CD-ROM drive (proprietary Matsushita controller)

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