Lyonsden Blog

Category - Gaming

Planetfall by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Planetfall Infocom

It’s been a while since I last came across an Infocom adventure that I don’t already own. Consequently when I spotted Planetfall a couple of weeks ago I snapped it up straight away. It’s in terrific condition for a 36 year old game and it looks like all the extra bits and bobs are present and correct.

 

Infocom Planetfall

Infocom Planetfall Back Cover

 

A place for everything and everything in its place!

 

This is yet another game I’ve never had the pleasure of playing through before. As a result it will be joining my ever growing list of retro titles that I’m looking forward to completing at some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future!

 

Infocom Planetfall

Infocom Planetfall running on my Commodore 64.

 

Planetfall’s Extra Goodies

An Infocom game just wouldn’t be complete without a bunch of extra physical content included in the box. Planetfall is no exception. Tucked away in the two top pockets there’s a small book, “Today’s Stellar Control”, some intergalactic post cards, an instruction booklet and a some hand-written journal entries. Then in the two slots lower down there’s a plastic Stellar Patrol ID badge and the most important item of all, a floppy disk containing the game.

 

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Here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection, well the ones I’ve posted about anyway.

Retrokomp Issue 2 (1) Out Now!

Issue two of the multi-format retro magazine has finally been released and I received my copy a few days ago. Just to confuse things slightly this magazine is actually named Retrokomp Issue 1. That’s because the first issue was in fact numbered ‘0’. This is a slightly odd numbering convention that can be found on their other magazines such as Amiga User too.

 

Retrokomp Issue 1

Retrokomp Issue 1 Cover

 

This issue is packed with even more Commodore content that the previous one and arrives with a hefty count of 76 thick glossy pages.

 

A welcome bias towards Commodore in this issues contents

 

As I mentioned in my look at the very first issue, this is definitely a magazine aimed at the more serious user. There’s a big emphasis on productivity and creative software rather than gaming. This is no bad thing though as there are plenty of magazines offering gaming news and reviews now. That’s not to say the Retrokomp doesn’t dabble with games though. This issue has the first part of really interesting series of articles delving into MicroProse F-19 Stealth Fighter, possibly their finest flight simulation ever in my opinion.

 

F-19 Stealth Fightrer

F-19 Stealth Fighter on the C64

 

Rocket Smash EX Review

Rocket Smash EX Review

 

Of course there’s no shortage of interesting articles to expand your retro computing knowledge either. I particularly enjoyed the LHArchie GUI guide that shows how to install a GUI for the previously shell only LHA archive utility.

 

LHArchie GUI

LHArchie GUI

 

Other stand-out articles for me were the Ray-tracing and Brilliance articles for the Amiga.

 

Amiga Ray-tracing

Amiga Ray-tracing

 

Brilliance

Everyone remembers Deluxe Paint on the Amiga but who remembers Brilliance?

 

A quick run-down of the Commodore-centric articles in Retrokomp Issue 1:

  • F-19 Stealth Fighter
  • Data compression methods on the PET
  • Truths and myths about the Commodore 64
  • Rocket Smash EX Review
  • Black Box cartridge: Assembler support
  • My personal games set for Plus/4
  • Raytracing on the Amia 500 with 1MB RAM
  • Amiga Vision
  • (True) Brilliance: 24-bit on Amiga chipset
  • Get to know AmigaOS: programs and processes
  • PowerPC software tips
  • LHArchie GUI

 

 

Plus/4 Gaming

Plus/4 Gaming

 

If you’ve never come across Retrokomp magazine before you might like to read through my preview of the first issue here.

Alternatively if you’d like to purchase a copy of Retrokomp Issue 1 for yourself then visit the publishers website here and show your support.

Freeze 64 Issue 30 Fanzine is out now

Freeze 64 Issue 30

Anyone who subscribes to Freeze 64 will know exactly what this envelope contains without even opening it… Of course it can only be the very latest Freeze 64 Issue 30!

 

Freeze 64 Issue 30 Envelope

Freeze 64 Issue 30 Envelope

 

Not only is this issue 30 but the fanzine has now been going for three whole years! To celebrate there’s a little retrospective article looking back at some of the stand-out moments from the previous 30 issues.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29Freeze 64 Issue 30

Freeze 64 Issue 30 pictured with limited edition collectors trading card.

 

This issue’s featured game and interview is Comic Bakery and its’ programmer, Colin Gresty. There’s also some much needed cheats for the recent ‘Mancave’ game as well as ‘Doctster’s Digger’ and ‘Run Demon Run’. Naturally the regular features like the Mouldy Cupboard, Zzapback! and Secret Squirrel can be found inside too.

Badlands is still the featured game in part 5 of the ‘The Diary of…’ series. ‘Bruce Lee: Return of Fury’ is also under the spotlight for this issues ‘The Making of…’ article.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29 Contents

Here’s a peek at the contents page of this issue.

 

If you fancy your own copy then head over to the Freeze64 website and show your support by purchasing this issue.

Here’s a link to my previews of several earlier editions of Freeze64 if you’d like to check out what you’ve been missing!

A look at K&A Plus #13 Magazine

K&A Plus #13

It’s been six months since the last edition of K&A Plus plopped through my letterbox. Consequently my excitement level was high when I received K&A Plus #13 last week. Doubly so as this is the first edition of the magazine to come with a coverdisk!

Here’s a look at the magazine cover and that snazzy coverdisk in more detail.

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The CoverCD

Coming in a ‘proper’ slim jewel case with glossy cover and inlay the quality of the CoverCD is superb. The CD itself is a standard printable CDR but it’s been laid out well and is also printed in colour. The CD is loaded with software, utilities, wallpapers, icons, games and more. There’s also PDF versions of every edition of K&A+ on there. This is a really great feature since issues #1 – #6 only exist digitally.  Other content includes several full PD games such as the rather splendid Barbarian+ and Trap Runner. Demos of brand new games such as Bridge Strike and Reshoot R are also ready and raring to go too. I’d definitely recommend getting the CoverCD – it’s only an extra €5 and totally worth it.

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Inside the magazine there’s tons of content for all Commodore machines from the VIC20 right through to MorphOS and emulators. One of my favourite game series, The Settlers, gets a terrific multi-page article devoted to the game. There’s also reviews of many new games such as Mancave, Farming Simulator, Bridge Strike, Trap Runner and loads more. On the more productive side there’s a review of a new PDF viewer for the Amiga and tutorials for WinUAE and the C64 Strike WiFi modem. Incidentally, RNOPDF, the PDF viewer reviewed in the magazine is also included on the CoverCD!

Magazine Preview

Here’s a little preview of some of the stuff in K&A Plus #13:

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If you’ve never come across this magazine before you might want to take a look at some of my previews of previous issues here.

If you want to find out more about K&A Plus #13 or order yourself a copy, head on over to the Komoda & Amiga Plus website. The magazine is produced in Poland but the English translation is great. Shipping to the UK only takes a few days.

 

Amiga Future #140 – September/October edition out now.

Amiga Future #140

The latest issue of Amiga Future (Amiga Future #140) arrived a couple of days ago. It’s great to see it maintaining a hefty weight and plenty of content. Sadly the price has risen slightly from €6.50 to €7.00 but this is a very small increase and the first one they’ve made in many years. As I’m a subscriber I’ve not actually had to pay the increase but obviously my renewal will reflect the new price. However it’s still excellent value for money and this certainly won’t deter me from purchasing it in the future.

Inside Amiga Future #140 there’s several game reviews including SkillGrid, Labyrinth and the excellent text adventure Hibernated. There’s also a very interesting in-depth article about X-Copy. I think pretty much every Amiga owner used this software back in the day whether they care to admit it or not! Richard Lowenstein of Reshoot R fame is the focus of this issues big interview.

I was a little disappointed that there was no CD32 section this time around, hopefully it will make a return in the next issue.

This issues coverdisk is a nice return to form containing no less than 3 full games. Amongst them is a great little RPG called ‘Crystal Dragon’ that I’m looking forward to playing properly in the near future.  The other two games are Dead Metal and Craggy and Croco.

 

Crystal Dragon

Crystal Dragon RPG (screenshot from Amiga Forever emulation)

 

Below is a little peak at some of the stuff inside Amiga Future #140. If you’d like to purchase a copy then do please take a look here and support what is now the last remaining commercially printed Amiga magazine!

 

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Never come across Amiga Future magazine before? Perhaps you’d care to take a look at some of my other Amiga Future magazine previews here.

 

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29 Fanzine is out now

Freeze 64 Issue 29

Just received my subscriber edition of Freeze 64 in the post, now up to issue 29!

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29Freeze 64 Issue 29

Freeze 64 Issue 29 – with Subscriber exclusive cover.

 

This issue’s featured game and interview is Doc Cosmos and its’ programmer, Simon Jameson. There’s also a nice little review of Run Demon Run, a new game published by Psytronik Software. Of course there’s the welcome return of several regular features like Zzapback! and Secret Squirrel too.

Badlands is once again the featured game in the ‘The Diary of…’ series. Doc Cosmos is also under the spotlight for this issues ‘The Making of…’ article.

 

Cover Comparisons

 

As you can see from the animated GIF above, this issue is a little different. Vinny has introduced a new feature whereby subscribers to the fanzine get different cover artwork from non-subscribers. Whether this is going to be a regular feature or not going forward remains to be seen. Those of you who absolutely must collect everything might like to avail yourselves of an additional copy of the mag so you have both covers!

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29

Here’s a peek at the contents page of this issue.

 

If you fancy your own copy head over to the Freeze64 website and show your support by purchasing this issue.

Here’s a link to previews of several earlier editions of Freeze64 if you’d like to check out what you’ve been missing!

Amiga Future #139 – July/August edition out now.

Amiga Future #139

Another feature packed issue of Amiga Future (Amiga Future #139) arrived a couple of days ago. Weighing in at 50 pages there’s certainly plenty of content to read.

Inside Amiga Future #139 there’s several game reviews including Bridge Strike and Reshoot R. There’s also a very interesting review of a hardware project that allows hooking up an Iomega Zip drive to the parallel port of your Amiga. I know back in the day I used a Zip drive with my Amiga 4000 but that was with a SCSI interface…

This time around the CD32 section focuses on the final Beer games compilation CD whilst the magazines big interview is with Volker Wertich, the designer behind The Settlers game.

Sadly I have to say this issues coverdisk content was a little disappointing. There’s a full game on there called ‘Jonathan’ which appears to be some sort of adventure game. To say it’s a bit weird (and not in a good way) would be a massive understatement though!

Below is a little peak at some of the stuff inside Amiga Future #139. If you’d like to purchase a copy then do please take a look here and support what is now the last remaining commercially printed Amiga magazine!

Never come across Amiga Future magazine before? Perhaps you’d care to take a look at some of my other Amiga Future magazine previews here.

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Freeze 64 Issue 28 has just landed on my doormat

Freeze 64 Issue 28

Just received my subscriber edition of Freeze 64 in the post, now up to issue 28!

This issue’s featured game and interview is Mikie and its’ programmer, Tony Pomfret. There’s a third instalment of ‘The Talkies’ focusing on C64 games that feature speech alongside many of the regulars like Zzapback! and Secret Squirrel.

Badlands is once again the featured game in the ‘The Diary of…’ series whilst ‘Escape from the Waste Disposal Unit’ is under the spotlight for this issues ‘The Making of…’

 

Freeze 64 Issue 28

Here’s a peek at the contents page of Freeze 64 Issue 28.

 

If you fancy your own copy head over to the Freeze64 website and show your support by purchasing this issue.

Here’s a link to previews of several earlier editions of Freeze64 if you’d like to check out what you’ve been missing!

A look back at Pinball Spectacular and Raid on Fort Knox for the VIC20

Pinball Spectacular

Picked up another duo of classic VIC20 game cartridges off eBay to add to my collection this week. Pinball Spectacular and Raid on Fort Knox, both of which are in pretty good condition complete with their original boxes and instruction sheets.

As usual I spent some time scanning the boxes in and adding them to my ‘3D VIC20 Game Museum‘. It’s so much easier to do this as and when I get new games. If I leave it too long they pile up and I develop a kind of mental block that prevents me doing them!

I’ve never seen or played either of these two before so had no idea what to expect from either of them beforehand. Thought I would share my thoughts on each title in the form of some mini reviews…

 

Pinball Spectacular

I’d never even seen Pinball Spectacular for the VIC20 before so this was a particularly interesting purchase for me. The game requires the use of paddles which was another reason I was keen to pick it up. There weren’t many paddle games made for the VIC so I grab any I can find!

Once I loaded this up I quickly realised that this is not a pinball game at all. It might take a few cues from it but this is basically a version of breakout.

 

Pinball Spectacular

Pinball Spectacular Title/Player select screen

 

You control two horizontal bats that you can move left and right with the paddle. Once you launch the pinball with the fire button you need to keep batting it back up the screen to destroy the coloured blocks. This can quickly get tricky as the ball ricochets, often at high speed, at all sorts of angles due to the design of the ‘table’. The goal here is to clear all the blocks and release an alien which you then destroy by hitting it with the pinball.

So far, this has far more in common with breakout than anything else. Here’s where the the pinball elements come in to play. You can hit the ghost at the top of the screen for extra points. Likewise if you can direct the ball to hit all the little faces (turning the frowns into smiles) you can gain another bonus. Light up the letters E X T R A and unsurprisingly you earn an extra ball.

 

Pinball Spectacular

Pinball Spectacular

 

It’s a very simple game but it’s presented attractively with a great use of colour and some decent sound effects. Best of all it’s actually really good fun to play, helped in no small part by the use of paddles to control the bats. I can see myself coming back to play this often, trying to rack up higher and higher scores.

 

Raid on Fort Knox

This game has a lot in common with other games such as Pacman or Radar Rat race. The aim of the game is to steal gold bars from the vaults in Fort Knox and escape back to your hideout with them. Fort Knox is represented as a maze of corridors and for some reason there are black panthers patrolling that you must avoid. Not sure why there’s panthers around instead of guards but no matter. If one touches you,  you lose one of your three lives, lose all three and it’s game over.

 

Raid on Fort Knox

Raid on Fort Knox Title Screen

 

Whilst you are navigating through the corridors to retrieve the gold, one bar at a time, there’s no time limit. However as soon as you grab a gold bar a countdown timer bar appears at the bottom of the screen. You must get back to your hideout, whilst avoiding the panthers, before the time limit runs out. The faster you get back to your hideout, the bigger the payout. If time runs out you get nothing for your troubles. If you steal all the bars you move on to a bonus vault before moving up to the next level.

 

Raid on Fort Knox

First level of Raid on Fort Knox – on the left are the gold bars. You’re the little blue guy top right.

 

The graphics can best be described as rudimentary, as are the sound effects. If it was a budget game on cassette I’d forgive these shortcomings but for a cartridge game it’s disappointing. I reckon it was probably written in BASIC. I’m glad I was able to add it to my collection but in all honesty it’s not a title I see myself coming back to in the future.

 

Raid on Fort Knox

Raid on Fort Knox Bonus Level – avoid those black panthers.

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor Diagnostic Cartridge Review

Trilogic 64 Doctor

I picked ‘Trilogic 64 Doctor’ up a little while ago as I thought it might come in handy one day. As it had been sat around on a shelf for some time I decided it was time to have a play around with it. You would be forgiven for thinking that this was new old stock given that Trilogic (as we know it) ceased to be a long time ago*. However this is actually a factory fresh product, made under licence by the prolific Tim Harris of SharewarePlus.

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Here’s the contents of the box. From left to right. User port dongle, test cartridge and serial port dongle.

 

Inside the box you get an instruction booklet, some flyers for other Trilogic products, the Trilogic 64 Doctor diagnostic cart itself, a user port dongle and also a serial port dongle.

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor Instructions

Here’s the instruction booklet along with some very retro looking flyers for other Trilogic stuff.

 

What does it do?

So what does the Trilogic 64 Doctor actually do? Well there is a little clue in the ‘doctor’ part of the name itself. Basically you plug it in and it will then perform a barrage of tests on your Commodore 64, from RAM chips to joystick ports.

Here’s a list of the tests it can perform:

  • Keyboard
  • Serial Port
  • Cartridge Port
  • Kernal ROM
  • Video Chip & Video Banks
  • NVI & IRQ Interrupts
  • Cassette Data
  • Joystick Port
  • User Port
  • BASIC ROM
  • CIA Chips
  • Sound Chip
  • Cassette Key Press
  • Joystick(s)

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Rear of the Commodore 64 with cartridge and both dongles inserted.

 

Keyboard Test

When you first turn your C64 on with the cartridge inserted you are presented with an on-screen keyboard. This is the keyboard test and allows you to quickly determine whether any of your keys are misbehaving. As you press each key in turn, their on-screen counterparts light up in yellow. If any don’t light up then you know there’s a problem. The restore key isn’t included in the test per se, but given it is needed to progress to the next test it will be obvious if it’s faulty!

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

The Keyboard test screen

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Successfully passing the keyboard test

 

Joystick and Joystick Port Test

The next test is for the two joystick ports and of course whatever joystick you happen to have plugged in. Simply press up, down, left, right and fire with a joystick attached (in turn) to both ports. Like with the keyboard test, an on-screen visualisation of the presses should appear if all is working correctly.

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

The joystick test screen

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Successfully passing the joystick test

 

Chip and Ports test

The final and probably most important test is that of the various chips and ports of the Commodore 64. This test includes both the User Port and Serial port so long as you have plugged in the supplied dongles. Video, SID, Kernel, CIA and several other chips are also tested too. If you need to test the cassette port then you must connect a datasette to it, after making sure you unplug the serial port dongle first.

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Successful chip tests

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Successful cassette deck/port test. Notice how the serial port lists a fault – this is because the serial port dongle has to be unplugged for this part of the test.

 

After the tests…

Once the tests have completed you will either be presented with a clean bill of health or a fault to fix. The included manual provides a wealth of useful information not just about faults but also how to fix them. It goes into great detail about common reasons for each fault, how to troubleshoot them and ultimately what you can do to fix them. It even goes as far as recommending other useful tools that you may need to diagnose faults or perform repairs.

 

Conclusion

With the inclusion of the two dongles this offers a very comprehensive phalanx of tests for your Commodore 64. Combined with the informative manual, whether you need to troubleshoot a faulty C64 or just want to have it ‘in reserve’ in your retro toolkit this is a recommended purchase.

If you fancy getting hold of one yourself, these are listed on the SharewarePlus eBay store for around £25 at the time of writing.

 

 

 

 

 


*Curiosity got the better of me so I did some googling. Although Trilogic Computers does still exist, it is now a PC repair business. It’s still in Bradford only located at a different address. A look through the records at Companies House indicate that they changed from their old address to their current one back in 1997. Maybe one day when I’m in the area I’ll pop in with my old Expert cart and ask them to fix it!

Amiga Magazines (on DVD in PDF format)

Amiga Magazines

.Stumbled across these magazine collection DVD’s whilst I was browsing through eBay a few days ago. The design of the discs really caught my eye and instantly whisked me back to the 90’s heyday of being spoilt for choice with the Amiga magazines available in WH Smiths. Needless to say I ordered a whole bunch of them as they were doing a buy 4 for the price of 3 deal!

 

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What are they exactly?

Basically these are compilations of every single edition of a particular Amiga magazine in PDF format. The scans are of a really high quality,up to 100mb per issue or more and look terrific on screen. I’ve transferred several issues onto my Surface so I can read them in a more portable format at home, and stuck a few on my phone too to read when I’m out and about. Don’t get me wrong here, I love all the current magazines that are out there, but there’s something special about reading the original mags. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, or maybe it’s the enthusiasm of the writers shining through. After all, when they produced those articles the Amiga was at the cutting edge of home computing at the time.

 

First Edition Covers!

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Wait, what?

Now I bet some of you are reading this and thinking, what an idiot, he could have downloaded those Amiga magazines off the Internet for free! Well if I could be bothered I’m sure I could have. However I’d rather spend my time doing something else than wasting it downloading several gigabytes worth of PDF’s. Not just that, the presentation of these discs is first rate, that’s what caught my eye in the first place. The scans are of a really high quality and they came supplied with nice plastic storage wallets. Best thing of all is that I’ve now got them all stored safely away for ever and ever!

The seller’s name is ‘another-world-games‘ should you wish to avail yourself of their wares.

TerribleFire 330 – CD32 Upgrade

TerribleFire 330

One of the things I’ve always loved about the Amiga is it’s expansion possibilities. There was always some upgrade or gizmo you could add that would let you do something new, or do something faster. The TerribleFire 330 is touted as being able to do both of these things and then some. Naturally, as soon as I spotted it on AmiBay I wanted one…

What is it?

The TerribleFire 330 is an expansion for the Amiga CD32 that adds many new features to the console. It’s attached by means of a ‘Riser’ card to the expansion port which itself offers some benefits to the user. Here’s a quick run-down of the extra features it offers:

  • 68030 CPU over-clocked to 50Mhz
  • 64MB Fast Ram
  • IDE Interface
  • RGB Video Port (on the riser)
  • PS/2 Keyboard port (on the riser)

In a nutshell, it converts your CD32 into a souped up Amiga 1200 with built-in CD-ROM drive.

 

A Closer Look at the TF330

 

TerribleFire 330

Here’s a close-up of the top of the board. CPU on the left, IDE connector top right.

 

TerribleFire 330

Here’s a view of the underside of the board. The foam pads are there to prevent the exposed solder pads from touching the metal shielding cover inside the CD32 when inserted.

 

TerribleFire 330 Riser Board

Here’s a view of the riser board.

 

Riser Board

The is a straight-on view of the riser board. The male DB25 port on the right is for hooking up an RGB video cable for vastly improved picture quality. The PIC chip in the center provides a means of converting the inputs from a PS/2 PC keyboard into key presses that will the Amiga will recognise.

 

TF330 PS/2 Port

A better view of the PS/2 port.

 

TF330 68030 CPU

Close-up of the 68030 CPU. As you may notice it’s officially rated at 40Mhz. On the TF330 board it has been overclocked to run at 50Mhz.

 

TerribleFire 330

Side view of the TF330 – note how the CF card can be tucked underneath.

 

TerribleFire 330

Another view of the TerribleFire 330 card.

 

 

Installing the TerribleFire 330

 

Installation is pretty straightforward and involves removing the plastic expansion cover on the back of the CD32 console. There’s only one phillips screw to remove. Both the screw and the cover can be safely stashed away at this point as they won’t be getting used again.

 

CD32 Expansion Cover

This is the CD32 expansion bay where the TerribleFire card will be installed.

 

With the cover removed you can clearly see a big empty space left above the shielding. This expansion bay was original intended to allow the use of the official Commodore CD32 Full Motion Video Module.

 

CD32 Expansion Bay

Here’s a view of the expansion bay with the cover removed. The edge connector can be seen at the bottom of the image. The TerribleFire 330 card will occupy that empty space above the shielding.

 

You can simply install the TF330 as it comes but I found a nice little 3D printed clip to hold the IDE cable and CF card in place on eBay. With this fitted the card is securely held underneath the main TF330 board out of harms way. Not an essential purchase but as I store my CD32 vertically I thought it was a worthwhile extra to prevent things moving around.

 

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Installing the TerribleFire 330

Here are some photos of the TF330 after I installed it. It does protrude from the back of the console somewhat and it certainly ain’t ‘pretty’ but I’m more than happy to overlook this given the features it offers.

 

Installed TerribleFire 330

TF330 fully installed – you can clearly see that it protrudes about 1″ from the back of the console to the edge of the PS/2 port.

 

TF330 Riser installed

The transparent plastic stuck over the circuit board protects it from being shorted out accidentally. The PIC chip is missing for reasons that I will explain later…

 

 

Booting up for the first time

My TerribleFire 330 came with a pre-installed copy of Workbench on an 8GB Compact Flash card. To boot into Workbench all you need to do is turn on the CD32 without a disc inside it. After a few seconds the CD activity light starts to flicker away and then up pops the workbench screen.

 

TF330 Workbench Screen

You can see the 68030 CPU recognised along with the extra 64MB of RAM on the title bar of the screen.

 

As with any accelerator upgrade for the Amiga I couldn’t resist loading up Sysinfo to see how my pimped out CD32 fared against other systems in the Amiga range. I was not disappointed, it ranked between the Amiga 3000 and 4000 which is impressive. It’s almost twice as fast as a stock A3000 which has a 25Mhz 030 processor.

 

TerribleFire 330 Sysinfo

SYSINFO: Nearly half as fast as an Amiga 4000…

 

TerribleFire 330 Sysinfo

SYSINFO: Zoomed in view.

 

And of course with the ability to run Workbench off an installed CF card comes the option of using WHDLoad! My card came pre-installed with hundreds, if not thousands of games all ready to play with a few clicks of a mouse. The CD32 already has the required 2Mb chip RAM and with the TF330 it also has plenty of Fast RAM now too. Throw in a PS/2 keyboard and you can also exit games cleanly back to Workbench and play games like Star Crusader that require one.

 

CD32 WHDLoad

TerribleFire 330 lets you use WHDLoad on the CD32.

Compatibility

I don’t have a whole lot of CD32 games right now but I have noticed issues with a few of the games I do own, namely Wing Commander and Lotus Trilogy.

Wing Commander

This loads with all the colours messed up when the TF330 is installed, however I did manage to download an ISO of a fixed version of the game which ran fine.

Lotus Trilogy

This actually works with the exception being that the initial menu screen where you select Lotus 1, 2 or 3 doesn’t display. You can hear the music in the background and if you press fire it will load Lotus 1 just fine. You can access the other 2 games by blindly selecting them (pull down once or twice before pressing fire).

The board was described as having a ‘disable jumper’. Removing it is supposed to make it invisible to the CD32 so it can boot up as normal. However in my testing this simply doesn’t work, in fact removing the jumper prevented my console from booting up at all. I contacted the seller on AmiBay who said there’s still a bug with this and that it would hopefully be fixed in a future firmware update. If that ever happens I’ll update this article.

As things stand right now I can either remove the board if I come across an incompatible CD32 game or see if there’s an alternative version on the internet that has been patched to work. Alternatively I can also try the WHDLoad version.

 

RGB Video & PS/2 Keyboard Functionality

 

The RGB port works exactly as described and offers a beautifully crisp, vibrant display with a regular Amiga RGB SCART cable. Much better than the composite I was having to use previously. Whether or not I was using Workbench or playing a game off CD this worked flawlessly.

 

TerribleFire330 RGB

A beautifully crisp display thanks to the TerribleFire 330’s RGB video output.

 

Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the PS/2 port. The whole point of this is to allow people to use cheap PC PS/2 keyboards with the CD32 instead of super scarce Amiga ones. However I tried three different brands of PS/2 keyboard and only one of those worked… for about 10 minutes. No matter what I tried I couldn’t get that keyboard to work reliably. It turns out that the PS/2 keyboard compatibility is very poor with the riser card. People report greater success with really old keyboards rather than currently available ones. I was advised by the seller to get a CD32 AUX to PS/2 adapter.

 

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I chose this one on eBay for about £18. The seller was really helpful and even offered to refund me if the adapter turned out not to work. Thankfully that wasn’t necessary as it worked perfectly with my cheap Genius PS/2 keyboard that I picked up off Amazon. There’s some clever electronics hidden inside the adapter that converts stuff like the two ‘Windows’ keys into ‘Amiga’ ones so you can still do a soft-reset. It works really well and I highly recommend getting one, even if you don’t get a TerribleFire!

 

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Actually there was one other issue that I had to solve before I was in PS/2 keyboard nirvana. The keyboard initially behaved like a key was stuck down. There is a conflict between the PIC chip on the Kipper 2K riser and the PS/2 Aux adapter. Simply removing the PIC chip solved this problem completely with no negative effects.

Here’s the PS/2 keyboard I’m using with my CD32, it’s just a cheap one I picked up off Amazon but it does the job and isn’t a bad match for the dark grey colour of the console either.

 

CD32 PS/2 Compatible Keyboard

CD32 PS/2 Compatible Keyboard

 

Conclusion

I can’t deny it’s shame the built-in PS/2 keyboard option doesn’t work as well as it could and that I can’t disable the board without removing it. However these small niggles don’t stop the TerribleFire 330 from being a beast of an expansion for the money. You’d be hard pressed to find anything else offering as much bang for your buck.

With the TerribleFire 330 installed my CD32 has become the ultimate Amiga gaming machine. It can play CD32 and CDTV titles and thanks to WHDLoad it can now play pretty much any other Amiga title as well. In fact with mouse and keyboard attached it can even be used for productivity stuff just like an A1200, only with a built in CD-ROM drive!

The extra grunt of the 50Mhz 030 also helps it run games like Alien Breed 3D, Frontier Elite 2 and Wing Commander at their very best. The addition of the RGB video port makes everything look its very best too! Bottom line, if you have a CD32 then the TerribleFire 330 is an essential upgrade for it.

 

Ultimate Amiga gaming machine

With the TF330 my CD32 has become the ultimate Amiga gaming machine.