Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Discuss and discover all the great games of yesteryear!

Moderators: mknott, NickThorpe, lcarlson, Darran@Retro Gamer, MMohammed

Post Reply
User avatar
Crunchy
Posts: 2123
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:43 am
Location: Claymorgue Castle

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by Crunchy » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:44 pm

Serious question here for the Amstraddies.

I've never paid much attention to the Amstrad computers, not back then, certainly not now. I was vaguely aware of their existence back in the day through magazines and stuff but absolutely nobody around me had one and all the shops stocked little in the way of Amstrad games.

Did the amstrad really get everything that came out on the Spectrum? That's the vibe I'm getting from some of the posts in here. Was the Amstrad honestly that large? I'm finding it hard to believe.

User avatar
storm_maker
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:38 am
Location: UK

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by storm_maker » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:01 pm

Ok, so where are the real games?

Or did you guys sit around, wait 15 years for someone to release games for you to play, reached 30 years old, got fed up with waiting and went

"fine, I'll do it my damn well self then"

and then -

"LOOK, WE'VE GOT OUR OWN PORT OF KNIGHT LORE NOW, STUFF THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT SPECTRUM/AMSTRAD OWNERS, WHO'S LAUGHING NOW, ONLY 24 YEARS LATE!!!"
Image

Yeah I know, my username does indeed suck. When I made this profile I never intended it to be my primary username, unfortunately it just ended up that way, and now I'm stuck with it unless I start over

Pixiu
Posts: 442
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:52 am

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by Pixiu » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:37 pm

storm_maker wrote:Whilst I find this thread infinitely full of win, I don't understand what the preference for A8 over Amstrad really is, A8 seems to have jack all games from the mid 80s onwards and its earlier stuff is a mixture of cookie cutter arcade ports, and sub Manic Miner and Chuckie Egg style games :?
Part of it is that the weird revisionist la-la-land attitude that sometimes infects Amstrad owners (as demonstrated in this thread by the aptly named c0nfu53d) is even more prevalent in the Atari camp because of the way support for the Atari dropped off by the mid '80s, leaving many of them with a huge coulda-been-a-contender chip on their shoulders that isn't always in touch with reality and yet isn't totally without merit all the same due to untapped potential in the platform.

Regarding Jagfest_UK's OMAZING list of Atari stuff:

Obviously some of those vids are showing demo or wip stuff that possibly won't or even can't be taken any further. I mean just look at Shadow of the Beast -- ugly as sin and devoid of enemies. What a showcase that is! Outrun looks pretty rough and ready too, and of course completely devoid of other cars. In both cases the programmers have probably already used up the Atari's pissy narrow hardware sprites and are sweating bullets over how to include enemies/cars using software sprites... if they haven't already given up on it.

The other thing that Atari fans often neglect to mention is the memory requirements for some of these "coulda been" modern releases. Not sure how much Pang will require, but i remember reading on AA that it won't fit in 128k. Meanwhile Bombjack looks pretty good, but you're gonna need a RAM expansion as the game requires 320K of RAM! (Whut! Five times the RAM of a c64? More than 6.5 times the RAM of a 48k Speccy! Madness!) Crownland is pretty impressive, but it needs a Atari 130XE with 128k, so in any pissing match against the Amstrad, one should bear in mind what a 128k Amstrad can do.

Of course, some of the stuff on Jagfest's list is undoubtedly impressive. Space Harrier looks cool, though it obviously suffers a bit from the Atari's colour restrictions and the flicker-mix workaround being employed there. Yoomp! is an excellent production, and runs fine on only 64k i believe. And the Wolfenstein 3d demo is fricking awesome. It'll be interesting to see how it fares in making the transition from tech demo to game, with enemies, game logic, etc. In a way it's a weird testament to the quirkiness of the Atari hardware that it can manage something like that, yet nearly kills itself if it attempts a typical arcadey sprite-heavy 2d game.

But no matter what, there's no getting past this:
storm_maker wrote:"LOOK, WE'VE GOT OUR OWN PORT OF KNIGHT LORE NOW, STUFF THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT SPECTRUM/AMSTRAD OWNERS, WHO'S LAUGHING NOW, ONLY 24 YEARS LATE!!!"
Yep, until diehard Atari fans invent a time machine (I'm sure they're working on it), the Atari was simply not a contender past the mid '80s. In fact, if I was back in 1988 right now, and I had to choose between the Amstrad and the Atari ... well, I would probably choose a new hobby. ;) Failing that, I would choose the Amstrad for sure. At least I'd have new games coming out. And some of those colourful flick-screeners have pretty good framerates and look frickn gorgeous. See Inside Outing, Get Dexter, Prince of Persia for example. Maybe I'd even get used to the sluggish framerates on some of the scrollers. It seems a lot of Amstrad users here did somehow.
Last edited by Pixiu on Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"A farmer doesn't bother telling a pig its breath smells like sh*t."

Pixiu
Posts: 442
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:52 am

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by Pixiu » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:40 pm

joefish wrote:
Pixiu wrote:Ha! I know what you mean. You spend the first 5 minutes trying to figure out how to turn off the frame-skipping before realising that 12.5fps is just business as usual on planet Amstrad.
Frame skipping? Not to worry - there'll be another one along in a minute... :D
Each frame lovingly and painstakingly painted by a small team of slow-working elves. Hand-crafted quality!
"A farmer doesn't bother telling a pig its breath smells like sh*t."

User avatar
The Laird
Posts: 8496
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:01 am
Location: Luton
Contact:

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by The Laird » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:02 pm

storm_maker wrote: Or did you guys sit around, wait 15 years for someone to release games for you to play, reached 30 years old, got fed up with waiting and went

"fine, I'll do it my damn well self then"

and then -

"LOOK, WE'VE GOT OUR OWN PORT OF KNIGHT LORE NOW, STUFF THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT SPECTRUM/AMSTRAD OWNERS, WHO'S LAUGHING NOW, ONLY 24 YEARS LATE!!!"
I don't even own an A8, I am a die hard Speccy fan as far as the 8-bits go :shock:

I was just giving examples of the A8 being a better machine than the Amstrad.

User avatar
The Laird
Posts: 8496
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:01 am
Location: Luton
Contact:

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by The Laird » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:14 pm

Pixiu wrote: Obviously some of those vids are showing demo or wip stuff that possibly won't or even can't be taken any further. I mean just look at Shadow of the Beast -- ugly as sin and devoid of enemies. What a showcase that is! Outrun looks pretty rough and ready too, and of course completely devoid of other cars. In both cases the programmers have probably already used up the Atari's pissy narrow hardware sprites and are sweating bullets over how to include enemies/cars using software sprites... if they haven't already given up on it.

The other thing that Atari fans often neglect to mention is the memory requirements for some of these "coulda been" modern releases. Not sure how much Pang will require, but i remember reading on AA that it won't fit in 128k. Meanwhile Bombjack looks pretty good, but you're gonna need a RAM expansion as the game requires 320K of RAM! (Whut! Five times the RAM of a c64? More than 6.5 times the RAM of a 48k Speccy! Madness!) Crownland is pretty impressive, but it needs a Atari 130XE with 128k, so in any pissing match against the Amstrad, one should bear in mind what a 128k Amstrad can do.

Of course, some of the stuff on Jagfest's list is undoubtedly impressive. Space Harrier looks cool, though it obviously suffers a bit from the Atari's colour restrictions and the flicker-mix workaround being employed there. Yoomp! is an excellent production, and runs fine on only 64k i believe. And the Wolfenstein 3d demo is fricking awesome. It'll be interesting to see how it fares in making the transition from tech demo to game, with enemies, game logic, etc. In a way it's a weird testament to the quirkiness of the Atari hardware that it can manage something like that, yet nearly kills itself if it attempts a typical arcadey sprite-heavy 2d game.
Outrun is still being finished by the same people who did Tempest and others and is now a lot further than that and works on a stock machine.

Bombjack works on a stock machine as long as you are playing the cart version ;)

Its already been said that Crownland will run on a stock machine from cart too when its finished.

andyc
Posts: 211
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:23 pm

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by andyc » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:47 pm

Crunchy wrote:Did the amstrad really get everything that came out on the Spectrum? That's the vibe I'm getting from some of the posts in here. Was the Amstrad honestly that large? I'm finding it hard to believe.
Pretty much, yes. Obviously there were a some titles on the Speccy that never made it to the Amstrad, but there are equally as many that never made it to the Speccy despite being on Amstrad (Prince of Persia, Titus the Fox, Prehistorik II and Super Cauldron instantly spring to mind). You could equally say the same of the C64. Generally the three machines all got the major titles.

kiwimike
Posts: 3711
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 3:20 am
Location: Chch, NZ

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by kiwimike » Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:13 am

merman wrote:The Amstrad is a good 8-bit computer, it does some things well. The Plus range could have been a hit... released two to three years earlier. But it's not the best in terms of the range of software and hardware available.
...But is it GAMINGs BEST 8 bit? That's the topic question. :)

User avatar
TMR
Posts: 5756
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 10:56 am
Location: Leeds, U.K.
Contact:

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by TMR » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:22 am

Pixiu wrote:Obviously some of those vids are showing demo or wip stuff that possibly won't or even can't be taken any further. I mean just look at Shadow of the Beast -- ugly as sin and devoid of enemies. What a showcase that is!
In it's defence, Shadow of the Beast was canned when the development house went under, that's mostly test graphics and colour schemes and we'll probably never know what it was going to do as regards enemies. The team was called Harlequin and built up of dedicated Atari 8-bit folks, they tried to get licenses from various sources to produce a number of games including Pacland, Menace, Paperboy and The Last Ninja 2 but, with the Atari market in the UK tailing off, surviving as a one format development team just proved too financially draining. Here's an interesting read about some of those projects from one of people behind Harlequin.
Pixiu wrote:And the Wolfenstein 3d demo is fricking awesome. It'll be interesting to see how it fares in making the transition from tech demo to game, with enemies, game logic, etc. In a way it's a weird testament to the quirkiness of the Atari hardware that it can manage something like that, yet nearly kills itself if it attempts a typical arcadey sprite-heavy 2d game.
Oh don't worry, the APAC code in Project M might be some of the most optimal ever written but it's still hammering at the hardware like a demented cobbler. =-)

User avatar
Mootown
Posts: 3853
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:33 am
Location: Blacktooth Castle, Basingstoke...
Contact:

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by Mootown » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:25 am

Amstrad is a bit like the PS3 of it's day - in the right hands it's fantastic, otherwise shoddy versions of C64 and Speccy games.
But then that's kind of the same across the board - some games were best on C64, some on Speccy, a couple on Amstrad :)

User avatar
Freestyler
Posts: 4150
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:15 pm

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by Freestyler » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:37 am

Amstrad was pretty Meh. Seeing as it came between the might of the ZX Spectrum and the legend that was the Amiga.
Never stood a chance.
Freestyler: A customer that's too hard to please, complains all the time and wants everything for next to nothing.

User avatar
merman
Posts: 6549
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2005 5:14 pm
Location: Skegness, UK
Contact:

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by merman » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:45 am

kiwimike wrote:
merman wrote:The Amstrad is a good 8-bit computer, it does some things well. The Plus range could have been a hit... released two to three years earlier. But it's not the best in terms of the range of software and hardware available.
...But is it GAMINGs BEST 8 bit? That's the topic question. :)
I thought my "no, it's not the best" was clear in what I said. There are good games on the Amstrad, but not as many as on the Spectrum and C64.
merman1974 on Steam, Xbox Live, Twitter and YouTube

User avatar
Crunchy
Posts: 2123
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:43 am
Location: Claymorgue Castle

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by Crunchy » Fri Mar 11, 2011 8:29 am

I'm going to acquire myself an Amstrad methinks. There's more than a few games mentioned in this thread that I've never heard of.

User avatar
storm_maker
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:38 am
Location: UK

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by storm_maker » Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:15 am

Crunchy wrote:Did the amstrad really get everything that came out on the Spectrum? That's the vibe I'm getting from some of the posts in here. Was the Amstrad honestly that large? I'm finding it hard to believe.
Nope, the Spectrum library is hugely bigger, basically, in the beginning the British developers and companies were only just emerging, and there was a lot of bedroom coded stuff, so games of this era were largely exclusive unless they became a big seller. in Britain the most popular format was the Spectrum, so it got the most games during this period. The CPC also didn't actually come out until 1984 of course, and initially only recieved the highest selling games as ports. So during what is the golden age of Spectrum ~1983-1985 the Spectrum has masses more software than just about anything.

As time went on the bigger companies took over, and the smaller companies became big companies themselves. The UK videogame userbase got fractured into loads of different directions C64/Spectrum/Amstrad/Atari ST/Amiga, at this stage the big companies had little choice but to hedge their bets, drop the quality of their product, and make everything multi-format across the board. During this period you'll find that most games are multi-format, the only ones which aren't were from the smaller independent companies.

Towards the end I think Amstrad software started to drop off slightly faster, I know that there's some Codemasters games, such as the CJ ones which never came out on Amstrad. So you may find that the late period has fewer games too.

In regards to the other direction, the Amstrad has virtually zero worthwhile exclusives, the entire library is basically just ports from other systems, and the few game which were initially made for Amstrad, such as Spindizzy, and Sorcery, were eventually ported to the other systems anyway. The only real exclusives came from France, because the CPC was much bigger there than the C64 and Spectrum, but their software scene in France was much smaller than the one in Britain, more centred around adventure style games (lots of French text) and, again the big French companies who made inroads into Britain ended up porting a lot of their software to Spectrum and C64 for the British market.

So there's a few of the less successful French games as exclusives on Amstrad, a lot of Adventure games in French, and a handfull of British originalls.
Image

Yeah I know, my username does indeed suck. When I made this profile I never intended it to be my primary username, unfortunately it just ended up that way, and now I'm stuck with it unless I start over

User avatar
WhiteSpyderZero
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:15 am
Location: Surrey
Contact:

Re: Why the Amstrad was gaming's best 8-bit computer

Post by WhiteSpyderZero » Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:21 am

One of my first memories was when I was around 3/4 (so circa '87-'88) and my father brought home a shiny new Amstrad CPC 6128 machine. With it I had learned to read and write by the time I started infant school, and soon after I was understanding how Locomotive BASIC worked.

Later on we would also acquire a CPC 464 from a neighbour, but it was the 6128 that kept us going, all the way until I got my first PC in '98. The only reason we bought the PC was that the 6128 disk drive belts kept breaking and was becoming more and more difficult to send them off to be repaired.

I think I played a whole lot of Ocean games back then, and I definately remember playing a lot of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles too - Plus every demo tape from Amstrad Action!

Good times.
Words, Audio & Video for GodisaGeek.com
Retro videos at Pug Hoof Gaming
@TheLastMetroid
@PugHoofGaming

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests