Monday, July 29, 2019

Skill Grid on AGA Amiga

Today I wanted to take a look at the recently released game called Skill Grid by Retream, available for Classic Amiga AGA systems.

The game is available for purchase from RGCD. I have bought many games for C64 cartridge from RGCD and they focus on producing wonderful packaging for their games.

In 2019 they released Powerglove and Tigerclaw for Classic Amiga, covered briefly in my blog here. For Skill Grid they once again did a great boxed product:

Included is a CD32 bootable CD, floppy disk, instructions, badges, stickers and more! Very nice.

I quickly fired up my Amiga 4000 to try it out. Being an AGA game, you need a Amiga 1200, 4000 or CD32 to play this game:

Instructions for the game are included with the software on the CD:

The tricky part of this game is the positive and negative bonuses which affect your game in different ways. They constantly appear during play and you have to collect as many of the "positive" ones as you can while avoiding the negative ones! The manual below outlines the various bonuses to collect and their purpose.

I found with Retream games you do need to read the manual as they implement some interesting concepts in their games that you need to understand better in order to score well in the game (not just survive!)

The CD includes a HD install version you can just copy to the hard disk and launch. Here is the Skill Grid Title screen on my Amiga 4000:

The game moves fast as it is vertical scrolling shoot em up - but the positive and negative bonuses are a key part of the game play, and separate it from the average shooter that provides occasional power upgrades for your craft. You will likely die very quickly in this game, and often, as I did!

As you start it is quiet enough...

It starts getting busier though as the positive and negative bonuses start filling the screen, along with enemies to shoot/avoid.

I am afraid I am not very good at this game so I couldn't explore it as far as I was hoping to, but I keep on trying. Yep. Died again.

I also tested Skill Grid on my repaired Amiga CD32, and it works very well on it. I think the game is better suited to the CD32 controller to be honest!

Skill Grid is an interesting concept, and surprisingly difficult game to make progress in! That said my shoot em up skills are not what they used to be in 2019! YMMV.

The graphics and sound are good and music is ok too.

Definitely give it go!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Mucking around with Classic Amiga

Of late I have been doing lots of projects on my Classic Amiga systems, with various degrees of success!

I thought I would share some of them here together, as I lack the time to separate them into multiple posts, which some may well deserve...but anyway.

I worked on fixing my Amiga CD32 issue from moving house. The lid join to the latch broke in transit:

Close up of the damage:

The screw was lost, so I have no way to connect it back to the latch mechanism. Unfortunately the latch is stuck in the open position so the lid can't close:

As a temporary (permanent?) fix I will lower the latch so the CD32 thinks the lid is always closed and will boot CD's again. I opened the case so I could reset the mechanism.

Inside my CD32 is the Indivision AGA that used to be in my Amiga 4000D before I got a graphics card for it - it is handy on the CD32 as it gives a better quality output than the AV connections do:

CD32 laid bare:

After I reset the mechanism so it is always down:

I put it back together and now my CD32 works again!

It gave me the chance to try 2019 released games like Reshoot-R, Skill Grid on the CD32:

I also played Worthy on CD32:

Isn't it great to have so many new release games for CD32 in 2019! I am so happy for that! Last but not least is the new game Heroes of Gorluth on my Amiga CD32:

Next, I finally got to catch up with the many awesome Amiga demos released at Revision 2019 over Easter (wow, that was a while ago!) following my overseas trip.

I have to say the demos are awesome, with special mention to TBL's amazing ECS winning demo, running below on my Amiga 500!

Of course there were other ECS noteworthy demos released too:

There were some impressive AGA demos as well:

You can download the demos from Revision 2019 from Quite a number of the demos released work well on the Amiga 1000 too!

I particularly enjoyed the Abyss chip tunes disk on the A1000:

One of the really wonderful nostalgic things on Amiga still in 2019 is using X-Copy to copy and format floppy disks, as below on my Amiga 1000:

I have some new plans for the Amiga 1000, with some parts on order for hopefully being able to install the Vampire 500 V2 in it! The A1000 daughterboard (rare in a PAL A1000) has proven to be a hinderance with this machine, preventing me installing the Indivision ECS in the past, even with the relocator for the A1000. Hopefully I can make the A1000 work with the Vampire V2, as I did on the Amiga 2000 previously - Part 1 and Part this space.

I have been squeezing in some time to play one of my favourite Amiga games - Larn - on the Amiga 4000. I really enjoy the game, and the Amiga version was the only version with graphics in it and not just text based:

So, I decided to upgrade my Amiga 4000D system with the latest versions of software. Currently the Amiga 4000D is running AmigaSys 4, a distribution that provides a lot of software and a pre-configured Amiga environment out of the box (with OS 3.1/OS3/9 needed as a base first) - I also have a rapid road USB with X-Surf 100 Network card from Individual computers, using AmigaKit's EasyNet software for easy network configuration and connectivity:

I downloaded the latest iBrowse 2.4 from their site here to try out:

I picked the 020+ version since the Amiga 4000 has a 68060 accelerator installed.

I ran through the installer:

I also decided now was a good time to upgrade MUI v3.8 to the latest MUI v5 released in 2019, available on Aminet.

You get a bunch of warnings during the install about all MUI classes and libraries that are no longer needed in the newest version - I chose to delete them:

It detected my existing MUI 3.8 installation and proceeded to update it:

When prompted to use the MUI ASL requester patch, I chose No. I had no end of problems on AmigaOS4 with MUI5 ASL patch causing crashes on opening dialog boxes. Took me a while to figure oout it was this patch that did it. Once I got rid of of the patch everything worked fine again. Perhaps the OS3 version doesn't have that issue but I didn't want to take the risk:

The install finished and after the reboot I ran the MUI preferences to confirm the new version is now installed:

A while back in 2019, I purchased the latest Hollywood 8.0 (Supremacy) release as an upgrade to my Hollywood 7.0 release. The Hollywood software can be used for developing all kinds of programs on the Amiga, and cross compiled for Mac, Windows, Linux, Android (APK compiler) and even iOS now with the new RemediOS release for Hollywood 8.0.

The good news is that you can install Hollywood 8.0 on Classic Amiga too, as long as you have an RTG graphics card installed (ie. a big box Amiga like 2000,3000, or 4000) - maybe a SAGA RTG Vampire would work on an A500/1000 too - but I have not tested this yet.

Hollywood apparently no longer supports the 8 bit colour modes (although I believe you can call legacy modes using a free plugin). I set to work installing it on my A4000D:

It detected my older version Hollywood installation on the Amiga 4000D and set to work upgrading it to version 8:

Of course being the Amiga 4000D and 060 accelerator (no PowerPC), I selected the OS3 version to install. I later installed this on my AmigaOne X5000 using AmigaOS 4 too.

The installer warns you about Hollywood distorted sound issues in AHI being possible and how to fix. I didn't experience this myself:

With the install completed the Hollywood intro animation ran. This doesn't run too well on the Amiga 4000, even with the 060 accelerator - it is smooth on the AmigaOne X5000 though:

There is also a Hollywood 8 plugin for Cubic IDE, which is great for syntax highlighting and command help. You can get similar plugins for Notepad++, UltraEdit and VIM if you use Hollywood on Windows, Mac or Linux. These plugins are available on the Hollywood website in the downloads section:

I rebooted when prompted below to complete the plugin install for Cubic IDE:

I went on to install the many free plugins for Hollywood 8, which I really wish were all packaged together rather than having download and install over twenty individual plugins. Some version release dates on the website would be handy too, so I know whether I need to download it or not.

The hURL plugin needs AmiSSL4 installed, which I have also installed on my Amiga 4000D as part of this update process:

As nice as it is to have the latest version of Hollywood 8.0 on my Classic Amiga, I mainly use it on my AmigaOne X5000, so I installed it on that as well.

It detected my old version and updated it:

I selected the AmigaOS 4 version this time, being on the AmigaOne X5000:

After the install completes the intro animation plays, which is smooth on the X5000:

As I mentioned, the Hollywood plugins installation process is annoying - so many individual packages to install:

On the positive side, I could enjoy a Hollywood produced Chris Hulsbeck music program included as an example:

Here is some Hollywood code I have written, displaying in Cubic IDE on my X5000, with the latest Hollywood 8 syntax highlighting installed (as I did on the Amiga 4000 earlier):

As mentioned, you can compile for different targets: AmigaOS3/4, MorphOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android (paid add-on) and recently iOS (Mac only) via the RemediOS paid addon:

Hollywood really is an Amiga product worth supporting. A lot of effort has gone into this product to make Hollywood language developed programs usable across multiple platforms!

I wanted to work with my Amiga 2000, but unfortunately my Amiga 2000 has a hardware problem with the mouse port, which has steadily been getting worse and worse, and now the mouse won't move on the screen up and down...I tried multiple working mice but no change. I tried swapping the Odd and Even CIA chips with a known working A500 board chips, but no joy there either. Sigh...guess I need a replacement board...

Sadly my Amiga 4000D has developed a similar problem as I was preparing this blog post, with is incredibly frustrating. I am using the mouse keyboard workaround to use these systems while I work out how I can fix this. At the moment I am at a loss...

I have some more projects for my Amiga 4000T (broken hard disk) and Amiga 600 underway at the moment which I will cover in another blog entry soon!

Classic Amigas can be so great when you get cool new stuff working on them, and incredibly frustrating when they remind you how fragile and old they are...but I still love them anyway!