Feature Articles

Amiga CD32
A Special Preview From Overseas

In the battle for the largest market share in computer games the American systems 3DO and Atari Jaguar have a competitor from Europe. It's called the Amiga CD32. And Commodore suggests that it's: "The machine of tomorrow, this year and next year." Is it really that cool? This Game Zero writer ignored the hype around the release of this piece of electronics and looked at what the machine is really like...

The problem for all you American game freaks is that the CD32 is not available in the United States yet. Commodore says that they expect to release it in the first half of 1994 in the United States. But is the CD32 worth waiting? I mean, the 3DO is already for sale and the Atari Jaguar is rolling out to shops all over the United States at the moment. Let's go find out...

So, what's in store? The CD32 is, as the name of the console already states, "the world's first 32-bit CD based games console". The internal architecture looks powerful: a Motorola 68EC020 32-bit microprocessor, which runs at 14 Mhz., an "AA multichip coprocessor system for video, graphics, sound and DMA", 2 Mb. of 32-bit RAM, several external interfaces (one highspeed serial port is added, possibly for a modem add-on). The graphics modes of the CD32, due to the AA custom chipset, are resolutions ranging from 320x200 to 1280x400. The colour palette consists of 16.7 million colours, with 2 to 256,600 colours displayable on screen. Further the CD32 boasts four channel stereo sound. Included with the CD32 comes a "simple 11 button hand-held controller" (I saw only 5 real buttons on a picture, though), and two games: Oscar, which is "a zippy platform game which contains speed and colours no other console could match." and Diggers: "a massive strategy game which shows off the machine's staggering memory." Rumor has it though, that the games are rather crappy.

The most important thing about a game console is the games. At the moment of writing there are 6 titles released, note you get two already when you buy a CD32. Commodore says that "there will be 40-50 specific CD32 titles in the shops by Christmas." There are some pretty 'heavy' third party software publishers, like Gremlin, Millennium, Ocean, Psygnosis, Team 17 and Electronic Arts. The prices of games will be around US$30 for cheap games to around US$50 for average priced games. I saw a demo at an electronics show of the CD32 pinball game Pinball Fantasies, made by 21st Century Entertainment, which is for sale at the moment. The game looks a lot like Pinball Dreams on the regular Amiga and PC: the game is realistic, fast and has really nice sound effects.

What more can the CD32 do than play games? Well, the CD32 is able to play standard CD audio discs. Further on the CD32 will also play the new CD+G (which means Compact Disc Plus Graphics) format. These new discs will display on-screen graphics as an accompaniment to the CD audio track. One of the best extra things on the CD32 is that it is able to play FMV using Video CDs. (FMV stands for Full Motion Video, this means that the whole TV screen can be used to display a film.) Video CDs are able to play 72-74 minutes of film and digital music. Unfortunately it's not for free; you will have to buy a Video CD (MPEG) module. It will be for sale in mid-December in Europe for around US$300. The Video CDs will be priced around US$25 to US$50, but no definite pricing has been set.

Ok, before I end this article let me warn you not to order your CD32 in Europe now. I tried to contact a Commodore employee to ask about compatibility between the European CD32 and his upcoming American brother, but haven't had any luck. The retail price at the moment in Europe is around US$450; maybe it's price will have dropped a little when it is released in the United States. Further on I will try to keep you up-to-date about all the latest releases in CD32 games and try to find out the exact U.S. release date...

Happy gaming,
-An European Gamer

Originally appeared Vol 2, Iss 4 (11-12/93)

Technical specifications of the Amiga CD32
Clock speed: 14.19 Mhz.
Processor: Surface-mount Motorola 68EC020 microprocessor.
Custom Chips: AA multichip coprocessor system for video, graphics, sound and DMA.
Chip Memory: 2 Mb. 32-bit RAM; as standard.
EEPROM: 1 Kb non-volatile memory for high-scores and game position saving.
ROM: 1 Mb.
External Interfaces: Game controller/mouse/joystick. (two DB9 male)
Aux connector to both keyboard and highspeed serial port.
Colour composite video.
RF modulator and S-video.
Right and left stereo audio phono connections.
Internal Drive: Dual speed CD-ROM drive transfers data at 150 Kb and 300 Kb. per second.
Video Display: Output type: colour composite; RF modulated; S-video interlaced and non-interlaced; up to 8 bitplanes. Graphic Modes AA custom chipset produces resolutions ranging from 320x200 to 1280x400. (more with overscan, including 800x600) Colour palette of 16.7 million colours. 2 to 256,000 user definable colours displayable on screen.
Sound: Four channel stereo sound, 8-bit D/A converters, 6-bit volume and CD-audio.
Power Supply: 23 watts, switching.Amiga CD32

The Amiga CD32 release scheme for
the end of 1993 in Europe (UK.)
Available now
Degeneration Mindscape
Oscar Microvalue Flair(*)
Now that's what I call games Multimedia Machine
Pinball Fantasies 21st Century Ent. Ltd.
James Pond 2 (Robocod) Millennium
Diggers Millennium(*)
(*) These are games you get when you buy an Amiga CD32.
Now that's what I call games 2 Multimedia Machine
Sleepwalker Ocean
Whale's voyage Microvalue Flair
Overkill/Luna'C (AGA) Mindscape
Sensible Soccer (NAGA) Renegade
Zool (AGA) Gremlin Graphics
Trolls Microvalue Flair
Deep Core Int. Computer Ent. Ltd.
Morph Millennium
Dangerous Streets (AGA) Microvalue Flair
November '94
Total Carnage Intl. Computer Ent. Ltd.
Mean Arenas Intl. Computer Ent. Ltd.
International Karate Plus (AGA) System 3
Myth (AGA) System 3
Super Putty (AGA) System 3
Ninja III (AGA) System 3
Bubble & Squeak Audiogenic Software Ltd.
K240 (NAGA) Gremlin Graphics
Jurassic Park Ocean
Little Divil Gremlin Graphics
Legend of Sorasil (NAGA) Gremlin Graphics
Zool II Gremlin Graphics
Microcosm Psygnosis Ltd.
Winter Super Sports Microvalue Flair
Lotus Turbo Trilogy Gremlin Graphics
Seven Gates of Jambala (AGA) Grandslam
Arabian Nights (AGA) Krisalis
Traps & Treasures Krisalis
Tie Break Krisalis
Ryder Cup Golf Ocean
Reach Out For Gold Microvalue Flair
Surf Ninjas Microvalue Flair
Alfred Chicken Mindscape
Castles II Interplay
Lord of the Rings II Interplay
Fury of the Furries Mindscape
Donk - special edition Supervision Ent. Ltd.
Guiness II New Media/CBM
Insight Technology Optonica/CBM
Super Methane Brothers Extender
Defender of the Crown II Sachs/CBM
Ceaser Deluxe/Cohort II (NAGA) Software Inspiration
Groliers Encyclopedia Xiphias/CBM
December '94
50 game compendium (Dongle) Int. Computer Ent. Ltd.
Trivial Pursuits Domark
Humans 1 & 2 Gametek (UK) Ltd.
Syndicate Bullfrog
Hunt for Red October (AGA) Grandslam
Liverpool Football Grandslam
Shadow of the Wind Images
Gulp Int. Computer Ent. Ltd.
Chambers of Shaolin Grandslam
50 Karoake Hits Multimedia Machine
Labyrinth Electronic Arts
Nick Faldo's Gold Grandslam
Exile Audiogenic Software Ltd.
F17 Challenge Team 17
Project X Team 17
Alien Breed - Special Edition Team 17
Qwak Team 17
Assassin Special Edition Team 17
Utopia II Gremlin Graphics
Liberation (AGA) Mindscape
Chaos Engine (AGA) Renegade
Amiga American Football Plattsoft/CBM
Turrican III (AGA) Renegade
Golden Collection Microvalue Flair
Uridium II (AGA) Renegade
Pirates Gold Microprose

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