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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Amstrad CPC - Classic Computer

Released: 1984
Company: Amstrad plc

Is it any good?

The Amstrad CPC 464 was all about value for money. It was marketed as a versatile machine, and especially good for playing games. It performed admirably as a small business machine, and delivered a good service for those on a tight budget.

Performance wise, there was no hardware assistance for the sprites, and horizontal and vertical scrolling were rough when compared to the C64. The CPC was home to many good games, but some converted games ran slower than on the Speccy or C64 original.

Should i still get one?

I highly recommend it; the software library was excellent, even if not as large as the C64 or Speccy. Graphics were superior to the Speccy, and on par with the C64 when programmed with the CPC’s strengths in mind. The resolution boasted three modes, mode 1 320x200, mode 2 640x200 and mode 0 160x200. Mode 0 allowed for 16 colours on-screen from a palette of 27.

What to look for?

Go for the DDI-1 3” external disk drive if possible, as capacity is 180k each side and ultra reliable and very fast. A colour monitor or scart lead is essential, and an additional 64k of RAM is a nicety, especially for all those pesky multiloads. Isometric games are definitely suited to the CPC, with Head over Heels being probably the best of the 8-bit versions. The famous Dizzy series also started out life on the CPC, along with many other titles. Other classic games include Robocop, Renegade, Gryzor, Operation Wolf, Target Renegade, Wec Le Mans, Prince of Persia, Shinobi and Chase HQ to name a few. The system was also home to many great adventure games, with the new Orion Prime being the best example. Reviews can be found at http://www.cpcgamereviews.com/

Homebrew / Emulation?

The homebrew scene is very much alive on the CPC, although it recently found itself having to rebuild its online community due to the instant demise of its biggest site ‘CPC Zone’. However new sites such as CPC Power http://www.cpc-power.com/ and CPC Wiki http://www.cpcwiki.eu/ have helped to link the community once again, and the scene appears to be going from strength to strength. New games are arriving all the time, and the system has recently received a plethora of side scrolling shoot-em-ups that prove the CPC really could hold its own. Emulators are widely available with probably the best being Winape32. http://www.winape.net/    

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