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Friday, 4 February 2011

GX4000 - Classic Console


Released: 1990
Company: Amstrad

Is it any good?

Owning the Amstrad GX4000 was a bizarre experience. For starters, the GX4000 adverts showed images of games that were impossible to get hold of. I was only ever able to purchase two games through the High St, and despite the GX4000 selling 150,000 units in the first couple of weeks, Amstrad screwed over any chance of the machines success, by making the ill fated decision to handle distribution of games on behalf of the publishers. The GX4000's price was good, and to be frank, it looked the business. However; the price for a game, and the horrid game cases didn't help to impress. Worse still, most of the games that did trickle out were already available on the CPC, and much cheaper. Unsurprisingly, the GX4000 didn't reach anywhere near Sugars predicted sales... and within three months the system was brown bread.

Should I still get one?

Although powered by 8-bit tech, the ill fated console featured some impressive enhanced graphics, along with stereo sound. It also boasted a huge colour palette of 4096, decent hardware sprites, and full hardware scrolling. Amstrad reckoned the GX4000 was technically, at least on a par with the Snes, but lacked the marketing power to fully compete with the giants of Japan.

What to look for?

The GX4000 had a very slim catalogue of games, but there were still a few well worth playing. Burnin' Rubber played a suprisingly tight game, and showed early promise with some extremely tasty graphics, and still looks great today. RoboCop 2 was another title that showed off the ill fated consoles capabilities, it was another title that featured some great looking graphics. Pang, on the other hand fully exploited the machines capabilities, and featured some of the best playability, graphics and sound ever seen on the console. Other classics included Plotting, Navy Seals, Switchblade, Panza Kick Boxing and the impossible to find Chase HQ 2. It's a shame it wasn't more popular because these early few examples showed that the system was more than capable, and a great looking machine.

Can I Still Get One?

You'll be able to pick one up from ebay, car boots and second hand shops... expect to pay around £25 to £50. Games can be very expensive, with prices exceeding the hundred pound mark.

HomeBrew?

There's a great scene considering its failure, and sites like CPCwiki and GX4000.co.uk help keep the system remembered. There are also quite a few emulators that will run all of the known GX4000 games, with a favourite of mine being Winape32.


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