Martin has been a software developer for many years. This is mixed with a passion for retro machines and game,
The End Of The Once Mighty Commodore Amiga
As you may be aware, I am a huge fan of the 16-bit Commodore Amiga computer.
Released back in 1985 it (and the Atari ST) represented a huge leap forward in technology when compared to machines such as the Vic 20, Commodore 64, Oric Atmos, ZX Spectrum, Acorn Electron, Dragon 32 and BBC Micro.
By the end of the 1980s and into the early 1990s the Amiga reigned supreme as the home computer of choice (in the UK anyway) and was streets ahead of any other console or machine available in a similar price range.
But, ineptitude on the part of Commodore and the dropping price of PC's meant that the Amiga was beginning to stand still. Once the (now legendary) game DOOM was released, it was the final piece that killed the Amiga computer for good...
The Amiga Is On Top
When the Amiga was released in 1985 it was a revelation.
With it's graphical capabilities (highlighted by talented artists using Deluxe Paint), four-channel sterio sound, 512MB memory (minimum), built in disk drive, smart full size typewrite keyboard and excellent Operating System (in the shape of Workbench) a huge leap forward in home computing was available.
As a games machine it was unsurpassed - it was capable of so much more than any 8-bit machine of the era, and games consoles came no-where near the capabilities of the Amiga.
As the decade wore on the Amiga was always streets ahead of the competition, with games such as SWIV, Battle Squadron, Shadow Of The Beast, First Samurai, Speedball II, Sensible Soccer, Hybris, Cannon Fodder and The Chaos Engine showcasing just what the machine was capable of.
Consoles such as the NES, Master System or Mega Drive could never quite match up to the Amiga - yet around 1993-1994 that all began to change as consoles became more powerful and PC's became more affordable.
The First Multimedia Machine
Gaming on the Commodore Amiga
The Amiga really managed to push tried and tested gaming genres to new heights.
Platform games became more complex and polished with titles such as First Samurai, Flashback and Wolfchild.
Arcade style shoot em ups were brilliantly implemented with games such as Silkworm, SWIV, Hybris, Battle Squadron, Agony, Menace, Xenon II, Project X and Uridium II leading the way and leaving the less powerful 8-bit machines in it's wake (I myself made the switch from ZX Spectrum Games to Amiga Games at the beginning of the 1990s).
Using the mouse as a controller was also a relatively new concept (in gaming terms anyway), yet was brilliantly implemented in two of my favourite funny games,
Cannon Fodder and Lemmings. Just how awesome was Lemmings on the Commodore Amiga (and the ST to be fair)?
It was well done on 8-bit machines such as the Amstrad CPC 464 but the Amiga version was far and away the best.
Text adventures were richer and more complex than ever allowing for enhanced parsers, more locations (which could be represented beautifully) and intelligent npc's.
Sprawling strategy games such as Midwinter mixed 3D action with real time strategy, and titles such as Carrier Command showcased again what could be achieved with 16-bits of processing power.
But it was the true advent of 3D that led to people leaving the Amiga and switching to PC's...
First Samurai on the Commodore Amiga
Lemmings - Amiga
1993 - The Year Of Doom
DOOM was released by ID software in 1993 and is widely recognized for having popularized the first person shooter genre; pioneering immersive three dimensional environments, networked multi-player gaming, and support for customized additions and modifications via packaged files in a data archive (known as WADS).
Just like all gaming genres which had been pushed to the next level, DOOM once again set the bar in a whole new genre.
3D games had of course existed for some time and titles such as Driller, Darkside, Castle Master and Infestation had allowed players to freely roam around a three dimensional world.
Heck you can even go back to the likes of 3D Monster Maze on the good old ZX81 for a real taste of vintage 3D gaming.
But not like this. DOOM was fast moving, adrenaline pumping arcade action in a 3D environment complete with creepy monsters, fantastic in-game music, scary sound effects and a large variety of weapons and powerups. DOOM was here, and the Amiga just couldn't quite replicate it...
DOOM On PC
As you can see in the video above, by today's standards DOOM looks very primitive indeed. But at the time it was like nothing else, and even the previous release by the same company (Castle Wolfenstein 3D) paled in comparison.
Not even the new (high end of the 'low end' Amigas) Amiga 1200, which had been released towards the end of 1992, had the processing or graphical power to fully match a decent PC running DOOM.
The Amiga 1200 really should have been the machine to put the Amiga back on top and far and away from the competition, yet it had merely kept the Amiga on a par with other technologies of the era.
When gamers saw DOOM, they wanted to play it.
Developers made a brave stab at making DOOM type games for the Amiga with efforts such as Gloom and Alien Breed 3D. These games would run on an Amiga 1200 (and were also released for the Commodore console the Amiga CD 32) but on a standard machine you really had to run the game in a small window for it to be playable.
The Amiga 1200 was expandable, with hard disks and graphics accelerators available, but it was a question of paying for these extras or simply 'upgrading' to a PC machine.
In fact one of the joys of the Amiga was the fact that everything was 'built in'. The graphics chips, sound hardware, cpu etc was all housed in the one unit - you did not have to buy extra hardware to make it look and sound good. This is what had always kept the machine ahead of the PC in the gaming stakes, but as PC component prices dropped and cheaper clone hardware became available, the PC became more practical for the home user.
The new Intel CPU's were more affordable too and were a lot better than the Motorola CPU's that Commodore had been using for the best part of a decade.
Both Gloom and Alien Breed 3D were good games at the time (and really pushed the hardware of the Amiga), but you really needed an A1200 with a faster processor and at least 4MB of RAM to run them properly (an A1200 shipped with 2MB of RAM as standard). Installing extra FastRAM was also a necessity if you wanted to embrace the new genre of 1st person gaming.
DOOM just had something about it - it gained a cult status very quickly and was regarded as a must play / must have game. There was no doubt about it - if you wanted to play it then PC was the way to go...
Gloom On An Upgraded Amiga 1200
Castle Master On The Amiga
I Too Succumbed To The Lure Of PC Machines
I was at a crossroads. I had an Amiga 500+ and by 1994 wanted an upgrade.
Should I go for an A1200 or do I really go for it and get myself a PC?
After a lot of consideration I decided that taking the PC plunge was the leap forward I wanted. An A1200 was not a vast improvement over an Amiga 500 plus, and I ended up going down the PC route, leaving the Commodore brand behind.
The A1200 should have been the leap forward that the PC ended up being; if it had then the A1200 could have been the premier machine for home use and kept the Amiga at the top of the pile.
If this had happened the Amiga brand may well have been still with us today - it's a shame that Commodore never remained at the top of the tree with their flagship machine.
Pretty soon I was revelling in the worlds of DOOM, Duke Nukem 3D and Quake - and my trusty Amiga 500+ was consigned to the loft.
I am still a PC gamer today (when time allows!), but the good old Amiga gets a run out every now and again...
Useful Gaming Links
- Amiga 600
The Amiga 600 was released by Commodore in March of 1992
- Amiga 1200
The Amiga 1200was Commodore's third-generation Amiga computer aimed at the home market
- Amiga CD 32
The Amiga CD32 was released eighteen years ago (gulp!)
- Amiga Games
The greatest games on the greatest 16-bit machine
Asteroids (along with the seminal Space Invaders) must be one of the most famous arcade games of all time
- Best PC Games
PC Gaming - get the best in online games
- Commodore 16
The C16 was an 8-bit micro manufacured by Commodore
- Commodore 64
The C64 was the flagship of Commodores 8-bit fleet
- Commodore 128
The last of Commodore's 8-bit machines
- Crash Magazine
Crash magazine was one of the most popular monthly magazines available for the Speccy
- Funny Games
Funny games from past and present
- Game Intro
Classic Intro's on many machines
- Games Online
Games Online - one of the phenomenons of the modern internet
- Miniclip Games
If you are into games online then miniclip games might well be just for you
- Ocean Software
Great developers of 8-bit and 16-bit games
For those retro gaming fans among us, who can forget the year of 1980 when Pac-man first appeared in the amusement arcades?
- Retro Computers
Lots of retro machines to browse
- Space Invaders
Space Invaders, an all time classic that really launched the genre of the shoot em up arcade game
- VIC 20
The Commodore VIC-20 was an 8-bit home computer which was sold by CBM
- ZX Spectrum Games
The finest games in 8-bits
- ZZap64 Magazine
ZZap 64 magazine was one of the most popular monthly magazines available
Any Fans Of DOOM Or The Amiga?
Martin Allan (author) from Sunny Scotland on September 16, 2014:
Glad you enjoyed it, and I'm glad to find another fan of the excellent Hybris.
I have a full review of Hybris on my Amiga Games blog by the way.
Thanks for stopping by!
David from West Midlands, England on September 15, 2014:
I had an Amiga 600 when I was little and I'd completely forgotten about Hybris until you mentioned it here. Great memories!
Crewman6 on February 03, 2011:
Bittersweet memories. Thanks for keeping the Amiga alive. I gave mine up when it became too difficult to get repaired (4000 w/toaster) but I still have Cloanto's emulator on my Lenovo S10-3t. Like you, every now and then I just get a craving to boot it up. Usually to play Elite!
uridium5 on February 02, 2011:
Great write up, I didn't even know about 'Gloom' at the time. Check this interesting and slightly somber video of the last day of the Amiga factory before it was shut down. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRI7hHwiRxk