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Amiga Emulation Guide

[Page 5] Amiga Gaming

Ok, you've downloaded and set up WinUAE. That was the tedious part. Now here's the fun part gaming with your "new" Amiga 500! You might have a stack of old Amiga games you've saved from 1987, but the sad news is there's no way to play them straight off their original 3.5" disks, even though those disks fit into a modern PC floppy drive. What you'll need are Amiga game disk images in .ADF or .ADZ format. So how do we get these images? Your options are detailed below:

Making Your Own Game Images

If you want to create game images from your own Amiga disks, you can use the instructions and links found in this Amiga FAQ. I can't provide more details here simply because I haven't tried this method myself, and for most people the hassle may not be worth it because either they can't find their original Amiga disks, or these disks have become corrupt over time. The average error-free life of a floppy disk is around 10 years, so original game disks from 1987 for example are likely to be well and truly corrupt by now.

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Downloading Game Images

This is the most common method of getting working Amiga game and application images. Since the original Amiga floppy disks could only hold 880KB, these images are also only around 880KB and hence quick and easy to download. However the major problem is once again that of copyright. Even though many game manufacturers from 1987 are no longer around, technically speaking it is illegal to distribute Amiga game images without the copyright holder's consent.

Fortunately there are a range of places where you can download well-known and legal Amiga games some of these are listed below. To ensure game compatibility with the Amiga 500 setup we are using, try restricting yourself to games which you remember playing on the A500, or those which have production dates of 1985 1991:

Amiga Software Library - Many Amiga games available for download or to play in your browser.

Cinemaware - The original creators of famous Amiga games like Defender of the Crown, It Came From The Desert and S.D.I to name a few. Note that you have to register for free before you can download these games.

Factor5 - Has the famous original R-Type game image for download.

Amiga Island - Has a wide selection of games for download.

Lemon Amiga - Large list of games.

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That's just a few of the more popular Amiga download sites which carry legal game downloads. Each of the above sites is also a goldmine of information and utilities for Amiga emulation take the time to go through the entire sites in detail and you'll find great information, and more links to other Amiga emulation sites.

Game Documentation

If you can't find the original documentation for the game you've downloaded, there's a great site which has free downloadable original documents for all types of games, not just the Amiga: There are currently almost 180 manuals for popular Amiga games held here, so it's well worth checking out.

Running Amiga Games & Applications

Now that we have some .ADF or .ADZ files to play with, as you might know by now these go into the WinUAE ROMS directory you specified under the Paths section of WinUAE. Copy all the .ADF and .ADZ files there, and note that if they don't have an ADF or ADZ extension they're unlikely to be correct working images. Start up WinUAE, and in the Quickstart screen click the 'Select Image File' button, and select your desired game image and click Open. All you need to do is click the Start button in WinUAE and Amiga emulation will start. The Amiga screen will "reboot" into a white screen, and then hopefully an AmigaDOS loading screen, or perhaps (if you're lucky) an old user-made "demo" intro screen will appear and the game will continue loading from there.

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Some useful tips to note:

  • At any time during Amiga emulation, you can bring up the WinUAE settings screen by pressing F12. You can change many options 'on the fly' and see their results on your current emulation environment.

  • If you want to change disks in WinUAE while running Amiga emulation, press F12, go to the Quickstart screen, click the Eject button for the relevant drive and select a new disk image. If switching to a new game, click the Reset button at the bottom of the screen, or use the tip below to "reboot" your Amiga and load up this new disk.

  • If you want to quickly "reboot" your Amiga, you can do this by pressing the CTRL and both Windows keys on your keyboard this simulates the CTRL + Left Amiga + Right Amiga key combination which reset the Amiga 500.

  • "Guru Meditation Errors" were common back in the Amiga 500 days, and often they just happened for no obvious reason. WinUAE reproduces them in all their glory, proving that it really does emulate the Amiga perfectly. If you get one, reboot within WinUAE and try again. If you keep getting these errors it's highly likely your disk image is corrupted, perhaps from some ancient virus or a bad sector on the original disk.

  • Enable the 'Disk Drive Sound Emulation' option under the Sounds section of WinUAE as this gives a valuable audible indicator of whether a disk image is loading, or whether it's frozen. If you can't hear the drive loading noise, the game/application is either waiting for input (click your mouse buttons or press Enter), or emulation has frozen; change your WinUAE settings, or the disk image may incompatible with the Amiga 500 configuration, or may be corrupt.

  • Make sure to use games and applications from around 1985 1991, as this was the period when most software which is compatible with the Amiga 500 was made. There is no Amiga software made before 1985, and while there is a great deal of Amiga software made after 1991, much of it is for newer Amiga models which differ greatly from the Amiga 500. The Amiga 500, 500+, 1000 and 2000 are almost identical in most respects, so software which is designed for any of these should run on the Amiga 500.

  • For more assistance with all aspects of WinUAE including troubleshooting, you can refer to the Amiga Emulator FAQ for more information. There are also plenty more places you can find help for WinUAE and Amiga emulation in general. Try doing a Google search and you'll see that Amiga emulation is still very, very popular. Please note that I can't provide any technical support for WinUAE or your system, whether in terms of hardware or software configuration advice, or where to find and download Amiga software. I think there's enough advice in this guide to help you help yourself in figuring things out when combined with Google.


    Below is a video of WinUAE loading up Workbench 1.3 on my system, along with a range of intros from several of my favorite Amiga 500 games. As you can see, WinUAE does the job of emulating the Amiga 500 perfectly:

    Well, that concludes this nostalgic journey into the world of the 80's greatest personal computer and gaming machine the Amiga 500! Once you get an Amiga emulator up and running on your PC, and gather a few of your personal favorite games, you'll find it amazing how much time you can spend Amiga-ing. For software which is over 20 years old, I was personally surprised at just how long I spent playing through the classic game Deja-Vu recently for example. Compared to modern games these old Amiga games appear comically pixellated and one-dimensional, but somehow the combination of nostalgia and addictive gameplay can still suck you in for hours at a time.

    Keep in mind that all of the software used in this guide is available free of charge due to the time and effort of some very generous people. People like Toni Wilen who maintains the fabulous WinUAE. These people deserve our support, so if you have a few spare bucks send it their way as a sign of your appreciation.

    If you liked this guide, Email Me and let me know, or share your old Amiga stories. In any case I hope you found this guide useful.

    Well, until next time take care!