The Amiga CD32

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What if? The Amiga CD32

I love What if? scenarios. What could have been if things hadn’t gone a bit pear-shaped for a certain company. This particular scenario though surrounds the question, What if the Amiga CD32 had been a success… would we be seeing an Amiga console today? Equal to the PS3 or X-Box?

There’s plenty of debate on the interweb, schools of thought on the future of Commodore and Amiga. I’ve been dipping in and out of some forums recently and there is certainly a lot of passion surrounding this subject. However, my own personal opinion doesn’t seem to fit in with these particular debates. I’ve always dreamt of an Amiga console, a continuation of the CD32, with Commodore backed and developed hardware, chipsets and designs with the same Amiga enthusiasm for gaming, graphics and entertainment.


I look all bleary eyed as I imagine the release of the ‘Commodore Amiga *insert awesome console name here*’, the anticipation as to the specs of this new machine, the controllers, the online game play… I’ve pretty much invented this fantasy console already, it has everything that made the Amiga and its successors the gaming giants they were (and still are in my opinion).

I’ve imagined the specs, it rivals the PS3 and X-Box for graphics and online gaming, it has an entertainment centre for playing Blu-ray and downloadable movies, it has the retro back catalogue of Amiga games and software, all in a glorious online archive of classics from the past… sorry, drifted off for a bit there.

In short, I think an Amiga console would have easily fitted in amongst the latest gaming platforms, having an incredible legacy behind it and a gaming archive for it to include in its package, sitting alongside any of the latest games. Somehow (don’t ask me how) this latest Amiga console would also allow people to develop their own Amiga projects, the software played just as big a part in the history of Commodore and Amiga as the games did and it would be awesome to see that included, and of course backed by a genuine and passionate Commodore company.

amiga cd32_back

Now, lets not forget this is a What if? scenario, I like to dream of what could have been, and of course in an ideal world this is where I would have liked the direction of the company to have gone. The reality of course was a lot more complicated and depressing, and currently, at least for the brand we all know and love, it’s not looking much better.

Check out another blog post on the CD32 over at Last of Commodore: Amiga CD32, it’s a lot more informative and a lot less fantasy (see above). Thanks for indulging my imagination, until my dreams come true, I’ll be playing on my Amiga 500.

Thanks to Gamester81 for the video review.


Once upon a time it was a lot more avante-guard to be a pirate, long before the unwashed masses embraced the Disney Jack Sparrow movie juggernaut, and even before some wag convinced enough people to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day.  In the heady days of the dawn of the PC graphic adventure, pirates were nothing more than literary devices or the stuff of all things dastardly; pirates portrayed in PC games were more Blackbeard or Captain Hook than Errol Flynn. And then along came Sid Meier.

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Box art for Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Sid Meier is a gaming legend today, a name that is as much a brand and promise of great gameplay, but in 1987, this was not the case.  To be sure, Sid Meier’s name already carried some weight in the simulation community, as a designer of games such as F-15 Strike Eagle and Silent Service.  His games were always enjoyable and well-coded, but more importantly, sold well.  The marketing gurus at MicroProse suspected that people were buying Sid Meier games because they were designed by Sid Meier, so it seemed reasonable to help make their buying decisions for them by announcing his involvement directly in the product title.  From this reasoning the very first game to feature “Sid Meier’s…” in the game title was born: Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Sid Meier – Gamer godThe game was for single players, made long before the mad, lemming-like multiplayer rush of today that all gaming companies seem to have embraced.  (Wait, was that an editorial?)  It was an open-ended game, letting the player make the choices on where to travel and what to do, with the only caveat being that eventually the player’s character would grow too old to continue on the pirate’s path, and would retire.  Depending on what actions the player took (that is, what rewards and successes they achieved during the game), the game would then give a litany of how their character lived the rest of their days, from a lowly beggar in the streets to the prestigious role as adviser to the King.  The game world itself was created using a series of questions-and-answers, beginning with what pirate era the player wanted to play within (1560: The Silver Empire; 1600: Merchants and Smugglers; 1620: The New Colonists; 1640: War for Profit; 1660: The Buccaneer Heroes; and 1680: Pirates’ Sunset).  This was followed by which nationality they wished to be (Dutch Adventurer, English Buccaneer, French Buccaneer, or Spanish Renegade), which Difficulty Level they wished to play in (Apprentice, Journeyman, Adventurer, or Swashbuckler).  Finally, a Special Ability was chosen: Skill at Fencing, Skill at Gunnery, Skill at Medicine, Skill at Navigation, or Wit and Charm, each with its own advantages (for instance, Wit and Charm was used to keep on a Governor’s good side; whereas Skill at Medicine kept injuries to a minimum and prolonged the character’s life).

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Swordplay in Sid Meier’s Pirates!The game world was then generated from these questions.  Of course, the final variable was the copy protection, which requested when either the Silver Train or the Spanish Treasure Fleet arrived in a particular city.  Failure to provide the correct answer stacked the odds so far against the player that even the game manual stated, “Heed the advice and start over, otherwise you’ll find your situation most bleak.”  Takethat, software pirates!  Actually, in some ways the manual was as interesting as the game, as there was a wealth of historical information on pirates and the historical context within which they plied their trade.  Well worth reading!

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Decisions, decisions in Sid Meier’s Pirates!

As for actual gameplay, the live of a pirate was sometimes short, but always challenge-filled and exciting, which the player soon discovered for themselves.  Since a pirate fought with a sword, fencing was part of the game.  Since pirates sailed the seas to prey upon treasure-laden ships, navigation and naval combat was part of the game.  Since pirates often sold their loot to merchants (money laundering was alive and well in the pirate era), trade was part of the game.  Since pirates sometimes sacked small townships, that, too was part of the game.  Since pirate ships didn’t magically manifest crewmembers to sail the seven seas, recruitment was part of the game, and since a silver tongue helped a pirate live a longer life, diplomatic contact with town governors was also part of the game.  All in all, this was an impressive pirate simulation.

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Pirates! Gold for the Sega Genesis

If the Career Mode was too large of a time investment, Sid Meier’s Pirates! offered six historically accurate scenarios to test your swashbuckling mettle.  Each scenario was in a different time period, and each offered unique challenges to overcome.  These scenarios were: John Hawkins and the Battle of San Juan Ulua  – 1569 (wherein you have a slow, but powerful galleon to command, with many ports unwilling to trade and a fleet not powerful enough to force them to comply); Francis Drake and the Silver Train Ambush – 1573 (can you match the verve and skill Drake showed battling the Spanish Fleet at the height of their power with only two small ships?); Piet Heyn and the Treasure Fleet – 1628 (your fleet is powerful, but the season is late and finding the treasure ships is becoming a difficult task and will take expert planning to locate and dispatch); L’Ollonais and the Sack of Marcaibo – 1666 (an abundance of manpower but a shortage of powerful vessels make ship-to-ship battles difficult, but port sacking attractive, with the additional challenge of the fragile nature of your men’s morale);Henry Morgan the King’s Pirate – 1671 (the dangers of having a powerful pirate fleet in both naval power and manpower in that you must keep everyone fed, content and treasure laden to succeed); and Baron de Pontis and the Last Expedition – 1697 (the munchkin scenario, in which you have a large strike force and a more than reasonable certainty to win any battle, making the only challenge how much treasure can you loot?).

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Pirates! for the Nintendo Entertainment System

Sid Meier’s Pirates! was first released in 1987 on the Apple II, Commodore 64 and IBM PC (PC Booter) platforms.  It was quickly ported over to the Macintosh (1988), Amstrad (1988), Commodore Amiga (1990), and even the Nintendo Entertainment System (1991).  It would be remade in 1993 with improved graphics and sound, then published under the title Pirates! Gold, for IBM PC (both DOS and Windows), Macintosh, and – because Nintendon’t – the Sega Genesis. The remakes didn’t end there, as it was again remade in 2004 for Windows XP, returning to its original title ofSid Meier’s Pirates!, and then again in 2008 for mobile devices, imaginatively calledSid Meier’s Pirates! Mobile.  Perhaps in the next decade it will be remade once again.  (I recommend they try Sid Meier’s Pirates! Gold as the title for next time.)

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Box art for Pirates! Gold

Sid Meier’s Pirates! was not only popular amongst gamers, it also performed well in the eyes of the gaming press.  It was awarded “Action Game of the Year” by Computer Gaming World, and also the Origin Award for “Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1987”.  The game also ranked at #18 in the Computer Gaming World’s 150 Best Games of All Time.  Clearly, this game has remained in the gaming public’s eye for a reason, making Sid Meier’s Pirates! a worthy addition to anyone’s game collection.


Magisterrex has been gaming since the days of Pong and still owns a working Atari 2600. He tends to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games.  If you’re into classic old school gaming check out his blog here


One Sentence Review:
“A modern remix of the original Zelda, Terranigma, Secret of Mana, and Secret of Evermore… sort of.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10


Overview & Gameplay & Fun Factor & Replayability:

The game is a mix of the original Zelda, Terranigma (a lost SNES gem), Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, and Final Fantasy 6. Those are already all must-play games so imagine how great this game is. The gameplay is a lot like most of those games.

This is a hack and slash game that is a very special distinct style. The world just ended in a magical apocalypse and you’re one of the few survivors. Pretty much everybody you knew is dead and you’re trying to find a way to restore the world.

The game has a special style of its own. The world feels like an extreme fantasy world with the culture and civilization of the world looking like the old west. The music (see below) is a lot of folk, country, and electronic music and it reflects this. The game is original because there is a Narrator describing everything the main character The Kid does, feels, and thinks. This adds a lot of depth to what is otherwise a simple game (simple is NOT bad).

When I sat down to play this game, I figured I would do so and be done with it, not necessarily because I heard anything about this game other than seeing it came out, but rather because I bought a bunch of games on sale on Steam for Christmas. It was late on a Wednesday and I figured I’d play a quick game, beat it fast, and go to bed. By the time I thought it was 10:30 PM that maybe I should go eat something it was in reality 2:30 AM and my body was screaming at me that I was starving. This game is quite a lot of fun since action RPGs generally are that way. The narration keeps you engaged in the game. Not only that but since the game autosaves, you don’t pause to do that either. I give Fun Factor a score of 8 out of 10. Why that score? Well that’s because after a while the game does sort of become repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, the story is great and everything but when you replay the game the story is pretty much the same except when you get to the ending of the game and you have 4 different choices to make. I give Replayability a score of 6 out of 10. The game opens up different modes in which to play the game in after you beat it but I don’t feel like going through the story all over again, myself.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

You get to super customize how hard you want this game to be through the use of the Shrine building in the game. You can’t change it in real-time through the menu but you can go back to The Bastion and reconfigure which Gods to piss off, I mean pray for, determining how hard you want to make the enemies.

The default difficulty with no Shrine modifications was really easy for me. You can literally make this game NES-hard, and I’m talking about the original Megaman games level of difficulty. Since you can customize it so much, it’s up to you to make your own challenge. I give both the Difficulty and Difficulty Versatility scores of 10 out of 10. Don’t be a wimp!


I bought this game and the soundtrack on Steam for $10 during the holiday sale they have every year. I would say, I’d pay at most $15 for it (for the game alone), considering how good it is. It’s worth having played it at least once, sort of like Trine was to me.


The sound effects are respectable and are often ques for whether you should dodge or shield yourself. The Narrator (Stranger) makes the game really engaging because he keeps the game flowing by describing what The Kid is thinking about as he continues on his quest, as well as tells you more about the history of the dead world. I give Sound a score of 10 out of 10. The narration really did it for me in making this game rise to a whole new level. This game could have easily have been made on DOS, Amiga CD32, Sega CD, or Playstation 1 but instead of using the CD technology of those systems to create something like this they tried to pack it with shitty video instead but I am getting sidetracked.


The music for this game is probably one of the best soundtracks for any game that came out in 2011. The music is a mix of folk, country, and electronic music. The general level music sounds a lot like the music from SNES action RPG games like the ones I mentioned before. There are specific folk and country songs that are so good that they are almost chilling to hear, especially with the way the action, the narration, and storyline mix along with their introduction.

The introduction of such music was perfectly made especially with the atmosphere of the game. You’re in a fantasy post-apocalypse world, so imagine getting to hear such beauty in the middle of death. Made me think of some of the best parts of Fallout or Final Fantasy 6.

Now most of the music in the game is the electronic SNES kind of music, I just wanted to post the best folk songs here especially since they’re sang so well and the lyrics are so relevant to this game.

The music kind of made me think of some of the music by Tom Waits, especially this song:

If you never heard of Tom Waits before, here is one of my favorite songs by him:

Anyways, the music for this game is TOP! I give the Music a score of 10 out of 10. The music makes you FEEL what’s going on. Rather than do some stupid cut scene that makes you have no interaction and makes it like a movie (the opposite of what a video game should be), you live the music as you play the game. A lot of BIG game developers have a lot to learn from this little game.


The game never crashed, not even while I alt-tabbed, running a bunch of stuff in the background. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10. The music gets lower while in the menu and alt-tabbed but does not mute itself.


You control The Kid with both keyboard and mouse (for the PC version). The controls are pretty self intuitive. You block with SHIFT and roll away from enemies with spacebar. The left mouse button does your melee attack (unless you change what weapon goes there) and right mouse controls your missile weapon (again unless you decided to have two melee weapons, which is not that smart). Q unleashes your super attack. The controls were great except that the game sometimes lags with some of the weapons kind of making them be useless to me (chaos launcher, sometimes the rifle) but you’ll identify them soon and I recommend you avoid those weapons. In fact, I recommend using the polearm, dual pistols, and pistol super skill all the time. I give Controls a score of 7 out of 10. Maybe it’s just the PC version that has that problem but I think they should have tested this game a little more in development and made sure all the weapons worked flawlessly.

Graphics & Performance:

Here is a game that’s so well put together it’s almost art-like. The character drawings will remind you of playing Terranigma, Secret of Mana, and Secret of Evermore on the SNES, only more polished sort of like having the same kind of graphics as games from the Warcraft 2 era or maybe like Revenant but having much higher resolution. The game has its own style of art, sort of like a Korean anime style. I liked the drawings of the characters and cutscene drawings. For a small game this was really great, blend all that with the narration and music and you have something that is superior to the original games that inspired its style. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10. A game doesn’t need to be 3D in order for it to be eye-candy.

Performance was nearly flawless, only having a few minor hickups that didn’t have too much of a penalty in gameplay. I give Performance an 8 out of 10. I do run a lot of stuff even while I game since I multitask work stuff a lot. You could see minor lag here and there but if you run with nothing in the background you should be fine.


The game is nearly perfect except for the few flaws that I mentioned. It feels good to have a game that makes you feel something. Feeling good in a Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, Final Fantasy 6, and Psychonauts way is something more games should have. Remember, technology “improving” is not always a good thing. Casablanca > Transformers 3, for example. Empire Strikes Back > everything else SW that came out after, except for KOTOR and Old Republic.

This game is worth playing, at least once. Live the experience that Bastion is!


Morph - Title Screen

Morph (1993)
By: Millennium Interactive Genre: Platform / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga First Day Score: 38,950
Also Available For: Amiga CD32, SNES

Hey! Who remembers Morph? He was a weird brown thing made from plasticine who changed shape and lived in a box and who had his own TV show when I was a kid. I think only British readers will know who I’m referring to, but whether you remember him or not is irrelevant because this game is nothing to do with him! This Morph is a boy, Ralph Morris, who helps his crackpot uncle (called Professor Krakenpot, appropriately enough!) to test his new teleporting machine. The test inevitably goes wrong and alters his molecular state, leaving him in a ‘state of limbo’. Happily for us, however, this results in in a type of game that was fairly common on the Amiga – a 2D scrolling platform puzzle game!

Morph - Gameplay Screenshot 1

In order to find all the lost parts of the teleport machine so that Morph’s uncle can rebuild it and return him to normal, it’s your job to guide his disembodied form around four different areas – Gardens, Factory, Sewers, and Laboratory. Each is absolutely packed with hazards and puzzles, and to navigate them, Morph can switch between four different states – flexible, solid, liquid, and gas, and each has very specific advantages and disadvantages. Morph in a flexible state, for instance, is like a rubber ball and can bounce up steps, ledges, and over gaps, and can also float in water. He is easily burst, however, on things like rose thorns, broken glass, spikes, or fire. The solid state sees Morph act like a metal ball. He is consequently very heavy and can smash through special destructible blocks and is unaffected by sharp objects but he can fall through fragile platforms if he’s not careful and cannot move up slopes. He will also sink in liquid of any kind.

Morph - Gameplay Screenshot 2

In a liquid state, Morph is a water drip which allows him to pour though small gaps like drains and small holes which, in any other state, he would be too big to fit through, and he can also put out fires simply by moving into them but he dissolves in pools of water or any other liquid and is also unable to move up slopes. Lastly, in a gas state, Morph takes on the appearance of a small cloud. This is very useful for floating up to otherwise inaccessible platforms and areas but since he is lighter than air, he cannot move in a downward direction. He can, however, be sucked into fans and ignited if he strays too close to a fire. You might be forgiven for thinking that, with a little strategic thinking, all of those abilities make Morph seem like an easy game. If you do think that, then you’re in for a shock! As mentioned earlier, the game is set over four areas and each of these is divided into nine levels. Though you can try any of the four areas you want, the levels in each must be completed in order. The object of each level is to find the missing teleporter part (which is always a cog – teleport machines can’t be too hard to make if they only consist of cogs!) and reach the exit within the pretty strict time limit.

Morph - Gameplay Screenshot 3

Still sound easy? Think again – Morph can only use a set number of transformations on each level! The information panel at the bottom of the screen features several things. On its right is a star with a number beneath it. The number indicates how many times you can transform on that level. Luckily more stars can be found during the course of a level, each of which increases your allowed transformations by one. On the left of the information panel are symbols representing each of the four states you can transform into, and each of these also has a number beneath it indicating the number of times you can assume that particular state. This number can be exceeded but must be at zero or above to finish a level successfully. If it ever falls below zero, you must find special icons indicative of each of the four states to return the counter(s) to zero or, even better, a positive number (for which you receive a bonus) before exiting the level. It’s not too much of a disaster if you do use too many transformations, though, as fortunately you can attempt each level as many times as you wish.

Morph - Gameplay Screenshot 4

That’s Morph himself taken care of. Now we come to the environment in which he moves around. Each environment has features and hazards that only appear in that particular area, such as brambles in the Gardens, and conveyor belts in the Factory, but there are also some that may appear in any area. Some of these include pipes, electromagnets, switches, direction blocks (which only allow travel in the direction indicated on the block), and locks, which obviously require keys. There are even some helpful items to be found too like x-ray specs, maps, teleports, stop watches, and treasure chests. Among the most useful items, however, are heater blocks and freezer blocks which provide Morph with ‘free’ transformations when entered. The former transforms him into the next state of a lesser density (i.e. from solid into flexible), and the latter transforms him into the next densest state (i.e. gas into liquid), and they can be a life-saver!

Morph - Gameplay Screenshot 5

One of the most important things with a game like this, in my opinion, is its difficulty level. Many platform/puzzle games have one or two extremely easy levels and then suddenly get damn near impossible. Luckily, Morph is not a member of this club, although it will probably seem like that to begin with! Some aspects of controlling him do take a bit of getting used to, like when bouncing around as the rubber ball or navigating the mazes of tunnels and pipes, but it’s fine after some practice. Once you’ve got the hang of controlling him and exploring the levels, it will not seem quite so daunting. Many of the levels are fairly intricately designed and you’ll probably find something new every time you play on some of the more elaborate ones. There a fair few secrets and bonuses to collect but they aren’t vital to the completion of the level and the time limit for each level is generally pretty strict so skillful play if often required to obtain them and get ultra-scores.

Morph - Gameplay Screenshot 6

One of the most appealing things about Morph, at least initially, is the graphics. They really are quite lovely. Moprh himself is fairly basic in appearance but is pretty well animated, nicely defined, and has some amusing expressions. The backgrounds are also fairly basic but feature some lovely shading, and the foreground scenery looks particularly nice. Each area is colourful and distinctive, with the Gardens being particularly pleasing. Some of the levels are pretty big too! As is often the case with Amiga games, Morph does not feature both in-game music and sound effects. In this case, the in-game sounds are restricted to some sound effects although they are realistic, varied, and atmospheric. Morph himself has unique sounds for each state he’s in too, such as a bouncing noise when he’s a rubber ball, a heavy clanging noise when he’s a metal ball, and a glooping noise when he’s in his liquid state (the gas state is pretty quiet, though). The music is restricted to a few little ditties here and there and that’s about it.

Morph - Gameplay Screenshot 7

Like any good platform/puzzle game, Morph features a decent amount of levels, thirty-six in this case, and they are good ones for the most part too. They contain all the usual stuff like tricky puzzles, collectible items, and, perhaps most importantly, secrets, and there is more than one way to complete some levels. Most of them will need lots of exploring before they can be finished and this can be a little frustrating – much of it involves trial and error, which isn’t always good, but if the levels were too simple, the game would be far too easy (and rather boring). Besides, you get infinite continues and you can restart any level whenever you want to so it’s not too bad! Overall, It looks very nice, is very addictive, and its difficulty curve is well pitched allowing steady progress whilst remaining challenging enough to keep you trying for a long while. Plus, almost everyone I’ve spoken to has never played it. So give it a try!

RKS Score: 7/10