In the battle for the largest market share in computer games the American systems 3DO and Atari Jaguar have a competitor from Europe. It's called the Amiga CD32. And Commodore suggests that it's: "The machine of tomorrow, this year and next year." Is it really that cool? This Game Zero writer ignored the hype around the release of this piece of electronics and looked at what the machine is really like...
The problem for all you American game freaks is that the CD32 is not available in the United States yet. Commodore says that they expect to release it in the first half of 1994 in the United States. But is the CD32 worth waiting? I mean, the 3DO is already for sale and the Atari Jaguar is rolling out to shops all over the United States at the moment. Let's go find out...
So, what's in store? The CD32 is, as the name of the console already states, "the world's first 32-bit CD based games console". The internal architecture looks powerful: a Motorola 68EC020 32-bit microprocessor, which runs at 14 Mhz., an "AA multichip coprocessor system for video, graphics, sound and DMA", 2 Mb. of 32-bit RAM, several external interfaces (one highspeed serial port is added, possibly for a modem add-on). The graphics modes of the CD32, due to the AA custom chipset, are resolutions ranging from 320x200 to 1280x400. The colour palette consists of 16.7 million colours, with 2 to 256,600 colours displayable on screen. Further the CD32 boasts four channel stereo sound. Included with the CD32 comes a "simple 11 button hand-held controller" (I saw only 5 real buttons on a picture, though), and two games: Oscar, which is "a zippy platform game which contains speed and colours no other console could match." and Diggers: "a massive strategy game which shows off the machine's staggering memory." Rumor has it though, that the games are rather crappy.
The most important thing about a game console is the games. At the moment of writing there are 6 titles released, note you get two already when you buy a CD32. Commodore says that "there will be 40-50 specific CD32 titles in the shops by Christmas." There are some pretty 'heavy' third party software publishers, like Gremlin, Millennium, Ocean, Psygnosis, Team 17 and Electronic Arts. The prices of games will be around US$30 for cheap games to around US$50 for average priced games. I saw a demo at an electronics show of the CD32 pinball game Pinball Fantasies, made by 21st Century Entertainment, which is for sale at the moment. The game looks a lot like Pinball Dreams on the regular Amiga and PC: the game is realistic, fast and has really nice sound effects.
What more can the CD32 do than play games? Well, the CD32 is able to play standard CD audio discs. Further on the CD32 will also play the new CD+G (which means Compact Disc Plus Graphics) format. These new discs will display on-screen graphics as an accompaniment to the CD audio track. One of the best extra things on the CD32 is that it is able to play FMV using Video CDs. (FMV stands for Full Motion Video, this means that the whole TV screen can be used to display a film.) Video CDs are able to play 72-74 minutes of film and digital music. Unfortunately it's not for free; you will have to buy a Video CD (MPEG) module. It will be for sale in mid-December in Europe for around US$300. The Video CDs will be priced around US$25 to US$50, but no definite pricing has been set.
Ok, before I end this article let me warn you not to order your CD32 in Europe now. I tried to contact a Commodore employee to ask about compatibility between the European CD32 and his upcoming American brother, but haven't had any luck. The retail price at the moment in Europe is around US$450; maybe it's price will have dropped a little when it is released in the United States. Further on I will try to keep you up-to-date about all the latest releases in CD32 games and try to find out the exact U.S. release date...
-An European Gamer
Originally appeared Vol 2, Iss 4 (11-12/93)
|Clock speed:||14.19 Mhz.|
|Processor:||Surface-mount Motorola 68EC020 microprocessor.|
|Custom Chips:||AA multichip coprocessor system for video, graphics, sound and DMA.|
|Chip Memory:||2 Mb. 32-bit RAM; as standard.|
|EEPROM:||1 Kb non-volatile memory for high-scores and game position saving.|
|External Interfaces:||Game controller/mouse/joystick. (two DB9 male)|
Aux connector to both keyboard and highspeed serial port.
Colour composite video.
RF modulator and S-video.
Right and left stereo audio phono connections.
|Internal Drive:||Dual speed CD-ROM drive transfers data at 150 Kb and 300 Kb. per second.|
|Video Display:||Output type: colour composite; RF modulated; S-video interlaced and non-interlaced; up to 8 bitplanes. Graphic Modes AA custom chipset produces resolutions ranging from 320x200 to 1280x400. (more with overscan, including 800x600) Colour palette of 16.7 million colours. 2 to 256,000 user definable colours displayable on screen.|
|Sound:||Four channel stereo sound, 8-bit D/A converters, 6-bit volume and CD-audio.|
|Power Supply:||23 watts, switching.Amiga CD32|
|Now that's what I call games||Multimedia Machine|
|Pinball Fantasies||21st Century Ent. Ltd.|
|James Pond 2 (Robocod)||Millennium|
|(*) These are games you get when you buy an Amiga CD32.|
|Now that's what I call games 2||Multimedia Machine|
|Whale's voyage||Microvalue Flair|
|Sensible Soccer (NAGA)||Renegade|
|Zool (AGA)||Gremlin Graphics|
|Deep Core||Int. Computer Ent. Ltd.|
|Dangerous Streets (AGA)||Microvalue Flair|
|Total Carnage||Intl. Computer Ent. Ltd.|
|Mean Arenas||Intl. Computer Ent. Ltd.|
|International Karate Plus (AGA)||System 3|
|Myth (AGA)||System 3|
|Super Putty (AGA)||System 3|
|Ninja III (AGA)||System 3|
|Bubble & Squeak||Audiogenic Software Ltd.|
|K240 (NAGA)||Gremlin Graphics|
|Little Divil||Gremlin Graphics|
|Legend of Sorasil (NAGA)||Gremlin Graphics|
|Zool II||Gremlin Graphics|
|Winter Super Sports||Microvalue Flair|
|Lotus Turbo Trilogy||Gremlin Graphics|
|Seven Gates of Jambala (AGA)||Grandslam|
|Arabian Nights (AGA)||Krisalis|
|Traps & Treasures||Krisalis|
|Ryder Cup Golf||Ocean|
|Reach Out For Gold||Microvalue Flair|
|Surf Ninjas||Microvalue Flair|
|Lord of the Rings II||Interplay|
|Fury of the Furries||Mindscape|
|Donk - special edition||Supervision Ent. Ltd.|
|Guiness II||New Media/CBM|
|Super Methane Brothers||Extender|
|Defender of the Crown II||Sachs/CBM|
|Ceaser Deluxe/Cohort II (NAGA)||Software Inspiration|
|50 game compendium (Dongle)||Int. Computer Ent. Ltd.|
|Humans 1 & 2||Gametek (UK) Ltd.|
|Hunt for Red October (AGA)||Grandslam|
|Shadow of the Wind||Images|
|Gulp||Int. Computer Ent. Ltd.|
|Chambers of Shaolin||Grandslam|
|50 Karoake Hits||Multimedia Machine|
|Nick Faldo's Gold||Grandslam|
|Exile||Audiogenic Software Ltd.|
|F17 Challenge||Team 17|
|Project X||Team 17|
|Alien Breed - Special Edition||Team 17|
|Assassin Special Edition||Team 17|
|Utopia II||Gremlin Graphics|
|Chaos Engine (AGA)||Renegade|
|Amiga American Football||Plattsoft/CBM|
|Turrican III (AGA)||Renegade|
|Golden Collection||Microvalue Flair|
|Uridium II (AGA)||Renegade|