How to emulate an Amiga on your PC
I'm not sure if many of you will like this article or not. My second computer was an Amiga 500 which I used almost 100% for gaming. I loved many of the games that came out for that incredible machine and still yearn for some of them. I always wanted to play those games again but did not want to buy an Amiga because of several reasons. I don't want to get into to much detail but it's mainly a storage problem and a problem of availability. Sure, you can buy some cheap Amiga systems on eBay and probably buy some games there as well, but most of the games are hard to come by this days.
The alternative is emulation. Winuae is a great Amiga emulator, it's free and easy to use once you get used to it. The difficult part is that you will need a kickstart rom to run Amiga software. The only legal source that sells kickstart roms is the Amiga forever compilation. A quick search on Google revealed that several download sites offer downloads of kickstart roms. This is illegal and I advise against it. Once you got your kickstart rom you are ready to go..
Wait, something is missing: The games. Amiga games are available in .adf format which UAE is able to read and run. Some famous company's like Cinemaware are offering disk images of their Amiga games for free on their websites. You can download games like Defender of the Crown, Wings, It came from the Desert, Rocket Ranger and many more by simply visiting their site and creating a user account.
If you have bought the Amiga Forever compilation, you may also have access to a number of games that it includes. Once you've downloaded some disks you should start WinUAE and do the following.
You need to configure UAE the way that it knows where the Amiga kickstart rom file is located. I suggest you create a subdirectory called kickstart in the uae folder and place all kickstart roms there. Click the rom tab and select your kickstart rom file as the main rom (for Amiga 500 and 2000 emulation this should be kickstart 1.3)
Click on quick start afterwards, then select disk image from floppy drive df0. Remember that the early Amiga computers had no hard drive, everything was run from floppy disks. Browse to the disk image and double click it, the path and name should be displayed now. If the game has more than one disk repeat the process for df1, df2 and df3. You are able to access four floppy drives by clicking on the floppy drives option in the configuration. Some games need even more (monkey island for example was delivered on nine floppy disks, imagine that.)
The last thing you need to do is to click start to start the emulation process. The emulator will run in a windows mode unless you've chosen to run in full screen. If loading times are slow you can speed up floppy load time which should work fine for most games (up to 800%). Some games can be downloaded as hard drive versions which should also speed up loading times.
Some impressions of running games:
Last but not least. Do I think it is worth to use this emulator and pay for a kickstart rom? Yes I do. Even though most games look bad when it comes to graphics and sound bad as well they are still great. They are fun to play and maybe some may even bring back some long lost childhood memories. Of a time when games were just games.
- The Amiga Forever Value Pack ships with Kickstart 1.2 and Kickstart 1.3 as well as 50 games. You can buy it for $9.99 online.
- Sites like Back To The Roots offer legal downloads of games, demos and all that good stuff. Definitely worth to check out to get started.
- If you can't remember the name of a game or want to look up information, try the Hall of Light archive.
- If you want to listen to Amiga music, check out AMP.
- WinUAE lets you save and load different configurations. This is useful as some games may have different prerequisites (AGA for instance or more RAM).
- I highly suggest you connect a joypad of sorts to the PC to play the games. While it is certainly possible to play the games using the keyboard and mouse, it may sometimes be a frustrating experience.