AmiTech-Dayton Gazette -- November 2004
I'll start off with a few notes about the next AmiTech meeting. The November meeting marks our officer elections, at least for any contested positions, so be certain to be there to defend your position -- or defend against it. I'll also be showing off my collection of emulation programs for MorphOS. Emulation has always been somewhat of a hit or miss affair on the Amiga, largely because it takes a lot of CPU horsepower to emulate other hardware, even seemingly simple old hardware. The brute force of machines like the Pegasos and Amiga One (not to mention those multi-gigahertz PCs) makes it much easier to emulate a wider variety of hardware than it used to be. It may become easier still once programmers and video card support hits its stride. Anyway, here is some of the emulation software I will have available to show at the meeting, along with some thoughts and opinions on each. All the emulators listed here are for MorphOS, unless otherwise stated. Many have versions for Amiga 68K or PPC though.
MAME -- Multi Arcade Machine Emulator
Versions of MAME have been around for practically any computer capable enough to run it. The Morph version is very up-to-date, almost equal with the base PC version. The current version is .88, but I use version .80 most of the time. It gets very good results with most video games before the hardware 3D era running quite nicely. The GUI lets you choose a game, as well as settings for it. It's not very well set up for games that use analog control schemes or trackballs, however.
GenesisPlus -- Sega Genesis Emulator
It's capable for the most part, though many games don't have working sound. The GUI is functional, if graphically overdone.
Stella -- Atari 2600 Emulator
It works quite well, but seems to be in need of an update. Judging by program dates, it would seem this was a MorphOS program written before Pegasos hardware was available. It works fine, but the display skips frames, and does not support the overlay mode of my video card. The Amiga PPC version is the better choice in this case. Stella is a CLI-based program, with no Amiga/Morph based GUI available yet. It's not hard to deal with though. This is a valuable emulator to have, since there's a thriving home-brewing community producing new games, many of which are available online, but not as a ROM cartridge for the original hardware.
Frodo -- Commodore 64 Emulator
This is a program with many options, which you'll probably need. There are two versions of the program that emulate based on scanlines or CPU cycles, and each of those have various options for sound, joystick, or virtual disk drive operation, and different software seems to need any of these options in various combinations. Still, once in proper operation the emulation is pretty much indistinguishable from a real Commodore 64, except for having no idea where some C64 keys are on your own keyboard.
UAE / E-UAE -- Amiga Emulator
This is something naturally valuable to anyone who wants to use some of their old Amiga software that depends on the custom hardware. Unfortunately, the UNIX/Linux UAE has fallen far behind the Windows WinUAE. I tried it on the Pegasos, and was greeted with something that worked fast and out of control, especially if you tried to support sound as well. E-UAE has surfaced to incorporate the WinUAE improvements into the non-Windows versions. I have tried this version, and it is a definite improvement. At least things seem to be running at a somewhat normal-looking speed now. It still needs a good deal of work though, as well as joystick support, considering games are a big reason to use UAE.
Something everyone must remember is that emulation is a legally dubious area in terms of copyright. While many ROM and game and disk files are available online, most are still the property of their copyright holders, and you should only use them as a backup to games and systems you already own. I don't know how many people own ROMs from arcade machine motherboards though. It's fair to be warned, and to know what the fair play is.