68020... 16.7 million colours... 2 Megabyte of memory... Yes, they're all here in the all-new 32-bit dream-machine.
If you've read the Computer Comparison article on another page, I'm sure you'll all agree how - technically at least - the A1200 is far-and-away the leader of the pack. The main reasons being...
Yes, the A1200 is fairly nippy to say the least. Although the 68020 (12 Mhz) CPU has been surpassed by the '030 and '040, the '020 is fine for most games; and remember, you can always plug in a faster CPU at a later date to speed up some of the 256-colour simulators in production.
X-CAD, a computer-aided-design program runs about twice as fast on the A1200 than AutoCAD (a very similar program on the PC) running on a fast 80486. Okay, these programs may not be games, but this sort of speed will be reflected in future software.
16,777,216 is a rather large number, isn't it? It also happens to be the amount of colours the A1200 features! If you've seen something like (say) Sewer Shark on the Mega-CD, the digitised pictures seem to look shade-less. The reason for this is that the Mega-CD only has 512 colours to play around with. There are only 8 shades of most colours (including grey), so shading looks grainy at best. The A1200, on the other hand, enjoys 256 shades of each colour, making it tricky for the eye to pick up any noticeable differences between action on screen, and in the real world. The 256 colours on screen (262,144 in HAM-8) will allow the A1200 to
display life-like screens (unlike the Mega-CD) and the new screen resolutions will enable up to 1280x512 (more with overscan) pixels to be displayed on screen (that's far more than the 3D0).
These are the main reasons why the A1200 has been (and will continue to be) a great success. There are other great features bolted inside the A1200, and include things like:
2 Megabyte of (Chip) memory
Massive sprite capabilities
Workbench 3 O.S.
Some of the above features might not sound great on paper, but you'll notice the effects they'll have on future games.
The sound chip is almost identical to the one featured in the A500/600, but the additional memory (2 whole Megs. of it) will permit more samples and sounds to be included in A1200-specific software.
The PCMCIA industry-standard smart-card slot has been carried over from the A600. This, combined with the other expansion slots, will enable the user to attach more memory, a faster CPU and a hard-drive to the A1200. For games, such items are luxuries; but for serious software (like 3D ray-tracing and structured drawing), these expansion boards/cards are almost essential.
Right, you now know all the specifications of the Amiga 1200, but should you actually sell your A500/600 and buy one?
Although some games already benefit from the faster processor (Stunt Car Racer, Formula 1 Grand Prix and Legends Of Valour being a few notable examples), only a few A1200-specific titles are out in the shops for you to purchase. Games like Zool A1200, Trolls A1200, Robocod A1200, and Nigel Mansell A1200 are just slightly enhanced on the big machine, so maybe you should wait until some games are developed primarily for the A1200 (you should see the real big 'uns around Chrimbo time), that take full advantage of the machine's faster processor and millions of colours. Of course, if you were already planning to buy an Amiga in the first place, it seems quite clear that the A1200 is the better choice than the A600. For just 100 pounds more (£299), you get the latest machine from Commodore (bar the A4000/030 and the Amiga-CD³²), and a far superior spec. sheet. (Oh, and a numeric keypad.)
It's not surprising to see that most companies are incredibly enthusiastic about the machine, and are already developing software for it. And who can blame them? After all, with the Amiga 1200, they now get the freedom they've always wanted - no more 68000-code restrictions or a paltry 16/32 colours to work from.
Some companies find the standard A500/600 far too limited, and are developing primarily for the A1200 and its AGA (Advanced Graphics Architecture) chip-set.
You can read about some of these companies, and games they have planned, over the page...
Team 17 are planning at least three new games for the Amiga 1200, and are very excited about the machine's specifications. Apparently, they want to (and I quote) "Hit the machine HARD."
Anyway, they're planning Project X 2. This hasn't yet reached the drawing board, but we are promised "Loads of things" with 256 colours, loadsa samples and possibly parallax included in the game. Dunno about you, but I can't wait!
Alien Breed 2 is their first development. Now then... where shall I start? I could, of course, start off by saying that it will feature 128 colours on-screen (four times as many colours as the original Alien Breed), or that it will contain around 35-50 levels (around 30 more than the original), or I could even say that it will feature loads of different aliens, hostage rescue missions, "Incredible" special effects, and tons more enemies on-screen at once; but I won't.
Instead, I'll tell you about one incredibly neat feature. Now, you know Mode-7 on the SNES? Well, Alien Breed 2 will enable the player to zoom out of the play area when reaching the end-of-level guardian - or whatever - and see the whole size of the alien. You see, if you have the screen at standard size, the men/sprites/things will stay at their default size (as seen in the original), and you will only be able to see the alien's head. Zoom out, and the men will be ant-like size, with the alien taking up the whole screen. Mode-7 - eat yer heart out!
Superfrog 2 is quite some way off in the horizon - watch this space!
Meanwhile, A1200 Body Blows is already in production. No piccies as yet; just promising details, like more animation frames, colours and samples. It should be out soon.
Millennium/Electronic Arts are porting over the SNES and PC versions of James Pond
and Robocod; both will feature enhanced graphics.
James Pond 3 is already being programmed as I write. It will contain a scroll faster (!) than Sonic (if that's possible), 50 frames per second scrolling, and unique rotation. (I didn't know the A1200 had a scaling and rotation chip - perhaps that's one of the A1200's hidden features.)
Not bad... Not bad...
Electronic Arts have Syndicate. Syndicate's known as Sim City with guns! It will be the first A1200 game to feature a high-resolution display (over twice as much detail than the average MegaDrive and standard Amiga game) and 256 colours. In that sense, it'll be more like the PC version. Very tasty. Oh, and to add 'un-insult' to 'un-injury' (sorry, that's an awful phrase), there will be a 256-colour ray-traced (calculated light) intro-sequence.
There's even a flight-sim/forest type game, which reminds me a little of the brilliant Maximum Overkill on the PC. It's looking great.
And Deluxe Paint AGA (their utterly brill paint package), is well worth checking out, too...
Other publishers developing software include:
Gremlin (Zool 2, anyone?), Krisalis (enhanced Soccer Kid and Arabian Nights - both platformers),
Virgin (possibly a 256-colour Snooker and Pool game),
Flair, Ocean/D.I.D. (see previews section), US Gold, Renegade, System 3 (and their blobby Putty).
There are many more publishers who are planning to develop software for the Amiga, but, unfortunately, I haven't the space to list them (alright, alright, I've forgotten them; happy now?).
As for software compatibility, around ¾ of A500 software works. You may be tempted to just plunge into deep water and buy an old A500 classic. Don't. There will be far better software coming out for the A1200 anyway ('Why would you want to feed your Rolls-Royce with 2nd-grade petrol?' syndrome). If you're still persistent, check with the store-owner to see if the required game is A1200-compatible, and where-ever possible, get a demonstration.
The A1200 is simply an excellent computer. The specifications are impressive - easily beating those of the A600 and consoles, it has to be said.
Although the A1200 CD³² (see NEWS) is probably the better bet for games-players, for those who require a computer, the A1200 is ideal (how could I possibly design the mag with a joypad?!).