All posts for the month February, 2015

Short answer yes. I’ve done it before. Sometimes I even feel nostalgic about emulation. Around Aug 97 is when I first tried emulation with Nesticle and Genecyst. At the time I didn’t have internet at home, part of the fun was to rent a PC after class, bring a box full of floppies, download and copy emus and roms, get home, unload everything, fiddle with the emus configurations and explore all these systems I didn’t have “back in the day” or relive past glories. Thanks to emulation I got to relive the glories in the arcades from the comfort of my house and without spending tokens. I got to enjoy the best the Atari 2600 and SNES libraries had to offer (two consoles I didn’t have). I discovered some of what the mythical Sega Saturn had to offer, etc. In 98 I sold my Genesis and games, in 99 I sold my PS1 (kept my NES in storage). From 99 to 08 it was 100% emulation for my pre 6th gen gaming.
Fast forward to 2008, I got nostalgic and bought me a Genesis and good amount of games. Later on I found myself getting more games for my NES and later on I was exploring other systems and definitely got back to getting and using real hardware.
Today, emulation still has its place, the Wii is a great emulation box pretty much for everything pre 5th gen. I got a pad converter and use it specially when I want to record some footage.
Using the real hardware helped me to better understand what was it like “back in the day” using these consoles and computers. Consoles like the Saturn and the PC Engine were great to own if you had access to japanese releases. A device like the XEGS was a good value if you needed a PC that got the work done and let you chill out at the same time. 
As per PC goes, packages like Virtualbox, VMWare and Dosbox are neat but don’t quite replicate the experience. One of my recent projects has been assembling a PC like the one I had back in 2000. I didn’t realize I forgot so many things about getting Win98 to play along with productivity software and games. And I’m gonna leave it there for now.

It was the year 1986. The Nintendo Entertainment System proved there was money to be made in the videogame industry and companies like Sega and Atari wanted a piece of the pie. Sega released its Master System and Atari would re-release the 7800 and the 2600 with plans to repackage their 65XE computer into a sort of hybrid entry computer / advanced game system. 

In 1987 Atari Corporation released the Atari XEGS. It came in two retail configurations: 

Basic set: Game console with Missile Command built in and a matching gray CX-40 joystick.
Deluxe Set: Basic set plus keyboard (with Atari Basic built in), Flight Simulator II cartridge, XG-1 light gun and Bug Hunt cartridge.

As stated before, it was a repackaged 65XE computer which in turn was a redesigned 600XL which in turn was an update of the Atari 400/800 line. The 8-bit line began in 1979, so it was pretty dated technology for the time.

There were some advantages though, for the somewhat low price of $199 USD you had an entry level computer which could play games. It was fully compatible with the existing Atari 8 bit software and peripherals. 

So you could expand it with tape and disk drives, attach a printer and get some work done while being able to chill out and play some good games from the early 80s. 
Software was made during the XEGS era which in turn would work with other 8 bit computers granted they met ram requirements.

In terms of gaming it was what the 5200 should have been but nothing impressive compared to competing systems like the NES and the Master System.

Atari XEGS specs:

CPU: MOS Technology 6502B @ 1.78 Mhz
RAM: 64kb
Colors: 16 On screen out of a 256 palette
Video output: Composite and RF
Audio output: Mono RCA and RF

On future articles I’ll cover some its games and accesories, until then.

We know or may have heard about the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga, those computers which brought the 16 bits home (or someone else’s ;-D). But you probably haven’t heard about the X68000, a japanese computer fromt he same generation as the ST and the Amiga, of which about 120,000 units were only sold in Japan, because Sharp only sold it there.

Let’s get to know the “machine”. It was a computer created and sold by the japanese company Sharp y it was released to the market aroung 1985 (quite a while indeed). For its time it was quite an impressive machine with an even more impressive software catalog.

It had its own OS (operating system), developed by Hudson Soft (a great software company during the 80s and 90s) in four flavors: HumanOS (similar to MSDOS), another one similar to Atari TOS (Human68k, other version was similar to the Unix X-Window (KO-Windows) y the fourth one was like the Amiga Workbench. Everything off course in perfect japanese… ;-D

Regarding software, well, the catalog was quite extensive with hundreds of games and applications. The games where not quite unknown. Games and Arcades like Ghouls and Ghosts, Final Fight, Bubble Bobble, Bomberman, Cotton, Street Fighter II, Salamander, Twinbee, etc were masterly taken to this computer.

These are the overall basic specs for the X68000. During the years Sharp did some revisions like replacing the SASI controller for a SCSI controller or moving form 5.25″ to 3.5″ floppies.

some of the X68000 Tech Specs:

CPU: MC68000 at 10 Mhz produced by Hitachi with license from Motorola
RAM: 1-2 Megabytes
Graphic modes: 768×512, 512×512, 256×256 all with 65.535 colors
VRAM: 512 Kb
Sprites ram: 32 Kb (16×16 pixels)
Sound: Yamaha with FM (synthesis)

For storage, (initially) there were two 5.25″ 1.2MB floppy drives. The file system was compatible with MS-DOS. It cam with option of connecting an internal SASI or (later) SCSI hard disk. A unit with an SCSI is more desirable since SASI sisn’t gain traction on the market.

An unknown computer, with impressive specs and great arcade conversions. It is never too late to get to know it, thanks to the magic of emulation.