The Amiga is notable among the proliferation of personal computers in the middle the to late 1980s.
Commodore’s overpowered successor to the immortal C64, it made its debut in 1985 and was responsible for fostering some exceptionally creative and technological achievements that are still not able to this day, despite the platform’s unexpectedly rapid decline.
These accomplishments remain notable even though the platform has since become obsolete.
When it comes to material for classic video games, its library and software, while indelible to the people who experienced it during their formative years, have been shamefully underrepresented.
Now, Retro Games Ltd. has supplied us with a brand-new plug-and-play solution called the A500 Mini.
This solution promises to make it simple and comfortable for people of all ages and interests to gain access to the Amiga library.
Let’s take a look at what it has to offer as well as how it fairs in the competition.
When Was It Released?
The Amiga 500, which was released in 1987 and is considered to be the most well-liked member of the Amiga series, serves as the model for the A500 Mini.
The first console was named after its memory capacity, which was 512 KB, and was powered by a Motorola 68000 processor running at a speed of approximately 7 MHz
An All Winner H6 ARM CPU and Mayberry emulation software, both operating at a basic resolution of 720p, give the A500 Mini a little more contemporary feel than its predecessor.
This, like other recent mini’s releases, is a complete emulation solution.
What About Its Hardware?
In this case, the solution is closely based on Raspberry Pi 3 hardware support and features somewhat improved accuracy and compatibility as a result of its roots in WinUAE, which is the de facto emulation solution for Amiga as a whole.
The full-size A500 console is the direct source of inspiration for the A500 Mini, which features a non-functional miniature keyboard, a miniature power button, three USB ports, HDMI, and a USB-C port for charging.
This is a lovely little item that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and the plastic is of a somewhat decent grade; but, the power button does not provide feedback and has a low-quality feel to it.
The system comes complete with the mouse and the A500 gamepad, both of which are required to play any of the games that are included on this device.
The mouse is a scaled-down version of the original mouse. It looks and feels genuine while being on the lighter side, and it uses an optical sensor rather than a rubber ball to track movements.
The controller draws its influence from the Amiga CD32 controller, which was first introduced in 1993; consequently, this provides something of a new standard for the Amiga with the launching of the product.
Again, the build seems to be of serviceable quality, and the original button layout from 1993 has been updated to be more current.
In addition, the disc-shaped original design of the d-pad has been replaced with a more precise version modelled after the PlayStation controller that has the disadvantage of feeling excessively rigid.
I tested dozens of controllers to find a more effective solution; nevertheless, device mappings were frequently inaccurate.
I was only able to get the 8BitDo SF30 controller to function completely with the gadget, so I wound up going over to using that one exclusively.
I hope that this is something that can be enhanced with future firmware, and if mouse emulation could be added – for example, to an analogue stick – then we would be in the driver’s seat.
When you turn on the console, you are presented with a Netflix-style interface that lists the 25 available titles.
Because of the convoluted licencing situation, certain obvious selections may not have been possible because they are not all considered to be genuine classics.
The video that is posted above gives a rundown of each game, but I’d like to highlight Another World as the game that stands out from the crowd because of the distinctive ambience it offers and the fact that it relies on a character that is controlled by the computer.
The games are reproduced correctly in general, with only minute variations in visuals, sound, and run speed between the original machine and the A500 Mini.
A selection of available alternatives is also available to you.
Be aware that just because you are given the option of a 60Hz output does not mean that it is superior to a 50Hz output.
Can It Work At High Frequency?
The majority of video games were designed to work properly at a frequency of 50 hertz (Hz), which is the standard in Europe.
You can also change the screen size to dynamically crop and zoom the image to make it more suitable for modern displays, which is a feature that functions adequately.
There are also filters, such as a CRT filter; nevertheless, these filters are a bit rudimentary and are to be avoided wherever possible.
Last but not least, the lights on the device may be programmed to react to the activity of the discs, which is important for telling the difference between a game that has crashed and a game that is simply loading the next level.
Does It Support WHDLoad?
The support for WHDLoad is the last and most important selling factor of the A500 Mini.
This is simply an archival image file of a game that has been tweaked and adjusted so that it runs at its best on the hardware it was designed for.
It is occasionally claimed as a solution for emulation; however, in reality, WHDLoad was built for original hardware and functions the same there as it will on an emulated device.
WHDLoad is not an emulation solution.
The most essential thing about WHDLoad is that it can compile many floppies into a single drive image.
This eliminates the need to swap discs and makes it possible to solve any problem with a single file, regardless of which game is being played on the system.
Because of the A500 Mini’s effortless installation and operation, gaming is reduced to a simple matter of dragging and dropping applications into place.
This significantly streamlines the whole gaming experience.
It is possible to prepare and dump your own Amiga diskettes through a method that is, admittedly, a complex process.
Retro Games company supplies the WHDLoad profile on their website, which users can download to a USB drive.
What About The Amiga Universe?
From that point on, practically the entirety of the Amiga universe is at your disposal, and you even have additional per-game choices to fine-tune the emulation to your specific preferences.
When we take a look at these handheld devices, the solution that we are left with is the standard one that consists of two parts.
When it comes to sideloading games, the A500 Mini is a very friendly device indeed, which makes it ideal for reliving fond childhood memories or discovering the Amiga library for the first time.
This is especially true when considering the device’s open nature.
It provides a more current console experience by enabling access to some fantastic games that were previously difficult to find as original copies and difficult to dial in while being played through emulation.
But for those who have already experimented with the original hardware or who have extensively configured their emulation boxes using Recalbox or MiSTer devices, there is nothing new here, and you will probably be better served working within your infrastructure of custom settings.
It will be fascinating to observe, much like it was when the C64 Mini came out before it, whether or not the A500 Mini ushers in a time of increased new commercial releases based on Amiga hardware.
What Are Fans Saying?
Fans, both new and old, saw new software that was specifically optimised for the aftermarket device, which is something that could be taken even further on the A500 Mini with WHDLoad.
Sales steadily increased as a result. Developers saw an opportunity to target a “new” platform for their modern retro releases with that mini console.
It is unknown whether Retro Games Ltd. will make it possible for the A500 Mini to usher in a new age of Amiga enthusiasts and software; nonetheless, this is something that could happen.
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