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== The Emulation Rambler! By: Jason Compton ==
It's been a while, I admit...there haven't been many wild emulation
developments taking place, though.
Oh, of course, there's Emplant, but it's a full-time job keeping up with
the intricacies. In simple terms: The Mac emulation is at the point where
calling it "solid" is very fair. The PC emulation is still not available
ReadySoft has stopped supporting the A-Max altogether. Surprise,
surprise...considering the brush off they gave me at the Summer CES and
the way they treated it at their presentation-dead last in the
We're STILL waiting for PC-Task 3 here. It's shipping and being sold, but
Quasar wants to make me wait for V3.1 before I review it.
But, now, to the object of this article, the Vic-20!
Ah, yes, the machine that launched the machine that launched Commodore to
never-since-seen heights. The older brother of the 64 that paved the way
for its success. Or, as you could also look at it, the machine with a 22
column display that shipped standard with 4k of memory.
Hey, all right, sounds like fun!
The Vic-20 emulator does a rather good job of bringing that feeling to the
Amiga, but instead of the distorted fashion in which those 22 columns
filled a 320x200 display, the author has chosen to reduce it to a 64-like
aspect ratio, meaning that the screen display is much smaller, but much
more proportional. Perhaps it's not as authentic, but it IS easier to
The emulation consists of a single executable in 68000 or 68020 compiled
formats and a few external ROM files. Now, off the top, let's point out:
those ROM files are copyrighted, but I doubt anyone will be beating down
your door for them.
The main executable has some useful tooltypes to regulate your emulation.
First off is memory: those Vic-20s were expandable, and the emulation
reflects it. I've been able to increment by 4, 8, 16, and 32k. Other
numbers seem to behave a bit improperly.
Another tooltype serves to regulate the speed of the emulation. You'll
discover the usefulness of this based on your machine. On an 040/25 4000,
the emulation is too fast on all but the slowest setting.
The real fun, of course, lies in playing games (sorry, serial and parallel
aren't emulated, so it seems unlikely that you'll be writing papers or
IRC'ing with your Vic-20 emulation). A few are packaged with the
software, the rest are available from ftp sites listed in the
documentation. The games may be loaded in directly with tooltypes
(encouraging you to create icons for each individual game, rather than
constantly changing them), or with the regular LOAD command in VIC BASIC,
since it's patched to bring up an Amiga requester.
All right. There isn't even anything so complicated as Elite, and there's
certainly not going to be a Doom-beater. But some of those games are
rather clever, and it's always fun to see how many cartridge images you
can find written by Commodore celebrities (I've got two Andy
Finkel-authored carts, and one copyrighted to Commodore UK, but no author
given. Many others were in some way copyrighted to Commodore, because of
their rather strict policy on publishing for their machines at that time.)
Graphics are emulated smoothly and accurately, and I THINK sound is. I
don't have a basis for comparison, but it sounds like it belongs to a
For obvious reasons (like the fact that the Vic was an 8-color machine)
the emulation works on virtually all systems.
Documentation is included for the brave souls out there who might want to
create their own software images using a live Vic-20. It's one of those
things that requires a "It's not our fault if you blow your house up"
disclaimer, though, so it's entirely up to you. If you're not so brave, an
FTP site is included that will lead you to dozens of cartridges.
I have a Vic-20 in a closet. I picked it up for free from a friend of a
friend and haven't yet been able to make it work properly. This should be
enough to tide me over-after all, you can't get original Gorf for the
Amiga. So, if you have an irresistable urge to play classic Omega Race,
or perhaps Buck Rogers, and maybe try to type in a few BASIC programs from
that issue of Compute's Gazette from 1984 you have laying around, give
this emulator a chance.