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EMULATION RAMBLER: PC-TASK 3.1
By: Jason Compton
Ah, back in the emulation saddle once more! Before I plunge in to PC-Task
3.1, some late-breaking emulation news-
ShapeShifter has been unleashed. In theory, it is a shareware color
multitasking Macintosh emulator. In practice, at present it is a fairly
difficult piece of software to run, that seems to exist best with a
graphics card (although AGA and ECS support is included). Right now,
people are having difficulty getting it to work in many more colors than
16. It requires a 512k or 1 meg Mac ROM (not included, obviously.)
It's available in Aminet, misc/emu. Give it a shot. I've offered the
author a review in exchange for a version I can use (so far, no luck here
at all). No response yet.
The program is somewhat crippled (it supports hardfiles, but not logical
devices, as hard drives), but only $35. This certainly marks the end of
the Mac emulation monopoly Utilities Unlimited has held ever since
ReadySoft gave up on A-Max IV.
Now, on with the show...
Last issue, guest Rambler Antony Karantze gave a good overview of PC-Task
3.0, the new 286-level software-based emulator. In that time, the free
3.1 upgrade has been released.
You heard all about how it can REALLY, TRULY run Windows 3.1, how DOS
performance is pretty good...
But let's get down to some nitty-gritty. How about some GAMES?
Ah, yes, games. Justin Deeley, head of Quasar (PC-T 3's publisher) has
made it pretty clear you shouldn't really buy PC-Task 3 if your only
thought is gameplay. After all, the 286 emulation prevents Doom or any
other new 386+ app from running, and Wolfenstein 3D is quite unbearable
even on a 4000/040 (25mhz stock) and AGA. (Yes, it DOES run, but the
frame rate is unacceptably slow even in the smallest view mode.) But,
hey, games were written before 1993, before 1990, even, when EGA was a
more viable way of reaching a large audience and VGA was a luxury.
Yeah, that's the ticket. You may not want to play Wing Commander 1 on
your 3000 (030/25), but Wasteland, Interplay's post-holocaust RPG from
1988, is an absolute joy...well, ok, it's EGA and still won't set
landspeed records, but I find it playable-certainly faster overall than it
was on the 64, since after all you don't have to deal with floppies.
In fact, if you're looking for some cheap kicks on PC-T 3, I'd highly
recommend Interplay's 10th Anniversary CD...between Wasteland, Bard's Tale
1, and Tass Times in Tonetown, you'll have hours of fun in EGA and CGA
Another bonus you'll pick up in 3.1 is fixed PC Speaker support! Now you
too can enjoy the classic rendered tunes in games like, oh, Tass Times in
Tonetown! I can't tell the difference between it and the real thing, but
it is better than the genuine article in two ways...you can always turn
down the volume...or disable it altogether!
3.1 has also cleaned up some of the problems experienced with VGA and
above video modes.
EGA has also been vastly improved, thanks to fixing the "Wasteland Bug".
The graphics modes are by no means perfect...a new one that I'll dub the
"Dragon Wars Bug" finds the mouse pointer actually warping the VGA screen
as you move it...not too much at first, but the problem increases if the
screen doesn't get updated for a time. Still, it's enjoyable.
With that, I would strongly recommend against prolonged VGA work under
anything short of an 040. You'll not like yourself.
Next time, I'll tackle some serious applications on the PC side, and
everyone's favorite, benchmarks. Until now, I leave you with this
thought...anything that allows you to play Tass Times in Tonetown on a
Wokrbench window can't be bad.