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                             EMULATION RAMBLER
                              Jason Compton 
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Time to do a bit of cleaning up in the world of emulation, it seems.

At the top of the list is ShapeShifter, the new, shareware, software-only,
color, multitasking Macintosh emulation.  Aside from demanding a lot of
adjectives to describe it, SS delivers an Emplant Mac-sized payload for a
registration fee that's somewhere in the US$40 range.  A full review is
forthcoming.

ShapeShifter has come under fire by Jim Drew of Utilities Unlimited (makers
of the Emplant) as being partially generated from copyrighted Emplant Mac
code, in addition to code from A-Max IV and Apple.  Christian Bauer, the
author of ShapeShifter, denies the allegations.  Opinion on the issue is
divided, and despite threatened legal action from Drew, none has been taken
yet.

ShapeShifter is available on any Aminet site, in misc/emu.

And, for a refreshing change from the dog-eat-dog of Mac and PC emulation,
comes a different sort of emulator...

fMSX Amiga 0.4 by Marat Fayzullin, ported to the Amiga by Hans Guijt
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Everyone has their own reasons for using emulators.  Some need the
compatibility for business purposes.  Some just like screwing around with
software that would otherwise take up desk space for a separate computer.
And then there are programs such as the Spectrum emulators and fMSX, that
make machines that didn't quite have worldwide markets widely usable.

The MSX machines were based on a standard that essentially required that
the MSX (MicroSoft, get it?) operating system be able to run.  The
technology was made into machines by a number of companies, and apparently
did fairly well in Japan.  (The vast majority of the available software
points to a Japanese market)  I, for one, do not think I'll lay eyes on too
many MSX machines in my days, but I know I'll always have one laying around
in this form.

The MSX OS has a copyright date of 1983 (so you'd better hope MicroSoft
doesn't beat down your door for it), and while I don't have the machine's
specs handy, it seems to have pixel resolution similar to the Spectrum, but
with a greater availability of colors (16, I believe.)  To run, the
software requires an 020+ and OS 3.0 or above, although the author is open
to consideration of support for 2.04 and above (but 68000 is out of the
question, for speed reasons)

The MSX supported cartridges and disks, but fMSX Amiga does not currently
support disks, so cartridge images are about all that's available to you.
Furthermore, only the smaller (16 and 32k) images can be used by fMSX Amiga
right now-the larger MegaROMs are not supported by this version.

So, why bother?  Well, there are an awful lot of games available.
Certainly nothing of epic proportions, but sometimes it's nice to just kick
back and play a round of Konami Ping-Pong and take one's mind off of the
"AAA vs. 3DRISC" question.  The system is multitasking, so you can leave
Ping-Pong running in case you're hit with a stress panic over AAA vs.
3DRISC after a grueling session on Usenet or IRC.  This has happened to me
more than once.

What sort of speed do you get?  Well...the author of the Amiga version
claims that his 030/25 machine is just short of 100%.  Based on my
experiences on an 040/25 machine, I'm not so sure-then again, I've never
seen a real MSX machine.  I know that by playing with the included timing
settings (only two sliders that can be changed while running the emulator),
very nice speeds can be achieved on an 040/25.  On the 030, well, I'd
rather use the 040, but it is tolerable to a point.

Promised for future support are MSX disks and the MSX2 specification, which
I presume includes MegaROMs.

I've always admitted it-I'm someone that enjoys using emulators, so fMSX is
a goldmine for me.  For others, who need a good reason to use them, I point
to the dozens (if not hundreds) of games readily available for diversion.
Some 8-bit classics are even available, including Loderunner, Raid on
Bungling Bay, Pastfinder, and Thexder.  It's worth a look.

fMSX Amiga is available on any Aminet site, misc/emu.

ROM images can be obtained via the Web at-
http://www.cs.umd.edu/users/fms (Fayzullin's homepage)