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Not Much New for Amiga

by Eric Schwartz
From the AmiTech Gazette
Dayton, Ohio, March 2021

How is everyone doing as spring peeks around the corner, determining whether it’s OK to fully show up or not (except for those parts of the country still getting railed by winter weather). Some of us may have even received our “We know everything still kinda sucks until most people get vaccinated, so have some money” relief payments by the time you read this, and hopefully it didn’t all have to go to pay rent or bills or debts. It’s been a year since we entered ‘pandemic mode’ in this country, and it’s finally looking like we might get out from under (most of) it in the space of a few more months.

Y’know, between the pandemics and the nine-elevens and the economic depressions and the unprecedented political what-haveyous, I’ll be very happy if we manage to cut way down on those “once-in-a-lifetime, nothing will ever be the same again” events. I’ve already had at least three of them in my lifetime, so I think we’re good for a couple decades, okay?

In (seemingly) happier news, our Prez Mike Barclay will be having a birthday shortly after this month’s meeting, so send him your well-wishes, or send him your cash, whatever is easier. From what I understand, the government can’t spare any good wishes for Mike, so they’ll be sending him about fourteen hundred bucks instead.

The new news train has been a bit slow on the Amiga front this month. There is a version 3.16 software development kit available for MorphOS. In curious grain-of-salt Amiga news, a reverse-engineered port of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game by Sega is coming to the Amiga, and said to be included at part of a future core update for Vampire hardware systems. I only saw this as a blurb on the GenerationAmiga.com site, and not repeated elsewhere. If true, I suspect its completely unofficial, or some sort of Easter egg, as I doubt anyone bothered to get Sega’s blessing on this. Time will also tell if this is a release comparable to the original Sega Genesis/Mega Drive game, or some choppy re-creation built with game-maker software. Only time will tell, if anything is said at all.

While we’re on the Vampire subject, I will again plan to bring my V4 system to the next meeting. I may or may not make use of the Prez PC for a Vampire core update flash. I say ‘maybe’ because there was a recent minor V4 core update released, not one including Sonic the Hedgehog as far as I know, basically a bug fix. It is available in a form where the update patch is run from the system, so I may not need to connect to a PC at all, but I’ll keep the option open, as past experience has shown me that such updates carry a not-insignificant chance of bricking the system, which will require the more direct flashing from a PC if that happens.

To my knowledge, one main change in this new update is actually the removal of a feature from the previous update. The last V4 core added a hardware hotkey switch between NTSC and PAL scan modes. However, the switch seemed to go off when keys other than the designated one were pressed, flipping scan rates unexpectedly. It would appear this was the cause of disruptions during some of our game testing at the last meeting. Instead of trying to fix the hotkey feature, this new update simply removes it. I’m not sure why that decision was made, but I’m not the one trying to incorporate new hardware or software features into something expected to be compatible with twenty to thirty-five year old games and software, so I won’t bitch about it too much. Regardless, the V4 testing, and “Worms the Director’s Cut” play-testing will continue at our next meeting, scheduled for Saturday the 20th, perhaps this time without the screen kicking into third gear in the middle of a game. Hope you can make it!