Nintendo Vs Sega, move aside. Who still remembers the long-lost Amiga 500?
If you’re a child of the 1980’s and dig a bit of nostalgia, then I’m sure you’ll have plenty of fond memories regarding the wonders of pre-pubescent life during the Grunge-filled years of the early 90’s. Whether it’s the classic action movies of an Austrian ex-bodybuilder, watching sitcoms about aliens from the planet Melmac, or weird clothing fads like hyper-colour T-shirts, there’s a veritable smorgasbord of memories that can’t help but tug on the ‘ol sentimental heartstrings. But, high concept comedies and clothing aside, by the early 90’s, there was a war brewing, a console war.
Sega Vs Nintendo was the schoolyard fight, and every kid wanted in on the action. But, hanging around the two video gaming super warriors stood a few cool cats, albeit outsiders, quietly minding their business as they made themselves contenders for the title. One of those cool cats was the Commodore Amiga 500, not a console, but a home computer with a pioneering GUI and a knack for producing some of the greatest games of the time.
So, as someone who heavily bought into the Amiga gaming phenomena as a young lad, I think it is time to take a little retrospective look at the almost forgotten gaming behemoth that was the Amiga 500, and take a look at the games that made it such an epic machine for any gaming enthusiast. But first a little background…
The Development of The Amiga
- The Amiga 500 was part of the Amiga line of home computers developed by the team at Amiga Corporation, led by Jay Miner and other key engineers. Commodore later acquired Amiga Corporation in 1984.
- The Amiga 500 was designed as a lower-cost successor to the original Amiga 1000, aiming to bring powerful multimedia capabilities to a wider audience at an affordable price.
Key Features and Specifications
- It was powered by the Motorola 68000 CPU running at 7.16 MHz, with a custom chipset capable of impressive graphics and audio capabilities for its time.
- The machine had 512 KB of RAM, expandable up to 1 MB, and utilized a floppy disk drive for software and data storage.
- One of its defining features was the Advanced Graphics Architecture (AGA) in later models, providing enhanced graphics capabilities.
Gaming and Software:
- The Amiga 500 became immensely popular in the gaming community due to its advanced graphics and sound capabilities. It was home to numerous iconic games across various genres, showcasing its gaming prowess.
- Additionally, it was utilized in professional settings for video editing, desktop publishing, music production, and graphic design, thanks to its multimedia capabilities.
It was powered by the Motorola 68000 CPU running at 7.16 MHz, with a custom chipset capable of impressive graphics and audio capabilities for its time
The Greatest Games to Grace the Amiga 500
Soooooo, now to the good stuff, the Amiga 500 was home to numerous classic games that left a lasting impact on the gaming community. So here it is, a list of some of my personal favourites, in no particular order, that kept me up till all hours of the night!
The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)
- Genre: Adventure
- Description: A humorous and engaging point-and-click adventure game where players follow the journey of wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood.
In the irreverently charming world of “The Secret of Monkey Island”, one can’t help but chuckle at the antics of Guybrush Threepwood, the wannabe pirate with grand ambitions and a tendency to get into absurdly hilarious situations. From trying to master the art of insult sword fighting to dealing with a ghostly pirate crew more interested in karaoke than haunting, Threepwood’s adventures are a blend of wit, slapstick humor, and the kind of pirate-y mishaps that make you wonder if a sword fight could be settled with a pun instead.
one can’t help but chuckle at the antics of Guybrush Threepwood, the wannabe pirate with grand ambitions and a tendency to get into absurdly hilarious situations
After all, who wouldn’t want to conquer the high seas armed with nothing but quick wits and a pocket full of rubber chickens?
- Genre: Puzzle
- Description: Players guide a group of adorable Lemmings through hazardous environments by assigning them different skills to save them from peril.
Originally inspired by a short animation Mike Dailly created using the memorable Deluxe Paint, this instant classic went on to be ported onto just about every system imaginable, spawning numerous sequels and remakes.
The “Lemmings” themselves, the adorable yet utterly clueless critters, are the true embodiment of ‘follow the leader’ gone haywire. These little creatures, with their iconic green hair and blank stares, march ahead in a determined single file, seemingly convinced that walking off cliffs or into traps is the pinnacle of their existence. It’s as if they gathered in a secret lemming council and unanimously agreed, “Let’s make life harder for ourselves!”
the adorable yet utterly clueless critters, are the true embodiment of ‘follow the leader’ gone haywire.
Their penchant for cluelessness is both endearing and hilarious – you can almost hear them chanting, “We’re lemmings, and we’re here to bumble our way through life, one pitfall at a time!” It’s a game where your most crucial role is being the ultimate babysitter for a bunch of critters who haven’t quite grasped the concept of self-preservation.
Another World (1991)
- Genre: Action-Adventure/Platformer
- Description: Known for its cinematic storytelling and atmospheric gameplay, this game follows a physicist transported to an alien world, relying on wits and reflexes to survive.
“Another World” also known as “Out of This World” in some regions, is like the cosmic version of a ‘choose your own adventure’ story, except the choices often involve getting zapped into smithereens or squished by a bizarre alien creature. What really set this game apart upon its release were the incredible graphics that showed off the capabilities of the Amiga.
The game’s protagonist, Lester Knight Chaykin, is a regular guy who, through a freak accident involving a particle accelerator, finds himself in a world where everything seems dead set on making him its lunch. Lester’s facial expressions perfectly mirror the player’s reactions: from wide-eyed astonishment at the strange landscapes to a comical ‘oops, I didn’t mean to walk straight into that laser beam’ face.
the cosmic version of a ‘choose your own adventure’ story, except the choices often involve getting zapped into smithereens or squished by a bizarre alien creature
It’s as if the game developers sat around and thought, “How can we make this poor guy’s life absurdly difficult while also keeping players laughing through their frustration?” The result? A side-scrolling adventure that’s equal parts thrilling, challenging, and downright hilarious as poor Lester navigates an alien planet with all the grace of a bull in a china shop.
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (1990)
- Genre: Sports/Future Sport
- Description: A high-octane, violent futuristic sports game blending elements of handball and ice hockey, offering fast-paced action and strategic gameplay.
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe is like the rowdy, no-holds-barred family reunion of futuristic sports games. It’s the place where high-fives meet high-flying tackles, and the referee seems more interested in counting the number of teeth left on the field than in actual rules.
The players are decked out in what appears to be a mix of football pads, cybernetic enhancements, and a sprinkle of ‘I’m here to win, no matter what it takes’ attitude. Every match feels like a wild combination of speed, brute force, and a strong desire to catapult the ball into the opponent’s goal while dodging more elbows than a shopping cart in a crowded supermarket.
It’s a game where the scoreboard seems less important than the number of times you managed to send an opponent flying across the arena with a well-timed body check. Speedball 2 is the chaotic carnival of sports games where the goal isn’t just to win, but to emerge from the match with your limbs intact and your pride slightly bruised.
Every match feels like a wild combination of speed, brute force, and a strong desire to catapult the ball into the opponent’s goal while dodging more elbows than a shopping cart in a crowded supermarket
The thumping intro soundtrack upon loading up the game, and, at the time incredible speech sound effects are forever ingrained in my brain. Who can forget the calls for “Ice-Cream, Ice-Cream” as another poor player gets carted off the field on a stretcher. Ahh, the memories.
Cannon Fodder (1993)
- Genre: Action/Strategy
- Description: A war-themed action-strategy game that combines strategic planning with action-packed battles, emphasizing the human cost of war.
From the iconic fellas at Sensible Software, Cannon Fodder, is the kind of game that makes you wonder if the term ‘war strategy’ was meant to be taken as seriously as a rubber chicken in a military parade. Your little squad of soldiers, armed with unlimited bullets and sporting pixelated smiles, charge into battle with the enthusiasm of puppies chasing after a ball. They bravely follow your mouse-driven orders, marching into enemy territory with all the tactical prowess of a bunch of clowns auditioning for a Shakespearean tragedy.
The game’s tagline might as well be “War has never been this simultaneously cute and chaotic!” as you guide your soldiers through countless missions over numerous backdrops. The Actual tagline “War has never been so much fun”, immortalized through the catchy and controversial intro song, is as memorable as any opening to a game on this list.
Your little squad of soldiers, armed with unlimited bullets and sporting pixelated smiles, charge into battle with the enthusiasm of puppies chasing after a ball
In a nutshell, It’s like a strategy game on a sugar rush, where victory is measured not just in the complete destruction of the enemy, but also in how many times your soldiers mistook a grenade for a hot potato.
- Genre: Action/Flight Simulator
- Description: A World War I flight combat simulator featuring intense aerial battles and varied mission objectives.
Another classic by Cinemaware, whose other honorable mentions include “It Came From The Dessert”, Wings is a WW1 aviation adventure that feels like your granny’s prized teapot soaring through the skies in a dogfight against fighter jets. Picture yourself piloting a World War I biplane, looking more like a whimsical paper airplane than a formidable war machine, through battles that feel like a jousting match in the clouds.
Wings is a WW1 aviation adventure that feels like your granny’s prized teapot soaring through the skies in a dogfight against fighter jets
Your mission? To outmaneuver enemy planes while trying not to look too ridiculous in your flying contraption. With its pixelated graphics for the dogfights, Varied types of gameplay levels, engaging storyline and a soundtrack that’s a mix of heroic anthems and kazoo solos, strap in for a flight of fancy that’s both nostalgic and utterly charming!
The Chaos Engine (1993)
- Genre: Action/Shooter
- Description: A top-down shooter featuring steampunk aesthetics, offering intense action, cooperative gameplay, and a variety of characters with unique abilities.
Another classic from the Bitmap Brothers, The Chaos Engine is the virtual rollercoaster ride that throws you into a steampunk world where the laws of physics have taken a permanent vacation. Imagine a wild mix of 19th-century aesthetics and technological mayhem, where you’re armed to the teeth and battling through a maze of gears, steam, and enemies that seem to have missed their cue for the proper dress code.
The Chaos Engine feels like a chaotic tea party where the cups are filled with gunpowder and the biscuits explode when you dunk them
Your characters, with their determined expressions and arsenal of weaponry, look like they’re on a sightseeing tour through an industrial revolution-themed amusement park. It’s as if the game’s creators said, “Let’s take Victorian England, throw in a bunch of cyborgs, sprinkle some over-the-top explosions, and see how many gears we can fit onto the screen at once!”
The Chaos Engine feels like a chaotic tea party where the cups are filled with gunpowder and the biscuits explode when you dunk them. Strap in for a hilariously frenetic journey through a world where chaos is the only constant!
Flashback: The Quest for Identity (1992)
- Genre: Action-Adventure/Platformer
- Description: An action-adventure game with cinematic storytelling, offering challenging puzzles, platforming, and a gripping sci-fi narrative.
Any list that mentions “Another World” couldn’t overlook its equally impressive offspring, namely Flashback. The game is like taking a time-traveling adventure where you’re simultaneously trying to save the world and figure out if your character missed the memo on appropriate attire for intergalactic heroics. Picture this: you’re a cool-as-a-cucumber protagonist, stuck in a sci-fi world where everyone else seems to be wearing the latest futuristic fashion while you’re sporting the classic ’90s business-casual look.
Your character, with a perpetual expression of ‘I’m here to save the day, but can someone please explain why my outfit clashes with the neon lights?’ embarks on a quest filled with epic puzzles, action-packed moments, and a storyline more confusing than time-travel paradoxes. It’s as if the game developers said, “Let’s create a mixtape of action, mystery, and intergalactic intrigue, but make the main character dress like they’re attending a retro office party in space!”
The game is like taking a time-traveling adventure where you’re simultaneously trying to save the world and figure out if your character missed the memo on appropriate attire for intergalactic heroics
Flashback feels like an identity crisis wrapped in a thrilling sci-fi adventure – just remember, saving the universe doesn’t mean sacrificing your sense of style!
Sensible World of Soccer (1994)
- Genre: Sports/Soccer
- Description: Widely regarded as one of the best soccer games ever made, it combines fast-paced action with team management elements.
Sensible World of Soccer is the football fan’s dream come true, bringing together the chaos of a five-a-side match with the strategic depth of a managerial simulation, all wrapped in a delightful pixelated package. Following up from Sensible Software’s earlier versions of the classic, this version is arguably the greatest game to grace the Amiga 500.
Sensible World of Soccer isn’t just a game; it’s a love letter to football
This game is the embodiment of soccer fever, where players, depicted as tiny sprites with enormous enthusiasm, sprint across the pitch with the speed of lightning and the grace of a well-rehearsed ballet troupe. With its top-down view and fast-paced gameplay, it’s as if the creators infused the spirit of the beautiful game into a digital arena where every pass, tackle, and goal feels like a celebration.
Sensible World of Soccer isn’t just a game; it’s a love letter to football, inviting players to revel in the thrill of the sport while managing their dream team to victory in leagues and cups galore from all around the world.
Stunt Car Racer (1989)
- Genre: Racing/Simulation
- Description: A unique racing game featuring high-flying stunts on rollercoaster-like tracks, providing thrilling and challenging gameplay.
Stunt Car Racer is like strapping yourself into a high-octane rollercoaster ride designed by a mischievous engineer with a love for daredevil stunts and a questionable understanding of gravity.
Picture hurtling down rollercoaster-like tracks in a car that seems determined to test the limits of physics with every loop-the-loop and stomach-churning jump. Your car, more akin to a rocket with wheels, has a mind of its own, gleefully defying the laws of nature as you try to keep it from taking flight and introducing itself to the stars. It’s as if the game developers said, “Let’s create a racing game that feels like a circus act, with cars that handle like they’ve been fueled by a mix of adrenaline and pure mischief!”
Your car, more akin to a rocket with wheels, has a mind of its own, gleefully defying the laws of nature as you try to keep it from taking flight and introducing itself to the stars
Stunt Car Racer is the wild rollercoaster where the only safety instructions are “hold on tight and try not to scream louder than your car’s engine!”
The Settlers (1993)
- Genre: Strategy/Management
- Description: A real-time strategy game focusing on resource management, building settlements, and controlling an economy in a charming medieval setting.
The Settlers is a classic real-time strategy game that puts players in charge of building and managing a medieval settlement. Developed by Blue Byte Software, it offers a unique mix of resource management, city-building, and strategic warfare.
Players assume the role of a leader guiding a group of settlers to establish a thriving community by constructing buildings, managing resources such as wood, stone, and food, and overseeing the production chains necessary for the settlement’s growth.
it offers a unique mix of resource management, city-building, and strategic warfare
The game emphasizes economic management, requiring players to balance production chains to meet the needs of their settlers while expanding their territory and defending against rival factions. Its charming visuals, detailed gameplay mechanics, and engaging strategic depth have made “The Settlers” a beloved title in the genre, offering a rewarding and immersive experience for strategy enthusiasts.
North & South (1989)
- Genre: Strategy/Action
- Description: A humorous strategy game set during the American Civil War, offering turn-based battles, resource management, and comical animations.
North & South is like a historical strategy game that took the American Civil War and decided to throw in a dash of cartoonish hilarity, making you wonder if the soldiers were trained by a circus ringmaster instead of a general.
a historical strategy game that took the American Civil War and decided to throw in a dash of cartoonish hilarity
With its colorful visuals and humorous animations, it’s as if the game developers said, “Let’s turn one of history’s most serious conflicts into a slapstick comedy show”. Beneath the whimsical surface, “North & South” offers some strategic depth, requiring players to navigate troop movements, capture territories, and engage in amusingly absurd combat scenarios, proving that sometimes history can be best understood with a pinch of laughter. Using one or two players, the game’s action, whacky music and sound effects still hold up, whilst being one of the oldest games on this list.
All in all, the Amiga 500 remains an iconic and beloved computer system, remembered for its technological innovations, gaming contributions, and influence on multimedia computing. Even decades after its release, it continues to have a dedicated community of enthusiasts and remains a symbol of the golden age of computing and gaming. Despite its success and innovative technology, Commodore faced many financial issues, which eventually led to the company’s downfall. The Amiga line changed hands several times after Commodore’s bankruptcy.
Having said all of that, the aforementioned games represent not only a wonderful trip down memory lane, but a diverse range of genres and showcase the Amiga 500’s capabilities, leaving a lasting legacy in gaming history. They each have unique gameplay mechanics, exceptional graphics (for their time), and memorable experiences that continue to be revered by retro gaming enthusiasts…and me.