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Hardware : The A500 Mini

Introduction

Within the retro scene there has been a rise of replications of old retro consoles in mini form, the most popular of these was the Mini Nes by Nintendo, they soon followed this up with the Mini Snes, then the market saw Sega and Sony also release mini versions of their retro consoles. Popularity was so high this also brought about full size replicas as well. It was only a matter of time that the market would shift to other platforms beyond just the retro consoles and bring back retro computers. The Commodore C64 mini arrived and wassuccessful, it was shortly followed by a full size C64 replica, it was only a matter of time the Amiga would be done too.

The A500

Retro games ltd on 10th August 2021 announced a new mini Amiga called the The A500 Mini, designed to feel and look like the Amiga A500 that came out 1987. Picture of the unit below

25 games will come with the system,

  • Alien Breed 3D
  • Another World
  • ATR: All Terrain Racing
  • Battle Chess
  • Cadaver
  • Kick Off 2
  • Pinball Dreams
  • Simon The Sorcerer
  • Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
  • The Chaos Engine
  • Worms: The Director’s Cut
  • Paradroid 90
  • Stunt Car Racer
  • Zool: Ninja Of The ”Nth” Dimension
  • Project X
  • The Sentinel
  • F16 Fighter Pilot
  • California Games
  • Super Cars 2
  • Qwak
  • Dragons Breath
  • The Sentnel
  • Lost Patrol
  • Titus the Fox
  • Arcade Pool
back

Specs

  • ARM processor (Likly a All Winner chip)
  • 256mb to 1Gb Ram (speculation)
  • 3 x USB 2.0 ports
  • HDMI Port
  • USB-C ( For Power )
  • 256mb to 1Gb Flash Rom (For OS and 25 games)
  • RRP £119.99 / $139.99

In the Box

  • The A500 Mini Computer
  • USB Mouse (Tank Mouse)
  • USB GamePad (CD32 pad)
  • HDMI Cable
  • USB-C Power Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Due: March 31st 2022 (uk)

It may look like an A500 but it also supports A600 and A1200 games, the keyboard is just for show and will not be functional, it also comes with a 8 button controller similar in style to the CD32 controller and a optical mouse in design like the one that would come with an original A500 Amiga, sometimes referred to as the “Tank Mouse”.

It features a HDMI port and outputs at 720p 50/60Hz with multiple scaling options and CRT filters.

It's currently on a number of sites for pre-order and due for release on 31st March 2022 for £119.99 in the UK. Game in the UK are offering a extra t-shirt with your pre-order, https://www.game.co.uk/en/the-a500-mini-a500-t-shirt-2868015

Also announced is the accessories will be available to buy separately, the mouse for £19.99 and the GamePad £19.99, interestingly the Gamepad will be in black CD32 colors, unlike the white colour of the one included.

Two trailers for the machine, https://youtu.be/yKUgEOpr4Qs - Official Launch trailer and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMIcOgQIMCA - Game trailer

A products like this is usually a ARM based system, this is the same company behind the C64 mini & C64 Maxi, which was powered by a A20 All Winner ARM chip at around 1Ghz with 256mb Ram. The GPU was Mali400 Mp2 dual core roughly clocked at around 500mhz. This would be just enough to run Amiga emulation but its likely/hoped it be packing a higher spec cpu. Storage was 256mb NAND Flash again its hoped the A500 mini packs more storage but you can expand it with USB sticks.

This is nothing really new or revolutionary, a Arm based computer with Amiga emulation has already happened, the Armiga was a small all in one device the size of a floppy disk drive that ran a Amiga emulator on a Arm board and allowed original Amiga floppy disk to run off it. ( more here https://amigang.com/hardware-emulated-amigas/ ).

Also the Amiga community has also built Raspberry Pi based system in mini Amiga replica system

Amiga Mini / TheA500 Prototype

However the A500 mini is clearly a more mainstream, more consumer friendly, better built case, fully licensed and most importantly marketed in big retail stores that current efforts haven't quite achieved.

An important part of the Amiga that seems overlooked so far is Amigas serious side, it is a much more complete and modern Operating System than other computers/consoles that have been made into Minis before(like the C64). Amiga can do a lot of serious stuff, it can access the internet, access email, write documents, photo editing, produce music, 3d cgi, programming etc, it's not clear if you'll be able to do some of the more advanced serious stuff like this on the new A500 mini. I personally feel it would be a shame to admit the serious side of Amiga we will have to wait and see, previous efforts like the C64 mini you could access the original OS.

The product does have a partnership with Cloanto, so likely includes all Kickstart chips and software necessary to run classic games and software library of the Amiga 68k platform.

Talking of the OS, the system will be powered by Linux and it looks as if you are taken into a front end (similar to Hyperspin / RetroPie systems offers) to easily select your game. Below are pictures of the OS.

The OS looks to be a simple GUI with the ability to save state of the current game, also it looks like your be able to rank games. As well as have a number of scaling and display options. Its not clear weather games like Zool and Simon the sorcerer will be the OCS, AGA or CD32 versions of games or if your be able to select which version you want to play. Expect more details to follow.

According to a recent interview you will be able to change emulation settings and it will be able to run up 68040 speeds with Fast Ram.

WHDLoad

An important part of the system is they included / licensed the popular Amiga software, WHDload, which put very simple turns Amiga disk based games into a simple "slave" file that can run more reliable on different Amiga setups and on hard drive based systems.

Basically old games like adventures games could come on 8 disks or more and you would have to change disks during game play, you might of had to have the original manual to enter passwords protection stuff, it might only reliable ran on OCS A500 original hardware and not run on the later ECS/AGA based Amiga like the A1200 and it might not of ran from the Amiga desktop, or different versions of AmigaOS etc WHDLoad fixes all this and makes it much easy to deal with games like this.

There are plenty of tutorials on how to use WHDLoad on the internet, but my guess, due to Retro Games wanting this to be a simple experiences as possible you should just be able to select a .lha file (which is basically Amiga version of zip files) to load into your fav game, i will update this page on how to do this once the system comes out.

https://www.whdownload.com/ - Loads of Amiga games and goodies ready to go.

http://whdload.de/ -  Offical WHDLoad website

It should go without saying that you should only download games you own or legally allowed to be shared.