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Thread: Amiga vs ST

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    Amiga vs ST

    This thread is a continuation of one created by Bloodwych a couple of years ago, Atari ST games that outshone the Amiga

    That original thread was mixed discussion of the ST vs Amiga debate, exploring ST games that were better than their Amiga versions, but also touching on ST game exclusives that were never released on the Amiga. The later is now being explored separately in the thread Exclusive Atari ST games that were never ported to the Amiga.

    I want to use this thread to explore the games that were released on both the ST and Amiga, but for whatever reason the ST versions ended up being better.

    We all know that the Amiga was a long way ahead of the ST in terms of its hardware architecture. This game the Amiga a big advantage for gaming, with the graphics and audio generally being superior on the Amiga compared to the same games released on the ST. But due to some games developed on the ST first and then badly ported over to the Amiga, some games did end up being better on the ST compared to the Amiga versions.

    The main reason for this was direct porting from an ST game to the Amiga. The one thing the ST did have over the Amiga was a slightly faster 68000 CPU, clocked 0.8MHz faster than the Amiga's one. Normally this wasn't important because the Amiga handled all graphics, audio and other operations using it's custom chipset, whereas the ST had to do everything via the one main CPU. However games directly ported from the ST to the Amiga, without any recoded to take advantage of the Amiga's custom chip set meant the Amiga's main CPU had to do more of the work itself and that slight speed difference between the ST and Amiga's CPUs showed up.

    What games can you remember where this was true? And what were the key differences that made the ST version better?

    So far, taken from the old thread, we have the following ST games that are either confirmed to be better on the ST, or for which some members think were better than their Amiga equivalents.

    • Captain Blood
    • Captive
    • Dungeon Master *
    • Falcon
    • Midwinter
    • Nitro
    • Operation Stealth
    • Super Wonderboy
    • Tiger Road
    • Xenon *

    Red = confirmed to be better on the ST
    * = Direct port, so ran faster on the ST.

    Lets use this thread to compare the ST and Amiga versions of games and see if we can find any more, and confirm if any of those already on the list really were better on the ST.
    Last edited by Harrison; 5th March 2009 at 01:49.

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    I will start things off with a game I've mentioned before.

    Captain Blood.

    Captain Blood is one of my favourite 16-bit games. Containing a great space based adventure game, where you have to explore the universe in search of your clones to save your life before it is too late. Featuring some great graphics, music by Jean Michelle Jarre, and a unique and ground breaking in game communication system between you and the in game characters you meet, using a symbol based language to communicate.

    I originally played the game on the ST before I owned an Amiga, and I really enjoyed it. Eventually completing the game.

    Later when I owned an Amiga I got hold of the game again to replay it, thinking that the Amiga version might contain some enhanced graphics, and superior stereo music and sound effects. However I was disappointed and it was obvious that the Amiga version was a direct port of the ST original, with bits missing.

    The Jarre sound track, while now in stereo on the Amiga, sounded more muffled than the ST version. The graphics were identical, although they looked good anyway so that wasn't an issue. But the worst thing was the in the ST version when having a conversation with an in game character you could hear then speaking. In the Amiga version the conversation audio is completely missing.

    These small differences don't effect the game as a whole. If you didn' know about them and just played the Amiga version, then you would still really enjoy the game and not know. But it is a shame that the developers didn't utilise the Amiga's hardware to make Captain Blood even better than the ST version, instead of making it a poorer port of the original.

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    I didn't use the ST a lot, only a few times, but Captain Blood as you said, it is one of them, probably the best example. This game is really really really good.
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    Mind you, when you consider that Jarre used Atari computers when composing his music, it's not surprising that the music was just stunning.

    But then again, the whole package was just so well put together. A retro game that was truly out-of-this-world in its presentation and its originality. Blowing up planets was never so much fun or so colourful!
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    Although didn't Jarre use ST's to control MIDI? Therefore not actually using the STs built in audio capabilities.

    Did you know that the Captain Blood music is stored in standard ST sound files as created by a sound sampler? I accessed the game disks on an Acorn Archimedes at the time and loaded the samples into a sound sampler and played back the music. Sounded great, and played from the Acorn it was in Stereo! Which is odd when you consider the STFM at the time only has 3 channel mono.

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    There are many games for the ST that allowed music output via midi. So if you had a midi keyboard you got a soundtrack with "real" instruments. Protector (Deffender Clone) had that and also most Sierra adventure games (Leisure Suit Larry 3, etc.). This was amazing! Also Amberstar (Dungeon Master style rpg) had the same gfx on ST and Amiga and I personally think it was a bit faster on the ST.

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    I did know a couple of ST games supported MIDI output, but do you know how many actually supported that? I can't imagine there were a huge number due to the limited number of games players who actually had any MIDI instruments, but it is cool just the same. I suppose it was one way to improve the quite dire built in audio chip the ST had!

    I'm actually wondering if the games that could output MIDI were because they were PC game ports, and most PC games at the time used MIDI wave tables on their soundcards to generate in game music. Sierra games for example did this on the PC, so it was a very cheap thing to port over to the ST. Limited by having to have MIDI equipment connected of course. Whereas the Amiga's far superior built in audio capabilities could create some great 4 channel stereo audio tracks all by itself.

    I will have to run the ST and Amiga versions of Amberstar next to each other to check that out. I think being quite an early game they probably were lazy and did a direct ST to Amiga port, so didn't take advantage of any of the Amiga's custom chips.

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