A video look at the Commodore Amiga CD32

Rob Daviau's picture

From Oldschoolgamer: A video look, below, at the Commodore CD32 Console. This was a somewhat obscure and unsuccessful console despite actually being an Amiga 1200 computer at heart. Actually, this was the first true standalone 32-bit CD gaming console, but was let down once again by Commodore's lack of marketing and third party inability to take advantage of its capabilities!

Comments

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
That is an interesting era

That is an interesting era of the CD "set top boxes" or whatever they called them. I never really understood the marketing strategy behind those devices, and obviously few other consumers did as well. I guess they didn't realize that CD-ROMs would become so common on both computers and standard gaming consoles that this specialty market wouldn't last. Maybe if there hadn't been a PlayStation one of these things might have caught on? Seems more like just excitement over the CD-ROM than anything else was pushing things like the CDi, CDTV, etc.

The first time I saw a CD32 in a magazine ad, I thought it was a parody. I know that Commodore had worked so hard for so long to try to get across this image of itself as a "business machine," when really all that anybody ever talked about was the games and video editing stuff. When I first saw this unit I thought it was a gag like - "See, it was a game machine all along!" or some such. When I realized it was serious, I was pretty confused. Where would this fit in the Amiga line? Would someone with a 1200 or perhaps a 4000 want this? Then, as now, I just don't see a place for it with most existing Amiga customers, who probably would have rather just had a good standard Commodore CD-ROM drive and lots of support for their 1200s and 4000s. Even the "Amiga faithful" it seems would have little reason to buy this system other than the few exclusives, except perhaps those who needed to upgrade but couldn't afford a 1200 and only wanted to play games. Just seems like you're carving up a niche there. :P

I was always confused by the 600 as well. I guess the company was hedging its bets with the AGA line, but really...A whole new system that lacked AGA at a time when all efforts should have been focused in that direction? But, anyway. :)

n/a
Rob Daviau
Rob Daviau's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/19/2006
Well see that is the funny

Well see that is the funny thing, my thinking at the time when it was released was more like Wow! a game console with the power of an Amiga 1200 and I can expand it into a full blown Amiga Computer! CD attachments were both expensive and kind of fiddly requiring either a PCMCIA type connection or a SCSI connector on an accelerator card on the 1200. The CD32 however with added SX32 or similar device plus a hard drive/keyboard/floppy etc still seemed more compact and something just seemed cool about expanding a gaming system into a multi-media computer. I figured I could start with the CD32 then slowly expand it. I admit, I actually convinced myself that the CD32 not only stood a chance in the gaming console market but would actually crush the competition (YES I WAS a sad Amiga Fanboy lol!) but of course thanks once again to Commodores horrible marketing and going bankrupt soon after releasing it all those dreams quickly diminished.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Oldschool games, some people just don't "get it"...

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Keyboard Consoles
Oldschoolgamer wrote:

Well see that is the funny thing, my thinking at the time when it was released was more like Wow! a game console with the power of an Amiga 1200 and I can expand it into a full blown Amiga Computer! CD attachments were both expensive and kind of fiddly requiring either a PCMCIA type connection or a SCSI connector on an accelerator card on the 1200. The CD32...

Even though they're never practical, I always dug and continue to dig turning videogame systems into computers. Obviously both of Commodore's post C64GS console entries, the CDTV and CD32 could be turned into their respective Amiga counterparts (the CDTV far more easily), which top of my head is probably the last time something specific like that happened. I wouldn't necessarily count the Net Yaroze system for the PS1, but I would have to count the ability to give the PS3 the ability to run Linux. In fact, I just ordered Yellow Dog Linux to turn my PS3 into a dual console/computer hybrid on my big HDTV. Why? Just because I can, not for any - and there's that word again - practical reasons.

Let's see, top of my head, what could be turned into a computer from a console:

- Bally Astrocade (keypad entry)
- APF M/MP1000 (into the Imagination Machine; one of the first if you don't count the Astrocade)
- Mattel Intellivision (Keyboard Component and later the ECS)
- Atari 2600 (Spectravideo add-on)
- Coleco ColecoVision (Adam)
- Atari XEGS (disqualified)
- CDTV (Amiga 500)
- CD32 (Amiga 1200)

Planned, but never officially released (of course I'm just limiting myself to US systems):

- Bally Astrocade (Z-Grass add-on)
- Milton Bradley Vectrex (expansion)
- Atari 5200 (keyboard+)
- Atari 7800 (keyboard+)

Any others? We can certainly do any territory, but that would make things cumbersome (the Famicom has an add-on, the Creativision, etc.).

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Videopac G7400 was expandable to a computer

A big device quite similar to the chess expansion would sit on the back of the system with a cable attached to a special cartridge that would slide in the normal cartridge slot. A tape drive and printer was to be attached to it. For me - way back - it actually was to be my first computer but we ended up getting a C64 instead as the computer expansion for the G7400 was nowhere to be found in the shops as the crash of 1983 put a stop to that.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Console computers
Mark Vergeer wrote:

A big device quite similar to the chess expansion would sit on the back of the system with a cable attached to a special cartridge that would slide in the normal cartridge slot. A tape drive and printer was to be attached to it. For me - way back - it actually was to be my first computer but we ended up getting a C64 instead as the computer expansion for the G7400 was nowhere to be found in the shops as the crash of 1983 put a stop to that.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

Unlike the BASIC on cartridge for the Atari 2600 VCS that used the keypad controllers, the BASIC for the Odyssey2 was actually very robust and obviously had the advantage of the system having a real keyboard by default. Obviously the biggest failing was the inability to save anything. If they added a cassette port on the cartridge (a la the Bally Astrocade's second BASIC cartridge) or some other manner (though many Odyssey2's lacked even external joystick ports), they might have had something very interesting and relatively low cost.

I'd love to get a hold of the G7400, but as you say, it was difficult then and it's very, very, very (very) difficult now.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
I agree it's a neat trick,

I agree it's a neat trick, but I'm of course more of a software than a hardware kinda guy. ;) I guess there's that nerd in all of us, though, that likes to see what all you can do with a gadget that wasn't designed for it. I admit that when MaximumRD showed us that screwed-shut port on the back of his CD32, I was one step ahead of him -- "What can you do with that??" I was instantly curious, imagining all sorts of possibilities. I thought the same thing back when he was showing the CD-i (at least, I think that's what it was). You definitely see this mentality as well with the iPhone, where people are trying to get it do all kinds of crazy stuff. Indeed, that's where I see the "mainstream" hackers focused right now, more so than on hacking the 360 or the DS. I am also one of those nerds who the first thing I do when I see a new gadget is look at the ports. I want to know what I plug into it and what I can plug it into. That's just an instinct with me.

I remember a long time ago going into this guy's recording studio and seeing a souped up 1200. That guy had really pushed it so far beyond its original design that I was just flummoxed. I mean, this was an audio studio, so right away you had to deal with the 8-bit limitation. I can't imagine why he would go to so much trouble, but it was neat to see that machine as the heart of a real studio, and this must have been 96 or even 97. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he's still using it.

On a side note, I also met a guy who did TV commercials who had just retired his toaster in 97. Even then he was quick to point out that it could do the work of $10,000 worth of equipment and would be a great way to start out.

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Toast
Matt Barton wrote:

On a side note, I also met a guy who did TV commercials who had just retired his toaster in 97. Even then he was quick to point out that it could do the work of $10,000 worth of equipment and would be a great way to start out.

While some of the add-on software is still cool, the Toaster really only went away after the transition from analog to digital video work. It was a powerful setup indeed. Now, there tons of potential video editing power even on the simplest desktops.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.