The official holders of the original Commodore/Amiga copyrights have made a bold step into the New Year before the old one is even out, with their new 2016 releases of Amiga Forever and C64 Forever 2016.
Italian company Cloanto Italia srl, who today specialize in retrocomputing and classic gaming, were once known for Amiga software products such as Personal Write and Personal Paint. Building on this legacy, in 1997 Cloanto released an Amiga preservation, emulation and support package, Amiga Forever, which allows Amiga software to run on non-Amiga hardware legally and without complex configuration.
The Windows version of Amiga Forever includes ‘player’ software developed by Cloanto which seamlessly uses ‘plugins’ such as WinUAE as emulation engines, while relying on its own user interface for configuration and authoring. In addition to supporting common disk image formats, Amiga Forever can play back and author files in Cloanto’s proprietary RP9 format.
The first version of the Amiga Forever package was initially released on a CD-ROM containing different versions of the emulator UAE (itself first released in 1995) for Windows, DOS, Mac and Linux, Fellow for DOS and a selection of Amiga Kickstart ROM images and Workbench disks. There was also an Amiga floppy disk available which contained the Amiga side of Amiga Explorer. The new plugin-based player software was introduced in 2007.
From the 2012 version onward, Amiga Forever has included Cloanto’s RP9 Editor for content authoring. Besides its own authoring and playback environment, and Cloanto’s floppy disk conversion service, Amiga Forever includes WinUAE and WinFellow, and different versions of UAE and E-UAE for other platforms. All versions of Amiga Forever include different AmigaOS (m68k) environments and support to run a large range of Amiga games and demoscene productions which are available for free download from different software publishers and Amiga history sites. The Windows version also includes Cloanto’s Amiga Explorer networking software, which allows access to Amiga resources (including virtual floppy, hard disk and ROM image files) from the Windows Desktop.
Today, through successive development of more and more compatible software-based emulation of old Commodore Amiga hardware, Amiga Forever and the its 2008 sister package C64 Forever (the latter emulating the earlier, and equally popular, 8-bit Commodore 64 computer), allow millions of users to enjoy tens of thousands of games and other applications from the 1980s and 1990s.
Sharp and shiny
The latest 2016 versions of Cloanto’s packages, launched on 28 November, offer new high-DPI display support and seamlessly integrated 8-bit, 68K and PowerPC virtualization, allowing the blending of two remarkable, nostalgic, fun but very different eras of computing into a powerful player and content authoring interface which operates on the modern MS Windows platform.
On the launch day of Amiga Forever and C64 Forever 2016, Cloanto’s Mike Battilana said:
“After almost two years of hard teamwork since the 2014 versions were released, it may seem like the focus is entirely on the products. To some degree, this is true,”
“We are a bit obsessive about software quality. But we also feel the burden of other challenges. For example, a belief in quality and innovation is easy to put into practice by releasing great products, but how can you manifest and be entrusted with a vision of ultimate long-term care?
“As the holders of the Commodore/Amiga copyrights our goal is both ’emulation done right’ and ‘preservation done right’. This is a long path, which is made possible by the support of our generous customers and contributors. So once again my thankful thoughts go to our community. These 2016 software releases are by them, for them, and they allow us to keep working in this direction.”
Three package deals
Amiga Forever 2016 is available now in three editions:
- Value Edition (downloadable installer)
- Plus Edition (downloadable installer with option to build DVD ISO image)
- Premium Edition (downloadable Plus Edition plus boxed software and additional videos on 3 DVDs)
C64 Forever 2016 is available now in three editions:
- Free Express Edition (feature-limited version)
- Downloadable Plus Edition (downloadable installer with option to build CD ISO image)
- Boxed Plus Edition (downloadable Plus Edition plus boxed CD)
Both packages recognize and work with each other, for example if the user wishes to merge the different platforms into the same interface. Prices start from $9.95 (Value Edition, or special upgrade offers).
Retro Computing News plans to follow up this news item with a review of these latest emulation packages, tested and working on a low-cost, refurbished Windows 7 PC, to demonstrate how effective they might be on the kind of equipment which most users may already have lying around or could easily acquire at modest cost.
Watch this space!
Meanwhile, for more details check out the Amiga Forever website.
Screen shots courtesy Cloanto.