Thursday, September 26, 2019

A-10 Tank Killer: On Amiga

Before I move onto the final campaign, and because I now have a working Amiga emulator, I thought, hey, why not see how A-10 works on an Amiga. As it turns out, that question was a bit of a problem. Not because there was anything regarding emulating Amiga, (that you probably weren't already aware of*) but because the game is very different. This will also lead into a minor statement on the original DOS version.

One thing I'm starting to notice regarding Amiga games is long loading times. While a lot of Amiga games look simply amazing compared to their DOS counterparts, for some of them, it simply isn't worth the obscene loading times. A-10 is no different.
Continuing the theme of rocking tunes, we have much expanded versions of the now familiar songs that graced the menus of the DOS verison. More instruments, perhaps too many. The themes on the DOS version came out better, despite being simpler. The menu features the smiling face of my almost completely useless co-pilot, Styles, and my character, Buck Ryan. Who, I for the second and third campaign named Rogers, because I thought that Buck on the quick select was a reference to Buck Rogers.
The game suffers the same mouse problems as the original game, although it is much more tolerable here. Perhaps Amiga owners were more used to using mice, whereas I know using a mouse in DOS was a bit of effort. The mouse originally required you to launch a program in DOS if you wanted to use it. That was a lot of effort, so I mostly stuck to a keyboard back when I had an actual DOS computer.
Cord's opening statements are different than I remember, mentioning the main character's name instead of the one you pick. The color also seems to be off in general, but that could just be because the Amiga's graphical chip offers less colors on-screen than a comparable VGA chip. You don't get to select what weapons, just what loadout you get. This arguably isn't too important, since most of what you'd choose is offered.
The game is quite different than the patched version. Not only in the obvious ways, such as different ground colors, knowing how many missiles you have left. The entire simulation is much different than what it would be later. It seems less realistic. Going full throttle causes you to climb at a good rate, and trying to make a minor turn causes your wings to go back to neutral. Even at attack speed of 5 you're still climbing in neutral. This requires me to relearn to fly. You also get less in the ways of visibility and its also slower.

For the non-important things, they're not really better or worse. The sounds are different. There's possibly minor differences in all the graphics. It ultimately doesn't matter. This is obviously inferior to the patched game. A shame, but it was probably good before then.

Now, on DOS the original version has...additional problems. Namely, the bane of '80s sound design, the PC speaker. Now, I'm not usually one to say this, but PC speaker is very outdated today. I'd say the PC speaker was outdated the moment it came on the scene. The original DOS version features a single PC speaker song, playing over the entire game, from the start until you decide to turn it off. It stops whenever you shoot something or fire a missile, but if there's one thing I hate when it comes to old sound, its when it stops to play a sound effect.

So, there you have it, a once highly outdated game because immensely playable thanks to patches down the line. That's honestly some quality work. We'll see just how quality next time. So, if you ever want to play A-10 Tank Killer, make sure to get the CD version.

*Put it simply, I would rank emulating old games on this scale of difficulty:
1:NES/SNES/GEN (systems that don't require anything beyond the game)
2:Sega CD/PSX (systems that require a BIOS)
3:DOS/PS2 (systems that require a bit of fiddling to get some games to work)
4:Apple II (systems that require messing around with floppies)
5:Amiga/Arcade** (systems that require fiddling around to get to work and to play some games)
6:Macintosh (systems that are very difficult to emulate and require a lot of time on your part)
7:LaserActive*** (systems that there is no emulation of)
Windows games can be anywhere from 1 to 7 depending on how they are set up. Realistically, there should be no Windows games at 7, but you aren't going to be testing them that throughly.
**I am aware that there are multiple underlying arcade systems. I don't care.
***A system I considered worth working on solely for its translation of the third J.B. Harold game, at least I did until someone did a translation for the PC version.

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