Digital archeology of a different kind: Perhaps a pioneer for computers like the MEGA65, the C-One claimed to be the very first reconfigurable FPGA computer. Started in 2000 as a new C64 by Jeri Ellsworth, who soon after preferred to work on the C64DTV, the C-One was light and shadow at the same time. Only about 200 pieces were sold. This was perhaps due to the same problems that made it insanely difficult for us today to get the beast working: closed-source mentality, poor to non-existent documentation, dependence on exotic PC memory modules, horribly ugly form factor (ATX), way too unfocused. Why is there a PCI slot that no one has ever used? After three days of research, we brought this thing to life and gave it a fresh, more compact look – without an ATX case. It was fun because it was so complicated.
With game graphics becoming more and more realistic, there has been a reanaissance of classic text adventures lately. Today called Interactive Fiction, text adventure games rely on high quality writing to base the story on and support the gamer with. While flashy graphics may be used, they are used to embellish the power of the text, not to replace it.
One of the biggest players in this industry was Infocom with their so-called Z-machine, poweing many fantastic classics like Zork, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Planetfall. Text adventures aged so well that there are even new ones being released, like Hibernated 2 and Tristam Island (both available for MEGA65).
It has been over due to announce Z-machine for the MEGA65 computer, ported by MEGA65-team member Bit Shifter. Whether you use it on your real MEGA65 or with XEMU, there are dozens of intriguing worlds and stories to be discovered!
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was one of the most popular 8-bit computers worldwide. Now you can enjoy thousands of great original games and demos on your favorite modern retro computer, the MEGA65. MEGA member sy2002 has ported the fantastic ZX UNO to run as an alternative parallel core on the MEGA65! This means you also get all the enhancements that have been produced for the ZX Spectrum over the past years, including audio and visual enhancements like ULAplus. And it even gets better: MEGA has received the license to distribute the ULAplus collection for free with each MEGA65 – over 300 great classics that even are visually enhanced. Great times for 8-bit fanatics! More details and news here.
After quite a journey in these troubled times, a FOENIX has arrived at the MEGA archive. The C256 FOENIX is “a new retro computer” based on the WDC 65C816 CPU, a 8/16-bit microcontroller running at 14 MHz. Like the MEGA65 it is FPGA based, which means you get all the advantages of “real chips” over emulation based system. The FOENIX sports nice features like Sprites, SID and OPL3 audio chips and BASIC. It is worth mentioning that there is no big team behind this machine, but a single person (with help of the community): Stefany Allaire. In some of the pictures we have added the first MEGA65 prototype keyboard, which looks a lot like the new FOENIX keyboard (and also the Commander X16 one), and a MEGA65 for size comparism – enjoy!
With Retro Computing becoming more and more popular, a lot of different players have entered the game. Due to the nostalgia involved, there are many talented people who put lots of time into creating what they believe is a worthy successor to the once successful and still beloved original machine, while there are others just aiming for profit. Recently there have been several occurrences where the latter have tried to harm enthusiasts by spamming, false copyrights claims and fake emails. As it seems, this had the opposite effect of what was intended: Hobbyists and enthusiasts started to build an alliance. One person being on the “Light Side” is Sean Donohue from My Retro Computer. Today we present his fresh VIC-20 case with Cherry MX keyboard, both of very high quality. It can hold about any mini ITX mainboard – PC computing with style!
Limitations spark creativity – this is a known fact in the demo scene and also applies to real life. While painting or “pixelating” graphics in low resolutions and with a very limited numbers of colors (like 2, 4 or 16) is complicated, there is another discipline to do retro graphics: using charset only (ASCII) or the Commodore- (and of course MEGA65-)specific PETSCII characters. This charset was designed by Leonard Tramiel, son of Commodore CEO Jack Tramiel. While there is a lot of PETSCII art, only few authors dared to make games that only use PETSCII. Tero Heikkinen, aka Dr. TerrorZ, is one of those daring coders and designers and created the wonderful and arty game DIGILOI in PETSCII. And even better: He licensed MEGA to bundle DIGILOI with every MEGA65 computer! While you can test-run it on an emulator, please be advised that only playing it with real latency-free hardware and a proper Joystick will give you the real thing!
In the making for full 5 years now, the MEGA65 is finally ready for pre-orders in form of a Development Kit. While work on the consumer product continues, now is a chance to hop onboard and become part of retro computing history, enhance things here and there or start programming your own game, application or demo so it can be available (or even be bundled) when the final machines see the light of day! The DevKits look and feel fantastic, mechanical keyboards, powerful ARTIX A7 200T FPGA and many modern aswell as retro connection possibilites in a shiny acrylic glass case with laser engraved serial number and logo. But beware, production run is limited to 100 pieces and only one machine per person. Ready to be ordered from 11 AM CET on 18th of June 2020 at Trenz Electronic.