Last updated: 07FEB2021 (see Changelog for details)
The Amiga 500 and CD32 systems have endured in popularity for over 30 years. Today we’re going to see if we can get them running on the RG351 systems.
Table of Contents First things first Required BIOS (Kickstart) files Required game files Video scaling tips Changelog
First things first
We’re going to work on two systems here. The Amiga 500 came out in the late 1980s as a competitor to the Atari ST, while the CD32 was a CD-based system in the early 1990s with improved graphics and sound.
Because things are never simple, you’ll have to bear in mind that there are multiple firmwares available for the RG351 devices and they each have multiple ways of playing Amiga games. I’ll try to keep this as a standard guide to get you started with each firmware’s default emulators, but you are welcome to try the different emulators that are available for each firmware.
|Firmware||Default Amiga 500||Default Amiga CD32|
Amiberry is a standalone Amiga emulator, and is the default emulator for Amiga 500 games on the stock and ArkOS firmwares. Amiberry doesn’t support CD32 games, so the PUAE Amiga RetroArch core is used instead.
In general, I have found that the PUAE RetroArch core has greater flexibility and performance with running Amiga 500 games, especially because you have easy access to RetroArch settings (like for button mapping, for example). You may need to switch between emulators for certain games; for example, Amiberry doesn’t have mouse controls configured, but the PUAE RetroArch core does. To set mouse functions using Amiberry, here is the note from the ArkOS developer:
If you need to be able to use a mouse for a particular game [using Amiberry], do the following:
1. Launch a game then go to the Amiberry Menu by pressing Select + X
2. On the left side of the screen, scroll down to Input.
3. Hit right and set Port 0 to OpenSimHardware OSH PB Controller and change Default to Mouse
4. Set Port 1 to Mouse and leave Default as default
5. Then hit left and scroll up to configuration.
6 Hit right and scroll down to the Save button and hit the A button. This will save this configuration as the default configuration for that particular game when it’s loaded.ArkOS FAQ page
Also bear in mind that PUAE will suffer the same graphical issues as other RetroArch cores, so be sure to enable RGA scaling (more info here) to smooth out the text. That being said Amiberry tends to load games more quickly than the PUAE core. Setting your default emulator to PUAE in ArkOS is very easy, and I show you how to do that in the video above.
Additionally, 351ELEC has support for the standalone uae4arm core, which plays both Amiga 500 and CD32 games. I didn’t test it personally but I have heard that it has good performance, too. So my recommendation is to try the default emulator on your device, then switch to another one if you’re having issues with a particular game.
Required BIOS (Kickstart) files
The main hurdle in getting Amiga games to work is properly configuring the BIOS (“Kickstart”) files. Because there were so many different Amiga systems released, and different software versions over the years, games aren’t fully compatible with just one Kickstart file. So we’re going to take the “carpet bombing” approach and just throw everything that’s helpful at it and hope that most of them stick.
At the very least, you need these Kickstart ROM files added to the “bios” folder of your SD card. They need to be named exactly as you see below in the first column (Kickstart ROM file name). The ones in bold are absolutely required according to the Amiberry emulator team, and the others are helpful with compatibility. These names are based on the “TOSEC” (The Old School Emulation Center”) naming convention.
|Kickstart ROM file name||CRC|
|Kickstart v1.2 rev 33.180 (1986)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000)(!).rom||a6ce1636|
|Kickstart v1.3 rev 34.5 (1987)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000-CDTV).rom||c4f0f55f|
|Kickstart v2.04 rev 37.175 (1991)(Commodore)(A500+).rom||c3bdb240|
|Kickstart v2.05 r37.350 (1992)(Commodore)(A600HD)[!].rom||43b0df7b|
|Kickstart v3.0 rev 39.106 (1992)(Commodore)(A1200)[!].rom||6c9b07d2|
|Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.63 (1993)(Commodore)(A500-A600-A2000)[!].rom||fc24ae0d|
|Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A1200).rom||1483a091 / 1d9aa278|
|Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A4000).rom||d6bae334|
|Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.60 (1993)(Commodore)(CD32).rom||1e62d4a5|
|CD32 Extended-ROM rev 40.60 (1993)(Commodore)(CD32).rom||87746be2|
The CRC in the second column (Cyclic Redundancy Check) is a type of checksum you can use to verify you have the right working .rom files. For example, you can use this site to drop in each file and verify that is has the corresponding CRC. This is a good troubleshooting tool in case you have all of the files loaded into the bios folder and you still aren’t able to boot a particular game (the other step would be to try a different file version of that game).
For maximum compatibility, I also recommend you add these files to your bios folder, since certain games may require them. These are the exact same files as the ones above (see the second column), but need to be renamed to the file name in the first column. Just make a copy of the old .rom file and rename it to the file name in the first column.
|Symlink Name||Original ROM Name|
|kick33180.A500||Kickstart v1.2 rev 33.180 (1986)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000).rom|
|kick34005.A500||Kickstart v1.3 rev 34.5 (1987)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000-CDTV).rom|
|kick37175.A500||Kickstart v2.04 rev 37.175 (1991)(Commodore)(A500+).rom|
|kick39106.A1200||Kickstart v3.0 rev 39.106 (1992)(Commodore)(A1200)[!].rom|
|kick40063.A600||Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.63 (1993)(Commodore)(A500-A600-A2000)[!].rom|
|kick40068.A1200||Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A1200).rom|
|kick40068.A4000||Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A4000).rom|
|kick40060.cd32||Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.60 (1993)(Commodore)(CD32).rom|
|kick40060.cd32.ext||CD32 Extended-ROM rev 40.60 (1993)(Commodore)(CD32).rom|
I have also been told that the following three RTB (relocation) files also improve compatibility with certain games. At this point I’m not leaving any cards on the table, so here they are listed:
So in the end, here is a list of all the files you should add to your SD card’s bios folder to ensure every game will load. There should be 22 altogether. I realize that this is a lot of BIOS files for just two systems, but these are taken from lists provided by RetroArch and Amiberry, and should allow you to open most Amiga 500 and CD32 games regardless of firmware or emulator you choose. The files in bold print are the ones that I have found to be most essential in getting up and running.
Kickstart v1.2 rev 33.180 (1986)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000)(!).rom Kickstart v1.3 rev 34.5 (1987)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000-CDTV).rom Kickstart v2.04 rev 37.175 (1991)(Commodore)(A500+).rom Kickstart v2.05 r37.350 (1992)(Commodore)(A600HD)[!].rom Kickstart v3.0 rev 39.106 (1992)(Commodore)(A1200)[!].rom Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.63 (1993)(Commodore)(A500-A600-A2000)[!].rom Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A1200).rom Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A4000).rom Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.60 (1993)(Commodore)(CD32).rom CD32 Extended-ROM rev 40.60 (1993)(Commodore)(CD32).rom kick33180.A500 kick34005.A500 kick37175.A500 kick39106.A1200 kick40063.A600 kick40068.A1200 kick40068.A4000 kick40060.cd32 kick40060.cd32.ext kick33180.A500.RTB kick34005.A500.RTB kick40068.A1200.RTB
Required game files
For the widest compatibility, I recommend use .lha files, which are compressed files created for WHDLoad, an AmigaOS-friendly install package. You can also try and load other standard Amiga files, such as .adf, .adz, .dms, .fdi, .ipf, .hdf, .hdz, .cue, .iso, or .uae, but your mileage may vary. I only successfully tested with .lha files — .hdf files are supported in most firmwares, but I was not able to get them running. Furthermore, .lha files tend to load faster than other files, and they’re compressed, so they are an ideal file type.
Place the games in their respective amiga or amiga32 folders on your SD card’s game partition. Note that stock firmware just has a single “amiga” folder, and you can put both Amiga 500 and CD32 games inside.
Video scaling tips
The fantastic YouTube resource Team Pandory / EmuChicken pointed out to me that if your games appear squished, you can actually fix them up in the PUAE RetroArch core options.
- Load a game, then enter the RetroArch quick menu (generally SELECT + X). Go to Options > Show Video Options. Then back out to the main Quick Menu, select Overrides > Save Core Overrides, then close out of RetroArch.
- Reboot the same game, then go back to Quick Menu > Options > Video Zoom Mode and set it to “Automatic”. Same thing here, back out to the main Quick Menu, select Overrides > Save Core Overrides
- Now your games should run in beautiful full screen.
– published guide
– added uae4arm info
– added video scaling tips
– added Amiberry mouse instructions