Guide: Amiga 500 and CD32 on RG351 Devices

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.

FirmwareDefault Amiga 500Default Amiga CD32
Stock (EmuELEC)AmiberryPUAE
351ELECPUAEPUAE
ArkOSAmiberryPUAE

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.

If you are looking for legal means of obtaining these files, Kickstarts 1.2 and 1.3 can purchased from the current Amiga license holder, and you can also dump them from your original Amiga computer.

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 nameCRC
Kickstart v1.2 rev 33.180 (1986)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000)(!).roma6ce1636
Kickstart v1.3 rev 34.5 (1987)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000-CDTV).romc4f0f55f
Kickstart v2.04 rev 37.175 (1991)(Commodore)(A500+).romc3bdb240
Kickstart v2.05 r37.350 (1992)(Commodore)(A600HD)[!].rom43b0df7b
Kickstart v3.0 rev 39.106 (1992)(Commodore)(A1200)[!].rom6c9b07d2
Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.63 (1993)(Commodore)(A500-A600-A2000)[!].romfc24ae0d
Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A1200).rom1483a091 / 1d9aa278
Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A4000).romd6bae334
Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.60 (1993)(Commodore)(CD32).rom1e62d4a5
CD32 Extended-ROM rev 40.60 (1993)(Commodore)(CD32).rom87746be2

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 NameOriginal ROM Name
kick33180.A500Kickstart v1.2 rev 33.180 (1986)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000).rom
kick34005.A500Kickstart v1.3 rev 34.5 (1987)(Commodore)(A500-A1000-A2000-CDTV).rom
kick37175.A500Kickstart v2.04 rev 37.175 (1991)(Commodore)(A500+).rom
kick39106.A1200Kickstart v3.0 rev 39.106 (1992)(Commodore)(A1200)[!].rom
kick40063.A600Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.63 (1993)(Commodore)(A500-A600-A2000)[!].rom
kick40068.A1200Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A1200).rom
kick40068.A4000Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.68 (1993)(Commodore)(A4000).rom
kick40060.cd32Kickstart v3.1 rev 40.60 (1993)(Commodore)(CD32).rom
kick40060.cd32.extCD32 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:

File NameCRC
kick33180.A500.RTBc61d5663
kick34005.A500.RTBae7a9ac7
kick40068.A1200.RTBcf631e0b

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.

Changelog

07FEB2021
– published guide
– added uae4arm info
– added video scaling tips
– added Amiberry mouse instructions

4 thoughts on “Guide: Amiga 500 and CD32 on RG351 Devices

  1. Hi, I have all the necessary bios files and have run checksum to ensure they are correct, I also have an Amiga library of games which i have run for many years using winuae windows However When I run any game, the Amiga OS screen boots up successfully and I get the message “CAPS LIBRARY capsimg.so not found”, The OS stays on the screen and the games do not then load up (I just hear that emulated amiga drive whirring sound playing on loop). I have switched between all emulators on my rgp but they all the throw the same issue! any ideas?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for this guide. Even though I have a Retroid Pocket 2 and I’m using Retroarch to play Amiga games. I found it very useful. AGA/CD32 didn’t work for me, but doing this carpet bombing approach worked. Also I had a few kickstart files named differently, even though the CRC was right. Even the video scaling tip helped me. Putting them all in helped. All the Amiga systems I’ve tried work well, I’ve had to adjust the CPU speed for AGA to -50% and frameskip to 2 to make those work. Thanks again

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For original disk image files you need this extra lib in retroarch:

    “.ipf (disk image) requires capsimg.so in retroarch directory”

    Best is to use lha files with game layout.

    Liked by 1 person

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