The A500 Mini Review
The A500 Mini has finally arrived!
The Commodore Amiga was a computer ahead of it’s time, and maintain a cult fanbase even in 2022. The Amiga 1000 released in 1985 but had huge supply issues and a hefty price tag to boot. The A500 Mini is based on the 1987 model, the Amiga 500, this was the most popular model of Amiga in the computer range.
Retro Games Ltd have created a sleak and solid minature version of the Amiga 500, it feels solid build quality, and has some great attention to detail, from the iconic top grill, to the individual keys. The keys are obviously only for aesthetic purpose, as they are too small to use as a functional keyboard, however you can plug in a USB keyboard, but I haven’t needed to do that with the inclusion of a virtual keyboard (more on that later).
You can see the A500 mini for yourself in the below pictures, it’s a thing of beauty for sure, it also comes with the ‘Tank Mouse’ that is a cute recreation of the original mouse, it is slightly smaller than it’s original big brother and features a modern optical mouse setup, rather than the ball which was a horrible thing to clean and is far less responsive, so another great choice!
I have taken a picture of my Amiga 1200 next to the A500 mini below for size comparison, along with the accessories that come with your A500 Mini.
The A500 Mini Games
The A500 Mini comes with 25 pre-installed games, these include Alien Breed: Special Edition ’92, Alien Breed 3D, Another World, Battle Chess, Cadaver, F-16 Combat Pilot, Kick Off 2, Pinball Dreams, Project-X, Simon the Sorcerer, Speedball 2, Stunt Car Racer, The Chaos Engine, Worms: The Director’s Cut and a few more.
A lot of effort has clearly gone into the choice of games, Team 17 are heavily featured in this collection, but the A500 Mini does have a trick up it’s sleeve, just like Retro Games Ltd’s previous efforts with the C64 Mini, you can also pre load your own games on a USB stick on the A500 Mini.
You can load your own games through the hard disk package, WHDLoad, the A500 mini comes with some easy instructions on how to set this up, and if you download the WHDLoad package from Retro Games Ltd, they also give you an extra game, Citadel, which you can download from their support page.
Overall, it’s easy to obtain WHDLoad game files, and install them on the USB Stick, but remember you must own the original game to download the WHDLoad files legally! Retro Games Ltd are looking to add .ADF and .HDF support in a future firmware update too.
To save you some time on finding a suitable USB stick, I went with the SanDisk Cruzer Blade USB 2.0 with 32GB of memory, which cost me a very reasonalble £5.99.
Also, check out the best homebrew games you can play on your A500 Mini by clicking here.
Setting up the A500 Mini
Out of the box, The A500 Mini is pretty simple to setup, it comes with the CD32 style gamepad, mouse, HDMI cable and a USB-C to USB standard port power cable, the only drawback, like many devices you buy nowadays, you will have to provide your own USB power plug to power this thing up.
It’s pretty much a plug and play console version of the Commodore Amiga, so you will not have any problems hooking it up.
Navigating the menu
Navigating through the A500 Mini’s menu is a pretty simple affair. You are greeted with a nice animation startup of the logo, followed by a horizontal scrolling menu of the 25 pre-installed games.
The menu music is relaxing and pretty easy on the ears, which is always nice considering the amount of time you will spend scrolling through your games. Each game comes with four save slots, and this includes the WHDLoad games you install also, this is basically a save state, so you can carry on from the moment you last saved your game progress.
There are various settings to play around with, including Display options, which allows a fixed size, moderate zoom and screen fit options, and also gives the option of a CRT filter and smoothing effects.
You can access additional menu’s through each game, and set the screen size setup, remap the buttons on the gamepad, and tweak the Amiga’s emulation settings and ram, this is sometimes required for some WHDLoad games, to enable the games to run properly, but when you save the setup per game, those settings are saved for the next time you load the game, a bit fiddly but that’s the nature of the Amiga.
At least Retro Games Ltd have included all of these options to allow better compatibility, which also supports the later AGA chipset games too.
The A500 Mini is a nicely designed mini console version of the Amiga, the machine itself is solid build quality and nicely detailed, perfect to put on display as well as play. The inclusion of the ‘Tank’ mouse is a nice nod for all those retro fans of the original machine, the optical mouse is responsive and the micro-switch buttons are clicky and nice, when compared with the spongy buttons of the original.
The Gamepad is a nice addition too, and improves on the CD32 controller design, the buttons feel nice, though my only drawback here is the D-Pad has too much travel for my liking, and is not responsive enough when playing games like Sensible World of Soccer.
The game selection is excellent, but doesn’t include some obvious classics like the above metioned SWOS, Cannon Fodder, Lemmings and many more.
But the inclusion of the WHDLoad option does resolve that problem, I would recommend you put the WHDLoad games in Alphabetical folders, because each folder supports a maximum of 250 games, and you will be missing a lot of games in the menu if you dump them all in one folder, this was something I had to trial and error for myself.
I would have liked the option of adding the box arts and descriptions of the WHDLoad games, to match the 25 pre-installed games, rather than a cheap looking games list which you access from the USB stick, but maybe this is something Retro Games Ltd will include in a future firmware update, but again, this is a small thing.
The emulation is mostly great, I experienced some slowdown on SWOS when the action gets a little fast-paced, but other than that, most games run without any issues at all, particularly the pre-installed games that come bundled with the A500 Mini. The inclusion of the virtual keyboard which pops up on the right side of the screen is nice, you can access it in-game by pressing the ‘Menu’ button on the gamepad.
I think the A500 Mini is a great device particularly for those who haven’t played the Amiga in a long time and are casual gamers looking for a quick hit of nostalgia. But I also found, even though I own an Amiga 1200, it’s nice to have an easy ‘Pick up and play’ Amiga that I can easily hook up to any screen with the HDMI, so I would recommend the A500 Mini to anyone who loves the Commodore Amiga, and also those retro gamer fans looking to experience it for the first time, particularly our American friends who didn’t really experience the Amiga like those of us in Europe.
Sleak and high quality design Easy to set up Pretty decent emulation Lots of display options/settings Four Save slots per game Support for WHDLoad games via USB Plays A500 and AGA chipset games
Gamepads D-Pad is too soft Doesn't come with power plug WHDLoad games could be presented better Lack of support for ADF/HDF games at launch
Shop Amiga Coasters...
Zool Plastic Coaster£3.99 Inc VAT Add to cart
Speedball 2 Plastic Coaster£3.99 Inc VAT Add to cart
Sensible World of Soccer Plastic Coaster£3.99 Inc VAT Add to cart
Secret of Monkey Island Plastic Coaster£3.99 Inc VAT Add to cart
Lemmings Plastic Coaster£3.99 Inc VAT Add to cart
Flashback Plastic Coaster£3.99 Inc VAT Add to cart
Chaos Engine Plastic Coaster£3.99 Inc VAT Add to cart
Cannon Fodder Plastic Coaster£3.99 Inc VAT Add to cart
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This post first appeared on Pixel Games, The Home Of Retro Game Comparisons, Reviews And News., please read the originial post: here