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Hatari v 0.9.1

                   Real Falcon 030 emulation, a first look! 

At  last it's on the way,  the first decent attempt to get a classic  Falcon
'030 running as an emulation on another system. In this case, we have Thothy
and his work on the Atari emulator Hatari to thank for this.

Hatari  is one of the stronger candidates for a good ST emulation.  It is my
primary choice, as it is freely available on OSX, and would also be suitable
for  Linux  fans  as an open source SDL-based project.  The  current  public
release of Hatari is v.0.9,  which already provides for ST and STe emulation
to  a pretty good (if not quite perfect) standard.  Apart from being able to
emulate  classic  hardware,  there  are also a series of  extra  tweaks  and
options such as enhanced resolution GEM Vdi screen modes, and selectable cpu
types from 68000 to 68040, and a selection of cpu speed settings too.

Now Thothy got everyone excited a few weeks ago,  by publishing a handful of
screenshot  showing  what were clearly Falcon 030 productions  such  as  the
'Terrorise  Your Soul' Fried Bits 3 96ktro.  and what looked like  authentic
Tos 4xx screenshots,  all running in an emulation window. This was the first
signs of experimental Falcon '030 support in Hatari,  and was only available
as  a  pre-release  cvs  build,  as it was nowhere near  ready  for  general
release.  Thothy  did  his best to dampen down any immediate  excitement  by
stating  that  there was still months of work ahead before the  next  public
version of Hatari was due for release.

However,   at -
Someone  has ported this to work on Windowze based systems,  which is a case
of  hurrah for them,  and time to find out where my ancient K6-based box has
got to!

So I download it,  and gather together carefully a bunch of things needed to
make  it run successfully out of the box,  such as some Falcon Tos Roms  for
example,  the  4.04  used with my MacAranym does nicely,  also a few  random
things to try on it.

The downloaded file self-extracts nicely, and you see the familiar green 'H'
icon in an unfamiliar setting,  on a Windowze desktop. Having thought to set
up a few things beforehand, such as an area of virtual hard disk, it is time
to  configure Hatari.  The familiar menu's are there,  with some new options
with  the Falcon on them.  You can define the memory for 4 mb,  or even 8 mb
and  14  mb.  (I'm  not sure if this works,  as the emulated Falcy  start-up
memory  test  returned  a  value of 4 mb.)  I'm  also  ambiguous  about  the
processor  options,  as there is no 68030 there,  and you are left to choose
between a 68020 with FPU,  or the mighty 68040. It may be the case that a 16
mhz 68030 is already predefined?

Running it for the first time presents the familiar start-up sequence, Atari
fuji  in  the corner,  memory test etc.  The desktop is a nice lo-res bluey-
green  and  very  basic ST style icons,  indicating that there is  a  Falcon
there,  but  one  without any newdesk icons.  So it is time to raid a nearby
Falcon for some further inspiration!

A  little more tweaking on the desktop,  with these additions starts to show
something like the familiar classic Tos 4.xx desktop, and coloured icons. As
for using Hatari in the PeeCee environment,  there is a choice of running it
windowed, which seems to be better for speed on my marginal Win 98 based 533
mhz  K6  box.  On the other hand,  control of the desktop is awkward,  as the
mouse  pointer  skates off the Falcon screen too easily.  (This Windows  Cvs
version  port  seems  to lack the 'lock' option to keep  the  mouse  pointer
within  the emulated screen area,  that the MacOS version has.) On the other
hand,  you  can  opt  for full-screen display mode,  to banish  those  mouse
pointer blues.

Okay,  so we've got Hatari emulating a Falcon on a PeeCee desktop,  but does
anything  work  with  it?  This  is what is known as the fun  part  of  this
preview,  to  raid my diskbox and CD-Rom collection to see what is likely to
work, and what may end up crashing and burning at this early stage.

Commonsense  whispers  into my ear to sweetly suggest that trying  out  such
DSP-busters  as Tat's Sonoluminescenz demo,  or the even more  revolutionary
'Hmmm' and  'Underscore' demos may not get us  anywhere  too  quickly.  An
emulation  running these productions will be the end-goal of a  good  Falcon
emulator,  and  there  will  be a lot more to be done before we  get  there.
However, trying a few less ambitious pieces of code might well be fine.

For  clarification,  I was running these tests under an emulated RGB  screen
Falcon.  In the majority of cases,  there was no soundtrack, where there are
exceptions,  these are most likely to be using STe Dma hardware, and not the
Falcon 16-bit sound or DSP.

  These work!

BSE  4ktro,  for  some  reason,  mainly down to Aranym user-friendliness,  I
thought  of  this one first.  It ran,  but a bit more slowly than the native
machine, as it ran out of timer before it ran out of effects.

Birdy  intro,  a  natural second candidate,  the classic 1993-tastic walking
bird  animation.  As  this  ran  just fine,  other  early  Hisoft/Brainstorm
animations should work too.

Terrorise  Your  Soul  96k,  my  first  'Big' demo,  as it was  one  of  the
screenshots on Thothy's Hatari pages. And it did as well, apart from getting
stuck at the red metablob screen, but I think that might have been a problem
with the demo sometimes sticking there anyway?

Burning Waters 96k, another Fried Bits 3 96ktro, which ran happily.

The Douglas Little/BSS Speeder intro, or the Snes Mode 7 demo on the Falcon,
another hit on Aranym, and on here too.

Opium  Chrome  demo, this  not only ran,  but was one of a select few  with
working sound! I guess they were using the STe Dma channels here?

Warumby Lazer, this not only ran, but it was complete and ran nicely!

Double  Bobble,  another  production  used to sell the  coolness  factor  of
Aranym,  revealed itself to be very compatible with Hatari as well, and even
worked nicely with the jagpad emulation (yay!)

Lasers and Men pre-preview. The DSP-less preview version of this interesting
but  flawed  game seems to work quite well across a number of  systems,  not
Aranym mind you, but on here it was fine.

Spice, the  superb Defender clone for the Falcon worked,  albeit with crazy
messed-up  Dma  sound.  There is a playable game in there,  but it is cursed
with  incomplete  Joypad emulation,  which only allows for the  button  'a',
which  is  fine if all you want to do is lob smart bombs and  then  take  an
early gamma ray bath from incoming alien fire!

After a false start, the Sili '97 Shadows 'It' demo ran, complete and nicely

I tried another early classic, the Respectables Cebit '93 demo. The news was
reasonably good, as it ran, but with garbled Dma sound and a generally buggy
appearance to it.

I  gave Imagecopy 3 a spin,  and that was fine,  but I've not tried a lot of
GEM stuff yet.

As the bulk of these were'silent', I guess that success in running something
means a sound system that doesn't delve too deeply into the Falcon hardware,
and therefore does not hang the emulation?

  These are a maybe

We  had  quite  a  few partial successes,  programs  which  might  yet  work
properly, once a bit more work has been done on the emulator.

Ewigkeit  4k,  the Spirits intro performed like a particularly mean-spirited
bible teacher,  with all the dull texty bits kept in,  but no exciting fiery

I tried Maggie 28 (with the late Falcon shell). The experience was identical
to Aranym, displaying the initial splash screen, but going no further.

Both  the  Place2be part 5 intro and the Terminal F*ck-up  demo,  managed  a
start screen,  but no further.  (As you remember, this one worked quite well
on Aranym.)

The  mighty  'Autowaschen Verboten' from Lazer was shown as working  in  the
Hatari  homepage  screenshot,  but  for  me,  it got as far as  the  opening
animation, but crashed or hung afterwards.

The even more demanding 'Lost Blubb' demo was interesting,  as it got as far
as completing the first effect then froze.

Another  logical production to try was the early 'Arrival' demo by  Passion.
This seemed to run, but it was not able to find the individual screen files,
so you got a demo that was all linking menus and ugly font text.

The  Yepya Toons demo exhibited some truly bizarre behaviour,  as it  starts
ok,  then  the  screen  window  goes  to an unusual to  say  the  least  640
horizontal to 1 pixel size!

The debut DHS effort, 'Conflict' is very much in the 'maybe' camp. It starts
to  run,  but  is very slow for the opening screens,  then it loses interest

The Megabusters Lamerbrain Dentro had some effect on the emulated  hardware,
as  it  seems to start okay,  gets to the rotating dot objects screen,  then
hangs midway. There were lots of keyclicks heard, which seems to have direct
bearing on running this demo.

  These don't!

And  of  course,  there were some definite failures at the outset,  here are
some of their stories.

The Avena 'Dementia' demo, doesn't start at all.

Neither does the Digital Chaos 'Bio' demo...

Maggie  18 is a failure,  even after Tat's DSP-tastic intro  was  disabled,
although the initial Reservoir Gods splash works.

Cycedelic Knockout, nope, not really..

As for the games we tried, these are generally a lot less forgiving..

The multi-handed Multibriques demo sinmply crashed on loading.

Tautology 2 didn't start up.

Nor did Towers II, or Impulse.

Whilst  there is a long way still to go,  it is already apparent that Hatari
Falcon,  even  in  this pre-release beta state,  is doing a better job  than
Aranym,  which  itself was not intended to be a classic Falcon 030 emulator.
Thothy stated that a new Hatari version with Falcon emulation is still  some
months  of  work away,  which is fair enough.  I guess after that time,  the
proper  release  version  may well be able to run  the  majority  of  Falcon
specific software,  apart from the real killers,  such as the DSP demos.  It
will probably take a lot more effort to get those onside too.

It is pleasing to see that Hatari can run even on a very marginal (by modern
standards) Windowze box,  with an old version of Windowze decently. People's
mileage  should get even better with more modern hardware,  and I am looking
forward to Hatari Falcon 030 on Mac OSX in due course.

                                                   CiH,for Alive Mag,Dec '06.
Alive 14