When you're discussing video game history, it's often the case that memories will be dominated by consoles like the NES, SNES, Mega Drive / Genesis, N64, GameCube and so on – but those old enough to have lived through the '80s will remember that for a period of time, home computers like the C64, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum and Commodore Amiga were a perfectly legitimate way of playing games outside of the arcade.
It's fitting, then, that alongside the recent explosion of interest in plug-and-play 'micro consoles' like the NES Classic and Sega Mega Drive Mini we've seen some fresh takes on the humble home micro; UK firm Retro Games Ltd. has already produced a miniature version of the C64, and how it's back with a pint-sized facsimile of the Amiga – a platform which, in Europe, at least, was insanely popular during the late '80s and early '90s.
Like the aforementioned NES Classic Edition, the A500 Mini (due to the complex legal issues surrounding ownership of the Commodore brand, that name isn't present anywhere on the unit or the packaging) uses modern off-the-shelf components and software emulation to recreate the vintage platform. The device is many times smaller than the real deal, with some compromises; that miniature keyboard is purely for show and doesn't actually work, for example. However, it does offer some creature comforts that the original system cannot match in its unmodified form; there's HDMI-out and support for USB devices (so you can use a USB keyboard if you so wish, but the on-screen, pop-in keyboard works just fine). All in all, the A500 Mini is easily on par with the SNES Classic and PC Engine Mini when it comes to pure product design; even the red and green LEDs light up to denote power-on and drive access, just like the real thing.
The A500 Mini comes bundled with a joypad and mouse, the two primary forms of input when it comes to Amiga software. The controller is based on the one that shipped with the ill-fated Amiga CD32 – a noble and authentic choice, given the lineage of the system, but not one we'd say was particularly wise. The controller, while slightly better than the CD32 original, is still pretty poor, with the D-Pad proving to be especially problematic, especially when you're aiming for diagonal input. There doesn't seem to be any way of using third-party USB controllers (the PS Classic pad caused the UI to glitch out, while the Retro-Bit Sega 6-button USB controller wouldn't register at all), but that may change with a future firmware update (the stick that ships with the C64 Mini does work, we're told). For now, you're lumbered with a pad that just about does the job, but it could be much better.
The mouse is more successful; it's based on the original two-button 'tank' mouse that came with the Amiga but has been upgraded to feature optical technology rather than the trackball that was used in the original. It's worth noting that this isn't the most comfortable mouse in the world, but if you owned an Amiga back in the day, it will feel right. You can use any USB mouse if you prefer something different.
The A500 Mini ships with 25 games, many of which will certainly be on your average fan's 'must-have' list. Speedball II, Zool, The Sentinel, Simon the Sorcerer, Stunt Car Racer, Another World, Super Cars II, Worms, Alien Breed, The Chaos Engine... these are truly classic titles, some of which were so popular back in the '90s that they were subsequently ported to consoles like the SNES and Mega Drive. In fact, we'd argue that what's included here is as solid a selection of games as you could possibly hope for, given that tracking down the IP holders for many of the Amiga's best titles must be a pretty stern task these days.
The good news is that if your favourite game hasn't made the cut for whatever reason, you can simply side-load it using a USB stick. The A500 Mini supports the 'WHDLoad' system which allows Amiga games to be packaged up in a single file (many games shipped on multiple floppy discs, you see) and loaded easily. This means you can fill a USB stick with all of your most beloved Amiga titles (including CD32 and CDTV releases) and run them on the A500 Mini with little issue.
The A500 Mini uses pretty much the same UI as the C64 Mini and supports elements such as save states (four per game) and a CRT screen filter – the latter of which is one of the best applications we've seen on one of these devices. Emulation is excellent (A1200 games are also supported, the latter of which benefit from the 'Advanced Graphics Architecture' of the platform), although one quirk of the Amiga being more popular in Europe than the United States is that most games were designed to run at the slower 50hz TV standard, rather than 60hz, which is what US televisions use.
Micro-consoles like the SNES Classic, Neo Geo Mini and even the Egret II Mini offer a very Japanese perspective on gaming, so it's nice to see a western system get the same treatment – and it's also interesting to see some of gaming's most famous properties in their original form, prior to being ported to the Japanese consoles of the era. The Amiga might not be a "traditional" games console and its focus was never 100% on gaming, but its legacy is considerable – franchises such as Worms and Speedball found their commercial footing on the platform, and have endured until the present day.
As such, this is an intriguing device for anyone who is even remotely interested in tracking the development of the games industry – and while its £120 price tag makes it more expensive than many of its micro-console rivals, the ability to side-load games is very welcome indeed.
Thanks to Koch Media and Retro Games Ltd. for supplying the unit used in this review.
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Sun 10th April, 2022.
My Amiga600 is still in working condition. So I didn't bother buying this.
I did, however, buy the mouse, which can be found separately along with the controller. Because who doesn't love a good tank!?
Ahh yes my friend used to have the Amiga 500. This wouldn't be for me as I gamed on the Commodore 64 and Spectrum ZX but my friend would love this.
Had an Amiga 500 and an Amiga 1200. Loved them.
But, I spent more time on other games than the ones listed, so interested to find out more about adding games, but then I might as well play on my PC?
I think that there are a few "defining" titles missing here... Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder, Eye Of The Beholder, Hired Guns, Flashback, The Secret Of Monkey Island 2, Arabian Nights, Fire and Ice, Ruff 'n' Tumble, Bubba 'n' Stix... actually, that list could go on and on, come to think of it!!! I guess that licensing issues and available space come into play in the end.
On my radar as I never got around to playing Chaos Engine. Also, other games look ok and if you can add games too...... Super Frog would be the first game I would add to it!!
The Amiga. I've always been told how games on it were always the best version compared to other computers at the time. Better sound, visuals, and always took good advantage of CD technology to give a better experience. From what I've seen over the years, people were not wrong with that statement.
You had to be rather well off to own an Amiga. I'll admit I was envious of anyone that owned one...until the Megadrive released that is.
I watched the 8-Bit-Guy video on this but I totally forgot about it. It'd be cool if they came out with a Maxi version (like how they did with the C64) with a working keyboard and maybe nicer controls.
I have the NES, SNES, Mega Drive and TG-16 Mini systems. .... I do love me these retro bundles that are super easy to connect to HDMI.
I don't have much experience with this particular gaming system though. I'm not sure how much value I would get from this.
@Ooyah Wait... No Cannon Fodder? REALLY?! Amiga version is one of the best versions of the game. Only Amiga version had song "War Has Never Been So Much Fun", if I don't confuse.
Oh, and also, Cannon Fodder is one of the best Amiga games.
I've been playing mine a bit tonight and adding games here and there, with minimal problems. For my UK and Aussie friends out there, if you enjoy the soon-to-be-ending soap Neighbours... look into the Amiga version of the game. It's certainly playable on this and a bit of a novelty.
You may get quite a lot. You can load your own games onto it so it basically opens up the entire 1000+ game Amiga library and there are a lot of gems in there to be unearthed.
This should give you some idea of the depth and variety in there
Absolutely agree. I intend to get one of these and that will be the first game I add to it.
Hold on, hold on. Control pad and mouse as the primary forms of input? Joystick with suction pads (at least one of which doesn't actually stick) all the way over here. Preferably with at least one button that never does anything no matter what game you play.
Is that a mouse or a toy Tesla Cybertruck?
Never owned one but spent many a happy hour playing on friends'
Does anyone know, are most Amiga games available in this WHDLoad format? And are they easy to find on the internet?
I’m tempted to get one of these, but I’m not willing to pay the price for the included games alone.
The games I’d like to play off the top of my head are Hero Quest, Space Crusade, that Geoff Crammond F1 game. Probably loads more, but that’s what comes to mind right now.
@Rambler same here. Never had an Amiga but my friend did, and the few times I played on it I was enthralled by how different it is and the games are to your Nintendo and Sega consoles. It almost has this ‘mythical’ status in my mind!
Honest question here, but... is there any way to do this legally? To buy them somehow? They need to open some kind of a shop, maybe? I know that trawling eBay is an option, but it would be great if there was a "ROM shop"... although I guess that there would be myriad issues preventing that.
Whats that ridiculous gamepad. There's no way to play kick off 2 with this. Everyone i knew used Commodore 64 Competition Pro. Well its a cheap buy anyway. Its cheap but its not FPGA-based so is it really that better than Win-UAE?
Anyway for me the best 2 most fun games to play local 2 players are: Kick off 2 and north and south
Amiga considering how advance the graphics for it's time is amazing. Bad that the people in management missed the ball and ruined a good system that if still alive today would make other system bow down before them. But that's history now.
I think a lot of other USB sticks works for this though - I've deployed my 8bitdo Switch Arcade stick and it works brilliantly. I'm genuinely more pleased with this than I thought I would be - I love the Amiga (massive nostalgia factor!) and I've been running on WinUAE for years, but this seems to work pretty well straight out of the box and sideloading using WHDLoad works nicely too. I haven't tried it yet but hopefully can use a USB hub to have USB mouse, stick, keyboard and USB stick all plugged in at the same time.
@GravyThief - lha format games for WHDLoad should be easy to find. I might search for WHDownload if I were looking for appropriate backups. You can't find EVERY game in that format for reasons I don't fully understand, but you'll find all the essentials.
The review is right though - the choice of pad was pretty dense. Haven't tried to see if the controllers bundled with the Mini Megadrive work yet - I always used to use original Megadrive controllers on the Amiga as was the same plug configuration!
One of my childhood friends had an Amiga 500, but we never played much on it. My first experience with Final Fight was the Amiga 500 version, though.
The Mini should have come with a TAC-2 joystick instead of this weird new gamepad. I hope 8bitdo or maybe Retro-bit can sort one out.
Somebody somewhere is missing out on a fortune by not making a ZX Spectrum mini. 🌈
Hopefully this will fall in price like the C64 mini (Which i've got and is really nice)
Can it load disc images too? Have a few on my PC due to Amiga Forever and some new Amiga titles.
@FatWormBlowsASparky well if you made a 48k mini bugger would be tiny lol
Oops, seems I've stumbled upon www.OldUKComputersLife.com
@riccyjay speedking joystick my preferred controller.
Joypad was always a no-no on the Amiga.
Will definitely buy the A500 mini eventually, have the C64 mini which is brilliant. I also have the original computers, but the minis are more convenient. The A500 was certainly a great system, but when the Megadrive and Snes were launched they changed the gaming landscape forever.
Both my brother and one of my friends owned and Amiga500 and loved these over the consoles of the day. Plus Babylon 5 used an Amiga1200 with it's "Graphics Toaster" to create it's special effects. B5 and the Amiga coming back at the same time. Coincidence? I think not...
Oh the nostalgia! This was my first computer, little brother got the nes and I got this! Rainbow islands had me obsessed, and lure of the temptress, all the dizzy games, pang, bubble bobble…
This reminds me I should finally get around to trading or selling my original A500+ games for something that may be better placed in my collection.
I got the A500 Mini a few days ago. I still own a lot of Amiga Disks, so I have no shame in adding titles I already own. Truth be told I still haven’t played the games that are preloaded.
I been playing Cannon Fodder, North & South, Lemmings, Shadow of the Beast, Defender of the Crown, Batman the Movie, Hunter.
I would recommend this to anyone who had an Amiga
@LillianC14 It doesn't like .adf files (which is slightly irritating) but is happy with WHDload (.lha) files.
I've been hoping that there would be a review of The A500 Mini here, because I really enjoy reading Nintendo Life's hardware reviews of mini consoles and mini cabinets, so a mini computer feature fits right in with the fantastic variety of NLife's retro coverage. Great stuff, Damo!
It's a shame that other controllers like the one with the PlayStation Classic caused the UI to glitch, but I'm pleased to hear that I'll be able to use my C64 Mini's joystick for convenient access to two player games.
I feel similar to Damo when he says that, "we'd argue that what's included here is as solid a selection of games as you could possibly hope for."
The A500 Mini's list of titles is a decent reflection of a number of games I experienced with my Amiga back in the day, and it definitely includes strong highlights from the Amiga's library.
I bought my A500 Mini last Friday, but I'm going to save playing it until the Easter weekend for a longer session as a treat, because a tiny Amiga with 25 games is much better than chocolate to me!
Any amiga user would want to use a joystick.
Having bought a proper THEJOYSTICK a couple of years ago to go with the c64mini, i thought id be able to use it no problem on this new amiga. And while it works, the button mapping is ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!!
For a right handed amiga gamer, you hold the joystick in your left hand yeah, controlling the stick with your right hand and using your left thumb to press the big fire button on the LEFT of the stick……… so why on earth is this mapped to a ‘back’(or B) button???? The fire button on the right of the stick acts as the ‘fire’(or A) button, meaning to actually use THEJOYSTICK, you need to perform major thumb stretch in order to press fire/jump etc. i suppose its ok if you’re left handed🤣
It needs a ‘toggle a/b buttons’ option for joystick users so hopefully we get a firmware update to fix this massive oversight.
Speedball. I would love Speedball on the Switch
@mr_benn .adf support will come with a future firmware update.
Previously owning 8-bit Spectrum then Atari XL, I upgraded to 16-bit A500 shortly after seeing a perfect port of Marble Madness arcade & the Cinemaware game Defender of the Crown. The graphics were amazing compared to anything else at the time.
Other notable titles were The Sword of Sodan (some of the character sprites were massive, as tall as the screen) and you were lucky if you had managed to get a copy of The Great Gianna Sisters before it got banned. Sensible Soccer was OK but I spent more time playing Kick-Off. Pretty soon all my friends had Amiga's in its heyday. After that I graduated to consoles for my gaming, but for each home system I've owned there's been some classic games I'll always remember.
I like the bundled controller, D-pad is like a PS4 and has a nice weight to it. There is a significant problem using the C64 Joystick with the A500 mini at present though, fire button 1 maps to the right hand fire button on the joystick, so I can't really use it. From what I can tell you can't remap the joystick in the included games for that familiar 'Atari' joystick setup, with the fire button on the left. 'Expert' options to remap are only available for games from the USB. Hopefully its fixed in a firmware update, and they add compatibility for ADF files.
@dimi nah kick off 2 was overrated. Once sensible soccer dropped it showed how far behind Dino Dini was when it came to development of footy games.
No Lemmings????? Lemmings should be bundled.
@X68000 was I the only one that used a mega drive pad on my Amiga 1200?
@Link-Hero when it came to sound the Amiga was on a different level to the Atari ST for example. Was revolutionary at the time. Was a brilliant tool for Drum & Bass/Jungle music producers
Lemmings, Populous, The Settlers, SimCity, Monkey Island 2, Sensible Soccer, North & South. Alot of huge Amiga games missing.
Will probably pick this up (unless there's a full scala version released).
@kobashi100 tried a mega drive pad once and it just didn’t seem to work for me. Most Amiga games had such clunky controls nothing but a microswitched joystick seemed to work for me. Especially since jump was always mapped to the up direction.
As for which machine had the best sound, Amiga was always tops for games but the ST had midi capabilities so had its own fans too.
Ah, fond memories & a lot of regret I sold my A500 🙁 The sound & graphics were insane ☝️ My GF had an Atari ST but for games A500 was the better choice. Nostalgia to get this one but hopefully there will be more available if we get a sale. No idea if this will sell.
@Sinton Nailed it! That’s a top level list of great games - I loved almost all of those to bits. What’s loaded on the system is a good starting point but these are the main glaring omissions.
As far as what I’d add: Cannon Fodder and Dune 2 for sure! ‘Ivan Ironman Stuart’s Super Off Road Racing’ was fun as hell too.
I’d upgrade to Settlers 2 and Sensible World of Soccer.
Loved Syndicate Wars - it was tough and tricky to control - but it was cool as f*^k and dripping with atmosphere!
There was a really cool battle / brutal football game where you maimed and killed your opponents which would have been cool.
Oh and a little free game from an Amiga Power cover disk called ‘Biplane Dual’ that was the best 1v1 game ever made!!
Loads of great Bitmap brothers games to delve into - and Psygnosis - / Bullfrog / Team 17. Wonder what those devs are doing now!
So glad it’s got super cars 2!
Can’t believe it’s not bundled with a Black and Yellow Zip Stick (with micro switch buttons [as opposed to inferior leaf sprung])
Was Robocod 2 actually any good? I think I just convinced myself it was coz Mario World looked so f*^cking cool!!
I want to know what other great game people loved - this is such a lush trip down memory lane!!
@GravyThief let’s say less than 30% of library, because it’s only for multi-diskettes games, maybe much less than that even, not sure.
And yes, very easy to find on the internet.
@Ooyah I guess you could research which ones became freeware even or “abandonware” , for the others you can buy them used. 99% of the games you’d want are not going to cost you more than a few quids in non-boxed “just working” conditions, and you could even find bundles on eBay to save even more.
I was an Amiga kid, so when they announced this i promptly pre-ordered one and a spare mouse/gamepad. I still rock an A500, 1200, CD32 and CDTV but this is a lovely little device I will probably play around with at some point. The thing I really like the most is that someone out there went to the trouble of making this happen. That's worth it's weight.
I absolutely love mine. I was so devastated with the C64 mini because of the included joystick. Even without the input lag, it felt undeniably stiff which completely ruined the experience for me. And the firmware updates were so slow that by the time my third party joystick was supported, I was over it.
The A500's gamepad isn't ideal but a bad D-pad is much more tolerable than a bad stick.
@kobashi100 it was more mainstream and reigned more at charts but kick off 2 multiplayer was still the game of choice for hardcore fans, it was the first e-sports
My word, this whole review just filled me full of nostalgia I never knew was lurking in my memory. I got a SNES when I was 11 (which I loved so much) but before this, my brother and I owned an Amiga 500 and I had clearly forgotten just how many games I had played on that system. Damn you Nintendolife - you've just made my wallet £115 lighter!
@TJM well the A500 bundle that launched in 1987(?) opened up Amiga gaming to a huge new audience and that had Batman The Movie, Interceptor, and The New Zealand Story.
Cannot understate the amazing sound the Amiga had, particularly for the time, as a lot of my game memories from the time related to awesome soundtracks... Cannon Fodder, Captive, Xenon 2, Onslaught, Time Machine, Soldier Of Light and Blood Money all sounded great.
Other classics... A Rockstar Ate My Hamster, Rainbow Islands, Xybots, Buggy Boy, Eliminator, Nebulus (best version), IK+, Bubble Bobble (best version).
I love the beige/white colour, it looks like it already has the smoke stains!
I was an Amiga Kid, getting this next week. Really looking forward to it, Super Cars II is one of my favourite all-time games.
@Ooyah for some there is a legal way..Sensible world of soccer now has a 'legal'updat eif you own an earlier version for example..
Nice review, the selection is a bit too focussed on Team 17 for my liking, and just got a retrocade for the bitmap stuff..
Big missing software house is ofcourse sensible software... megalomania, sensible soccer and cannon fodder Top 5 games in my opinion... but i can add them... although, my android tv with retroarch on it emulates sensi just fine, and actually suppords my The Arcade Joystick from back in the day...
@TJM i think you mean Grafity Force II, the best best duel game ever.. it actually got a remake , but the original (or the gravity power extended version) remains the best
It's a nice bit of kit. The controller isn't as bad as the reviewer makes out, it actually fits the hand much better than you'd think. That said, far from the best d-pad I've used.
The software selection is largely irrelevant. It took me a total of ten minutes to add WHDload and twentyfive or so games to a USB thumbdrive and the system detects them instantly.
I now also have Battle Squadron, Cannon Fodder, Gods, Lionheart, Pang, Shadow of the Beast, Turrican II among others.
I added Hunter, as well a lot of other games like Settlers. But I can't get the mouse to work with them. How do you play these properly?
Loving mine. The d pad is not great which is a shame as the gamepad feels nice. I have got my sn30 Pro to work with it. Nice selection of games plus I have added a few of my favourites quite easily. However I had forgotten how hard some of these games are - Project X 🤬😅
Con: KEYBOARD DOESN'T WORK
I know you say that a little in the article, but that is a major con
The PS classic controller works with the A500 mini if you connect it using the Mayflash Magic NS USB key and set it to flash yellow
This one I'm not familiar with.
@Bunkerneath but you can plug in a USB keyboard. The Windows keys will even stand in for the Amiga Keys.
While I own both the NES and SNES Minis, I wasn't actually excited to get them, I just thought it would be nice to have them as I never owned the originals. This, on the other hand, I'm desperate to get. I played my original A500+ into the ground and the thought of being able to play Kick Off II, Sensible Soccer, Lemmings and many others has me excited beyond any reasonable measure. Even though I have them all on a Retropie, playing them on this will just feel so much more natural.
Still got my Amiga 1000 & 4000. Got a job in college on the spot just because I owned one to work in the video studio there. They had a Video Toaster system. Babylon 5 used the same system to make that show. Great times. I loved doing 3D rendering and animation with Imagine.
For games, Syndicate, Hired Guns, Speed Ball, Lemmings and don't forget Warlords. That started on the Amiga as well.
If you buy one of these, it's worth checking out Zzap! Amiga or Amiga Addict as they're both regularly published and give away demos of new releases and the latest reviews of new software (as well as the classic stuff) to really get you into the vibe of owning and using the machine fully. Both deserve as much support as possible!
I want one of these, I will put Moonstone and New Zealand story on it for sure.
I'm buying this thing the first chance I get!
So, I have an actual old-school Amiga 500, but literally zero games for it. There are a couple systems that I have games, but no system for, such as the Virtual Boy and the Lynx, but the Amiga is the only example of the opposite direction, of a system I have no games for. Either way, I can't play any of them!
This Amiga mini will be huge for me, as it will be a way to finally play the system. I've watched multiple Amiga game long plays , listened to a lot of music (and featured several tracks on the podcast), seen a ton of screenshots, and even studied the hardware superficially, and of course, thanks to my A500, even held one in my hands....but I don't think I've ever actually PLAYED one!
This will rectify that!
Plus, it'll go great with my somewhat modest, but decent collection of "minis": NES, SNES, Genesis (remember, I'm stateside, where Amiga was a lot less common), TurboGrafx16, and Commodore 64...
....so, lemme at it!
@MrJK I have the mouse working ok, but I can’t remember how I got it working.
For the USB games, select the game with A, but instead of starting the game with ‘Home’. Press Menu to remap the controls (this is how I got most games to work)
@Naryan I bought my A500 Mini last Friday — which I think was its UK release date of 8th April — and it even came with a t-shirt displaying multi-coloured floppy disks as a GAME exclusive bundle.
While I already had the Load 231 issue of Retro Gamer with The A500 Mini cover feature, I went to WHSmith in Liverpool to look for Wireframe, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Issue 11 of Amiga Addict on sale there.
It was slightly surreal, but in a cool way to see an Amiga magazine on the shelves again after all these years, so I bought multiple copies to support the magazine, and to share it with my friends from the 16-bit era.
Issue 11 of Amiga Addict reviews The A500 Mini and has it on its cover, and it also has a number of features called 'On Screen' — with highlights for me being a review of the horizontal shoot-'em-up Apidya, the second part of a Cinemaware feature, and an article called 'Six of the Best with Cam Winstanley' (an ex-editor of Amiga Power who chooses his top six Amiga games).
Like you mentioned, buying Amiga Addict magazine has really added to the vibe of my excitement about The A500 Mini.
I'm already using DOSBox to play the best PC games of that era on my modern PC (either sticking to the free shareware episodes, the full versions of the ones officially declared freeware, or buying the full versions from GOG), so I've no need for something like this.
@Gerald does the keyboard work or is it a display on the mini. Is there a model with .working keyboard
@Ninfan hello there. When I wrote the comment, it was an on screen keyboard, and re-mapping keyboard keys to the controller buttons on a separate game menu (before loading the game)
But sinse then, I recently lent the A500 mini to my brother, he managed to connect a usb keyboard and had that working ok.
Like the first C64 Mini, the keyboard on the A500 mini is not functional
Tap here to load 74 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...