John Kavanagh explore the latest in the CPC emulator scene.

CaPriCe for Palm OS

http://coste.frederic.free.fr/cpc/cpc_en.htm

CaPriCe is an Amstrad CPC emulator for Palm handhelds such as the Palm T|X, Tungsten and other models that meet the minimum specifications which are as follows:

ARM processor
Palm OS 5.2 or higher
Color screen
Double density display (320x320)

First of all, what a great emulator, especially if you are on the go, stuck on a train/plane or in a slow automobile (not while driving!). What's better than having a few hundred dsk images on a SD card and this emulator. On starting the program you get the familiar CPC boot screen (well, after a second or two), and at the bottom of the screen, they keyboard of whichever model the emulator is set to, either the 464, 664 or the 6128.

Using a stylus to punch keys is fairly easy, although need for accuracy is required or you'll find yourself hitting neighboring keys. During gameplay the controls on the PDA itself can be set as joystick input, with the centre button as the fire button. I felt this didn't work too well as it far too easy to accidentally hit the fire button (or not to hit it when you want to!) when trying to move in any of the four directions. A better solution is to set one of the other keys as the fire button, which happily, the emulator supports. In fact, any key on the CPC keyboard can be set to any of the physical buttons on a PDA.

Sound seems spot on (at least on the Palm T|X) and games can easily operate at their full speed. On letting the emulator run at full speed I saw the emulator operated between 130% and 140% of the CPC which, while can make painfully slow games a little more fun.

The emulator is based on Caprice32 for Windows/Linux and so is solid. I did notice a few graphical errors in a few games but nothing major or very noticeable, and the emulator failed to crash during the weeks I played with it which is fantastic. For anyone with a PDA will know what a pain a hard reset can be and is something that many don't want to experience too often.

Ok, the emulator isn't perfect, some reasons are due to being on a PDA and isn't really the fault of the emulator but also for missing features which would enhance the enjoyment of the application. An example of the latter would be, no support for zip files. So yes, you'll have to unzip those files, the emulator wants unzipped dsk images.

Another thing, is that the fullscreen mode isn't really fullscreen. When you choose fullscreen, the screen area is increased by removing a few options from screen, but leaving the keyboard. This doesn't increase the screen area by much at all. A better option would be to able to flip the screen 90 degrees to the left or right (depending on if you are left or right handed) using most of the PDAs screen with the rocker keys on the PDA for control. A reason why those options weren't included could be to keep specifications down for older PDAs? Maybe.

There is also no support for the Amstrad PLUS range, which is a pity. Perhaps, emulating the PLUS would be too problematic on certain PDAs?

Games can be more difficult on the PDA, partly since you dealing with a smaller screen size but mostly due to the controls. The rocker keys on the PDA, while ok, are not great, and there's the worry of being too rough on the keys, damageing your expensive Palm handheld.

Overall it a great emulator and is constantly being improved upon. If you got a Palm OS based PDA, download now, you won't be dissapointed.

 

 

     
 
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Issue 14 February 2009

 
CPC Oxygen - Issue 14 February 2009


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