Here we are again with another Iyonix Issues column. Unfortunately, as with last issue, there really seems to be very little happening in the RISC OS world, so, apart from one new recently released update, there doesn't seem to be much to report. It all seems very quiet (unless I've missed it all) - the calm before the storm perhaps? On the subject of it being quiet...
Castle where are you?
I recently noticed on csa.acorn.hardware that someone had purchased a second hand Iyonix, but was unable to get any response from Castle when he contacted them about joining the support list. This doesn't sound like much of a story does it? Expect that it doesn't seem to be an isolated case. I've heard of another customer who has been trying to get a 2nd Iyonix graphics card (one of the old ones) from Castle and hasn't had any luck either. After A suggestion from Aaron I went and looked at the Companies House website and discovered that Castle Technology's accounts should have been sent in by the end of July, it's now mid September, which doesn't seem right (failing to file accounts on time at companies house is a criminal offence - ED).
However as you will have seen from looking at the lead story from this issue, the Iyonix is no more. This seems to explain why some people haven't had any luck contacting Castle. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but in the meantime my Iyonix continues to be used every day as I am sure will everyone else's. Just because you can't buy a new one doesn't mean the old ones will suddenly stop working!
So lets move on. This month as a 'guest feature' and in addition to the one new update, we take a look at something which IS happening and that something is Retro Software, a new software company who aim to publish quality new BBC Micro & Acorn Electron games.
Vice is the program to use if you want to emulate almost all of the Commodore systems on a RISC OS machine. Unfortunately there is no Amiga Vice which would be excellent to play some of those quality games that didn't quite make it to RISC OS when Krisalis were the conversion kings!
I think there was an Amiga emulator for RISC OS many years ago called !UAE but hasn't been updated in years and does not work on the Iyonix, (it's available for other operating systems as well - ED) which is a shame as it would be quite interesting to use.
The Commodore 64 desktop on a RISC OS desktop
Anyway, with Vice you can emulate the Commodore Pet, Vic20, C16, C64, C128 and Plus4 machines. This new release takes it up to V2.0 (dated 25th July) and there are a number of improvements included, however they are there to make the emulation better so unless you play games a lot on Vice, you probably won't notice that much difference. In fact I've never noticed any difference between versions when I've been playing games as they all seem to work pretty much first time.
There is always the odd game which is a bit difficult to get working, but the success rate is very good and is well worth a look if old 8 bit games are of interest as the C64 in particular was home to many quality games. .
Vice V2.0 is freeware and can be downloaded from http://www.viceteam.org/.
Retro Software was launched recently by a small group of enthusiasts whose aim is to publish brand new software for obsolete computer systems, with a particular emphasis on the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron. In the future they hope to be in a position to offer new releases for the Archimedes (and even the Atom) too!
There are a number of 8-bit games currently in development including:
For further information on these and other works in progress, check out http://www.retrosoftware.co.uk/wip.
In addition to the above, there is one VERY interesting release in the pipeline, that involves finishing off a project that was actually started over twenty years ago!
Repton : The Lost Realms
Repton : The Lost Realms
Repton: The Lost Realms is a long-lost BBC Micro sequel to Repton 3 that got shelved after Repton Infinity was released. Now many years later this game will finally see the light of day, as the Retro Software team have received permission from Richard Hanson of Superior Interactive http://www.superiorinteractive.com to release the game using the prestigious Repton brand name and likeness.
It was written in 1988 by Paras Sidapara who was only 13 at the time, which is pretty impressive. The version to be released by Retro Software will feature 24 screens (4 x 6-screen sets) and will also include a screen and character designer, as per Repton 3.
Speaking of which I have heard a rumour that Matthew Atkinson (author of the original Repton 3) might be designing a screen for the game too.
It is worth mentioning that this is not merely another set of Repton 3 'add on' screens, as it has been reprogrammed from scratch and it includes most of the features from Repton 3, including: