Who outdid the Amiga and Atari ST in the mid 1980’s when it came to gaming performance on a desktop home PC? Sharp did, that’s who.
I spent a few quarters on Galaga in an arcade at Disney World last weekend, enjoying simplistic shoot-’em-up action. It seems to have set me in the mood for that type of game, and that may be why an article in issue 12 of Retro Gamer magazine caught my eye, today. Flipping through the magazine, I got drawn into an article that I had passed over months ago, entitled “Arcade Heaven.” The piece takes a look at gaming on the elusive Sharp X68000 (more about it at Wikipedia) series of computer, a not so well-known machine sold only in Japan.
Debuting in 1987, the original X68000 was a striking black, dual-tower design based on the 10MHz Motorola 68000 CPU. It was one of the first machines to feature soft-power and, even more unique, it sported soft-ejecting 5.25″ floppy drives! It featured hardware sprites and scrolling more advanced than that offered by the Amiga or Atari ST – all in thousands of colors on-screen. As such, the machine saw a great deal of “perfect” arcade conversions in its 332 commercial title life.
As Retro Gamer puts it:
- Magazines and websites regularly compile lists of the best arcade game ports ever, and depending on the game, it’s not unusual to see the Amiga, ST or PC Engine crowned king. But the fact is that the X68000 versions were routinely the best of the bunch, though the games never reached the audience they deserved.
The magazine’s cover disc contains a version of two top X68000 emulators for Windows: WinX68 and EX68. I installed both and, after some quick Googling, found some ROMs to play with and spent several hours this afternoon engaged in some top-shelf gaming on my P3 700 box running Win 98SE that serves as my primary emulation station.
I heartily recommend you do the same.