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Posted Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:29 am

PAL / NTSC compatibility can be a bit of a pain on our Amigas. If you have an NTSC Amiga, then some games will not work. Which is a real shame.

If you own a PAL Amiga then compatibility is better, but you are often left with a less than ideal gaming experience. Many games would be written to work as widely as possibly. This would mean that they would opt for the lowest common denomitator resolution of 320 x 200. For PAL Amigas, this means that you are left with a big black border at the bottom of the screen. I'm sure you all know what I mean. Additionally, you would get 50 frames per second instead of 60. Effectively, you would get the worst of both worlds.

Later ( ECS ) Amigas can switch between 50 and 60 Hz modes in software. Kickstart 2.0 onwards allows you to do that from the boot menu. But what if you are still rocking with KS 1.3? Well - this was the situation that I found myself in in the summer of 1991. I had an A1500 with the ECS chipset and KS 1.3. Man, that was a sweet machine. I am still trying to re-create it. But I digress. I didn't know any better, so I just played games with a black border at the bottom and got on with things.

However, the June Edition of the UK magazine Amiga Format changed all that. The Coverdisk contained a small program called Hacktrick 60 Hz. Like many great programs, the idea is really simple. You run the application and your Amiga switches into 60 Hz mode and then does a soft reset. You can then boot a game in 60Hz mode in the normal way, either from floppy or from your Workbench hard disk.

The App itself is a standard executable so I copied it onto a minimal Workbench 1.3 floppy and included it into the startup sequence. So I had a quick way of booting into 60 Hz mode without clicking through the cover disk menus. Just stick in the floppy, wait and click.

I remember I would use this for many different games. In particular, I spent many happy hours playing "Eye Of The Beholder" in 60 Hz mode, revelling in the full screen graphics and the slightly more responsive gameplay. I felt like the king of the world. :D

Thought I would share this awesome bit of software with you guys, mainly for the purposes of nostalgia, but also because I guess it's just possible that it could still be useful to some of you and I don't hear anyone talking about it nowadays. I guess not many people are still rocking with KS 1.3, but I know some of you still are. :D

You can actually still download the cover disk from here:

Additionally, you can see how the Application was described in Amiga Format here:
Unfortunately, I no longer have the simplified Workbench 1.3 disk which booted into Hacktrick 60 Hz, however, it would not be at all difficult to re-create it.

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Posted Tue Apr 07, 2020 5:02 am

I remember that program :) There were bootblocks I think that could switch between PAL/NTSC.

I always felt sorry for NTSC users, missing all that screen real estate :)

But surely if you had a PAL monitor, running in 60Hz wouldn't make the game full screen? I don't remember that being the case (I only had a colour TV )

EDIT: ah - just read: stretched to full screen - no thanks ! :D

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Posted Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:35 am

I was running with a Phillips MK8833 Mk II monitor back in the day and it could handle a 60Hz signal just fine. This would have the effect of stretching the 320 x 200 picture to fill the full screen with the added benefit that everything would run quicker too. :D

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Posted Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:56 am

Some games graphics were designed to be full screen, particularly if the studio was US based. Look out for oval logos that were meant to be round. Car tyres that look a bit.. flat.

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