How to play Amstrad CPC games on your PC
Want to play Amstrad games on your PC? Sean McManus provides a quick guide to using one of the leading free amstrad emulators.
Winape is an Amstrad CPC emulator written by Richard Wilson (not me!) for Microsoft Windows.
- Download Winzip
If you already have Winzip installed on your computer or you're using Windows XP, you don't need to do this. Winzip is available as a free trial. If you've just downloaded it, install it now.
- Download Winape
At the time of writing, the latest version is 2.0a6 and the file size is about 1MB. Any version number with the letter a in it is an alpha release, which usually means it is the first public release. While I've had no problems with it myself and Richard has set high standards for his version releases, downloading the software is at your own risk. But then, that's true of any software if you read the small print...
- Download some games
Emulators usually use dsk files, which are emulator-compatible copies of Amstrad disks. Some emulators also use sna files, which are like multiface grabs. I'm only dealing with dsk files here, because most software is available in that format.
- Disconnect from the internet
If you're using dial-up, you can disconnect now and save your phone bill! Do keep these instructions on screen though (obviously).
- Unzip Winape
Winape downloads as a zip file, which is a compressed file containing lots of other files. In this case, it contains all the Winape files. Before we can start using Winape we need to uncompress the zip file you downloaded. Double-click on it. If you're using Winzip, Winzip will open and show you a list of all the files in Winape. You can then extract them. If you're using Windows XP, Winape will open like a normal folder. Extract all the files. On XP, you'll see a link in the left hand bar to extract all files.
- Run Winape
Go to the folder where you extracted the Winape files. Open it and double click on the Winape icon:
- Stay offline
The software might ask you to connect to the internet. This is because it has the capability to check if updates are available. If your firewall alerts you that Winape is trying to use the internet, you can safely block it without breaking it. If you're on broadband, you might want to let it check for updates in future but right now you know you're using the latest version because you just downloaded it.
- Start Amstrad Basic
At startup, Winape presents you with two options. One is the CPC Plus cartridge Burnin Rubber, which will start by default if you don't select anything else. The other is Amstrad Basic. The keys you need to use to make your choice are the number keys on the numeric keypad. Make sure you have number lock enabled - use the Num Lock key to turn it on if it isn't already.
- Insert disc
Go to the file menu, select Drive A and then select Insert Disc Image. You can now load the disc file you downloaded earlier into the emulator.
- Catalogue disc
Now you've inserted the disc, you can use CAT to get a directory of what's on it. Often you'll only see one file listed, typically called DISC. Look out for files called MENU or anything else that looks like it might be the program that starts the disc.
- Run software
Once you've found out what the main program on the disc is called, the command you need to use is RUN"DISC or RUN"MENU or something similar substituting your filename. On my disc RUN"0 also works. You should then see your software begin...
- Reset machine
To reset the emulator, hold down the control key and press the F9 key along the top of the keyboard - this is a real function key on your PC, not one on the numeric keypad.
- Save game
To save a game in progress, use the Save Snapshot option in the toolbar at the bottom of the Winape Window. It looks like a camera pointing at a disc. You can use the Load Snapshot option to load a saved game. Snapshot files are often used to distribute tape games online.
- Nich Campbell's website has plenty of games to download, together with reviews and screenshots.