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Amstrad_GX4000

Amstrad GX4000

The GX4000 was Amstrad's short-lived attempt to enter the games console market. The console was released in 1990 and was based on the still-popular CPC technology. The GX4000 was actually a modified CPC 6128 Plus computer. This allowed The GX4000 to be compatible with a majority of CPC Plus computer line software. Initial reviews were favourable - the console had impressive enhanced graphics and sound, a huge colour palette of 4096 (more than the 16 bit Sega Mega Drive), hardware sprites and hardware scrolling. It retailed for £99 and came bundled with driving game Burnin' Rubber. GX4000 game cartridges could also be used by the new 464 and 6128 Plus computers released at the same time.

Technical specifications

  • CPU: 8-bit Zilog Z80A at 4 MHz
  • Graphics:
    • 16 sprites
    • Resolution: from 160x200 to 640x200
    • 4096 colour palette - 32 onscreen
  • Memory: 64 kB RAM, 16 kB VRam, 32 kB ROM
  • I/O: Audio output, 2 x digital controller connectors, Analog controller port (IBM standard), Light gun connector (RJ11 socket), Audio & RGB video output (8 pin DIN), Scart connector (audio & video), power supply socket from external PSU, power supply socket from monitor.
  • Sound: 3 channel stereo; AY-3-8912 chip
  • Game Format: cartridge

Games

In all, fewer than 40 games were produced for the GX4000. The games were made by UK-based companies Ocean and U.S. Gold. Notable games were Burnin' Rubber, RoboCop 2, Pang, Plotting (AKA Flipull), Navy Seals and Switchblade. The last was later released for the CPC range with only minor concessions, mainly colour. The GX4000 was only manufactured for a matter of months before it was discontinued.

Reception

The GX4000 was a commercial failure. This was in part due to the GX4000 being powered by 8 bit technology and almost immediately being superseded by the 16 bit Sega Mega Drive (released in November 1990 in Europe), and eventually the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. There was little available software at launch, with some games being released months late or cancelled entirely. To make matters worse, several GX4000 games were simply CPC games from previous years rereleased onto a cartridge. This was not inspiring and users were not prepared to pay £25 for a cartridge game that they could buy for £3.99 on cassette instead. Like Commodore with their C64GS system, essentially a cut down C64 in much the same was as the GX4000 was a cut down CPC+, Amstrad massively overestimated how much extra people were willing to pay for the reliability and instant loading times of cartridge technology. Within a few weeks of the initial launch, the system could be bought at discounted prices.

Many readers complained about lack of coverage in Amstrad magazines, Amstrad Computer User & Amstrad Action. Amstrad Action continued to give coverage for the machine when possible and included a complete rundown on every game released for the console that ran for three issues well after the GX4000s demise.

In an interview with UK magazine Retro Gamer, one Amstrad insider claimed that the GX4000 was 'technically at least on a par' with the SNES and that the machine faltered due to a lack of games and Amstrad not having the marketing budget to take on Nintendo and Sega.

References

External links

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