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Great Hierophant
May 24th, 2011, 07:20 PM
There are PC Compatible systems, almost all released during the 1980s, that have features contained within them and not generally found on an expansion card, that games supported or required to run. As such these features can only be used if the game is run on a particular system. If a feature was generally available as an expansion card, then it is not included.

Cassette Port - Used by the PC version of Music Construction Set to output 4-voice sound to the cassette recorder, only the IBM PC 5150 and PCjr. ever came with a cassette port.

ROM BASIC - Some early IBM PC compatible games, and not just ones from IBM itself, assumed you were running on a true IBM brand PC. All IBM PCs and PS/2s released in the 1980s should have BASIC in ROM (Cassette BASIC). If the game used Cassette BASIC, it would not work in any other PC compatible system. This is one of the few compatibility tests that companies like Tandy and Compaq failed. I do not know if any IBM systems released in the 90s had BASIC in ROM, but I doubt it.

IBM PCjr. Graphics, Sound & Cartridges - The PCjr. is a unique machine, and there are games (on and off cartridges) that will not run at all or properly on any other system due to the unique nature of its architecture. I was going to include the Speech Adapter as well because Bouncy Bee Learns Letters is an IBM game that supports it. However, I have authority to suggest that the PC Convertible and PS/2 Speech Adapters function the same way and the latter is probably an ISA card. If the game will only use the Speech Adapter if it detects a PCjr., then it should be included as well.

Tandy Graphics I and 3-Voice Sound - While almost identical to the PCjr. graphics and sound, there are games that will not run on the PCjr. and require a Tandy 1000 machine to run with support for 320x200x16 graphics and 3-voice sound. Found on Tandy 1000/A/HD/EX/HX/SX/TX. While some games may support EGA cards for the same-looking graphics, if a Tandy machine is not detected then Tandy sound may not be available. There are also games that support

Tandy Graphics II and PSSJ Sound - Functionally expanded compared to the above with 640x200x16 graphics and DAC sound. Games like Silpheed support the former and SimCity the latter. Found on Tandy 1000 SL/TL/RL lines. PSSJ sound is also found on the RLX, the RSX and Sensation!, but it is located at a different I/O location on the latter two machines, making it far less widely supported.

MCGA - Found only in the IBM PS/2 Models 25 & 30, games like Thexder would support this graphics array for different graphics if the game detected these PS/2 machines.

Amstrad Graphics and Joystick - Found in the Amstrad PC-1512, it supported 640x200x16 extension to CGA. Also, the Amstrad 1512 and 1640 also supported Atari-style digital joystick support which used keyboard scancodes.

PS/1 Audio Card - An optional upgrade for the IBM PS/1 Model 2011 that plugged into a special port, this as supported in a few games. It had a joystick port, midi port and 3-voice sound and DAC like the PSSJ, although it was not compatible with it.

Maverick1978
May 25th, 2011, 08:43 AM
This is the precise reason why I wanted a PCjr. I wanted to see my original jr version of Kings Quest on its native system. It's also why I want(ed - still undecided) a Tandy machine, so I could experience the Tandy 3-voice for the first time. Although the knowledge that I can hack my jr to do the same thing which will work for the majority of the games has curbed that desire somewhat. With that said, if I can find a cheap Tandy 1000 HX, I'm so there.

While I can't begin to tell you the technical reasons behind it, I used to often choose MCGA on Sierra games to run with my SVGA monitor on my 486. This would often give me the best picture quality for CGA/EGA/MCGA games. I never knew that tidbit about Thexder, and I'll be trying that soon, probably in a side-by-side with it running in DOSBox on my laptop to see the differences.

Slightly OT, but I bought a Disney Sound Source (essentially a Covox Speech Thing) to experience that for the first time, as I thought then and think now that a parallel port "sound card" is a rather unique and interesting device - the only other one that I personally know of is the Amiga DSS-8 system (which I have, but sadly, have never used)

Great Hierophant
May 27th, 2011, 03:38 PM
The reason I prefer a Tandy over a jr. is that the former is generally faster, more compatible, and uses more standard peripherals.

Maverick1978
May 27th, 2011, 04:36 PM
I didn't say that I preferred one over the other :) I used a Jr back in the day, but have no real love or hate of it. The entire reason that I have one was simply to run the original King's Quest on the machine it was intended for, primarily because I'd read that the original version, when played on the Jr, was something special... especially when compared to the later releases, which I'd long had.

I'm still debating whether I want a Tandy 1000 SL/EX/HX/etc. Debating on which one to get, if any. And know that I don't want to spend alot on it - the only curiosity about the machine, for me, is the 3-voice and the special video modes. The only ones I've seen on ebay lately are highly-priced BINs with highly-priced shipping.

njroadfan
May 27th, 2011, 08:57 PM
Don't forget CGA's composite mode. Sierra and others exploited NTSC's color fringing to create a 160x200 16 color mode. This is similar to how many of the Apple II video modes worked. This mode is only available on real CGA cards as EGA and VGA cards lack composite output.

Great Hierophant
May 28th, 2011, 07:57 AM
I didn't say that I preferred one over the other :) I used a Jr back in the day, but have no real love or hate of it. The entire reason that I have one was simply to run the original King's Quest on the machine it was intended for, primarily because I'd read that the original version, when played on the Jr, was something special... especially when compared to the later releases, which I'd long had.

I'm still debating whether I want a Tandy 1000 SL/EX/HX/etc. Debating on which one to get, if any. And know that I don't want to spend alot on it - the only curiosity about the machine, for me, is the 3-voice and the special video modes. The only ones I've seen on ebay lately are highly-priced BINs with highly-priced shipping.

There were three booter versions of King's Quest, the PCjr., the PC and the Tandy 1000. They all have different copyright screens, and in the original jr. version, the title character's name is "Grahame". In the others he is "Graham." The jr. and Tandy support 16 colors on an RGB or composite color monitor, the PC version supports 4 colors on RGB and 16 colors on a composite monitor. They jr. and Tandy have some support for 3-voice sound, but there is not much of it in the game outside the background noise. The PC version has to make do with the speaker. The PC version can run on a Tandy, and the Tandy should run on a jr. The jr. version may be able to run on a 128K Tandy 1000. Even so, the 1000 will always be faster than the jr.


Don't forget CGA's composite mode. Sierra and others exploited NTSC's color fringing to create a 160x200 16 color mode. This is similar to how many of the Apple II video modes worked. This mode is only available on real CGA cards as EGA and VGA cards lack composite output.

The list is limited to hardware that can only be found on particular motherboards. Multiple CGA cards support composite output and can be inserted into hundreds of systems.