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Sharp x68000 : juggernaut of 1987


Nebulon
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As a hard-core Amiga user, it pains me to admit this...

 

After taking a good long look at the games on 1987's Sharp x68000 home computer, it's pretty obvious that this machine is the superior gaming platform. It's pretty insane actually. Aside from the diskette drives and the audio, this thing beats the stuffing out of the OCS Amiga machines (albeit it was released two years after the original Amiga 1000).

 

http://gaming.wikia.com/wiki/Sharp_X68000 (I see Hudson was in on the design of this one's GPU).

 

Can anyone suggest favorite games for this machine?

 

So far, I'm pretty impressed with:

 

SION IV

Daimakaimura

Phalanx

Silsteel

Xadlak

 

And then there are the solid arcade ports of:

Final Fight

Alien Syndrome

Salamander

Bosconian

Puyo Puyo

Bubble Bobble

Frogger

Dig Dug

Rally-X

Space Harrier

Xevious

Star Force

 

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I love my Amiga too - got a 1200 in my collection - but the X68000 is just a fun machine. There are great arcade ports, a good amount of which near-perfect, there are games with improvements over other ports, and the music is awesome in a good amount of games.

 

For reccomendations, here's my little list

 

Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (River City Ransom) - I like the NES/PC Engine versions of this game, and the X68000 one is another good one. There's more color, and more stuff to the game like a bigger world.

 

Akumajo Dracula (Castlevania) - It's a sweet game, it's perfectly playable with no japanese knowledge, the soundtrack with MIDI or the FM is great, and I find it a bit more enjoyable than the NES version because of all this.

 

Cameltry - This game is fairly simple, you try to navigate a marble through a maze which you turn. It's all gravity/physics-based and a fun enough game. If you check out the tracker, you'll see that I'm always tacking some more time onto it because I like to beat my own times.

 

The Ys Games - Well, these are always fun games in my opinion, as Ys is a RPG series that I enjoy. The X68000 Ys games have good music to 'em and all that, which is a bonus to the games.

 

Apart from those, you have a good list of good ones. Daimakaimura is always awesome - I love the soundtrack and it plays great, SION IV is fun, but I've only ever got it to run on my X68030, never tried too hard on my XVI-HD.

 

Also, a tip that you probably know if you've read around, the power supplies in the X68Ks like to fail a good bit. I went through two to get a good one on my X68030, and the XVI-HD had a working one with it. You can mod an ATX PSU into the thing, but I never tried. It's a fun computer, and if you can get one for a good price (epay probably won't work, you may need to look into Yahoo Auctions JP) then have a blast with it. If you can't find one but want to try an emu if those are OK, WinX68K High Speed is the only one that I've messed with and it works good enough. Have fun with the computer, and explore the library - it's a computer that I love, probably the Japanese computer that gets the most use out of me behind the X1 Twin or PC-98, and should be pretty cool to you.

Edited by BurritoBeans
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The first X68000 was launched at 369,000 yen which roughly equalled 3000 USD in 1987.

http://www.giantbomb.com/sharp-x68000/3045-95/

 

The Amiga 500 was planned to launch at 595.95 USD but it turned out to initally cost 699 USD in 1987. The Amiga 2000 cost 1495 USD, also in 1987.

 

So you could've afforded four Amiga 500's or two Amiga 2000's for the price of one X68000. I'm sure the Sharp dropped in price, in particular as newer models arrived, but so did the Amiga (and Atari ST).

 

The X68000 is a cool gaming machine that still is expensive, but one shouldn't mix apples with oranges. Just consider how many gamers in 1987 that even had 1500 USD to spend on a single machine, and that would've bought you half a Sharp...

Edited by carlsson
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Generally, Japan seems to have had many expensive systems. The NEC PC-98 was launched in 1982 at 298,000 yen ~= 1400 USD (which might be on par with what IBM PC cost, I haven't checked in detail), and the FM Towns was launched in February 1989 at 400,000 yen ~= more than 3000 USD.

 

Even the Fujitsu FM-7 cost 126,000 yen ~= 500 USD in November 1982, and as far as I understand that was a computer more in line with the CoCo series for capacity. Of course the Commodore 64 launched somewhere in the fall of 1982 around 595 USD too, and dropped in price by the summer of 1983.

 

It is truly upside down from Europe, where computers tended to be cheap but underpowered. Generally it is said that the American market was more willing to spend big bucks on quality, but in comparison the Japanese seem to have been even better equipped. Of course the lower end Japanese market was covered by Famicom, MSX, possibly SC-3000, FM-7, Sharp MZ series and X1 (which I didn't find a note about launch price for).

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I like the X68000 quite a bit. It seems to be a lottery though on whether or not the games work. I've received quite a few that were dead. Been lucky enough to get my money back on them though with no questions asked.

 

It's amazing how much is in English but when they aren't I have no idea what to do. I have a fatal fury game and it gives me a message in Japanese and I haven't been able to figure out how to play it so that one has been on the back burner for a while.

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Any x68000 users out there looking for a super-groovy controller?

 

I was just noodling around on the web and spotted this monster here:

 

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/New-SHARP-Cyber-Stick-Intelligent-Controller-CZ-8NJ2-for-Sharp-X68000-Joystick-/161936902041?hash=item25b4310799:g:6RUAAOSwymxVOhGm

Man, that thing is out of my price range - I just have an adapter to use my Genesis pads on my X68K. Cool stick though, it would be a neat item to add to the collection.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

There's still a big following of the x68k today due to the quality of the arcade ports. I've come close to pulling the trigger on one a few times, I'd probably go w/a setup where I can just play the warez instead of having to deal with all the floppies. It's one of those systems that's under the radar unless you're really hardcore. I can't imagine what it would've been like owning one of those BITD.

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As a hard-core Amiga user, it pains me to admit this...

 

After taking a good long look at the games on 1987's Sharp x68000 home computer, it's pretty obvious that this machine is the superior gaming platform. It's pretty insane actually. Aside from the diskette drives and the audio, this thing beats the stuffing out of the OCS Amiga machines (albeit it was released two years after the original Amiga 1000).

The Amiga was built from scratch with a specific budget in mind. It may not have been as powerful as the x68000 but for its price it offered great value. The x68000 was far more expensive and didn't offer that much more.

 

It clearly was the better game machine but the graphics hardware was strictly tile based, there was no line drawing or blitter functions as found in the Amiga.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As noted above, the FM Towns was launched in February 1989 at a price exceeding 3000 USD. For comparison, I had a look what some comparable computers cost back then, April 1989:

 

FM Towns: 16 MHz 386DX, 1 MB RAM, floppy drive, CD-ROM: ~$3000++

Northgate: 16 MHz 386SX (?), otherwise unknown spec: $2499

Tandy 4000SX: 16 MHz 386SX, 1 MB RAM, floppy drive: $2599 ($3248 w/ 40 MB HDD)

Dell System 316: 16 MHz 386SX, 1 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, monochrome VGA: $3199 ($3499 w/ colour VGA)

 

For those looking to upgrade an existing PC, you could get Hauppauge 386 motherboards for $1295 - $1995 depending on model, memory from $195.

 

I haven't seen any of the PC systems of that day offering CD-ROM, so I can't tell how much that option was worth, compared to having a hard drive.

 

I imagine anyone introducing the FM Towns overseas would've had a marketing issue on their hands. Should you pit it as a HDD-less mid-range PC against Dell and Tandy, or as a gaming home computer against Commodore and Atari, which technically were inferior but far cheaper? Of course there also were lesser, cheaper PCs like e.g. the IBM PS/2 Model 30 that was estimated at $1000 (not sure if it refers to the 8086 or 286 model), but it'd be just as unfair to compare it to a 16 MHz 386DX gaming computer as if you toss in an Amiga 2000 against the FM Towns.

 

How about IBM? Well, they sold their 286 based Model 50Z with a 30 MB HDD for $3250, possibly including the monitor and that was after a $745 price cut!

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It would fail to gain a presence outside of Japan, too expensive and the market was already flooded with 16/32 bit machines.

 

Tramiel was really good at keeping the Japanese out of the 8bit market and to some extent, he also succeeded in keeping them out of the 16 bit market as well with the ST.

 

That was until the Nintendo NES systems came out, they sold a lot of those.

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  • 3 months later...

As a hard-core Amiga user, it pains me to admit this...

 

After taking a good long look at the games on 1987's Sharp x68000 home computer, it's pretty obvious that this machine is the superior gaming platform. It's pretty insane actually. Aside from the diskette drives and the audio, this thing beats the stuffing out of the OCS Amiga machines (albeit it was released two years after the original Amiga 1000).

 

http://gaming.wikia.com/wiki/Sharp_X68000 (I see Hudson was in on the design of this one's GPU).

 

Can anyone suggest favorite games for this machine?

 

So far, I'm pretty impressed with:

 

SION IV

Daimakaimura

Phalanx

Silsteel

Xadlak

 

And then there are the solid arcade ports of:

Final Fight

Alien Syndrome

Salamander

Bosconian

Puyo Puyo

Bubble Bobble

Frogger

Dig Dug

Rally-X

Space Harrier

Xevious

Star Force

 

 

Hi there,

 

The onboard sound is really lame, specially due to internal, low-quality speakers. But have you ever seen this baby with MIDI? :-)

 

I do owe a MIDI board and a Roland SC-55. It is amazing. Daimakaimura is crying material. Gradius is amazing. Akumajou Dracula is incredible!

 

The Gradius games are great. Datana Twinbee is really fun and a fast-paced shooter. Atomic Robo-kid is very nice too. Undeadline looks and plays really fine but it´s though as nails.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok, so I suppose the launch model of the X68000 had the following specs:

10 MHz 68000, 1 MB RAM, two 5.25" HD floppy drives, various graphics and sound hardware. I suppose display was extra, and no SASI HDD included in those 369K yen ~= $3000?

 

I decided to pitch it against Apple Macintosh, once I digged out some numbers from Infoworld, February 1987:

 

Macintosh SE: 7.18 MHz 68000, 1 MB RAM (expandable to 4 MB), one built-in floppy drive plus an external one, and a built-in 9" mono monitor was listed at $2899. Optionally you could get a SCSI hard disk, but I suppose that cost more than an external floppy drive.

 

Macintosh II: 15.7 MHz 68020 and 68881 math coprocessor, 1 MB RAM (expandable to 2 GB ?!), one built-in floppy drive and video card was listed at $3899 without display.

 

Now I seriously doubt a Mac SE is any more powerful than an Amiga or Atari at half or a quarter of the price, and clearly the Sharp has much more interesting games hardware compared to a Mac, but given that there was a market for the Macintosh computers, possibly that is where Sharp should have challenged.

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