Game Sack episode 97: The Sharp X68000

Started by Andy-Antsinpants, January 23, 2014, 08:13:10 AM

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The first time I have ever heard of the X68000 must have been either on the NFGgames forums or from Gameplan's "History of Videogame consoles" books series some years ago. I wondered what kind of machine this must have been? Just from the name, I thought of something related to Motorola's 68000 processor, which I knew from the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis.

It took some more years to find out that the Sharp X68000 was in fact a Japanese personal computer, in a similar vein to the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST. These two were much more familiar to me, and surprisingly enough they share the same type of 68000 processor technology. Just in time when I wanted to learn more about the X68000, Joe Redifer and David White from Game Sack released a whole video episode about it, which I would like to share with you guys:

Game Sack - The Sharp X68000

Now I've got to say this is a cool looking machine. It seems to have been quite ahead of its time in technical specifications and visual design, especially when compared to IBM and Apple computers of the same era. What I honestly do not like is the 2-button controller. Come on, guys, even the NES had 4 buttons, when taking Select and Start into account. Well, at least it was better than the Amiga with its 1-button controller. This seems to be a letdown shared with a lot of personal computers of the late '80s to early '90s, while the console manufacturers choose to produce more advanced controllers to suit more complex video games and arcade game ports like Street Fighter II.

I'm itching to play some Dracula X68000. As I might never own the real machine, I ordered a copy of Castlevania Chronicles for the PlayStation, where the original and a remade version are both included. Let's see how it holds up, I like the oldschool Castlevania style!


The first time I ever heard of it I was in Japan c.1995, visiting a friend in Nagoya, and he took us to a tour of the electronics district.  I didn't really know what I was looking at then, but years later I realized he had visited a Takeru terminal, bought a game on floppies, taken it home and played it on his X68000 Pro.

Years later in about 1999/2000 while living in Japan I started looking into this mysterious system.  Even in Japan, it was rare - Sharp only sold it in their TV and home electronics shops, it wasn't widely available in computer stores.  It took aaages, but I started finding stores in Akihabara that sold the games, and then Yahoo where the system was being dumped, before all the foreigners started getting into it.  I was buying games for a dollar each, in 100-pack boxes, from stores and sellers just hoping to get rid of it all.  And then I lost most of it in the floods. 

The problem with the platform is the library - it's mostly ports.  Looking at my remaining collection, I see only a handful games that weren't ported from somewhere (Phalanx, Ku2, Genocide 2, Dracula, Sol Feace).  Some were upgraded sequels, like Last Battalion and Nemesis '90, but the vast majority are available elsewhere.  Granted, rarely as awesome as on the X68000, but still.  It's not a system for unusual games, just really good ones.

But damn, that sexy hardware.

Also, as far as the controller is concerned, since ST/SL weren't play buttons as such, we can count the X68000 keyboard as additional buttons, can't we?  ;)


Finally got to play Akumajo on the X68000 last year and yes, it certainly does hold up. As good as any game in the classic series.

I also saw that episode of Gamesack, honestly since I saw that one of the guys owned the system back in their Ys focused episode I had been waiting for them to do an episode on it.

It really is a connoisseur system here in the west, much more than it is in Japan. Hardly anyone is talking about it let alone owns one. Perhaps with more youtubers covering it people's interest will be piqued. Alas it is a notoriously difficult system to get into.


I 'knew of' but didn't know much about this system, after stumbling upon the Wikipedia article about it a couple of years back... I looked over it... and thought... MEH.. it's yet another 68k based home computer... what the hell does it do.. that other 68k home computers of the time (the Amiga, Atari ST.. etc etc) don't already?? (damn... I was WRONG!)

Now fast forward some years... About two years ago... I got an urge to try out another emulator or emulators of a system I've never had a dabble with before... out of the list of emulators I've messed around with... still occasionaly use or have long since abandoned. The X68000 became one of the contenders... witch I picked...

The first emulator I tried wasn't that good really... it didn't give me a good enough impression. so I went on the hunt for another... and discovered Win68k High Speed.
as it ran most of the games I threw at it, with very little issues or problems...  I began to find the X68k had a number of good quality arcade ports and some of it's own pretty good titles.

While Win68K HighSpeed was good for running games, there were some it would not play without issues... it also had a bit of a problem with running software i wanted to try out as well. soon after, I found XM6... witch ran most (if all of) the Human68k software fine... and the games that Win68k HighSpeed had issues with... but it was useless for trying to run most of the other games on.

After a while... I got fed up of having to go between two emulators to play games and run software.. I think by this time... the 'itch' had started... I think it was the half-baked emulators... and that, compared to recordings of music and videos of games running on real X68k hardware... there FM synthesis emulation... sounded a bit... 'lacking' I couldn't scratch it any more... and HAD to get some real hardware...

And so.. I finely went through the trouble of trying to get one... (if I'd been a bit more patient... probably could of got one in better condition to) after replacing the on-it's-way-out PSU... and getting it working... for those brief four weeks that it worked... it was f..king fantastic!
There was no input lag... like with the damn emulators... it's always responsive... and the real ym2151 sounded a LOT better than the crappy generic FM synth code that was used in both Win68k and XM6.

But after all that... I have to say... No other home 16 bit computer... has intrigued me, fascinated me... and entertained me... as much as the X68000!