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How to play Amstrad CPC games on your PC using an emulator

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. You can use it to play pretty much any Amstrad game you can get a digital copy of.

TIP: If you just want a quick retro trip and don't mind settling for a limited selection of games, CPC Box is a great Javascript emulator you can play in your browser straight away.

  1. Download Winape
    At the time of writing, the latest version is 2.0b2 and the file size is about 1MB. Any version number with the letter b in it is a beta release, which usually means it is an early 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...

  2. 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.

  3. 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 Windows, Winape will open like a normal folder. Extract all the files.

  4. Run Winape
    Go to the folder where you extracted the Winape files. Open it and double click on the Winape icon:

    Screenshot of Winape icon

    The Winape icon

  5. 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. 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.

  6. 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.

    Screenshot of Winape at startup

    Screenshot of Winape at startup

  7. 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.

    Screenshot showing Winape Insert Disc menu option

    Screenshot showing Winape Insert Disc menu option

  8. 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.

    Screenshot of an excerpt of a directory listing

    Screenshot of an excerpt of a directory listing

  9. 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...

    Screenshot of Alien Intervention

    Screenshot of Alien Intervention, one of the programs on my free Amstrad games disc

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    Screenshot showing Save snapshot button on toolbar

    Screenshot showing Save snapshot button on toolbar

  12. Nich Campbell's website CPC Game Reviews has plenty of games to download, together with reviews and screenshots.

Read my Amstrad CPC programming book and discover more great resources here.

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Visit www.sean.co.uk for free chapters from Sean's coding books (including Mission Python, Scratch Programming in Easy Steps and Coder Academy) and more!

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