Friday, 24 December 2021

Interview with Paul Andrews (Second Interview)

Thank you readers for taking the time to read this interview, most will notice that it is the second interview with Paul Andrews but greatly needed due to recent news items.

The interview will begin with the usual questions as an introduction for our new readers.

FUN TIME, AMIGA TIME!

1. Hello and welcome from us at Blitterwolf, again, for this second interview. For our new readers could you tell us your name, country and occupation please?
A. Hi my name is Paul Andrews, and from the UK, and I’m the managing director of Retro Games Ltd, plus also director of several other tech and media companies.

2. We know of your first experience with computers, 48K Spectrum and other 8-bit machines, could you expand and tell us where you went from there, 16-bit onwards?
A. Both myself and Chris Smith had ZX Spectrums, and then Atari ST computers, our colleague Darren Melbourne started with a ZX Spectrum, then moved onto a C64 and then Amiga I believe!

3. What drew you to the Commodore brand and specifically the development of the A500 Mini?
A. Much as myself and Chris started with ZX Spectrums, obviously the Commodore brand was globally much bigger than Sinclair plus I’ve known Mike at Cloanto since the early 2000s, in fact my wife and myself had a memorable lunch many years ago with both Mike of Cloanto and Trevor Dickinson at the Radisson Blue at Stansted airport I recall, so I’ve known these guys a long time now.

4. How long has it taken from initial idea, through research and development to the release date of March 31st 2022, in UK?
A. We did include the rights to do this console when we did the original paperwork with Cloanto for THEC64, so we always had the option, so once the various THEC64 models and commitments were complete, obviously we cracked on, but having said that some licensing and other work had started in parallel with the last parts of THEC64. Past that Covid has of course has had multiple knock on effects in terms of timelines for manufacturing.


5. Could you give some of the specifications of The A500 Mini and are there any that couldn't be added?
A. THEA500 mini has primarily been made similar to THEC64 mini in that it’s more aimed at people who wish to play games, put it down, come back and play more etc. We hope to do the a full sized THEA500 if the mini sells well, in a similar manner to the pattern of THEC64 which would have more extensive features of course.

We have said it before but it’s worth mentioning all the models we make (THEC64, THEVIC20 and if we do THEA500 in a full sized version) are 100% NOT called ‘maxi’ that was just what some retailers started calling them, the minis are called minis, and the full sized versions the model name.


6. Does the A500 Mini run using recreated classic hardware or through emulation?
A. Emulation, the cost of doing it all in hardware just is not practical for mass market mini consoles sadly.

7. Who decided the number of games and which games to be included on The A500 Mini?
A. Darren Melbourne is the licensing director and he has been doing this for his whole adult working life. We have to work within a budget and the honest answer is Amiga games generally cost more to license than C64 ones, for obvious reasons, plus some companies either do not wish to license their games or the costs asked for some games are just too prohibitively high to be possible. We do not have huge margins on consoles, or the huge economies of scale such as Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft. We have sold good volumes for such a small company, but obviously not the millions of units the big games companies do, so we have to be realistic in these matters. But people can of course add and plus their own owned games via usb stick.

8. Can additional hardware be connected to the A500 Mini such as flash drives, external hard drives and CD Rom drives?
A. Not out of the box, but we are looking at some options working with third parties.

9. Will the A500 Mini be a purely gaming system or can applications be installed?
A. Day one it’s mostly games/whd compatible software, but never say never.

10. Will the A500 Mini be able to emulate any other OSs?
A. No.

11. Are there any planned updates for The A500 Mini in the near future?
A. Let’s release it first, but potentially, we have tried to do what is possible and practical with THEC64 range, we don’t earn any extra revenue at all, in fact lose money and time doing extra firmware updates but we have tried to support the users as best we can like they have us.

12. Do you have a favourite computer magazine, online or printed, past or present?
A. Popular Computing! It’s why we have done as an early venture Popular Retro, as a sort of tribute!

13. What are your thoughts on other recreated retro platforms such as the many mini consoles available?
A. They are all pretty cool, and we love doing our part of that bigger picture, obviously we try to make ours the best of course!

14. Have you noticed an increase in demand for your products as each of your new products is released?
A. We hope we now have a good reputation we hope for quality, usability and so on. So we are a more known factor now I guess for users, so people know what we do is real, exists, or will, not vapour wear, and you will get a quality product out of the box, plus retailers now have confidence in us as well.

15. We know of your fondness for gaming but are there any Amiga applications that you enjoy using?
A. I am biased of course, but I love the morals of Lost Patrol in that there are no winners in war, so that’s a good moral lesson from a great game.

16. What other hardware do you have in the pipeline?
A. Now that would be telling, but 200% we are just getting going, so be prepared to see and hear from us (and hopefully buy from us) many things for many years to come!

17. You told us that you had a lot of plans after the C64 Mini which we now know was the full size C64, can you tell us if there are further plans after the A500 Mini?
A. Yes many! Obviously we hope to do the full sized THEA500 if the mini version sells well, but as I mentioned before we have many other products in our pipeline!

18. I'd like to close the interview by asking if you have any further comments, thought or general musings?
A. I’d like to thank the hundreds of thousands of people who have bought one or more of THEC64 range we have done so far, and for those fans, I’d like to say a huge thank you, and also we have not finished with that range yet, so we hope we can bring a few more dreams to life for those people yet. Also we would like to thank the fans and press for the great reaction to THEA500 already, and we can’t wait to get it into all your hands!

Thank you for your time and I sincerely look forward to testing and reviewing the A500 Mini.



Michael Holmes

4 comments:

  1. Awesome interview but ( even though i would buy it ) a full sized A500 is just to big and chunky ( I have a few real ones right here ) A full sized A1200 would be a much better option and use less material in the moulds :)

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  2. I really need workbench support to justify the price. I want to play back mods and demoscene stuff, etc. If all they will commit to at this point is 25 games and more games off whdload, I'm going to have to pass.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. I agree that a full size A1200 would make more sense than 500 since they already emulate A1200. I still have my Amiga 500. I would rather see a real mini keyboard add-on option bundled with OS 4.x to replace the fake keys. I saw with c64 mini keyboard hack.

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