Arcade Pool… it WORKS!!

I’m a happy little camper right now.

You can’t have failed to mention that in my last post, I drooled a bit about getting “Arcade Pool” for the Amiga through the post. It’s a game I’ve had pretty much since its day of release, but my disk really will have seen better days. I know for definite it has no metal cover, and although the last time I fired any of my amigas up in anger back in 2006, it worked correctly, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I just ordered an original loose disk off ebay.

I checked today at the base of the Mercuryvapour Towers portcullis, there was a box staring up at me. Strangely familiar, yet also alien to me. For you see, a box for “Make-A-Chip” on the ZX Spectrum stared back at me…

It soon dawned on me that this must have been the “Arcade Pool” disk in some very innovative, and perfectly suitable packaging. Eventually, after a night at the pub, I sliced through the parcel tape, and yes! there it was!

Now, I originally planned to do a video on this, it was filmed, but it’s awful, so instead of fresh photos, you’re just getting screenshots instead.

So, the image above is, of course, the disk, fresh from its cardboard catacomb.

In it goes, and I fire up the disk image program. My heart sinks just that little bit… Click-click-click-click… This usually means the disk is warped / damaged… usually if a speck of dust has been pressed against the disk surface, causing a lump or a mark.

The clicking fades shortly after. I’m left with the faint rumble of the disk spinning, and the soft, rhythmic clunk of the head moving across the disk. Eventually, all 82 tracks are imaged. I go to make sense of the disk image…. aaaaaaand…

Those red sectors stared up at me like blood in a stool. It’s not always as bad as you think, but you’re programmed to think the worst. Those blue “unrecognised” sectors didn’t have me holding out much hope either. Had it worked? Was I about to relive my childhood? I fired up WinUAE. My voice in the video didn’t hold out much hope. I even said so in the video. I loaded the disk image, and watched in surprise, joy, and just a hint of speculation, when the company logos came up, followed by the screen I expected to see…

Mere seconds later, I had the title screen, as the sounds of Scott Joplin’s “Fig Leaf Rag” rang through my speakers…

It worked! The blue sectors are a by-product of the custom disc format it had used back in the day. Annoyingly, because of this, I was never able to make a backup copy of the disk, which is how/why my original disk survived, albeit in an unknown state

It soon became apparent that everything in this Amiga journey had came full circle. My rekindled love affair with the Amiga started on a Sunday afternoon in February last year when I came downstairs and Daddykins was watching a steam train video that happened to be playing the “Fig Leaf Rag” as its background music. It suddenly occurred to me just how much I missed Arcade Pool, and just the Amiga in general. I rushed upstairs, installed WinUAE, downloaded a disk image of the afore-mentioned pool game, and had a right old time but where was the fun in that? This wasn’t the original disk.

The fun has been in the whole journey I’ve taken in the last year. Managing to convert my original Amiga drive, finding out some of the stuff on it, reliving some of the many memories I have stored on it.

There has, of course, been downsides… Discovering the box of Amiga stuff I bought a few years ago was completely rotten. Constantly corrupting my hard drive image and having to start from scratch with it… my fault for not regularly backing it up I suppose.

Oh, just one quick thing on the Arcade Pool image. While checking the disk image, I noticed some text in the first sector of the disk…

Version 1.01 - May 1994 - pippistrello pippistrello, perchè hai fatto la pipi dentro all'ombrello?

Now, my Italian isn’t the best, so I had to rely on Google Translate for this one, but it comes back as roughly “Bat, do you think it is nice to pee in an umbrella”? It made me smile somewhat. the fact that I’ve owned an original disk of this software for 28 years, and have only just discovered this, amuses me greatly.

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2 thoughts on “Arcade Pool… it WORKS!!”

  1. Hi MV, been reading your posts on this, and as an Amiga fanboi they’ve really fascinated me. I too have a huge box of amiga stuff including discs. If I bought one of these, will i be able to read what’s on the discs?

    Can I use the discs in an emulator without creating an image first so it acts like a real amiga floppy drive?

    Hope you continue the series. I’m getting nostalgic for the old days. Everything was definately better then

  2. Hi Kevin, many thanks for your comment! Your first question is a little vague.. “will I be able to read what’s on the discs?” Are you referring to reading what’s on the disk images without loading them into an emulator? If so, the answer is yes, you can! I haven’t talked about this much, so that’ll be an interesting “next part”!

    As for using the disks on an Amiga Emulator… not as far as I know. There were plans for a USB device that could do just that, but I think it’s stalled due to supply issues getting the controller chips, hence the reason I went for the Greaseweazle. I believe it also required a special version of WinUAE. It may be theoretically possible to get the greaseweazle to work with this version, but you have to think of the practicalities of it. The vast majority of Amiga-formatted disks are now pushing 30 years old. Floppy disks were never the most reliable things in the first place, and all of the years of use, followed by many years of storage, will have caused many disks to deteriorate to the point where they’re borderline usable.

    A disk might survive the imaging process a couple of times with it being a sequential read, but might not like the constant head battering that would happen in normal use.

    Also bear in mind that using a disk in an emulator could throw up nasty problems. I don’t think any emulation is 100% accurate, and an emulation anomaly could quite easily corrupt a disk. Virtual disk images can be backed up and restored easily. If physical media gets corrupted directly, it’s curtains.

    Hope this helps, and I’ll get onto browsing the contents of disks without an emulator shortly.

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