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I have a working (I think) Amiga 500 system with an internal DF0 drive and an external DF1 drive. The Amiga 500 powers up with Workbench v1.3.

Can anyone tell me how to access a game disc (Marble Madness)?
Does it go in DF1 or do I swap out DF0?

This is new to me and I would appreciate any basic comments on how to do this.

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Amiga 500 1.3 machine only boots on drive 0 (DF0:) by default.

There are programs that make it able to boot on DF1: but they're not really interesting because a lot of games either:

  • have physical copy protection (even cracked copies can have some bits remaining and demand a disk in drive 0)
  • have non-OS compliant track loader which only searches the disk in drive 0. No software can redirect them to drive 1

2 drives is an asset anyway, because a lot of 2 or 3 disked games take advantage of the second drive, and you don't have to swap disks, or you swap less often. Be aware that in some rare cases, you have to disconnect the external drive if you're short in memory (second drive needs memory of its own for disk buffers)

Marble Madness (original) uses a disk protection and requires to run on DF0:. If you have a properly cracked copy, it could boot from DF1: because the game is almost fully OS-compliant (and thus uses AmigaDOS to load the data in memory). The game also only requires 512k of memory, so it will run on your machine even if it's unexpanded (many "more recent" games require 1MB memory)

What often happens is that unit 0 (DF0:) wears off with the time and eventually can cease to work because it's used a lot (hence the bootswap program to use drive 1 when possible). Changing an external drive is easy (well, if you can find a second hand drive, there's no case opening involved), but changing an internal drive requires more maintenance, and also to find an internal drive (I've replaced mine years ago by a A1200 internal one, which is shorter so I used a piece of lego to create an eject button).

Nowadays, most people who have their drives broken now use a Gotek floppy emulator which uses disk images on a SD card.

There are also cheap accelerator/hard drive boards available to expand your A500 and speed up loading (like ACA500) by being able to install your games on a SD card (and use WHDLoad).

Note: Apart from participating to the whdload project, I'm not affiliated to the linked products or stores in any way

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  • Thanks Jean-Francois I guess I should concentrate on booting from DF0 then in all cases for my 500. I have an old joystick for Marble Madness that is clunky but it should work? Thanks for your help ... I’m looking forward to getting into this and I’ll be back for more comments as needed.
    – Kevin
    May 27 '20 at 23:24
  • @Kevin: Marble Madness was designed to be played with a trackball, but since those never became common, a mouse worked the same way even though it was harder to control. If you have to play it with a joystick, you definitely want a non-clunky one. May 27 '20 at 23:34
  • I guess "clunky" may be in the hands of the user ... maybe it's not that bad. I'll give it a go. Thanks.
    – Kevin
    May 27 '20 at 23:38
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    MM can run with mouse or joystick. I prefer good old arcade trackball but a joystick has the advantage to avoid to reach the end of the table when there are only a few seconds left. And if you play with a mouse, get an optical mouse, it's way more accurate. May 28 '20 at 6:45
  • Marble Madness? Joystick? Preferred controllers are trackball, mouse, joystick in that order. :)
    – Alan B
    Aug 11 '20 at 14:36
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The Amiga 500 has a very console-like experience for the most part when it comes to games. Treat DF0:, the internal drive, like you would the cartridge slot of a Super NES or a Sega Genesis. Just put your game into the internal drive, turn on the power and let the Amiga boot from it. :)

You can either:

  • Power the machine off, insert your disk, then power the machine on. You'll see the screen cycle through a few shades of grey as the system runs some tests, then the game will start.

OR:

  • Power the machine on with no disk inserted, wait, and insert your disk when you see the following:

enter image description here

Left: Amiga 500 'Workbench hand' screen. Right: Amiga 1200 'insert disk' screen.

This screen doesn't literally mean you have to insert Workbench, it means you can insert any bootable disk. Almost all Amiga games and software will boot from this screen, if you insert the disk into the internal drive.

If your Amiga boots directly to Workbench without showing an 'insert disk' screen, you may have an internal hard drive. This is a somewhat common accessory for the Amiga 600 and Amiga 1200. To boot up a game on an Amiga with a hard drive, you can insert the floppy disk while the power is off, and the Amiga should boot up off the floppy disk instead of the hard disk. Alternatively, you can insert your game disk while Workbench is running, wait until disk access has finished (wait for the LED to go out) then perform a soft reset by holding Ctrl+A+A. (These are the 'Amiga keys': two boldfaced A keys on the lower row of the keyboard.)


For games that support multiple floppy disk drives, such as The Secret of Monkey Island or Superfrog, first power off your computer, attach any drives you have available (use the small screws if they're there), then power on the machine. Insert Disk 1 into the internal drive and the game will start. Since Monkey Island comes on multiple disks, it will occasionally show a message asking you to insert a specific numbered disk into any drive. You can eject and swap disks during gameplay only when the game asks you to. Many games won't recognise a second drive. It's not a hardware fault: they're simply not programmed to use it. Some games specifically ask you to insert a disk in 'Drive DF0:' - that's the internal drive. If nothing happens when you put Disk 2 into the external drive when prompted in a game (wait several seconds first for the disk change to be acknowledged, or try pressing Fire or Space), try the internal drive instead.

There are very few Amiga games that run under the Workbench GUI in the same way you'd play Minesweeper under Windows. Most games expect full control of the computer, and skip Workbench entirely.

The few games that do allow installation, like simulations (Sim City comes to mind), strategies, wargames, do allow you to install the game to the hard drive, where you can launch it from Workbench from an icon like the 'Say' application. Check the manuals for these games for how to install them; every game is different, though most games that are installable show up as a disk icon in Workbench, containing an installer icon somewhere inside.

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  • 1
    ... and for everything non-Workbench that you might want to install to a hard disk — or, about 3,000 things and counting, anyway — there's WHDLoad. Which, as a side effect, will give you in-Workbench icons for non-Workbench software. But as per this answer, that wasn't normal back in the day, it's something the community has put together for modern usage.
    – Tommy
    May 27 '20 at 20:43
  • WHDLoad isn't applicable to stock A500s like the asker's because of the limited memory and low Kickstart version.
    – knol
    May 27 '20 at 20:54
  • Thanks knol and Tommy The Marble Madness I have seems to be a copy disc and I will try running it from DF0 at boot. I assume if it doesn’t boot I should maybe use Workbench first and then swap the disc? Just wondering. Workbench seems more for the Utilities programs in the folders for docs and things. Should I disconnect the external DF1 if I am only using the internal DF0? I also have a game FairyTales and it’s the original one disc, also Defenders of the Crown which has two discs so I will put the first disc in DF0 and the second in the external DF1 in that case to boot up for that one.
    – Kevin
    May 27 '20 at 23:23
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    you sometimes have to disconnect the second drive if you're short in memory. And sometimes it's not supported by games. But otherwise leave it plugged in May 28 '20 at 16:19
  • @kevin generally if games don't boot from the internal drive they're broken; back in the day there wasn't this concept of "load 'something like windows' then put the game in and double click it" - you just put the game in the drive and booted from it. Later games for more powerful amigas might well have loaded after Workbench did but the early games on the spec limited machines either had their own cutdown version of workbench (that you barely saw)or they had a custom loader that didn't have anything like workbench (maximise meagre resources).Boot from marble madness in the internal drive
    – Caius Jard
    Jun 3 '20 at 9:55

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