I've read in the past that it was possible to overcome the 8 sprites per scanline on the Amiga (OCS) using the copper list. However, I can't seem to find any actual references to what may have used this trick (any games or demos).

Is this actually possible? I would imagine that the second reuse of the same sprite would need some space to be reused again. Meaning, it couldn't be put side-by-side.

Also, was this technique used in games? What were the general limitations of such a trick?


2 Answers 2


It definitely was possible, as demonstrated by Parasol Stars, which "only uses a single sprite to create the score panel at the top of the screen!"

That article has a more detailed discussion of exactly that title but it sounds to be as simple as racing the beam, adjusting the sprite position continually to push it backwards beyond the location currently reached.

EDIT: the sprite tricks section of that same site gives a whole bunch of other examples with copper lists, including these four that all repeat sprites on the same line:

  • Videokid: Programmer Stuart Cook enhanced the Amiga version by using 6 sprites multiplexed across the screen to create a full screen scrolling background parallax layer;
  • R-Type 2: 8 sprites to create a 64 pixel wide repeating pattern for the backgrounds on most levels. The 8 sprites are repositioned multiple times as the display is rendered to show 18 sprites for a 288 pixel wide screen;
  • Jim Power: 2 sprites are displayed then repositioned horizontally right across the screen to create the colourful static background;
  • Risky Woods: The 16-colour background layer was created by using all 8 hardware sprites and repositioning them across the screen. The same 64 pixel wide graphics are repeated across the entire play area.
  • As far as I've got from your answer and links, it is still possible to "reuse" sprite HW to display same sprite further into line being drawn (by changing X position of sprite), but then sprite data register must be loaded "manually" (i.e. with the help of copper) if another sprite pixels should be displayed.
    – lvd
    May 4, 2017 at 8:44
  • @lvd that's my understanding; relocating the sprite is sufficient to cause it to be drawn again but you'll need to alter the contents if you want something else drawn instead. But contents are transferred to a shift register when drawing starts per amiga-dev.wikidot.com/hardware:sprxdata so it's safe to change the register values any time after drawing has begun — no need to wait until drawing has ended.
    – Tommy
    May 4, 2017 at 20:13
  • Battle Squadron used the sprite trick to create the scores on the top. It is also possible to use an hardware bug to repeat a sprite horizontally and indefinitely May 19, 2017 at 20:24
  • “racing the beam” matches the colloquial explanation used by that time, but actually, only the display data transfer is relevant, i.e. what happens when the data has left the Amiga, is irrelevant. That’s why these tricks still work, even when using a TFT display which has no beam.
    – Holger
    Jun 7, 2017 at 12:48

The copper can be set to trigger every 8 low res pixels and every line. So it should be possible to reuse sprites so long as they don't overlap and have at least 8 pixels between uses of the same sprite. I was unclear if the video chip used a line buffer, but it appears it does not. If it used a line buffer then the line would already be laid out before you moved the sprite and there would be no effect. Since it works then no line buffer and you really can race the beam

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