The Amstrad GX4000 Game Console
The Amstrad GX4000 is a game console that was based on the Amstrad CPC Plus line of computers. The system was compatible with software for the CPC Plus line, but it could only be loaded from a ROM cartridge. Critics praised the graphics capabilities of the system, like 16 high resolution sprites per scanline, 4096 color palette, but the sound capabilities and the controllers were lacking compared to the competition.
Launched in 1990, the system failed to sell in large numbers. Short after launch, retailers began to discount the systems to get rid of their inventory. The rise of the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST, as well as the new line of 16-bit game consoles like the Sega Mega Drive system made the GX4000 with it's 8-bit Z80 almost obsolete at launch. A total of 30 games were released for the GX4000.
Amstrad CPC Plus
In 1990, confronted with a changing home computer market, Amstrad decided to refresh the CPC model range by introducing a new range variantly labeled CPC Plus.
The main goals for the Plus range were:
- Enhancement to the existing platform
- Restyled case with a modern look
- Support for cartridge games
The redesigned video hardware allows for various upgraded features
- Hardware Sprites in 15 colors
- Soft scrolling
- Enhanced color palette: extended to 31 out of 4096.
Sound was also enhanced, including DMA transfer, allowing more complex sound effects with a significantly reduced processor overhead. Other hardware enhancements include the support of analogue joysticks, 8-bit printers, and ROM cartridges up to 4 Mbits.
The new range of models was intended to be completely backwards compatible with the original CPC models. Its enhanced features are only available after an obscure unlocking mechanism has been triggered, preventing existing CPC software from accidentally invoking them.
Despite the significant hardware enhancements, many viewed it as outdated, being based on an 8-bit CPU, and it failed to attract both customers and software producers who were moving towards systems such as the Commodore Amiga and Sega Mega Drive which was launched a few short months after the plus range. The plus range was a commercial failure, and production was discontinued shortly after its introduction in 1990.