Tuesday, August 04, 2015

How to emulate the Atari ST

Wanna use a virtual Atari ST?

Like many, I've spent recent years emulating an Atari ST and, since starting AtariCrypt, I have also been asked tons of questions about emulation. These questions are usually about TOS versions and the various settings within Hatari. So let's keep this simple for a general outline of what you should know. Just to get started with the awesome range of Atari ST games on your Mac (PC/Linux should be the same but I cannot confirm)

Firstly, there are two basic models of the Atari ST. The original Atari ST and the enhanced Atari STE (Blitter, more colours, DMA audio, analogue controls, hardware scrolling, a newer version of the OS)

1) If you want to play a commercial game then the chances are it'll be for the original Atari ST model.
2) If you want to delve in deeper (shareware, music, demos) then you should probably emulate the Atari STe.

What about ST/e specs?

1) For the ST, I would recommend you choose 1 or 2mb RAM and run with TOS 1.04 (sometimes TOS 1.02)
2) For the STe, I would recommend you chose 1 or 2mb RAM but run with TOS 1.62 (rarely does this alter)

For the most part, these settings will work really well. I personally tend to stick with a basic setup of Atari STe with 2mb RAM and TOS 1.62 to play floppy disk games. And possibly 4mb for some hard disk-based games.

What do you need to download?

1) Download the emulator itself - Hatari or NoSTalgia (major update due soon)
2) Grab yourself a copy of The Operating System (TOS) and there are lots listed on ATARIWorld.
3) Many websites have lots of ST floppies to download but the best is Stonish and Old Games Finder links to many online archives. Hard disk games are available from 8BitChip and D-Bug (use Gemdos as seen in the first pic)

Screenshots of my Hatari settings!

Here are several screenshots of my Hatari preferences. There is nothing mind-blowing here, I simply hoped this might be of use to newcomers. Any questions, then feel free to comment below and ask. Enjoy using your virtual Atari ST :-)

Use the Drive A image option to load up MSA/ST disk images.

TOS 1.62 is the best and most compatible OS when emulating the Atari STe.

Basic stuff here... chose the monitor/TV and whether to show the borders.

Frame skip can be best when set to "1" and I always disable the StatusBar display.

Sound options I've never changed, so these are the defaults that can be left.

All ST/STe computers use a 68000 processor running at 8MHZ. 1/2MB Ram is best.

ST's use joystick port 1 for one-player games. And you can use a USB device too!

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