Emulating the Amiga can be a finickity business, so a good starting place is understanding the difference between a commonly used term in Retro Gaming, a ROM and an Amiga Kickstart ROM. Essentially, when people search for ROMs, their intention is to find games to download, an Amiga Kickstart ROM is a whole other business!
What is an Amiga Kickstart ROM?
An Amiga Kickstart ROM is the ROM chip mounted on to the actual motherboard of an Amiga. It contains all the code required for an Amiga to boot and be ready to launch software. With Amiga Emulators, the Kickstart ROM is in a file format, where the physical ROM chip has been dumped to a file.
Interestingly, the first Amiga, the Amiga 1000, does not have an onboard ROM chip, instead, the Kickstart ROM came on a disk which had to be loaded in to memory every time the system is rebooted. The models after the Amiga 1000 had the Kickstart moved to an onboard ROM. The Amiga Kickstart version is famously visualised in the form of the boot screens that also contain the Kickstart ROM version details.
Amiga Kickstart ROM Versions
Each Amiga was released with Kickstart ROM, these evolved over time and as new Amiga machines were released. Which ROM you ended up with more or less depending upon when you purchased the system. There are many variations of each of these Kickstart ROMs, but broadly speaking, they were released in the below order.
|Amiga Kickstart ROM Version||Amiga System|
|Kickstart ROM 1.1||Amiga 1000|
|Kickstart ROM 1.2||Amiga 1000, Amiga 500 & Amiga 2000|
|Kickstart ROM 1.3||Amiga 1000, Amiga 500, Amiga 2000, CDTV & Amiga 3000|
|Kickstart ROM 2.04||Amiga 3000 & Amiga 500+|
|Kickstart ROM 2.05||Amiga 600 & Amiga 600HD|
|Kickstart ROM 3.0||Amiga 1200 & Amiga 4000|
|Kickstart ROM 3.1||Amiga 1200, Amiga 4000, Amiga 4000T & Amiga CD32|
Where to get Amiga Kickstart ROMs?
There are two ways to go about getting hold of Amiga Kickstart ROMs, hunt them out yourself online, or the easy (and official / legal) way, purchasing them as part of the Amiga Forever package.
Cloanto offer the only licenced way to pick up the Amiga Kickstart ROMs dumped to a file that can be used with the Best Amiga Emulators such as WinUAE & FS-UAE. WinUAE actually is the foundation of the Amiga Forever package which is sold in three version:
- Amiga Forever Value Edition
- Amiga Forever Plus Edition
- Amiga Forever Premium Edition
- Amiga Forever Essentials (An Android specific package which provides a package of just Kickstart ROMs)
The Amiga Forever Essentials pack is an ideal and cost effective way to pick up the Amiga Kickstart ROMs to use on an emulator. You simply download the app, then copy the files from your device to where you wish to run your Amiga Emulator.
The Value Edition comes with 1.3 Kickstart ROM, Plus Edition comes with 1.3, 3.x as well as additional Kickstart ROM files. Finally, the Premium Edition comes shipped in physical DVD format all the the Plus Edition has to offer plus bonus video content.
Hopefully this makes the murky world of Amiga Emulation a little clearer. It is also worth noting that FS-UAE & WinUAE both actually come with their own stock kickstarts that are whilst not the original Amiga versions, are highly compatible with most software you will look to emulate. So it’s definitely worth testing these out first before committing to getting hold of fully licenced ROMs.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of experience in the field, so producing retro orientated content for How To Retro comes is second nature to him. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).