"I adore my 64; my Commodore six-ty-four"

What it was Edit

The Commodore VIC-20 was the first affordable home computer for many American kids, but it was a piece of crap (even if it was thousands of times better than its competitor, the ZX spectrum), so the first real home computer for many was the upgraded Commodore 64 (or C=64 for short). It had a whopping 65,536 bytes of RAM, and came with a BASIC interpreter. You had one-byte-at-a-time access to all of the RAM (with 'peek' and 'poke' commands in BASIC) so you could hack the software to your heart's content, or write in pure machine code. The latter feature was exploited by magazines that would publish pages full of numbers you could type in to create nifty games -- this was downloading via NEWSPRINT and EYEBALLS and FINGERS, people. Used audio tapes (ick, no) or 5.25" floppy disks (170 kilobytes!) for loading & saving data. Thanks to 'peek','poke' and a lack of any RAM protection by the OS, software piracy exploded as kids swapped floppies during every recess. This lead to the trend of copy protection schemes where the game would stop halfway and ask you to solve a puzzle with the help of a chart in the manual, or assembling puzzle bits that were in the box.

If you can't be arsed to get a C=64 emulator, you can buy old Commodore 64 games (with an emulator wrapper) on the Nintendo Wii shopping channel.

Little known facts Edit

  • The C=64 was still being manufactured until April 1994.
  • The audio chip in the C=64 was the famous SID 6581, which became a staple of electronic music for decades.
  • The 1541 disk drive was actually a microcomputer in itself, with it's own operating system. Hackers were later able use up to 16 of them in series for cluster computing (fuck your Beowulf clusters, we got disk drive clusters!)
  • There is a console derived from it, the Commodore 64 Games System. It had few titles, mostly ports of older cassete-based C64 games; and although cartridge-based C64 games should have been compatible, the lack a keyboard means most of them were not. Just forget this piece of junk and stick to your regular C64.

The List Edit

For a definition of the Genres, see A List and Guide to Game Genres.

Title Genre Description Game Screen
Archon: The Light and the Dark Strategy + Action Looks like chess, but the pieces don't capture each other, they switch to a PvP arena and fight to the death. Every piece has different health and attack abilities, which wax and wane as the board cycles between light and dark. Winning is either destroying the other side, or controlling five nodes on the board. The sequels sucked, but this game was ported to every platform, even the iPhone.Play it now!
Gameplay video on YouTube
Below The Root Adventure/RPG Based on the Green Sky Trilogy of Novels by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, In this gem of a game you choose from five unique characters and set out to bring peace between two factions in the world of Green Sky. Ridiculously ambitious for it's time, gain psychic powers, glide from tree to tree, interact with the many inhabitants of the land. 256px
Bruce Lee Action Action platformer where you're the famous shirtless fighter exploring, collecting lanterns to unlock your way into the sinsiter fortress, attacked by endless ninjas and green sumo wrestlers. A second player could join in at any time to take over the big green guy. A very faithful remake was made for modern Windows machines.Play it now
Gameplay video on Vimeo
Creatures Puzzle Platformer

I really gotta say, this is one amazing game. Not only is the game well animated, good looking, home to a stellar soundtrack, and incredibly inappropriate and violent but downright fun. You have to figure out ways to save your fellow creatures as quickly as possible or they will be brutally murdered in the most gory of ways.

Also on Atari ST and Amiga but this is the best version.

Creatures 2: Torture Trouble Puzzle Platformer More focus on torture screens. In fact it's all torture screens!? More puzzlan than platoforman' but still great! 256px
Elite Simulation + Space Trading Not just the first 8-bit game to use 3D rendering with occlusion, it was one of the earliest sandbox games as you were free to do missions, or not, or just explore the 2048 unique worlds (with their own names, commodity prices, cultural quirks, and it's NOT RANDOM, in less than 170 kb!) and make money being a bounty hunter or buying low and selling high, upgrading your ship if the local spaceport has the parts. Released in 1984, even the eight-bit version is still considered a high-water mark in the genre it birthed.

Watch on YouTube
Oolite is a modern remake with OpenGL

Gauntlet Hack and Slash Better than the NES version by a long shot. 256px
Gauntlet: The Deeper Dungeons Hack and Slash A European exclusive expansion with levels designed by competition winners. 256px
Ghostbusters Economics Simulator/Shooter This is what the version the NES game is based off. Don't let that fool you though; this version is not pure pig-shit. In fact, save for the Megadrive game, it's maybe the best Ghostbusters game ever made. Made by David Crane, the same dude who made Pitfall. 256px
Great Giana Sisters Platformer Biggest rip off of Super Mario Bros ever, yet clones it quite well and worth a play. The soundtrack might have the record for 'most re-mixed chiptune ever.' 256px

Last Ninja

Adventure Isometric action? layered scenery? on my commodore? more likely than you think.

Watch it on YouTube

Last Ninja 2 Adventure Urban setting, solid plot with chapters, all-around upgrade. This is the one that was ported to Amiga and NES.

Watch it on YouTube

Maniac Mansion Adventure This is the great-great-grandpa of the pointy-clicky adventure games like Secret of Monkey Island, and Sam & Max. The codebase was later used for the seminal graphical MMO 'Habitat', the crown jewel of the Commodore 64 -only online network 'QuantumLink,' which eventually changed their name to 'America OnLine'. It's sequel, 'Day of the Tentacle' is more widely known.

The original codebase, and generations of improvement, are available for free as S.C.U.M.M.VM (SCUMM = Script Creation Utility for Manaic Mansion)

Mayhem in Monsterland Platformer

One of the very best of the entire C64 library, truly wonderful all around. The graphics are goregous, the music is catchy, the game is quite fast paced too. Made by the people who brought you Creatures!

M.U.L.E. Simulation Four players compete at developing a sci-fi frontier, with both hot-seat and shared-keyboard action. Balance resource harvesting, consumption, and selling your surplus at the market to other players with a unique action-auction method. It's so good, it's been turned into a multiplayer online game.Gameplay video on YouTube
The theme music was an Easter Egg in Spore
Project Firestart Survivor Horror Say hello to the grand-daddy of the also-EA-published-Dead Space. Terrific atmosphere that plays strongly on isolation and claustrophobia, also differs itself from other early survivor horrors by branching into multiple paths and endings. After over 2 decades, this shit still has enough caliber to scare the fuck out of you. 256px
Rodland Platformer

Cutesy puzzle platformer similair to Bubble Bobble, gain items by defeating enmies that help you beat more enemies.

Best version.

Shinobi Action Good conversion of the SEGA arcade classic. Play as Joe motherfucking Musashi and rescue children from the terrorists or some such shit. Rad SID chip tunes make this verson even better. 256px
Sword of Fargoal Rougelike Primative roguelike, but it was the most popular for the C64, probably because it was so easy to copy around.

It's been remade for the iPhone and iPad.

Ultima IV: The Quest of the Avatar RPG The three previous games were straight-up tile-based RPGs, but this is where Richard 'Lord British' Garrot's reuptation started. It's another tile-based RPG, with a world so large (256x256) you had to load it from disk in chunks, and tactical combat sub-screens. But this game was different in that your goal was not to grind, level up and beat the final boss, but to prove you're a good guy by acting Honest, Compassionate, Valourous, and five other virtues that measured you with every combat and social interaction. This is 20 years before "Mass Effect" was published. The sequel Ultima V added NPCs that had their own schedules for daily routines. Many RPG firsts were seen in the Ultima series.

Gameplay video on YouTube


Links Edit

  • Lemon64 haven for nostalgiafags
  • Play these games in a java applet emulator.
  • C64-Longplays Let'sPlay style movies of entire C64 games