Posted on Mar 6, 2009 in Gaming
I didn’t always have a Commodore 64, in fact I didn’t get a C64 until 1988 when my mother was left a small amount of money in by recently deceased uncle. Before I got the c64 I did own it’s cheap and cheerful little sister a Commodore Plus/4 (connect to a black and white portible TV). The Plus/4 along with it’s brother the Commodore 16 were Commodore’s entry-level replacement the VIC-20. Unfortunately both computers were a big flop, and were discontinued very quickly.
The Plus/4 wasn’t as powerful as C64 despite a 75% faster processor, a better basic language, and 115 colours (99 more than the c64), as it had no sprite capability and a much weaker sound chip, but this didn’t stop game developers creating some great games for both the Plus/4 and the C16.
Here’s some of the great games I enjoyed playing during those years.
Spore was an simplified Gauntlet clone style maze game. It was also available on the for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, with the C16 version being exactly the same as the C64 version (except for the music) and in many ways better than the ZX Spectrum version released by Mastertronic in1987.
A great feature was the game included a level editor for users to create their own maps, which kept me happy for many hours.
A remake of Spore for PC is available from the tdbsoft website.
Kikstart is a motorcycle trials racing videogame based on the BBC Television series of the same name. The basic premise of the game is to control a bike using acceleration, braking, “hopping” and “wheelies” to navigate across a course of various obstacles, from ramps and gates to telephone boxes and tyres.
The commodore C16 version of game, despite being inferior to the c64 version, was so popular it was recently converted to the C64.
A release title for a Commodore Plus/4 (the game was not available for the C16), obviously based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. In the game, the player takes on the role of Jim Hawkins, and has to battle through hordes of pirates before a final showdown with Long John Silver. The game view did not scroll, but used a flip-screen style.
None of the pirates moved around, but some of them would throw a cutlass at Jim if he moved in range. The pirate in question did not lose his cutlass if he does so – he always had another to use himself. A pirate would very rarely throw more than one cutlass. If Jim was hit by a cutlass thrown at him, or if he touched a pirate, he would lose a life and start again from the beginning of the screen. However, if he moved out of the way in time, the cutlass would land on the ground, and he would be able to throw it at a pirate of his choosing to kill him. A killed pirate disappeared, thus allowing Jim to pass.
This game was great fun and every bit as good as the ZX Spectrum, and Commodore 64 versions.
Way of the Exploding Fist
A commodore 16 game in which The player takes part in a series of one-on-one karate matches, all overseen by a wise old expert who appears somewhere in the background. Once the player defeats an opponent they move up to the next stage and a more difficult adversary. Fights were not won using the energy bar style found in modern fighting games but instead the player needed to get two complete yin-yang symbols. Any move that connected with the opponent would end the round, a loosely timed or borderline kick or punch would obtain half a yin-yang icon, while a well executed move would obtain a full icon. Two complete icons ends the bout and the player progresses to the next level.
The much better C64 version of the game was successfully converted to the Plus/4.
This plus/4 only title was a boulder dash clone where you take the role of Santa Claus trying to retrieve his Christmas Presents, but watch out for those Polar Bears and Penguins one touch from them makes you explode into Christmas Presents.
This game was so much fun even my mother liked it and she still remembers it to this day. She wanted me to get it for the Nintendo DS that bought for her last birthday.
Commando was a Commodore 16 conversion of the Arcade game of the same name. Unlike the arcade this game did not scroll and only included five single screen levels. Despite this it was very difficult and I don’t think I ever completed it.
A plus/4 conversion of C64 version of the game has been created by the same guy who converted Exploding Fist
When you purchased Saboteur! you got two versions of this game. A C-16 version and an enhanced plus/4 only Version.
The plus/4 of the game is exactly the same as the other 8bit versions of the game, and it is therefore great looking game. The Commodore 16 version is frankly a load of old pants. The game was originally designed to run on computers with at least 48k of ram, so it looks terrible (see screenshots for details) and is missing elements, for example you cannot kill the guard dogs or use a joystick. This version occupies nearly every single byte of memory on the C16.
The player controls a saboteur, trained in ninja arts. His task is to break into a central security building (which is disguised as a warehouse) and steal a floppy disk that contains the names of all the rebel leaders. The saboteur arrives at the warehouse by rubber dinghy and must fight through the building to obtain the disk and then escape via a helicopter on the roof (optionally setting a bomb to destroy the building for bonus points). All of this must also be achieved against a time limit.
Finders Keepers was the first game in the Magic Knight series of games (the others being Spellbound, Knight Tyme and Stormbringer) and was release as part of Mastertronic’s excellent 199 range (called because it only cost £1.99 to buy)
It’s a platform game with some maze sections. The hero starts in the King’s throne room and is transported, via a teleporter, to the castle. The castle is made up of two types of playing area: flick-screen rooms in the manner of a platform game and two large scrolling mazes.
The C64 version of the game has three possible solutions. Unfortunately they had to cut a lot of things out from the C16 version, so it end up with only one, but it was still a great game
This was the first Football Manager game I’ve ever owned. Sure, I had played Football Manager on the C64 and Spectrum, but this game was a generate beyond that, so it had lots more features. In it you start in the fourth division and have to take your team from the bottom to the top. the FA cup is in there too. Winning the top division got your to play in European Cup, not that I ever did that.
The funny thing about this game is that it was written in basic. So you could break it, and re-write it if you wanted.
Spiky Harold was the first video game hedgehog and he was brought to us by Firebird software in 1986. In this classic 2D platform game you must help a Harold find enough food to go into hibernation for the winter.
Each of the chambers beneath the hedgerow contains an item of food which Harold can eat. However, he must avoid the creatures who will try to stop him, as well as conkers, sulphur clouds, bouncing balls and peeping periscopes. On his travels, Harold may find some coins which will give him extra lives, and wine glasses that will make him drunk.
Tazz is a little bloke from a cowboy company ‘Bug exterminators Unlimited/Unreliable’ who has been miniaturised into a computer to gate crash a wild party hosted by a really nasty bunch of bugs. All may look easy but it soon becomes obvious that those bugs have a slight personality clash with Tazz and given half a chance will give him the touch of death.
Mindless and very silly, but most of all fun.
If you had a 8 bit computer you will have already heard of Thrust. It is a classic 2D dimensional physics based game. The player’s aim is to maneuver a spaceship by rotating and thrusting, as it flies over a landscape and along corridors. It was originally programmed on the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron, but it was converted to most 8bit computer such as the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Atari and Commodore 16 as well as the Vectrex and Atari 2600 game consoles. Due to the games simple concept all the versions of the game are pretty much the same, although the commodore C64 would probably be consider the best version as it had great peice of music from Rob Hubbard.