ORIGINALY POSTED FEBRUARY 8, 2011
On Twitter I recently promised my list of the top 100 Commodore 64 games of all time, and here it is!
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m an old-timer C64 guy… I lived that life you read about and hear about from other old-timers. I have a lot of fond memories, and some I’m not particularly proud of. But the games, oh the games!
I’m not going to try and rank these, that would just be too damned hard! But I will give a little comment on each. I was going to put in screenshots too, and maybe I’ll come back at a little date and update this post to have them, but for now, that too is too much effort 🙂 At the end of the day, this is really for other people like me who remembers those days with fondness… it’s not like you kids with your X-Cases and PlayCenters or Nintendian PS’s or whatever the hell you kids have today are going to run out and try and find these…
…but hey, if you are so inclined, frodo.cebix.net and c64.com are pretty much the only two URLs you’d need to play nearly all of these games inside 5 minutes 🙂
I’ve tried to avoid games that were ported from arcade games, but a few snuck in. I also tried to stick to games I only remember on the C64, but again, some of these certainly were on other platforms (and in fact, some of them were arguably better on others).
Ok, without further stalling and BS’ing, here goes, in plain old boring alphabetical order…
Just a great little bowling game, nothing revolutionary, but well done
One of the all-time best top-down scrolling shooters of… err… all-time 🙂 Pilot your WWII fighter and kick some Axis ass!
You, a motorcycle and a fairly large world filled with ramps and other trickpark goodies where you could, more or less, free-roam. This game was in a lot of ways ahead of its time in that regard.
Fuzzbombs, everywhere! Pretty tough to describe this game but most people remember the trains coming into the stations the most.
One of those cool mindbender adventure games that were popular back then. I can’t even tell you what it was about now, but I remember it was really cool.
One of the games I still play to this day! Lots of different mini-games combined to form a very fun whole. Kind of an Indiana Jones vibe to it all.
One of the few 3D games on this list, and really one of the few 3D games for a very long time on the C64. You’re a ball on a 3-D track with holes all over the place to avoid.
Another of the ones I still play. You’re a Conan-like barbarian forced to sword fight other barbarians while a wizard and his hot concubine watch from afar. This game is well-remembered for the little green goblin guy that came out, laughed and dragged the body of your fallen foe away. Even better: you could cut the other guys’ head off, and the green goblin dude would KICK THE HEAD, soccer-style, on the way out!
BC’s Quest For Tires
The BC comic strip brought to game form. Ride your stone wheel all over the place avoiding many obstacles.
Without question one of the best C64 games ever. Superb graphics, fantastic sound, lots of variety in the different mini-games that made up its war themed-structure. Then again, I remember loading this off of cassette and it taking nearly 30 minutes… at least my friend Joe and I had time to have lunch while it loaded 🙂
Below The Root
More or less a Lord Of The Rings hobbits rip-off, but pretty well-done.
Another top-down scrolling airplane-themed shooter, but this one had a really nice 3-D-ish look to it.
This game has been released in a bunch of different updated forms in recent years and it still holds up well. You’re a little… thing… that walks around getting diamonds and avoiding rocks that fall once you remove the dirt below them. I know, sounds lame, but it’s not!
Yes, I used to be a breakdancer. I was even kinda, sorta good for a short period of time. I was always better at this game version of it though!
Another breakdancing game. I always felt Break Street was the better breakdancing-themed game, but they both deserve a spot because they were wildly different affairs.
You’re the all-time ass-kickingest martial artist in history doing battle with ninja, a big fat green master and navigating a world straight out of the mind of M.C. Escher. Sweet!
Very fun little game with a fantastic mellow soundtrack! Race your little car that has the ability to jump hundreds of feet in the air and crush other cars on impact!
All sorts of west coast-themed mini-games, things like hackysack, halfpipe and surfing… the surfing was memorable because the water effect was actually quite good.
A weird little game that is notable for having speech at the beginning… only a few games I remember having speech, this was the first I ever heard.
Anything with Chuck Norris is bound to be cool, and this was no exception.
Yep, pretty popular in the arcades and the C64 conversion wasn’t bad at all.
This was a nice isometric game that was also pretty popular in the arcades.
Defender Of The Crown
For a while this was pretty much the pinnacle of C64 graphics. The medieval-themes game was pretty fun too.
You’re a time-traveler collecting dinosaur eggs. Pretty tough but very fun.
One of the few true 3D games, but also one of the even fewer vector-type games. A great space adventure with, at the time, pretty cutting-edge graphics.
A text adventure game that was, shall we say, not suitable for children under the age of ANY??
Shoot spiders and other beasties as they attack you in a forest… that you were forbidden to go into… or something.
Cool side-scrolling helicopter shooter that was way too hard but for some reason a game you wanted to keep playing.
Friday The 13th
Yep, a video game of the movie!
Gateway To Aphsai
A famous adventure game that was better than any screenshot you’ll ever see would have you believe.
The arcade classic in your home!
One of the best video game adaptations of a movie ever. Another game that had speech, and hearing “”Ghostbusters!”” exclaimed every time you bust a ghost is just awesome!
Ghosts And Goblins
Run around a graveyard killing the undead. Err, wait, something doesn’t seem quite right about that statement.
GI Joe – A Real American Hero
Programmers especially remember this game, along with Hot Wheels, for the way it played music and showed animations perfectly smoothly during loading, which was a technical marvel until we all learned what an NMI was!
Another great movie adaptation. Yes, Chunk is in it!
Great American Cross-Country Road Race
One of the neater racing games ever. This one wasn’t about speed as much as it was about endurance… would you run out of gas before making it to the next city? Would you take too much damage to make it to the opposite coast? This was a liberating experience before you got your real drivers’ license.
Another arcade classic brought to the home.
My all-time favorite Baseball game, bar none. I actually videotaped myself throwing a no-hitter one time, which was a very impressive achievement. Trust me 🙂
This game was interesting, for the loading as previously mentioned, but also because it was another semi-open-world-type game.
You’re mowing a lawn. I know, sounds lame. It SO is not! Your mower can overheat, you can be attacked by a dog, you can male the dog sick your neighbor, who you stole the mower from! You can run over flowers and have the owner come chase you… just great! A great British sense of humor throughout.
This is one of those games that EVERYONE remembers. You’re a spy infiltrating the lair of an evil guy and have to dodge killer robots who shoot lightning and navigate an insane and huge underground fortress while solving puzzle, hacking computer terminals and doing bad-ass gymnastics every chance you got. If you were one of the few who finished it you no doubt remember the conclusion, which I won’t spoil for anyone that might be so inclined to give it a go.
A World War II spy simulation… and yes, they literally ask for your papers in spots.
You’re a guy that does a lot of jumping while avoiding bullets shot from unseen guns, climbing ropes and collecting… err, things.
Swing on vines, swim underwater, knife sharks, all to rescue a princess from headhunters.
One of my all-time favorite arcade games. There’s a native iOS version available so if you don’t have it already, but it sight unseen, it’s great.
Another Karate-themed game, this one more adventure-like.
And yet ANOTHER Karate-themed game (remember, The Karate Kid was out around this time). This is the most action-packed one of the bunch.
Yeah, ninjas too were big.
Literally, you own the last 8-cylinder car in existence (after the cars rose up and the human race had to destroy them I suppose). The music was awesome.
Law Of The West
A neat choose-your-own-adventure sort of game set in the old west.
A game I shamelessly ripped… err, I mean, paid homage to… when I developed K&G Arcade. Tons of little mini-games, some extremely bizarre (shooting a fork at a turkey comes to mind) but extremely fun.
Little Computer People’s Reaearch Project
The predecessor to The Sims. Best part was when you didn’t interact with your little people for a while they would stand there looking annoyed, tapping their feet, and then tap on the glass of your monitor!
It’d be SO easy to make the obvious poop joke, but this game was not S**T at all 🙂
Mail Order Monsters
Exactly what the name says: you mail away for monsters, then fight them, gaining more money and buying more monsters. Yes, it’s Pokemon, but without the lameness.
Master Of The Lamps
I was always a sucker for mini-game-oriented games, and this was another. Best part was flying through the shimmering triangles on a magic carpet in space. Obviously, scientific accuracy wasn’t a big theme back then.
One of the hardest games ever! Only eight levels as I recall, but getting past the sixth was damned near impossible. I pulled it off a few times, but man, what a nightmare… but somehow fun at the same time.
Run around a Aztec tomb collecting gold and whatnot.
Pilot your little moon buggy and defend the Earth’s closest heavenly neighbor from marauding UFOs and rocks on the lunar surface.
Uhh… you jump around… sometimes its pitch black.. there’s bats… hell, I just remember it was fun!
A text-based game where you are the pilot of a nuclear bomber flying into Soviet airspace to do the deed. If you got into this you got into it big-time… when a SAM site fired on you and you had to deploy countermeasures and hope they worked… then when you opened your target package and finally nuked those red bastards… hey, it was the early 80’s, this was the best way to cope with the thought of nuclear annihilation!
The single best take on Pac-Man ever done. So fun!
One On One
Dr. J vs. Larry Bird. Sweet! Very accurate too: Dr. J could dunk, but Larry could sink them from downtown.
3D, that’s all you need to know.
You’re the mother of some child pigs defending against wolves attempting to float down on balloons to eat your babies, so you have to shoot arrows at them in your little basket that can go up and down. Weird, but extremely addicting.
Eat your spinach, get the skinny ugly chick.
Awesome adaptation of the classic movie.
PSI 5 Trading Company
A space-based adventure that was more about commerce than blowing other ships up.
Raid Over Moscow
Basically this was Beach Head but with a more modern take of the U.S. vs. the USSR.
This game had some of the best music ever. It was one of the toughest games you could ever play, but if you made it far enough it was a fantastic accomplishment.
You’re one of a handful of monsters rampaging across a city, eating people. It’s still out there today in updated forms.
Realm Of Impossibility
Very nice 3D-ish adventure game.
Rescue On Fractalus
Oh, this game… there’s one part where you land your ship on a planet to rescue a crashed pilot… you’re looking out the window of your ship and you see a spacesuit-clad person running up… only, sometimes, it wasn’t a person, it was an alien, who promptly pops up and screams loudly at you! You know those YouTube videos where you are tricked to watch something closely and then a monster pops up? Yeah, was done in the early 80’s 🙂 This game was also one of the first to use fractal geometry to render its landscape, pretty cutting-edge stuff back then.
You are literally the roadrunner trying to avoid the coyote.
You’re literally fighting Satan and his minions in a Galaxian-type shooter.
Imagine the simple game Snake if it was actually incredibly awesome. That’s Serpentine!
A great little top-down adventure game famous for all sorts of weird geometric-based enemies.
You’re basically a bully tormenting geeks. Perfect!
Fly your taxi picking up fairs and dropping them off. Another of the ones I still play all the time.
Explore caves, avoid bats, use dynamite, have a blast (pun intended).
Spy Versus Spy
Haha, lots of fun planting traps for the other spy to get tripped up on.
Red 5 standing by!
One of the first pornographic games out there. Was always fun to find there was another disk with another girl to get naked.
Gymnastics here was always my favorite, but other events were fun too.
Tag Team Wrestling
There were a few wrestling games, but this is the only one I remember having tag-team action.
You’re the bartender tossing beers to patrons, picking up the empties before they fall on the ground, picking up tips and emptying the bar out.
A lesser known adventure game that was absolutely massive, literally: the size of its dungeons was immense.
Temple Of Apshai Trilogy
Yet another adventure game, this one spread out over a couple of games that formed a coherent whole.
This game should NOT have been fun: you were the pilot of a timeship that literally stayed anchored in the middle of the screen the whole time! Seems like it would suck, but no, the mechanic worked perfectly. As you progress through time you fight progressively more advanced and harder aircraft… the UFOs at the end were nearly impossible to beat.
The movie in game form.
Trolls And Tribulations
This is actually a better version of Ghosts and Goblins basically.
Yep, the same one as in the arcade. Still love lightcycles as much as anyone.
Ultima III – Exodus
The entire Ultima series is the stuff of legend, but really it’s Ultima III (and Ultima IV) that were the best.
Ultima IV – Quest Of The Avatar
Now, Ultima IV was better than Ultima III… and I actually have gotten my 11-year old son into playing this one 🙂 This was different than most such games because it wasn’t so much about battles as it was about doing the right thing and being “”virtuous””. That was the whole point. Very intricate game actually with lots of “”this effects that”” sorts of things.
Up ‘n Down
A cartoonish kind of game where you drive a little “”love bug”” kind of car that moves almost vertically on the roads.
Another great top-down scrolling shooter.
This was always my favorite Olympic-themed game… the hot dog event was my favorite.
In my opinion, THE definitive top-down scrolling shooter ever.
Yie Ar Kung Fu
This is the wackiest martial art game ever. Kind of had the idea of wirework without knowing it 🙂
A beautiful isometric scrolling shooter. For a while this had some of the most advanced graphics going.
One of the best, and certainly one of the most famous, text adventures of all time.
Ok, that’s it! Kinda pointless I suppose, but fun to reminisce if nothing else.