Home News The Commodore 64 is reborn at Christmas: many new (wonderful) games for a computer of forty years ago

The Commodore 64 is reborn at Christmas: many new (wonderful) games for a computer of forty years ago

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The Commodore 64 arrived on the market in August 1982. That is, thirty-nine years ago that even if they are not quite forty, in the time of technology they are more or less equivalent to three or four geological eras. It should therefore be a fossil of computer science but the “biscottone”, a pet name with which his fans call him because of the Savoyard aesthetics, not only is still among us but is alive and kicking, as Simple Minds sang at the time of the heyday of this 8-bit technological icon, which in just a few years became the best-selling home computer of all time. And thanks to a very active “homebrew” scene, made by talented independent developers, the C64 today churns out video games of a technical level that having been able to see them thirty-nine years ago would have left anyone with an open jaw. This also happens because in forty years programming techniques have evolved and although inside the 64 there is an aging 6510 chip, what it is possible to pull out of it still reaches astounding levels today.

So for example, comes a C64 version of Sonic the hedgehog, or the game with which the Sega Megadrive console was launched, quite another power, 16 bit, Motorola 68000 cpu, boundless color palette compared to the “poor” 16 of the Commodore. Yet the 2021 version of Sonic for C64 is almost a miracle: as fast, playable, fluid and fun as the original, more similar to the version for the Master System than the one for Megadrive for the truth, but still an unthinkable technical achievement. It must be said that to “run” on a Commodore of the time, Sonic needs a REU (ie a Ram Expansion Unit, a 256k memory expansion) so the game does not fit in the original 64k of the Commodore and for this the purists of the 8 bit turn up their noses a bit. But if at the time a REU cost the same as a small car, today emulating one on another platform costs zero, and in any case Sonic works perfectly and natively on the “new” C64, or TheC64 and TheC64Mini, the contemporary re-editions of the biscuit.

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Sonic is amazing and okay, but on the podium of 2021 8-bit wonders are two more games, both made by indie developer Sarah Jane Avory. The first, Briley Witch Chronicles, is a Japanese-style RPG that leaves you amazed at how much depth and game possibilities the author has managed to insert into the C64, alongside excellent graphics and sound. If Briley Witch had been released in the 80s, it would surely still be remembered today as the absolute masterpiece it is, and which remains in 2021 as well. It costs $ 9.99 and can be downloaded and then “flashed” on a cartridge and played on a real Commodore 64.

RepTech, the Commodore 64 is back: here is the C64, thus reliving the technological myth of the 80s

Always Avory is the author of Snow Force, a classic horizontal scrolling shooter in the wake of the great titles of the genre for the C64 (Armalyte, Katakis, Io, Delta above all) but this time the theme is Christmas and instead of the spaceship there is a very nice flying sleigh. The action is rhythmic and the level of difficulty well calibrated, everything is done in a very elegant way. Snow Force costs $ 1.99, a symbolic price for a game that is anything but a game and that consecrates Avory as one of the best authors of all time for the biscuit. In short, if you still have an 8-bit passion (and a working Commodore 64) these are three titles you absolutely must have. And if you have to go and retrieve it in the cellar or in the attic, go there, dig up and reconnect everything, it’s worth it.

But below the podium, there is no shortage of other titles that are unthinkable technical achievements and brilliant interactive ideas even today, which bring today’s concepts and categories of digital interactivity to a machine from decades ago. So, since you have recovered it from the boxes and reconnected it to the Mivar (if you have it, otherwise you can use an adapter for today’s displays), your C64 is ready to host great games like giant monster, a sort of fighting game created by the Italian team composed of Antonio Savona + Pirates of Zanzibar, the game is a very special encounter between action and aesthetics with huge characters made in Petscii graphics, with an incredible artistic result. Or again Ninja Carnage, a curious example of a very well written “semi-textual” point and click adventure, Nixy the Glade Sprite, a close and fun action adventure, Lost Realms of Murkasada, an old school but well placed and technically sound RPG, Outrage, a nice cross between two classics like Turrican e Hawkeye. Obviously in all these productions there is a heartfelt homage to the time that was, but also a wink to the time that is and why not, to what is to come.

Yes, because retrogaming is now an important market segment in a historical period in which early gamers are approaching or have already passed their fifties, and it is a phenomenon that does not seem at all willing to downsize. The success of initiatives such as the re-release of classic computers and consoles goes far beyond the appeal of nostalgia or digital folklore. It is contemporary history, thanks to the incredible level of liveliness of the homebrew scene that makes it seem that forty years have not really passed since basic commands were typed on keyboards and voice assistants lived only in science fiction films. A story that has lasted to this day, made up of electronic dreams that have never ceased to amaze since the 1980s. And above all, a story that the inexhaustible magical power of the Commodore 64 seems to be able to make infinite.


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