Sunday, April 30, 2023

Commodore 64 is alive in 2023

Although it is well known that I am a big Amiga fan, I also have a lot of love for the Commodore 64, which I still have and actively use in 2023. 

There is a lot of new release games, demos and even a new operating system for the Commodore 64 in 2023 to enjoy. So today I wanted to shine a light on the amazing world of Commodore 64 in 2023!

Back in the 1980's I had a Commodore 64 from around 1983 to 1987 when my family upgraded to a Commodore 128, then to an Amiga 500 in 1988. I got another C64 in the mid 1990's again and sold it in mid 2000's. I got back into the C64 again in the mid 2010's - just couldn't let go. 

I covered more about this and my reintroduction to the C64 back in 2015 on this very blog here.

What astounds me is the shear amount of games and demos released for the C64 in the last 10 years. The C64 scene is ALIVE. Really alive.

But when you mention Commodore 64 to most people, it evokes fond memories of their childhood playing classic games which defined the C64 during its "Golden years" in the 1980's. 

Most likely it is why you are here reading this now. 

Maybe you used GEOS, MusiCalc, Word Writer or Swift Calc applications in between gaming sessions?

Maybe you read about them in classic magazines like Zzap 64, Commodore Format, Run, Transactor, Commodore Horizons, Commodore User, Commodore Force, Commodore Magazine, Your Commodore or many other magazines available in that era. 

Perhaps you even wrote out the c64 games listed in BASIC listings in many of these magazines, enjoyed them, and then modified them to create your own games too!

Wizball, Parallax, Nodes of Yesod, Rock N Bolt, Oasis of Shalimar, Head over Heels, Beach Head 1 & 2, Raid over Moscow, Ghostbusters, Zaxxon, Iridium, Paradroid, The Last V8, Bobby Bearing, Impossible Mission, Revs, Grand Prix Circuit, Delta, Turrican, and so many more. So many great games, and I have been lucky enough to be able to get some of these games back to enjoy again.

Playing these games from tape was an exercise in patience, but the reward was worth it as the games were excellent.

You still had to be patient for floppy disk games too on the C64, but again, it was worth it right?

Nostalgia makes revisiting these games for a while a fun thing to do, but ultimately without new releases it remains just that, a nostalgia trip.

But did you know just how many new physical boxed and electronic released games have been released for the Commodore 64 in the last 10 years? Actual new games, not just ports of titles from other platforms (though it has these too).

A HUGE number have been released - many hundreds.

It is amazing - here is just a small selection of new release physical boxed games that I have bought since coming back to the C64 in 2015! 

There are so many more games and applications for the C64 released on, csdk and many other places online too, that never see a physical release but are just as awesome.

New releases are not limited to games and demos either - Messiah MIDI cartridge filled with Music creation tools leveraging MIDI and SID functionality, C64OS (Which I covered in more detail in this blog here), Wifi64 to connect to BBS via the internet WiFi connection from the C64, SID tune released on cartridge like Sid Chip Club and DubCRT, 1541 Ultimate II cartridge to run d64, crt and tape images from SD/USB with REU support built in, SD2IEC to load d64 images from SD, and Magic desk released cartridge multi-game images!

There is also regular release Commodore 64 magazines available in 2023 too. 

Zzap 64, Freeze 64, K&A Plus, and Reset 64 are just a sample of the English language magazines I know of and actively buy. Some of these physical release magazines have been going since 2016 or so, and cover disks are also available for them too.

Sound great right? 

Let's look a little more at some of the new games being released for C64 recently, both physical and electronic only releases. I will just focus on games here today.

Remember that nearly all these games are available electronically to play via C64 emulator, or on real C64 using 1541 Ultimate II or SD2IEC hardware. You can also write out the d64 files to real floppy disks using a USB to 1541 cable or on the C64 itself if using 1541 Ultimate II.

Just released this week is Zeta Wing II, a vertical shootem up game from Witchsoft.

This shoot em up impresses with great gameplay and graphics - the action is fast but doesn't ever feel unfair. I got into the game quickly and loved playing it.

Sarah Jane Avory has released a number of great games for the C64 in recent years, and I look forward to seeing more soon.

Also released this year is another game many people are raving about in the C64 scene, a game called A Pig Quest written by Piggy 18 team and released through Protovision.

This game is seriously impressive. Graphically and musically it blows my socks off, and the gameplay is incredibly satisfying.

At it's core it is an adventure platform game.

The attention to detail, even on the level intro screens is impressive.

I am so impressed with this game.

As you progress into the dungeons you have to find keys, interact with objects to make progress:

Did I mention the graphics are amazing?

The level variety and challenges makes a Pig Quest a lot of fun to play. Definitely recommended.

Another new game in 2023 is a game released electronically by AGPX called News Stand.

In this game Joseph has to collect money and avoid enemies to buy C64 tapes. :-)

Laid out in the left to right platform game style, it has some curious features like cars and bikes that run you over if you time your crossing of roads incorrectly! Drones also drop bombs on you too, a nod to a sad reality of real life warfare in 2023...

The graphics are very good in this game, the attention to detail very nice to see:

I couldn't work out how to get past the guy throwing CD's at you though!

Still in 2023, an impressive new game called Terrestrial has been released, available in physical box form from Psytronik.

Essentially this game is a love letter to Beach Head and Raid over Moscow, set in Space.

The gameplay are very familiar to anyone who has played Beach head 1 and 2, or Raid over Moscow.

You have to launch your rockets from the hanger, a bit like the launch sequence in the old Raid over Moscow game.

Fortunately it is a not a ridiculously hard and frustrating as leaving the hanger in Raid over moscow was, and the graphics look so much more impressive too.

As you move through the game, different game sequences appear, this one where you shoot enemies in space quite similar to the Beach head sub game where you shoot battle ships in the sea.

Nothing wrong with taking inspiration from classic games to create a new one with a different theme, and I think Terrestrial is a wonderful blend of old and new.

2023 also saw the electronic release of a new game called Space Station 23 for the Commodore 64 by Vector5 games.

In this game you need to re-activate/restore a damaged space station and destroy all the aliens inside.

This game is a tough one, and I need to spend some more time on it before I can judge it properly.

I can see I need to understand how to avoid running out of Oxygen and health so quickly. I guess I am not going to the right rooms to keep the supply replenished..

Another new release game in 2023 (at a demo scene party) is the impressive slicks style racing car game called GP Cars.

From the start I am very impressed with the graphics. Given demo sceners are behind it, this makes sense!

As mentioned, this game follows the slicks "view from the top" racing gameplay style, with reminds me a bit of Supercars II on the Amiga, but with Last V8 style difficulty with avoiding obstacles on the track!

I enjoy these types of games, so it was no surprise to me that I enjoyed GP cars quite a lot.

There are multiple scenarios and tracks within each scenario to work through, and this is a definite game to grab and enjoy, especially since it is free.

Another 2023 game is a game called Lester by Knifegrinder. This is a very pretty platform game with very impressive graphics and good gameplay as well.

This platform game graphics are very impressive in my opinion. 

Kinda reminds me of Japanese cute characters in this game, but with a very pretty game map and fun to play.

I like that it is easy to get into, but actually a lot to do in it - plenty of maps to explore and unlock.

At the checkpoints you can review the game map and see how you are doing, your inventory, and also which rooms you have explored and which ones remain.

I am impressed with this game - definitely worth picking up.

The last 2023 release game I will look at today is Muddy racers from Protovision, a 4 player racing game that remind me of Super off-road racer on the Amiga. I guess it is similar to Badlands too on the C64, but I confess I haven't played that much.

The graphics deserve special mention as they are really good.

I love that up to 4 people can play this game.

After choosing the circuit to race (note that there are additional areas to unlock in the game as you progress), you visit the shop to upgrade your car with any coins you have.

That done, we can race - well practice in this case. 

I enjoyed this game a lot - and I expect it would be a lot of fun with a few friends around to play against!

Lykia is a 2022 release game, which is free to download too, but also available as a physical box release version from Psytronik that I got in 2023. Having the Lykia game soundtrack on CD, and a bunch of other extras included too was fantastic.

Lykia itself is a proper full on Adventure game: 

Another graphically impressive game, and just goes to show that not all great new release games on the C64 are platform games, driving games or shoot em ups.

Further to prove this point was the 2022 release of an impressive adventure game from Badgerpunch games called Rogue 64.

This adventure views from the top and is very impressive indeed.

As you explore the level, the map updates to the right, making it easy to see where you have been and where you currently are.

As a dungeon crawler game, I was hooked quickly and really enjoyed it. The control method deserves special mention as you can access and manage your inventory via long press on the fire button - very smart.

Also released in 2022 is a game originally released on the Commodore Vic 20,and ported to the C64 called Sub Chase 64 by Karsten Senkel.

The simplicity of the game (showing it's Vic 20 origins) doesn't detract from very simple and addictive gameplay to drop bombs from the surface ship to destroy submarines below the surface.

The submarines fire missiles to the surface that destroy your ship, so you have to keep moving, and adjusting your bomb drop position accounting for the different speeds and depth of the submarines below.

It is a simple game concept, but quite fun to play, and easy to get into.

Also released electronically in 2022 is a game called Randoom, from Picaro games.

This game looks like a simple vertical platform game, but it has an interesting game mechanic that you need to hit enemies of a specific colour. The colour changes after touching the correct one, so you then know the next colour to target.

You can fall through the bottom to the top as the enemies also do this. This gameplay means you can't just touch all the enemies, you have to do it in the correct order.

I found this game a lot of fun. Even though the graphics are simple compared to other games I have shown here, the gameplay is excellent and easy to get into.

Another 2022 electronic release game for the C64 is a game called New Rally-X 64 from TheStuffMade.

This game is an interesting Pacman style variation using racing cars! You need to locate all the checkpoints on the map, while avoiding being hit by the enemy cars in the map.

You can't really sit still in the game - the car is constantly moving even if you don't touch the joystick, so you need to really pay attention!

I found myself enjoying this game - simple, but fun.

Another 2022 games is a columns inspired puzzle game called Pillars, by Arlasoft.

If you have played the games Columns before on the Megadrive, you will know what to expect here, matching columns of similar colours to collapse them.

I definitely enjoyed this game, as I still enjoy these sort of puzzle games.

I have tried to focus on some of the electronic released C64 games here, as many of them sneak under the radar and so many people don't know about them. 

Hopefully there are a few new ones here you might want to try out.

Speaking of which, here's another 2022 released C64 game called Mike Mech by LC-Games.

In this game you need to restore power to the stranded ship.

In essence it kinda reminds me of Miner 2049'er on the C64, where you need to walk over all the platform surfaces on each level to activate the batteries on the ship.

Cool, room clear.

Where is differs is the need to jump and hit the platforms underneath too, like this level below. It adds an interesting mechanic to a tried and trusted platform game formula.

Another 2022 release is a conversion of a game from the ZX Spectrum called Amaurote, which is a isometric 3D adventure game.

This game takes advantage of SuperCPU or other accelerators if you have them. It can also play fine on a unaccelerated C64, but admittedly does seem a little slower. 

I never owned or played any games on a ZX Spectrum, so I had never seen this game before.

The game screen is a little busy I had to admit, and finding objects seemed hard as a result. But I think if you kept trying for long enough you would enjoy playing this game.

The next 2022 game on the C64 is a prequel to the classic Miner 2049'er game released on the C64 back in the 1980's. This is called Miner 2019'er and was released by Psytronik. I ordered the physical copy of this game on floppy disk:

Nothing new if you have played Miner 2049'er in my view, just new levels, adjustable difficulty and nicer music.

I enjoyed the original game back in the 1980's, and I enjoyed this too, although the level of graphics used in platform games in 2023 is just so much higher than this, which makes it hard when trying to keep to the original theme of the old game too.

The last 2022 game I will look at is the amazingly awesome Polar Bear in Space by Psytronik. This game is a love letter to the classic Wizball game, with more features, great graphics, easy to get into gameplay and an amazing soundtrack. I bought the physical boxed game with floppy disks.

This is a save em up and shoot em up rolled in together. Basically, if you have played Wizball, it is similar concept, but using a polar bear who can fly through space and walk on the ground.

The upgrades remind me constantly of Wizball, as do the spot effects. But they are not a direct copy, just lovingly re-imagined.

Polar Bear in space is definitely recommended!

This next C64 game dates back to 2020, but still think it is worth a mention here. I only found out about it recently from an Amiga port of this game.  The game is called Luma, by Shallan.

This puzzle game involves positioning batteries and reflectors in the correct positions on each map to correctly send the laser beam of each laser gun to the correct destination.

The game starts off very easy.

It quickly gets more difficult and the easy entry into the game makes this game extremely easy to get into and enjoy.

When you start getting very limited number of shifts in each level, it gets a lot more challenging and you need to think a lot more before starting to move things around!

Definitely recommended - this is a fun and challenging game.

I have only touched the surface with regards to the number of amazing games you can get on the C64 in 2023. 

There are so many more to explore and find - hopefully this helps you to find even more new games to try out. Here is a quick list of some other games to try out if you haven't already.

(this is a must if you don't have this game yet - simply one of the best platform games ever released).

Whew - I covered a lot of C64 games and still only scratched the surface! 

There is so much happening on the C64 - I haven't even covered the demoscene here, which is releasing so many amazing demos on the C64 still too. Some C64 demos shown below - you can check out more demos on and csdk also:

If you are not in the C64 scene any more, come back! I promise, it is more awesome than ever in 2023 :-)