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Commodore C64 Games Computer

Updated 25 August 2019

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Like millions of people around the world, the Commodore C64 was the first microcomputer many people owned. The C64 was the iPod of its time with the ability to program in BASIC and play a shed-load of games. This journal bookmarks only some of the many Internet sites that relate to this awesome machine. We will show you games, applications, magazines and books for the wonderful Commodore C64 games computer.

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The Commodore C64 start screen could possibly be one of the most recognizable start screens in the world of computing. Turn the microcomputer on and this is what you will get. The legendary blue-on-blue screen is the gateway to the ultimate retrocomputing experience. The Commodore C64 certainly has been the first digital steps into the future for millions of people in the 1980s.

Commodore C64 start screen

General Description

The All Purpose Commodore 64 is the complete computer for education, home or small business applications. Supported by quality peripherals and a full range of software, the Commodore 64 is perfect for the family. No other computer can offer such a variety of uses and applications at such an affordable price. We have our opinion on why the C64 is so popular.

The leading computer magazine of the time, Compute!, visited the 1982 CES industry show and only gave a small write up to this wonderful machine. Compute! (July 1982). If you weren't paying attention, you would have blinked and missed the Commodore C64 revolutionalise the personal computer industry.

no other computer can offer such a variety of uses and applications at such an affordable price

The C64 experience still holds its own in many ways. Firstly, the retro-computing scene is H-O-T. There a delightful range of magazines getting published today that keep you up to date with what is happening. Secondly, the demoscene and in particular the music culture has never gone away. Thirty years of hacking the SID chip and new tunes are still being pumped out today. Thirdly, the games. 8-bit games are the pinnacle of fun. One play of Galencia will show you what I mean.

The 8-bit Experience

The best way to experience the Commodore 64 is through one of the many emulators available online. My preferred emulator is the newly released VICE emulator (Version 3). VICE stands for Versatile Commodore Emulator. You can download the VICE from the homepage. It is extremely quick to install (no install scripts) and very easy to use. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any native joystick support in the Windows version. Once you are up and running you can use the user's guides linked below to get started.

Commodore C64 VICE showing a program listing
VICE showing a program listing
from Eight Bit Magazine (Issue 02)
LOAD "*",8,1

and let's get started.

Limitations of the Commodore C64 platform

Let's look past the retro-gloss of what many people consider to be the perfect 8-bit platform and delve into some of the limitations that will frustrate many users.

1   It's Expensive - it is a great irony that the C64 burst onto the home computer scene as a low-cost computer accessible to the middle-class. It was cheap enough for many people to buy one for their kids. Now, these kids have turned into wealthy middle-aged adults with money to burn on reliving their childhood experience. 30 year old electronic equipment is now going for sale at ludicrous prices on second-hand sale sites.

2   Slow data transfer speeds - back in the day, it was considered OK to spend 20 minutes waiting for your game to load off the tape drive because, quite frankly, there was no alternative. The disk drives were substantially quicker than this glacial benchmark but they are still slow. Even when using an emulator, you will get bored waiting for games to load.

3   Only 40-column text display - the fonts used on the Commodore C64 were optimized for the low-resolution display and were quite useful. You can download MS-Windows fonts that look like the original C64 fonts here. But let's face it, 40-column text was never enough. 80-column text capabilities was desperately needed to perform real work on. Unfortunately, televisions of the time could not handle this high-resolution requirement. Specific computer monitors were required for serious applications.

4   BASIC - even on the day of release, the BASIC supplied with the Commodore C64 was antiquated. Of course, this was done for cost reasons but the programming language couldn't even handle the standard machine capabilities such as sprites. It wasn't until the Commodore C128 were this was addressed.

5   Memory Expansion - for almost the length of production, Commodore kept on repeating that the Commodore C64 memory could not be expanded to greater than the supplied 64kb. Well that is only partially true. There was no memory management capability to map greater than the core 64kb. But then, very late into production, Commodore released the Commodore 1764 RAM expansion module. We cannot fathom why this artificial limitation was ever declared in the first place. Perhaps because Commodore didn't want the C64 home computer to compete with their business machines.

Commodore C64 emulation is not a #crime!

Commodore C64 demoscene

The Commodore C64 demoscene is a decades old international computer art culture focused on producing demos. These Commodore C64 demos are designed to show off programming, visual art and musical skills of the demo group involved. We believe that the demoscene is one of the reasons why the C64 is so polular.

The demoscene probably didn't start with the Commodore C64 and it certainly hasn't ended, with plenty of demos for the Commodore C64 and other platforms being released. We discuss one of our favorite demoscene groups in our article about the Conspiracy demogroup. To our eyes, and ears, the demoscene represents true art in the digital medium. It is designed to promote interest so you copy it and forward the file onto your friends.

There is a general lack of literature on the Commodore C64 demoscene. We certainly haven't seen any strictly demoscene books in our list of best Commodore C64 books. One reason for this is that the demoscene often overlaps with the crackers, particularly in the early wild-west days. People on the Commodore C64 scene may not be willing to come forward and share their stories because (a) they have moved on from those days, and/or (b) they do not want to be unintentionally linked to software piracy.

A demo is typically a single-disk program designed to show off the programmer's or Commodore C64 music or video capability. There are no hard and fast rules but there the general size limit of 880kB due to the double-sided double-density capacity limit of the Commodore 1581 disk drive. One gets the feeling that if you said that a demo was this, this and this, then the demoscene would go out of its way to prove otherwise. But there are typically things that viewers can exect are interesting 8-bit graphics, wild SID synthesizer music and scolling text. Modern digital graffiti.

Most historical demos can be found on CSDB and their SID music tracks get ripped to .sid files and entered into the High Voltage SID Collection database.

We have a couple of interesting links that we hope to build on over time that relate to the history and the current vibrant culture of the Commodore C64 demoscene:

Commodore C64 Journal

What makes the Commodore C64 so popular?

What makes the C64
so popular?

Jailbreaking the Commodore C64

Can you jailbreak
the Commodore C64?

Commodore Manuals and Books

Commodore C64
user's manuals

Best Commodore C64 books

Best Commodore C64
books

Commodore 1541 Floppy Drive

Commodore 1540/1541
Floppy Drive

Commodore 1581 Manuals and Books

Commodore 1581
Disk Drive

Storyboard

Game franchise Elite

Greatest space trading
game, ever?

philreichert.org computer magazine reading rack

Computer Magazine
Reading Rack

Commodore C64 & C128 8 bit fonts

Commodore C64 & C128
Truetype 8-bit Fonts

High Voltage SID Collection

High Voltage SID
Music Collection

Robotronics C64 Carry Case

Robotronics
C64 Case

MOS 6502 replica

MOnSter 6502
Replica

Commodore Replica keyboard

C64 replica
keyboards

Classic Commodore C64 TV Advertisements

How good are those
Commodore C64 adverts

Commodore C64 Game Reviews

Commodore C64 shoot'em up Retaliate game

Retaliate XD
game review

The New Dimension Cruiser-X 79 Commodore C64 playable demo

Cruiser-X 79
C64 playable demo

Commodore C64 shooter Galencia tribute page

Most addictive shooter
on the Commodore C64?

Commodore C64 Vortex Crystals Full Version Game Review

Vortex Crystals
C64 Platform Game

Can you Karaoke on the Commodore C64?

Karaoke on the
Commodore C64?

Commodore C64 games we would like to play

Games, games, games! There are not enough lifetimes to play through all of the Commodore C64 games that have been released. Normally we like to play games then tell you what we think. Check out our excellent Commodore 64 game reviews such as the incredible Elite franchise, Retaliate DX, and Galencia as examples of what we are talking about.

There are plenty more games that we haven't got around to yet. Here is our top 10 list of Commodore C64 games that we would like to play but haven't got around to yet.

Related Commodore Articles

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PCW 1985 Episode Part 1

PCW 1985 Episode
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Commodore TV Advert

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Royal Warrant

Commodore Technical Specification

Commodore C65
retro-journal

Interesting Links

The C64 Scene Database

C64 Scene Database
(External)

Commodore C64 ROM set on the Internet Archive

Review the ROMs
(Internet Archive)

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