Play it again, Sam (that great C64 game)

Published by Supertortuga on 2017-01-08

In the great old days, back in the glorious 1980's, I was hooked on to the Commodore 64, an 8-bit home computer introduced in 1982 by Commodore. The C64 is listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-selling single computer model of all time with an impressive 15 million units sold (so I was in good company).

Compared to today's powerful computers, the C64 had limited resources, but its great advantage was that there was only one model, with common hardware, which made it possible to create a huge amount of software, which further increased its popularity. The C64 had 64 Kb of RAM (hence its name), a 16 colour graphics chip (VIC-II) with sprites and scrolling capacibilites, and the amazing SID sound chip.

I was amazed by the games, and I have spent a huge amount of hours playing classics such as Blue Max, Gyruss, Bandits, Dino Eggs, Fort Apocalypse, Popeye, Wizball, and a countless list of other memorable titles. I do get amazed by today's games, which are truly impressive from a technical point of view, but I believe that many of the games created back in the 80's are masterpieces, often created by one single person, doing all the coding and creative work himself.

The C64 was also famous for its scene, with a lot of group dedicated to cracking the copy protection of the games and then swapping them with members of other groups. Such groups are Triad, Fairlight, The Dynamic Duo, Yeti, 1001 Crew, Hotline to name a few. Check out this video of legendary C64 crack intros to see what I am talking about.

Do it again... Play the games again

Yes! That's right - you can still play the games. In order to play the old C64 games you need a real C64, or an emulator. The fast processors in today's computer makes it possible to do imitate the behaviour of the hardware of the old systems. Thanks to the skills of some great programmers, we now have several emulators for the C64.

The in my opinion best C64 emulator is CCS64, which is programmed by Håkan Sundell.

A quick guide to run C64 games on your PC

1. Download an emulator

There are several C64 emulators to choose from. The difference between them consists primarily in how well they succeed to mimic the hardware, that is how well they manage to interpret the native instructions. Then the user interface differs - the emulators are more or less user friendly. Personally I think that the best emulator is link.ccs64. It runs almost all programs without any hassles and is also easy to use.

The beta version 2.00 is very stable and works almost without any problems. The choice between the DOS and the Windows versions depends among other things on what operative system you are using. The Win32 version can be run on Windows NT and uses DirectX.

Unzip the emulator and save it in a suitable folder on your computer. If you want to, you can create shortcuts to the emulator, but you might just as well run it directly from the Explorer.

Use a zip program, such as 7-Zip, to unzip the files.

2. Download some games

I suggest some classics, such as Gyruss, Boulderdash, Gianna Sisters and Armalyte.

There are thousands of games to use with the emulator. Most of them are easy to find by searching the Internet.

3. Start the emulator

Try the command POKE 53280,x (there 0<=x<=15), which changes the border colour of the screen.

Now that you have the emulator and some games it's time to make it work. Start the emulator by double-clicking CCS. If everything goes well you should se the classic blue initial screen. You can use the very same commands as on the actual C64.

The easiest way of working with the emulator is by using the built-in menu. You access the menu by pressing function key F9. Thereafter choose 1541 DEVICE... (alt+8) and select the folder you have stored the games. Choose a game and press enter to load it.

Now the game should load and you should be able to play! Or? If nothing happens when you move the joystick or press the keyboard you must configure the input device of the emulator.

Review of Bandits - a great C64 game

This game was released in 1983, but I got my hands on it a few years later. To my knowledge it was only released on the C64 (but since it is a clone many games which resembles it have been released).

The title screen of Bandits

The title screen of Bandits

Your mission

The game is obviously a Space Invaders clone, but it has a few twists. You control you ship at the bottom of the screen, while the enemies (the bandits ) form attack waves and while firing shots at you try to steal the different objects on the right side

Let me introduce you to the Bandits

Let me introduce you to the Bandits

In the early stages the enemies often attack in formations of up to three but later on they form more complex formations and form joint attacks.

The first stage

The first stage

Getting your well deserved bonus

Getting your well deserved bonus

You move the ship to the left and right to escape the enemy shots. You can get no powerups - the only way to escape when the going gets too tough is to use the shield (see pics) - the status bar at the bottom of the screen shows how much energy is left.

Hey you, that

Hey you, that' s my pears!

I really enjoy the graphics of this game. Just like in Fort Apocalypse the graphics are focused on how to benefit the gameplay. Being such an early game, I find it really impressing to see how programmers have managed to get so many objects on the screen

End of the game... How about another?

End of the game... How about another?

Overall impression

This is a masterpiece in its simplicity. Sure, it s nice to look at the overwhelming graphics and get blasted away by the music of the new games today, but if the gameplay is your first priority you should take a look at Bandits . A definite retrogaming c


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