In Part One of this post I listed my favourite top five games, of which I would consider to be “launch day” quality, written specifically for the Commodore 64. In Part Two, I will list my launch day picks of games that were ported to (or adapted for) the C64. Again, I'll try to keep it to a selection of five.
There are a lot of racing games for the C64 and it's difficult to choose one of them as a “favorite”. But, when I compare the ones I've played over the years (Out Run, Test Drive, Pitstop, Chase HQ, etc.), the one that winds up with the most check-marks is Power Drift.
The graphics are colourful, the music is fun, and the action is fast. Not only do you have hairpin turns and roadside obstacles, but you also have to negotiate over hills and ramp ways. This game was the first game I saw with this added element to the racetrack, so it must have left an impression on me.
The game also gives you a chance to enjoy some racing before it gets too difficult. For the first few legs of the race, the corners are wide and the competing drivers are not too aggressive. However, once you reach leg three and beyond, the action gets a little more dangerous. This gradual build-up is something that I can appreciate and is another tick on my list that makes it in my top five of launch day titles for the C64.
I'm not a “sports guy”, but I know that there are millions of gamers who do enjoy their sports games. So, I shouldn't really have a top ten launch list without mentioning at least one sports related video game.
There are a few sports related games that I've enjoyed over the years, on my C64, but the one out of that short list that probably holds the most appeal to the “general” gaming public would have to be Blades of Steel.
I mean, first of all, it's hockey, so action is certainly covered there. Secondly, Blades of Steel, in my opinion, is the best hockey video game ever made. From the game opening sequence to the sudden death shoot-outs, it has everything a hockey game should; Penalty shots, referees and puck drops, and of course the odd fisticuffs.
The sound effects are pretty good, too. The cheering crowd really adds to the action and suspense of the game.
Many Commodore owners may claim that the video game “Elite” as the best simulator/RPG game ever created for this 8-bit computer. But, I have to say that Space Rogue has it beat. Granted, Space Rogue was released about five years after Elite and the genre had a chance to advance somewhat in that time. But, for me, the fact remains that if you're looking for a great adventure / RPG game for the C64, you'll probably get a lot of enjoyment out of Space Rogue.
The game play is very engaging and the controls are quite easy to understand. The visuals are impressive, with solid and very colourful 3D polygon-type graphics (during space flight mode). The attention to details like this makes it easy for the gamer to get immersed in the Space Rogue universe.
When in RPG-mode, you get a very detailed top-down view of your environment and the interaction with other game characters and settings is very engaging. There's also a lot of story in Space Rogue and side missions to keep you well entertained for many hours. Don't expect to finish this game in a couple of hours.
Speaking of RPG and adventure games, I don't think this list would be complete without the inclusion of Maniac Mansion. I was close to putting this game into Part One of my list, but it was developed for more than just the C64 when it was released, so technically it belongs more in Part Two.
Maniac Mansion is another one of those landmark games, not just for the C64, but for the gaming world in general. Before Monkey Island, there was Maniac Mansion.
LucasFilm revolutionized the computer adventure genre with the development of their SCUMM gaming engine and improved on the point-and-click gaming interface. For the time, and for the limitations of the C64, game elements found in Maniac Mansion were really rare to see. The animation is superb and the cut scenes are entertaining. The plot is engaging and makes the hours playing fly by; there are some classic gags and humor thrown in, as well.
With the engaging story, the game controls, the graphics, and sound, Maniac Mansion has the high production value that easily makes it a launch day title for the C64. After you're done playing Maniac Mansion, get in a game of Zak McKracken!
I know, I already have a side-scroll shoot'em up listed in Part One, but I just had to include Salamander in the game adaptation list. I really enjoy playing this game and it does have real production value that would make it an excellent launch title. Besides, the box art is kind of cool, too.
As with all of my other launch title picks, the graphics are wonderful, the action is fast and the sound track is excellent. The animations are smooth and the game controls are simple and really responsive. I also find that Salamander allows the gamer to enjoy some game-play before things get really challenging.
The bosses at the end of the levels also look good and are not too easy (or difficult) to subdue. There were many shoot'em up and platform games that I could have put in my top ten list, but there's just something about Salamander that made me choose it over the others.
There are so many that I could have added to this list, but this is a list of some of them over which I spent a lot of time deliberating:
I hope you enjoyed my list! What games would you consider to be “launch day worthy”? Let me know in the Discussion section.