When I’d originally heard of the whole idea behind #c64month, I couldn’t help but be utterly excited. I mean - an entire month dedicated to (what I think is) the greatest 8-bit microcomputer ever? HECK YEAH.
Whilst I’d have loved to have tried to put something together - my 6502 skills are just a little rusty at this stage, so instead - as I’m in a bit of a reflective mood, primarily to do with trying to work out what I want to work on for my next project now Pocket Dogfights is basically at a stage where I’m focusing on minor maintenance work, I thought I’d go back and take a look at a few games which happen to have been some form of influence on me.
Whether it’s just because I can appreciate what they did with the hardware, or they have systems which impressed me on a number of levels - they’re just a small list of a few that I thought were interesting on a number of levels.
Sure, Commando isn’t the best conversion from an arcade machine - but as an early title, it was still enjoyable enough to play, and let’s not forget that Hubbard soundtrack.
It happens to sit on this list for one particular reason - thanks to the sprite glitching, it was the game which triggered the desire to want to create my own games, primarily from the ego-filled belief that as an 8-year old, I could do amazingly better. Which was not the case.
But from there, I slowly started to digest the BASIC programming manuals, then some bits & pieces on 6502 assembly language - which eventually led to me heading in the direction of writing software for a living, even if it meant that there was always those times where the interest in wanting to write games leaks out a bit ;)
Stunt Car Racer
Stunt Car Racer, on the other hand - is primarily an admiration from a technical perspective. I’d first seen the game on a relative’s Amiga, and by the standards of the late 80’s/early 90’s, was totally blown away. Compared to most other racing games at the time, it was the rare example of a game which had circuits that contained a (very large) degree of verticality, along with an incredible sense of speed for the time.
I then found out it was available on the C64, and my youthful mind couldn’t even believe it was possible. But after playing it, I was even more impressed, as for the most part - 3D graphics and the Commodore 64 were not a great match (as best shown by the any of the games developed using the Freescape engine ;p), but with Stunt Car Racer, there was a solid enough framerate, and the controls were just as responsive as on its 16-bit counterparts.
Looking back at it - even now, the fact it has such a unique track design makes the game a blast to play, and inspires me in wanting to be able to be a great enough coder to push whatever hardware I’m working with to the limits.
There was no way in heck that I could leave this off the list - for a long, long time, I’ve considered Paradroid to be one of my all-time favourite games, not just on the C64, but of all time. While a description of both the game’s scenario, and of the basic gameplay may make it sounds just the many dime-a-dozen action games of the era, underneath that veneer, there’s an incredibly intricate game.
At it’s heart, Paradroid is a game where you need to manage resources - in this case being the cast of droids which populate the series of freighters you’re tasked with clearing. Sure, you can go in there, floor by floor & take them out - but you need to use the weaker droids to be strong enough to even be able to enter the floors with the stronger military, security & Command droids which dominate some of the decks.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that the decks feel somewhat alive - as you’re moving down them, seeing droids doing their business (messenger ones scurrying about, others on patrol) - for a game originally released in 1985, that’s certainly a great level of detail compared to most other action games of the time.
Paradroid is one of the few retro games I always consider as an example of the type of easy to pick up, but containing some very interesting systems and depth that I wish to design. I’ll admit - I’m not quite there yet, but it’s one of my biggest goals as a developer.