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Thursday, 30 December 2010

Commodore 64 - Classic Computer

Released: 1982
Company: Commodore

Is it any good?

It’s seen by many as the ultimate 80’s computer. The C64 came with a whopping 64K of ram, a screen resolution of 320x200 with 8 selectable colours from a palette of 16. The 8581 (SID) sound chip was very sophisticated for the time, and very popular for both MIDI and programming on a budget. Noticeable flaws were with the attribute system. It placed minor limitations on a number of colours displayable within any 8x8 pixel square. Despite this, the 64 is still an excellent games machine.

Killer titles include Commando, Bounder, Ghosts & Goblins, Green Beret, Wizball, Sentinel, Bubble Bobble, Armalyte, Creatures, IK+ and many many more. A chap called 'Chris Abbott released 'Back in time compilations many years back, and since then many people have dedicated their time and support in order to insure the SID chips survival. All can be found at http://www.c64audio.com/   
      
Should I still get one?

If you’re into fast vertical and horizontal scrolling, with good sprites then yes, but otherwise performance is poor. Although the hardware sprites make light work of sprite based shoot-em-ups, 3D software tended to run slowly (if at all). However; Mercenary appears an exception to the rule, and ran quite smoothly, and at speed. The software available is excellent, and probably only rivaled by the Speccy. These days’ emulators are all the rage, but you still can’t beat the feeling of sitting next to a real to life Commodore 64, with a slice of cake and a cuppa tea waiting for it to load.      

What to look for?

Games from the home brew community are still pouring out today. Arcade action games are second to none, and the 64 is probably the best choice for adventure games. Be warned though! Loading software from tape is very slow, and 1541 disk drive (additional kit) loading is not as fast as it should be, later software came out with faster loader routines, and helped things along nicely.

Can I Still Get One?

Most definitely, and it’ll only cost you around £25 for the machine and datassette unit. The majority of games go for peanuts on ebay, and the Internet is a real treasure trove for some of the systems classic gems. I found mine at our local car boot, and quite often see 'em going for around a fiver. 

HomeBrew, Emulation?

Probably the most active homebrew scene on the planet. Fans are still keeping the 64 well and truly alive. Try sites such as http://www.c64.com/ for ROM’s and http://www.lemon64.com/ for an online museum section. For everything else including reviews http://www.gamebase64.com/. There's even emulation software out there that runs on the iPad, Android and iPhone devices.   


1 comment :

  1. The C64's 320x200 mode doesn't have the eight colours from sixteen limitation, that's only in 160x200 multicolour character mode. In high res character, there's either one background colour or four from the sixteen with each 8x8 cell selecting it's own colour on top of that (320x200 bitmap has any two colours from the sixteen available per 8x8 pixel cell).

    A lot of the problems C64 3D games have are at least partially down to programming; something like Elite was taken from a 2MHz machine and just dumped over without optimisation, had the extra memory been thrown at the job of speeding up drawing rather than extra content it could've moved a lot better. For "pseudo 3D" it does a lot better, games like Turbocharge or Encounter barrel along at a decent speed.

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