2019 C64 Yearly Roundup and GOTY Nominees

Hello everyone and welcome to my 2019 C64 roundup. We’ll take a look at some of my highlights for the year, some of Neil’s picks of the year and announce the Indie Retro News GOTY nominees.

2018 was an incredible year for C64, and 2019 did not disappoint either. In fact we covered more C64 game releases this year in Indie Retro News, than any year since I joined in 2015… and we probably saw more releases this year than any year since the C64’s commercial hay day. We’d also be treated this year to the return of the RGCD 16KB Cartridge game development competition. The competition in the past has been responsible for bringing us tons of amazing games, many of which would get professional produced physical editions. Including some legendary C64 releases like Tiger Claw, Power Glove, Platman Worlds, C64anabalt, Super Bread Box, Micro Hexagon and P0 Snake.

JANUARY: L’abbaye des Morts

The year started with a bang, as Antonio Savona and Saul Cross’s port of Locamolito’s L’abbaye des Morts began shipping mid January. An awesome first release from Double Sided Games, a new publisher who would go on to produce games for multiple Commodore systems, including Vic 20, Amiga and the C64. This spooky tale of a monk on the run, featured stunning hi-res graphics, expert presentation and it also played better than any of the existing ports you can find including the Megadrive version and PC original from 2010.


February would see a surprise announcement that Mazinger64... a fan of 1970s robot anime: MazingerZ had created a stunning game based on the classic TV show.  Released in December 2018 as a preview featuring 3 chapters with each based around a specific enemy or group of enemies from the cartoon. February marked the first version 1.* release.  Further chapters were promised and we’d see a further 2 chapters previewed in September and November. The game played great, it’s one of those games which isn’t immediately accessible due to the rather complicated joystick and keyboard combined control system… though persistence will surely pay off as it’s a fantastic game when the controls are mastered.

MARCH: The Age of Heroes and Doc Cosmos released

March would end with the much anticipated hack n slash platformer called The Age of Heroes from Achim Volkers, Trevor Storey and Saul Cross... In all the pre-release tweets and marketting I saw for the game it was hyped as a new Rastan style game, and early screens and clips did look great... With a beautiful physical collectors edition from Psytronik. It would receive largely positive reviews from the main Commodore game review outlets, and the game did indeed look pretty amazing with those large Trevor Storey enemies and player sprites. However I found the short and repetitive levels and simplistic gameplay rather lacklustre. I’d recommend people check out the game themselves, as many of you seemed to enjoy it none the less.  We also got our first peak at Doc Cosmos which I'll talk more about later :P

APRIL: Vegetables, Lala Prologue, Get Em DX and it’s a me… Mario!

With the July 1st deadline for the RGCD 16 KB compo approaching, April would see the first of the entries appear and get digital releases on the popular digital homebrew store: Itch.io. These included Vegetables: Mike Richmond’s match 3 game with gorgeous graphics, sound and addictive gameplay, Lala Prologue a vicious flick screen platformer which would have you going back again and again for more pain… And also the shock news that ZeroPaige was nearing completion of his 7 year project to port the NES game Super Mario Bros to the C64. Many thought this was just more “Fake news”, but a few days later, as promised ZeroPaige released the game, and C64 owners jumped at the chance to play one of the all time greats in gaming finally on a Commodore. RGCD also put out a stonking maze based co-op shooter called Get Em DX as a physical cartridge release, and I absolutely loved it. Best played with a friend, it feels like Gauntlet meets Pac-man as you try to gobble up all the dots on the maze, enemies spawn and you must take them out with a satisfyingly rapid firing blaster. Originally written by George Rottensteimer for the 2012 RGCD compo, this release was long overdue, but has now become a staple game for my multiplayer with Chiswicked streams on Twitch (along with Ikari Warriors, Caveman Ughlympics, World Class Rugby and Mario Bros.

MAY: Neutron!

The compo was hotting up in May, and we were finally able to play the game we’d been following on Twitter: Sarah Jane Avory’s Neutron… a dazzling vertical shoot-em-up written in 16KB which played better than most C64 shmups ever made. Not perfect by any means… the game had, rather plain scenery and repetitive boss fights… but the relentless attack waves, destructible bases, bonuses and weapon power ups all combined to make a game that played fabulously, especially considering the 16KB limitation. May was all about Neutron.

JUNE: RGCD 16KB Comp entries rushing to finish.

The final month of submissions would see a flurry of releases as devs frantically squeezed those last remaining bytes and completed their games.   In total 20 entries to the RGCD 16KB cartridge compo would be submitted by the deadline You can check them all out for yourself on the submission page here: https://itch.io/jam/c64-16kb-cartridge-game-dev-compo-2019/entries.  For me one game stood out: Simon Jameson’s time warping arcade adventure platformer Doc Cosmos. The game features Doc… who lands on a mysterious planet seeking an alien device rumoured to enable time travel… he soon finds himself trapped on the planet and must use the device’s time travel capabilities to aid in his escape. Not only did the game play brilliantly…  Simon AKA Shallan50k would start a series on Twitch teaching C64 assembly and encouraging the next generation of C64 game devs to making games for the system. Another highlight of the competition was Dice Skater… where you must solve a series of increasingly difficult puzzles by skating around the surfaces of a Die, highlighting the spots in the correct order… While the dev missed out on a trick by not calling it “Skate ON Die”, the rotation of the die faces, combined with blazing fast player movement would really make the entry stand out amongst the others.

JULY: Endless Forms Most Beautiful 

Endless Forms Most Beautiful was a surprise release in July. Originally a spectrum game by Dave Hughes from 2012, Locamolito also ported a PC version in the same year, we can now enjoy an excellent C64 version thanks to Rikib80 (code) and nm156 (music & sfx). Endless Forms is a single screen clear game with support for 2 players and 3 different game modes. It plays very much like a classic Taito arcade game from the 1980s. I loved the graphics, music, sfx and gameplay and think this is a worthy nominee for GOTY 2019.

AUGUST: Berks Four and Chopper Command

The year continued to impress on C64… Chopper Command was released: Antonio Savona, Steve Day and Saul Cross’s latest project would be the first of 3 Atari 2600 ports which would be completed and released over 3 months. With improved graphics, sound and classic Steve Day title screen, it was an impressive and largely faithful port to the Atari. The game is a side scroller Defender esque shoot-em-up where you must defend a convoy of trucks from marauding enemy aircraft. A true labour of love the game controls were perfect, and I helped to beta test a pre-release build live with the developers on my Twitch stream. Berks Four by Jon Williams was also released...a fun overhead flick screen arena shooter and exploration game with strategy elements. Another quality release for August.

SEPTEMBER: Keystone Kapers

A month passed since the "Chopper Command Team" released their first Atari port, and number 2 came out! In Keystone Kapers, the action took place in a department store, and instead of hardened military pilot, you played a common thief… Run through the levels of the department store, avoiding hazards and the Keystone Cops… the game as expected played brilliantly and looked fantastic.

OCTOBER: Witches & Frostbite!

Another month and Antonio Savona finsished another Atari 2600 port.. the 3rd and final one of the year.  Frostbite, an exciting still screen arcade game where you must build an igloo and escape polar bears, an assportment of other arctic animals, and the freezing weather. As always.. Antonio ported the game perfectly to the original, even hiring the skills of an original Activision badge winner to help out with testing duties. (Activision would give out badges to people with high scores in the original games back in the day). The end of the month saw another exciting game dev competition, this time hosted by Double Sided Games and themed around Halloween. The highlight of the competition for me was Luna, another Simon Jameson game, he programmed the game from start to finish live on Twitch in 12 hours. Get Witchy by Hokuto Force would win the public vote, a flappy bird clone with some impressive parallax scrolling visuals.

NOVEMBER: Bruce Lee, Alien 8 and Donkey Kong Jr. G&W

This month saw 3 awesome new releases for C64… Firstly Bruce Lee Duology… which was a compilation cartridge featuring OG Bruce Lee, with some bugs fixed, and an awesome new 3 player game mode added to it, and also Bruce Lee Fury, which was released by Megastyle earlier in the year, this time with some new game modes including 3 players and an alternative sprite set by TIX. Thanks to Rebel Android for putting together this awesome compilation. Alien 8 a new port for C64 - including C128 enhanced features - of a classic Spectrum game by Ultimate Play the Game isometric arcade adventure ported by Rod & Emu to go alongside their earlier C64 ports of KnightLore and Pentagram. And last but by no means least… Donkey Kong Jr. a port of the Game & Watch game courtesy of a new C64 developer, Madbeagle AKA Arlagames. An experienced game developer, Madbeagle is Learning C64 assembly for the first time, inspired by Shallan50K’s C64 assembly twitch streams. The port itself plays just like the game & watch original, although missing the Game B feature, the source code is on Github and development continues with ports to the Commodore PET and Vic20!

DECEMBER: Freeze! Santron, and King’s Valley Plus

As Xmas approached December saw some Christmas themed games, including Santron, a Christmas themed version of Neutron by Sarah Jane Avory, which played just like the original, but a few extra features had been added, such as a level end screen. Also Freeze64.. Mike Richmond returned with a Christmas gift delivery high score game especially for the excellent C64 fanzine Freeze64!. Releases didn’t stop however and just a few days ago, an excellent port of the MSX Konami game King’s Valley was ported to the C64 by Mario Morra and Francesco Ugga. This was originally going to be released by Psytronik, but I guess licencing issues caused the devs to abandon a phsycial release and just released the game as an unofficial port, but free to download.  I had lots of fun checking this game out live on Twitch, it sure is tough, like the original, but it's fun and addictive. I look forward to trying to get past level 4 in the future!.

And these are my C64 game highlights for C64.. There were too many games to mention all in one article, but for a full list of releases that we covered here at Indie Retro News, just follow the link here:

And Indie Retro News C64 Game of the Year 2019?
Here are our nominees:

Hayesmaker64’s C64  GOTY Nominees:

  • Doc Cosmos
  • Endless Forms Most Beautiful
  • Get Em DX
  • L’abbaye Des Morts
  • Super Mario Bros 64
  • King’s Valley+

Neil’s GOTY Nominees:

  • Chopper Command
  • Doc Cosmos
  • Frantic Freddie 2
  • L’abbaye Des Morts
  • Lala Prologue
  • Tenebra Macabre

Indie Retro News GOTY 2019 Winner will be revealed live on Twitch at 9PM GMT 31/12/2019 @ my Twitch Channel: https://twitch.tv/hayesmaker64


So there we have it, these were my highlights of game development on the C64 this year.  And what a fabulous way to wrap up the decade... What do we call it? The Teensies or Tensies? Tens? Anway, it was a decade which started my 2nd love affair with the C64 - with games like C64anabalt (2011) and Prince of Persia (2011).  Would produce more impressive PC ports like LuftrauserZ, Super Breadbox, Micro Hexagon, as well as AAA quality original new games like Sam's Journey and Planet Golf.

I think it's fair to say most of these new games came about thanks to RGCD and their game development competitions, so it was great to get another one this year, and I can't wait to see some of those fab games get physical cartridge releases in the coming months and years.

The fun doesn’t seem like slowing down in 2020. We can look forward to Sarah Jane Avory’s horizontal shoot-em-up: Soulstar, Andreas Larsson’s astonishing port of Eye of the Beholder, Antonio Savona’s fantastic looking next game: Boxymoxy and much much more besides.

So here’s to another decade of awesome C64 games.  Happy New Year everyone!

Article by @hayesmaker64

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated! Constructive criticism allowed, but abusive comments will be removed and you will be IP banned! Banned users will not show up in my comment feed, you will be gone for good as will all of your posts! - Play nice and enjoy IndieRetroNews!