An Indie Retro News special event! - C64 Game Awards 2020


There are so many C64 games released each year that we’ve decided to create awards and categories - Think the OSCARS for C64!  So as well as C64 Game of the Year, we will also be giving awards for C64 Genius of the Year for the most inspired idea that led to an amazing C64 game. As well as C64 Budget Game of the Year: which must cost £3.99 or less.  This year the nominations have been picked by Indie Retro News' Neil Green and Andrew "hayesmaker64" Hayes.

C64 Game of The Year

The biggest and best releases this year - All the hype was fully deserved as these are all cracking AAA beating games which all had amazing physical releases with stunning artwork. These will be remembered along with the very best games ever made for the C64.

Nominee: Millie & Molly
Developer: Carleton Handley
Publisher: Bitmapsoft & Bobr Games
Format: Cartridge, Disk, Cassette, Digital


Millie and Molly marked the return to the C64 for Carleton Handley - A veteran C64 game developer with a load of great C64 games on his CV (And Rugby World Cup! - Ed).  This puzzle platformer has tried and trusted mechanics and genius level design which kept me busy for weeks. The game was also lovingly brought to us on Cartridge, Disk and Cassette by Bitmapsoft and Bobr Games. There’s even an iOS and Android version available too, so there’s no excuse not to give this a try right now… You won’t regret it! 


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Nominee: MW Ultra
Developer: Lasse Öörnie 
Publisher: Protovision & Psytronik
Format: Cartridge, Disk, Digital


Lasse Öörnie showed his metal this year - with a wonderful box set of his first 4 Metal Warrior games repackaged as Metal Warrior Quadrilogy and released on Disk by Psytronik. A successful kickstarter which led to a Vinyl/CD release of the Hessian soundtrack (and Cartridge re-release of the game). And finally MW Ultra was released on cartridge by Protovision. This is the latest installment of the Metal Warrior series, but it follows an alternative timeline to the original quadrilogy so you don’t have to play through all four games to enjoy this one. 

MW Ultra goes above and beyond all expectations and plays more like a modern AAA steam game than something you’d expect to be able to play on C64. I loved the combat, exploration and platforming - but especially nice were the immersive dialog and cutscenes added throughout the game and also features a killer soundtrack by Lasse himself and others.  MW now stands for METAL WARRIOR instead of MODERN WARFARE! 


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Nominee: Hired Sword 2
Developer: Roy Riggs 
Publisher: Double Sided Games
Format: Disk, Digital


Last year’s winners Double Sided Games picked a great title as follow up to their 2019 GOTY L'abbaye Des Morts.  2020 has been a great year for new C64 game devs to show us what they can do, and developer Roy Riggs (aka Furroy) satisfies that RPG itch.  Hired Sword 2 is a fun RPG-lite with great combat, hilarious dialog, and plenty of exploration.  

What I loved about this game as it is very easy to pick up and play, as it's designed to be immediately accessible.  While there's still enough content here to even keep die hard Ultima fans occupied and amused for many many hours.  The story, cutscenes and dialogue are all incredible. If you missed out on this, it's still available to purchase and download from Double Sided Games.


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Nominee: Outrage
Developer: Bernd Buchegger / Cosmos Designs
Publisher: Protovision & Psytronik
Format: Cart, Disk, Digital


The game that was 30 years in the making - was finally released earlier this week and can be pre-ordered from Protovision (cartridge/digital) or Psytronik (disk). If you like your games tough, rough and full of action, you are in for a treat. Fans of Hawkeye will especially appreciate this as it’s a clear homage to the Thalamus classic. This game has not even been out 1 week, but from my few hours of gameplay, I can immediately tell that this is a legendary game and a must buy!


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C64 Budget Game of the Year:

Gaming on the cheap was always one of the greatest things about owning a C64.   For the same price as my friend could buy 1 new game cartridge for his brand new SNES, I could go into WH Smiths and walk out with a bag full!  We honour those devs who are making their games available for £3.99 or less with the C64 Budget Game of the Year Award!  

Nominee: Neptune Lander Elite
Developer: C64Mark
Publisher: Phoenixware
Format: Cassette, Digital (Name Your Price)


This was a nice surprise - C64 Mark’s first C64 game was a blast! This is a homage to the very first C64 commercial release: Jupiter Lander (A Lunar Lander clone) - which adds a ton of neat features and beating the 40 levels is an awesome challenge. A beautiful looking cassette version is available to preorder now from Phoenixware.

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Nominee: Grid Pix
Developer: Carleton Handley
Publisher: RGCD
Format: Cartridge, Digital ($3 or Name Your Price for the Xmas version!)


Grid Pix is a Nonogram puzzle game which looks and plays great. If like me you are a fan of the Nintendo Picross games - this is an essential purchase for your C64. RGCD released a great value cartridge - but you can also get the game for peanuts on itch.io.

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Nominee: Zeta Wing
Developer: Sarah Jane Avory
Publisher: Digital Only
Format: Digital (Name Your Price)


Sarah Jane Avory has been working tirelessly on a number of awesome C64 games - and this release is only a teaser for what’s to come in 2021! An excellent vertical shmup that not only plays well but looks unbelievably good. This has some nice improvements over last year’s excellent Neutron and is a technical masterpiece.  

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Nominee: Boxy Moxy
Developer: Antonio Savona
Publisher: RGCD
Formats: Cartridge, Digital (Name Your Price for UNICEF)


Antonio and chums put together another fab release this year. Boxy Moxy is a cutesy and enjoyable series of puzzles where the player must collect skulls on each fiendish map in as few moves as possible. Discovering the optimum stats for each level will reward the player with stars and some digitized cat meows which sound excellent - and also very familiar!  If you get the game for Name Your Price on itch.io you also get more levels than the original version, and also help raise money for a great charity - and perhaps help a future C64 game developer amongst all the children fighting for survival in these troubled times.

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C64 Genius of the Year Award

Our brand new award category this year wants to reward innovation and dedication to C64 game development.  They are not afraid to go "off the grid" to come up with new and exciting ideas, and not follow the usual trend. We remember fondly the imaginative games of the 1980s which wouldn't stand a chance to be released today on any mainstream platform - except the C64! 

Nominee: Steve Day for Fix-it-Felix Jr.


Steve Day who came up with the idea for all those fab Atari 2600 Activision ports in the last couple of years teamed up again with Antonio Savona again for perhaps one of the most inspired ideas for a C64 port of all time (well apart from Mario’s Cement Factory C64 that is! - Ed). Fix it Felix Jr. was a barnstorming arcade style smash. The idea is to hammer windows to magically “fix” them and chase Wreck it Ralph off each apartment building. Game loops forever of course, and the only real goal is to get as many points as possible. Keep your eyes peeled for a special announcement regarding this game in the future ;) 

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Nominee: Denis Grachev for Old Tower


Denis Grachev of Retrosouls codes games for C64, ZX Spectrum and SEGA Megadrive, MSX and NES. This alone makes Denis one of Retro gamings greatest geniuses!  For C64 this year Denis ported his ZX Spectrum game: "Old Tower" - which sees your main character dashing around spooky towers collecting gold and avoiding skulls and traps.   The game is simply brilliant - it plays like a modern indie game and so our 2nd genius nominee is Denis.

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Nominee: Stefan Vogt for The Curse of Rabenstein


With all the arcade style games, puzzle games, Atari ports and soft reboots of C64 classics - it would be quite easy for one of the defining genres of the C64 to get completely forgotten about.  Thank goodness for Stefan Vogt, who is single handedly keeping the humble Text Adventure genre alive.  Beginning with his multiplatform adventure games: Hibernated 1 - This Place Is Death, and this year's: The Curse of Rabenstein, Stefan has captured the very best elements of the classic Adventure game but somehow brought them bang up to date with a more linear game world, excellent story - and in his latest release: Gorgeous bitmap artwork.   These games will go down as absolute best in genre Text Adventures on all the formats he's chosen to release them on.

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Nominee: Richard Bayliss for Granny's Teeth


Richard Bayliss is a prolific C64 game developer, musician and founder of TND - The new dimension.  Through which he releases new games, demos and host of the SEUCK Game compo. It wasn't that long ago that Richard was single handedly keeping the C64 game release candle burning before the upsurge of modern releases we see now came rolling in.  Many of these releases from the 1990s and 2000s found themselves on compilations and published as beautiful disk compilations by Psytronik... Paving the way for today's excellent slew of physical releases.  Richard released an excellent arcade platform game this year called Granny's Teeth, which is an expanded version of his 2016 Craptrastic 4KB games entry, and features excellent graphics by Saul Cross and it's one of Neil's favorites!.

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Many grats to all the nominees - The winners will be announced this New Years Eve on my Twitch Channel along with a full write up here on Indie Retro News. And also thank you to all the game devs, artists, testers, streamers, viewers, demo coders, musicians and journalists supporting Commodore in 2020 with incredible content and releases. I've now been writing for IRN for 5 years and in that time the numbers of games released for Commodore 64 and Amiga has snowballed year on year. I now play more C64 games than I do PC games for the first time since 1992.  Happy Xmas! 

Posted by @hayesmaker64 On Twitch

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