lowbrowculture

collects stories and ideas from John Kelly

10 Favourite C64 Games

The Great Escape

I think I got this with my Commodore 64. I seem to remember a Christmas Day where the rest of my family was off watching the Great Escape on TV and thinking to myself “Fuck you, last-generation losers. With this super-powerful computer, I AM Steve McQueen. I AM the Great Escape.” The game itself didn’t really follow the movie very strictly, but I still like the way it forces you to follow a pattern and ‘keep up appearances’ while you’re digging your way out. Never finished this game though. I got into my tunnel, was heading under the fence – I could taste the freedom – when, with no warning, my C64 crashed, taking a tiny bit of my heart with it.

Ghostbusters

Most movie tie-ins on the C64 are of the side-scrolling shooter variety (‘sup, Robocop?). And this probably could have worked with the Ghostbusters license. But instead, they went down an altogether more interesting route: part-resource management, part action. You have to build up a Ghostbusters franchise into a profitable venture while dealing with the escalating amount of paranormal activity. Whenever I get bored and want a C64 fix, this is the first game I reach for. Oh, and the synthesized speech is still amazing.

Last Ninja 2

In this game, you play the worst ninja in the world. Running around a park in broad daylight beating up jugglers and mimes doesn’t seem very ninja-like to me. And what kind of ninja staunchly obeys the “keep off the grass” rule? A fucking pussy, that’s who. Okay, so it’s not exactly Ninja Gaiden, but it’s still pretty awesome.

Bruce Lee

I never, never understood the point of this game. You run around a weird temple, trying to collect… what? Lamps? While being constantly chased by a ninja and a fat guy? Still though, you’re motherfuckin’ Bruce Lee!

Zorro

Zorro is still the most punitive game I’ve ever played. It’s stupid and dumb and I hate it. But I can’t stop going back to it. Maybe one day I’ll actually, y’know… finish it. I imagine that would be like the end of WarGames and my C64 will turn to me and say in a Stephen Hawking voice, “A strange game. The only way to win is not to play.”

Barbarian 2

Wolf from Gladiators, Maria Whittaker’s tits and graphic decapitation. How could a pre-pubescent boy not love this game?

Beach Head

I remember being so engrossed in this game, I missed a bunch of swimming lessons and as a result, only got a silver medal in the end-of-year contest. Every time I see that silver medal I think about how, if I’d just played a little less Beach Head, it could have been a gold medal. And then I think “Fuck it, it was totally worth it.”

Park Patrol

I can’t really explain this. I’m a messy bastard, but I really enjoy this game about tidying up a park. Cleaning vicariously, that’s what it is.

Goonies

Much better than the barmy Nintendo version, this was a platform game where you took control of two of the kids and had to use both to solve puzzles. Kind of like a proto-Lost Vikings. For example, to get past the first screen you have to navigate one kid to the roof to print fake money and distract the Fratellis while the other kid ran into the basement. Further on, the screens get ridiculously hard and you’ll find yourself blowing through each of your eight (EIGHT!) lives just trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do. Download Goonies from c64.com

Master of the Lamps

. I originally played this game on the Amstrad CPC-464. You try playing a game with colour-based puzzles on a crappy monochrome green-screen monitor. Only when I played it again on the C64, on a colour telly, did I finally get to appreciate just how incredible this game is. Sound puzzles, colour puzzles, geometry puzzles and a kick-ass magic carpet ride tying them all together. Years ahead of its time.