Throwback Gaming: Best Commodore 64 Games Ever

best commodore 64 games

If you grew up in the eighties and nineties, chances are you had a Commodore 64. The console was one of the most popular of its time, and many of us grew up battling monsters and beating levels in its wonderful games. And make no mistake, some of the most amazing video games of all time came out on this console. You probably remember playing Ghostbusters, Spy vs. Spy, and The Last Ninja on your Commodore 64. Read on to discover some more of the best Commodore 64 games that graced that console.

Impossible Mission

We all remember Impossible Mission, the incredible game that came long before Tom Cruise’s movie legacy. Impossible Mission allowed you to play as a secret agent who has to find their way into a series of high-security areas. You worked against the evil Professor Elvin Atombender, who had robots, puzzles, and dastardly genius on his side.

Impossible Mission gave you just six hours to collect thirty-six pieces of a puzzle. You’d have to dodge robots, find password clues, and work your way through a series of mind-bending challenges. If you die, you suffer a time penalty, and you played along to one of the first examples of digitized speech in a computer game! 

Bubble Bobble

Bubble Bobble was one of the first two-player arcade games to hit the market, and it more than earned its spot in history. It was the first game many of us earned the “Screen Clear” message on, and it is one of our childhood favorites. The entire game was one big alliterative pun, with character names fitting its bubbly theme.

In Bubble Bobble, you meet two dinosaurs, Bub and Bob, who used to be named Bubby and Bobby. Baron von Blubba has stolen Bub and Bob’s girlfriends (presumably named Bab and Beb) and turned them into Bubble Dragons. Your job is to use bubbles to blow away bad guys and beat all 100 levels of the game before battling Blubba himself to become best Bubble Bobbler!

International Karate + 

International Karate + let all of us live out our dreams of becoming Jackie Chan or the titular Karate Kid. If you grew up in the U.S., you might know this game as Chop N Drop, but the rest of the world calls it IK+. This game brought us the best simple, kick-ass fighting — no special power-ups or fancy moves, just straight badassitude. 

IK+ would let you fight on the beach in front of the Sydney Opera House, as well as other beaches around the world. You can control two out of the three fighters there, delivering stunning blows and walloping kicks. You have to earn six points to win, and at the end of each level, you get to play a ball-bouncing game.

Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders

Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders was a brilliant game from Lucasarts that came out in 1988. In a storyline, which may have inspired Men in Black, Zak McKracken travels the globe looking for aliens in disguise. But unlike the specimens Will Smith faces, most of these aliens are easy to spot with their Groucho Marx-style fake noses, mustaches, and glasses.

The game has some of the best hits of 80s games, with a gang of whacky sidekicks and some witty newspaper headlines. You and the sidekick squad would jump in your bus that could fly to Mars and travel the galaxy looking for alien foes to defeat. It was the perfect mix of sci-fi magic, technological optimism, and whacky hijinks to keep us all star-struck.

Maniac Mansion

Maniac Mansion was another Lucasarts release that came out in 1987. The game starts out with a classically intriguing (and confusing) premise: a mad scientist has had his mind enslaved by a sentient meteor. He’s kidnapped Sandy Pantz, the unfortunately named girlfriend of our protagonist and player character, Dave Miller. 

Dave doesn’t have to traverse the Maniac Mansion on his own, though. He’s got six friends to choose from, and three of you can make your way through the house to rescue Sandy. There are traps and puzzles to solve throughout, keeping this game insanely entertaining.

Turrican 

Turrican was the work of Manfred Trenz and came out in 1990. The game had a sequel, Turrican II, which was perhaps more well-received than the original game. But something about the original game tugs on our nostalgic heartstrings, and we appreciate the simple innovation of the game when it first came out.

Turrican was a combination of platformer and shooter game that featured stunning visuals given the Commodore 64’s graphics capacity. Your player character, Turrican, was a mutant warrior bio-engineered to reclaim Alterra, a lost space colony. Everything about this game, from Chris Hülsbeck’s glorious score to the engaging gameplay, still blows us away.

Shadow of the Beast 

On the subject of amazing graphics Shadow of the Beast also pushed the limits of what we thought was possible on the Commodore 64. The game used a side-scrolling format and had enemies that ran away from you when you got close. And the plot was complex enough to get us emotionally invested in a dark-magic-warped monster servant.

The game centers around a protagonist who was kidnapped as a child and transformed into a monster. He regains some of his human memories and sets out to break free from his curse and defeat the final boss who transformed him in the first place. It’s a heart-wrenching story in an 8-bit format, and we’re still dazzled by it. 

Rediscover the Best Commodore 64 Games

The Commodore 64 was the centerpiece of many of our childhoods. The best Commodore 64 games like Bubble Bobble, International Karate +, and Turrican captured our imaginations and kept us glued to the console. We became heroes as we fought alongside Zak McKracken, Dave Miller, and even the unfortunate monster in Shadow of the Beast. 

If you’d like to dive deeper on retro nostalgia, check out the rest of our site at Retrothusiast. We specialize in all things retro, especially the games we loved as children.

Sign up today and relive those magical afternoons of sitting in front of the TV with a snack at your side and a game to sweep you away.

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