Best Commodore 64 Games
The Commodore 64 was a fantastic machine, whether your love for it came to you when you had it originally or later on in life. In today's article, we'll be covering the best Commodore 64 games.
Many gamers do consider the C64 a defining PC for the time. A true pioneer and first of the genre being released all the way back in 1982.
It's regarded as one of the best selling personal computer devices of all time and we're incredibly excited to dive into what makes the Commodore 64 so special.
From development programs to home office tools, there were over 23 000 applications made for the C64 although we'll only be covering the games featured here.
Table of Contents
- International Karate
- Hover Bovver
- Mayhem in Monsterland
- Boulder Dash
- Laser Squad
- Pool of Radiance
- Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny
- Defender of the Crown
- Spy vs Spy
- The Last Ninja 2
- Turrican II: The Final Fight
- The Great Giana Sisters
- Maniac Mansion
- Double Dragon
- Ghosts 'N Goblins Arcade
- Bubble Bobble
- Sid Meier's Pirates!
- Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders
25 - R-Type
The C64 version of R-Type is a great exhibition of the arcade classic. Even though there are better ports of R-Type such as the Amiga, we still enjoyed blasting away through the chiptune soundtrack that the C64 6581 sound chip has to offer.
Did you know that we almost didn't receive R-Type on the C64? The development team was pulled from the project due to being late to deliver the game. The developers were actually pulled from the project.
Considering that the developers weren't able to finish the game, consider what would have been if this didn't happen. Would we have gotten a better release of R-Type on the C64? This is why it deserves the first spot on our list of best Commodore 64 games.
24 - International Karate
International Karate does have a much better sequel and isn't the best karate game on the Commodore 64. To say that the C64 wasn't able to produce anything better than 8-bit graphics is an understatement. The graphics in International Karate are simply fantastic.
It's extremely similar to way of the exploding fist and lays the groundwork for fighting games to come. Never mind Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, without International Karate, neither of those two iconic games would have never existed.
23 - Hover Bovver
Who could ever forget about the game where you got to steal someone's lawn mower and cut your neighbors grass while they chase you around trying to get it back!
Hover Bovver is one of the best games to ever exist using the concept of a lawn mower in a game. Making sure you don't run over the flower beds or make the dog angry in the process!
This was an early introduction to Jeff Minter's brilliant mind and remains one of the best games using this concept. With original concepts this brilliant, it's no wonder that it's featured on our best Commodore 64 games list
22 - Mayhem in Monsterland
Considering almost no one was making commercial releases for the C64 all the way back in 1993 when everyone had moved onto either the SNES or Genesis it's remarkable that we eve got Mayhem in Monsterland in the first place.
A platformer where you collect stars from enemies in order to progress throughout the five stages of the game. You can also dash your way in order to take out most enemies in a single hit.
With colorful graphics and a fantastic soundtrack, Mayhem in Monsterland is one of the best platformers on the C64.
21 - Boulder Dash
Boulder Dash is still probably the best example of a simple game that works well. There isn't much to it, but those tight time limits are enough to keep you rushing and making mistakes, just as it's satisfying to get through a level twice as fast.
A few things will make you feel quite foolish as rushing through an entire level to just have to self destruct with no other option at the end.
Each level is a race to collect the gems that are placed in incredibly tough to find spots. Avoiding your pitfall is not easy as the fast paced action will certainly keep you coming back for more. Boulder Dash may not be loved by everyone due to it's difficulty level, we however believe it deserves a spot on our best Commodore 64 games list.
20 - Laser Squad
There weren't too many RTS games on the C64 that were released. Luckily Commodore owners got a hidden gem of a game in Laser Squad.
You have to rescue people buried within each level or simply fight off all of the enemies in the level. The amount of depth brought to the table here is simply fantastic.
Even though you might consider Laser Squad rather primitive for an game of it's kind, it will make you want to continue to play another turn that some of the best strategy games have to offer.
Laser Squad still gets our vote for one of the best games on the C64.
19 - Turrican
We wouldn't be able to bring you a best Commodore 64 games list without featuring Turrican! That's right, this shooting side scroller game is a wonderful use of the C64 hardware. It's just a shame that Turrican doesn't have much music to add to the excellent platforming abilities within Turrican.
The gameplay might have a slight edge over the 16-bit versions. It's entirely non linear, giving you the feel of exploration for a game that was released back in 1990.
The introduction of the morph ball ripoff that was clearly present in Metroid on the NES first, it's a fine choice for a game that takes the influence it has and gave you one of the best games on the Commodore 64.
18 - Dropzone
There were just so many games that would just take the formula of Defender and give it their own spin on what made it such a success. Some would have varying degrees of success.
Surely enough, Dropzone adds the element of gravity to the table. Making it an awesome product and simply adds a fantastic feature to the gameplay.
Dropzone makes for a challenging experience that you can simply pick up and play with little to no explanation as to the controls or premise. We prefer Dropzone to the original Defender and for good reason on the C64.
17 - Wasteland
Wasteland is a post apocalyptical RPG set in the wastelands of the USA. Many consider the plot and theme of Wasteland and compare it to their later releases such as Fallout.
The overhead view with options and endless exploration that you really won't know what's to be found next. It'll be extremely similar to Dungeons and Dragons with such an amazing world to explore.
The combat scenes are simple but packed with action that will make you want to keep going. Overall Wasteland is the best RPG on the C64 that will make you want to come back for more each time. You won't find too many other games like Wasteland, giving it a well deserved spot on our best Commodore 64 games list.
16 - Pool of Radiance
The days of Dungeons and Dragons were typically played using a book, some dice and a whole lot of storytelling. Pool of Radiance took that concept and adapted it to the personal computer for the first time on the C64.
Fantasy role playing games were not as elaborate as they are now. There weren't the added element of character storylines or complex attack systems.
Back in 1988, fantasy role playing games such as Pool of Radiance were a lot simpler and worked well for what they were.
15 - Wizball
Coming in at number 15, a very unique game by Wizball rounds off our list of best Commodore 64 games. The genre of vertical shoot em ups are not like they were back on the C64. Don't expect bullet hell type action with tons of neon bright attacks coming your way in Wizball.
Instead you'll hover around fighting off waves of enemies from either side. Along with your Catellite (almost sounds like a satellite that it resembles) you'll have to collect different types of paint to finish off each of the stage.
Controlling the Catellite at the same time as the ship is a bit difficult at first but once you get used to it, the addicting gameplay of Wizball deserves a spot on this list!
14 - Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny
If you're up for a long RPG game, look no further than Ultima V on the C64. Ultima V takes place of the eight virtues and the hero of Britannia is back to take on the dangerous enemies left over from Blackthorn.
Move your characters along the grid in this tactical RPG and will your party to victory. Be prepared to sink a ton of time into Ultima V as it's going to take you approximately 27 hours to complete the main story alone.
If you're up for a challenge and have a ton of spare time on your hands, make sure to check out Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny.
13 - Defender of the Crown
Before strategy RPGs were extremely popular along the likes of Civilization or Risk, Defender of the Crown was for many people their first introduction to the genre.
In 1986 when it was first released, you were able to assemble your troops and attack on foot with your knights or soldiers or by using catapults to land a splash on your enemies.
One battle at a time to conquer your destinations and reign supreme over the world. It's no wonder that a RPG game this good made our list of best Commodore 64 games. If strategy role playing games are up your alley, check out Defender of the Crown.
12 - Ghostbusters
As soon as you fire up the game, you're blasted with that 8-bit chiptune variation of Ray Parker Jr's classic tune. The C64 got it right with the theme of the game. Drive around in the Ecto 1 and chase ghosts around.
Each time you tackle a ghost you earn money to take you onto the next stage. The non linear gameplay lets you choose where you want to head to next. Collect 10k and you're off to the final stage in the game.
This is unlike anything that the NES had brought to the table. We'll leave that madness for another day!
11 - Spy vs Spy
If you haven't heard about Spy vs Spy before you've got a lot to catch up on. Firstly, the ridiculous plot based on the Mad Magazine comic book features two identical spies trying to take out one another with over the top traps and weapons.
Race against the clock in this strategy game while the clock ticks down. If you end up losing a life, your timer will deduct. The last one alive reigns victorious. Spy vs Spy is such an interesting concept for a head to head game it's well deserving of the 11th spot of our best Commodore 64 games list.
10 - The Last Ninja 2
When it comes to The Last Ninja 2, nobody expected the puzzle based action game to be topped as the System 3 title shined brightly. The Last Ninja 2 met all expectations and was clearly the best game in the franchise.
This time, The Last Ninja is in New York. During each of the missions, you'll pick up different objects and complete puzzles before fighting off the bad guys and shred them to smithereens.
Graphically and musically, this game has it all. It shines over other C64 titles made at the time and really showcases the fantastic use of the hardware. It's got tons of great puzzles to solve, some really good animation and detailed environments. The Last Ninja 2 is an absolute fantastic game.
9 - Turrican II: The Final Fight
Just the intro alone is a fantastic reason to power up Turrican 2 from time to time. That music blaring in your ears with the black and white pictures. We remember sitting in front of that RGB monitor back in 1991 and being in such an awe and that's not even playing the main game!
Turrican II takes the amazing gameplay and run and gun platforming action that made the first game so great and gives you an entirely new reason to love this game. There's now three stages where you'll enter a shmup style gameplay similar to R-Type. That's right, it's almost like having two games for the price of one!
Considering there's so many different options for best C64 game ever we believe Turrican 2 can be considered by some to fit the bill given it's great graphics, sound and gameplay.
8 - The Great Giana Sisters
You might not see Giana Sisters on many other lists of best Commodore 64 games, but we believe it deserves the number 8 spot. Is this game the one that could have dethroned the great Super Mario Bros as it's ultimate ripoff? Surely the screenshots do look at least resemble the mustached plumber.
Everything from the palette that's used to the way the enemies move resemble Mario in true fashion. Let's not take away how good of a platformer The Great Giana Sisters actually is.
It could have easily been ruined with poor controls or game mechanics but it's really top notch in those two departments. If you're looking for a fantastic platformer along the likes of Mario or Sonic than you'll want to check out The Great Giana Sisters.
7 - Maniac Mansion
This LucasArts point and click classic deserves the number 7 spot on the list of best commodore 64 games. We've never been so submersed into the plot of the game especially when this game was first released.
You start off by choosing two of the six teenagers to team up with Dave as they explore the mansion in order to search out for Sandy who's taken to the secret lab by Fred.
Along the way you'll have to find items to unlock doors or solve puzzles by figuring out where to use which item. The game is non linear by allowing you to roam the mansion. Just remember, try not to get caught by Fred along the way.
6 - Double Dragon
While beat em ups were all the rage during the timeframe that Double Dragon was released, we believe the port of the Arcade smash hit deserves a spot on this list.
Billy and Jimmy Lee team up to rescue Marian who's kidnapped by the street gang. Yes, that isn't much of a storyline but are most beat em ups played for their story?
Beat the gang members down with either your punch or kicks or pick up a weapon and smash them to pieces. With gameplay so addicting, it's no wonder that this made our list of best C64 games.
5 - Ghosts 'N Goblins Arcade
Are you kidding us here, a C64 game that was released in 2015?
Considering the hardware limitations of the C64 being only an 8 Bit personal computer, the limits were really pushed here with an Arcade port of the classic Ghosts 'N Goblins game.
The soundtrack makes fantastic use of the C64 sound chip. The great graphics and gameplay make this new Commodore 64 game a blast to play through. Just be prepared to try over and over again! Can you believe that a game released all the way in 2015 was made so well over the original? We can, and that's why it belongs on our list of best Commodore 64 games.
4 - Bubble Bobble
Bubble Bobble by Software Creations brings you a wonderful playthrough of the Arcade classic game.
Everything is here as you would expect. Tight nit controls, the wonderful soundtrack that's so addicting to hear and the similar level design and great gameplay mechanics that we've grown to love.
Although the gameplay difficulty does ramp up during the later stages in the game. This is where the two player mode shines bright. Grab a friend and you'll be off shooting bubbles and turning enemies into fruit in no time.
3 - IK+
The sequel to the amazing International Karate that was brought to the table approximately a year and a half later than the original release.
Giving you the option to go one on one against the computer or head to head against the person sitting next to you. Points are awarded by either knocking down your enemy by either landing a punch or a kick. Score 5 points or the highest amount of points within the 30 second time limit and you win.
International Karate + is easily the best fighting game on the C64. With such smooth animation and superb quality music brought to you by Rob Hubbard will keep you wanting to come back for more.
2 - Sid Meier's Pirates!
Pirates does a fantastic job of sub missing you into each of the cities. Each of them having their own qualities and characteristics that keeps the gameplay fresh.
Many consider Pirates to be one of the best games among retro gaming enthusiasts and for good reason. It's got a quality storyline, a vastly large world to explore (something almost unheard of for a personal computer with limited memory) and the battles are entirely rewarding as you progress throughout the game.
1 - Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders
Finally the best game on the Commodore 64 is no other than Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. We have no idea why George Lucas decided to start his own company making point and click adventure games but we're surely glad that this decision was made!
Considering this was released after Maniac Mansion, the similarities in the control scheme and level layouts will look similar. What Zak McKracken does is simply build off it's predecessor and brings you a quality adventure game in the process.
Zak is a reporter for the National Inquisitor who has his editor convince him to take on one last story about a two headed squirrel that's been out terrorizing Seattle.
With it's hilarious storyline and challenging gameplay, Zak McKraken deserves a playthrough and you'll be glad you picked this one up and gave it a go!
What is the Commodore 64?
Many would think to confuse the C64 title as a ripoff of the Nintendo 64, but the Commodore 64 is actually an 8-bit home computer that allowed you to play games on. It featured an RGB monitor and keyboard that lets you play games on using the command line. You can also pull out an arcade stick using the port at the back of the computer.
It was meant to rival the Sega Master System and NES but was unfortunately taken out by it's greatest rivals. We still see the C64 being an incredibly sought after home PC in North America.
What Was The Commodore 64 Used For?
With computer technology in it's infancy state in 1982, PCs were brought home at the cost of $595 (close to $1700 in 2022).
Being considered a low cost device and incredibly user friendly, it's no wonder that many people loved the software from word processing to development of applications to the many games that were able to be played on the C64.
We hoped you enjoyed our list of best Commodore 64 games! Please leave us a comment on Twitter if you agree or think something else should have been listed.