If we’re going to to talk about retro gaming, then we have to talk about the best Commodore 64 games of all time – it’s the law.
Many consider it to be the first of its kind, the first home PC gaming console that hit the scenes dropping way back in 1982.
It sold close to 17-million units and even made the history pages of the Guinness World Records. It’s still listed as one of the best-selling computer units of all time, and we’re excited to delve into its illustrious past.
Close to 10,000 titles were released for the C64 including office tools and development programs.
But we’re only interested in the games.
In a Retro Dodo first, we opened out the choice of which titles should make our list of the best Commodore 64 games to you, our readers.
You gave us your favourite games, the titles that made this iconic console such a hit and played a part in shaping you as gamers.
Thank you for sharing your favourite games (and making my job a lot easier).
Don’t worry; we’re not starting this article with a game about pub sports. Pool of Radiance is much more exciting than that, and it’s full of HP points, epic storylines, and explorative gameplay.
Yes, this is Dungeons and Dragons in video game form. You don’t need to dress up as a hooded games master, but it certainly helps!
Choose from a whole host of characters from the realms of elves, men, dwarves, and more as you make moral choices that could change the very fate of the world.
Gameplay is heavily text based with views switching from first person mode to top-down battles.
As always, there’s lots of character progression and planning attacks; it wouldn’t be a D&D game without it.
Some of you might have played the NES version of this game which is a lot easier than the C64 version. Unfortunately, this port doesn’t have any cool tunes or a controller available to use, but it’s one of the originals and a proper C64 gem that HAS to be in your collection.
The wood elves insist, after all!
We’re kicking off our list of the Best Commodore 64 Games with one of the most well-known ghost movies of all time. Are you afraid, cos I ‘ain’t!
Apart from having the most famous theme tune of all time, Ghostbusters is a household name, and the C64 title was a great game to play. Rather than ridding the city of ghosts like in the movies, the aim of the game was to make a profit by getting rid of pesky poltergeists who don’t know when to call it a day.
It doesn’t even matter if you don’t successfully rid the city of ghouls. As long as you have $10K in your bank account, then you can go on to the final level. Of course, if you are a good buster and want to make keep your town safe, then you’ll get an extra $5K for your troubles.
The player takes charge of a Ghostbuster chief, and money is used to buy different weapons and faster cars. You follow disturbances on a map, speed to the house where the ghost is causing trouble, and catch that sucker.
Each successful solve gets you more money, though I’d want way more cash then 10K to rid the world of ghosts!
The final levels see you battling Marshmallow Man and Zuul from the movies, giving fans that extra bit of retro nerdiness to complete the package. It’s an addictive game and definitely worth a look.
This 2-player multiplayer game is based on the famous Mad Magazine comic strip of the same name. Just like the comic, it features two spies who are constantly trying to kill each other using over-the-top and ever-elaborate schemes and weapons.
Spy Vs Spy is an against the clock strategy game. Your timer goes down by thirty seconds each time you die, which can happen very regularly in this weird and wonderful game.
But what is the aim of the game? Each player has to gather a series of items together before leaving the building (the play area) and heading to the airport. You lay traps to stop your opponent from getting ahead. But be careful; those same traps can backfire on you!
You can only use a certain number of traps, hence where the strategy element comes in. Booby trap doors, place bombs in places where you opponent might search, or delve into hand-to-hand combat when you’re in the same room. Spy Vs Spy is all about playing dirty; do you have the guts to take on the challenge?
Forget Street Fighter; the next title on our list of the best Commodore 64 games is for the true tough nuts!
You might know it as ‘Chop N’ Drop’ in the U.S, but it’s International Karate + or ‘IK+’ throughout the rest of the world. If you’re looking for a fighting game that’s all about busting the best kick-ass moves and no special abilities, then IK+ should be high up your list.
To say that the C64 was only an 8-bit machine, that beach scene in front of Sydney Opera House looks pretty sweet!
Ik+ sees three fighters, two of which can be controlled by human players, battling it out on various beaches. Why beaches? I don’t know – maybe sand hurts less to fall on. You have to rack-up six points to be victorious, and there’s a ball-bouncing game at the end of every level for the winner.
While there aren’t any cheats or special powers, players could input certain commands to change the backgrounds, send Pac-Man on for a cameo, or humiliate the fighters by making their pants fall down. It’s a cracking game without all that though and super fun to play with a friend.
One of our Instagram followers mentioned that this is one of the hardest games that they have ever played, and we have to agree. The Last Ninja is a tricky old title, but it’s one that everyone should try to tackle!
The Last Ninja is one of the most successful games for the C64 selling around 4-million copies throughout the world. It went on to spawn two sequels and was praised for its superb graphics. Looks like those Colour Sprites were really earning their money!
The Last Ninja has everything that I look for in a computer game; combat, the need to explore, and some sweet-ass puzzle solving. What more do you need!
You, the player, must learn the ways of the Ninja while collecting sacred scrolls and getting pumped up to assassinate an evil Shogun dude who’s done some terrible stuff. The worlds that you travel through look amazing, but you can only explore them via predetermined walkways and paths. There’s no BOTW free-roaming here, guys.
Throw smoke bombs and shuriken, battle with staffs and swords, and swing nunchuks like a boss. Ninjas rule!
I’m not sure if the game artists needed to go into so much detail with certain parts of this Giana Sister’s cover design, but that’s another discussion for another time.
Where do we begin with The Great Giana Sisters? It’s a great title and truly deserves to be on our list of the best Commodore 64 games. Still, there’s no escaping the fact that this is just a Mario game in disguise.
Check out the pic below. The enemies look like Goombas, those yellow object look very much like pipes, there’s a mushroom, and the brick walkways look exactly the same too. Me thinks Mario and the Giana Sisters might have a thing going on behind Peach’s back!
The similarities are so obvious that the developers got an ass kicking from Nintendo’s legal team.
And the strangeness doesn’t stop there.
The main character is called ‘Gianna’ with two ‘n’s. The game artists, putting more time into Gianna’s figure than concentrating on the title of the game itself, made a spelling error but decided just to go with it.
Putting all of the mistakes and copying aside, this game really is a good one to play. A cross between Super Mario and 40 Winks, the player must lead Gianna through 32 levels of a nightmare as she searches for her sister.
Collecting Dream Crystals gives you extra lives, and Gianna can use special abilities by picking up power-ups along the way.
If you like Mario, then you’ll love Gianna. It’s as simple as that!
Mention Kung Fu, and Bruce Lee comes to mind. He’s one of the most famous martial artists of all time and the most influential figure to bring Kung Fu to the masses.
He’s the main reason I went to those three lessons back in 2017, after all…
So what’s the score here? What’s Bruce up to apart from laying a calm smackdown on enemies?
Well, he must reach a wizard and defeat him to become filthy rich…
… doesn’t sound like the stuff they teach you in Kung Fu to me?
This side scrolling game will probably make your eyes bleed if you don’t have a small TV to play it on. It’s super simple now, but collecting those lanterns and moving up and down ladders to get enemies felt like starring in your own action movie.
Speaking of enemies, there are only two.
A ninja and a sumo warrior regularly crop up, but they are no match for Bruce’s lightening-fast hands.
Imagine Pitfall with Ninja’s and Bruce Lee, and you kind of get a feel of what this game is like. It’s fun, frustrating at times, but a belter of a title for any C64 fans looking to up their collection!
Fans of games like Mr Driller, Pac-Man, and Candy Crush will love Bubble Bobble. It’s one of the first two-player arcade games and was a huge success for games company Taito. Everyone loves a ‘screen clear’ title, and Bubble Bobble is still considered to be one of the best puzzle games of all time.
I apologise for how many similar sounding words I am about to write….
The game stars two dinosaurs; Bub, and Bob. Bub and Bob, formally Bubby and Bobby, have been transformed into Bubble Dragons by Baron von Blubba, who has stolen Bubby and Bobby’s girlfriends.
I have a headache after that.
The aim of the game is simple and yet so incredibly addictive. Blow bubbles to defeat and trap enemies on a single-screen stage. Clear all the bad guys, and move onto the next level.
Bub and Bob can move between different areas of the stage by jumping up onto and off platforms, but you lose a life if you come into contact with an enemy or their projectiles.
There are 100 levels in total, and the game really is designed to play with a friend of loved one. So much so that if you defeat the final boss in one-player mode, the game tells you to come back with a mate to do it again!
Double Dragon takes the 7th spot in this list of the best Commodore 64 games of all time. It’s supercharged with all of those cabinet feels that we love so much, bringing all the thrills and none of the smells of the arcade into your living room.
So many people class Double Dragon as an unofficial sequel to the title at Number 2 in our list. You’ll have to let us know what you think once you get there!
Whatever your verdict on that opinion above, one thing is for sure – this is beat-em-up gameplay at its finest, and it definitely helped to bring games like Streets of Rage to game shop shelves over the globe.
So what’s Double Dragon all about?
Well, gamers take one of two fighters on a mission to save a girl from a gang.
Don’t forget that this game was made in a time where developers thought girl’s couldn’t save themselves. I’m glad that times have finally changed!
One of the toughest thing about this game is dodging bullets from the one-hit-kill guns. Yeah, Double Dragon has golden gun style firepower!
It’s simple to pick up but impossible to put down, making it one of the best Commodore 64 games for replayability and killing time.
Sometimes I forget what day it is I’ve been playing for so long!
Operation Wolf is another game from the makers of Bubble Bobble, but it couldn’t be different from the bubble-blowing double-trouble cutesie-dragon action.
This next entry on our list of the best Commodore 64 games see you taking charge of Roy Adams, a Special Forces Operative whose mission is to kill bad guys and save hostages. It’s one of the first shooting games to have a storyline and features thrilling arcade action from start to finish.
There are six stages to play through each with various sub-missions and tasks that need to be completed. You have to defeat a certain number of enemies as well as completing the necessary requirements on each stage to advance.
Think of this game as a mega-early form of Call of Duty. You’ve got to withstand knife attacks, bazooka fire, grenades, helicopter guns, and much more. Roy Adams is one bad son of a…you get the idea.
Finally, the first properly nerdy magic title in our list. Shadow of the Beast was a bit of a hot topic back in the day for its amazing graphics. The C64 port wasn’t as richly textured as some of the other console titles, but it still managed to capture the amazing essence of the game.
Let me try to boil the plot down for you into a couple of sentences. Child gets kidnapped and warped by dark magic, becoming a monster servant for a beast lord. Monster servant regains human memories when some bad dealings go down. He then proceeds, as an adult, to battle everything in sight in a bid to break free from his curse and kill the beasty boss.
It’s a lot more in-depth than that with way cooler names, but you get the general gist.
The main protagonist and the various monsters are displayed nicely. Still, the backgrounds have a tendency to make your eyes go square. The gameplay is incredible, and it’s a classic example of a perfect side-scrolling game.
I like the fact that some of the enemies run away from you; even they’re scared of how evil and weird looking you are. Maybe they should learn not to judge a book by it’s dark-magic-infused scary cover.
It might surprise a few of you to know that Lucasfilm made more games than the ones relating to the Star Wars series.
The plot is so bizarre that you cant help but get sucked into the narrative, and Maniac Mansion is a game that will have you coming back time and time again.
A mad scientist has fallen afoul of a sentient meteor which has enslaved his mind.
Yes, you read that right.
The game follows a guy called Dave Miller and his mission to save his girlfriend, Sandy Pantz. That has to win the worst names character on the C64 so far!
Maniac Mansion has different outcomes depending on the players choices. It’s a non-linear game where you point and click on certain areas and give different commands to the characters.
You can take Dave and two other characters (from a choice of six-friends) through the mansion in a bid to rescue Sandy. Watch out for hidden traps and solve puzzles as you work your way through Lucas Film’s first-ever self-published game!
Sword of Fargoal takes the third spot in this list of the best Commodore 64 games ever made. It’s full of evil enemies, wizards, and powerful swords wielded by heroes.
I know that could be the plot of a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel, but this is a little more serious.
Gameplay mostly revolves around exploring yellow brick dungeons (not to be confused with the Wizard of Oz). It’s much harder than it sounds, however, with traps generating randomly every time the game is switched on.
And, of course, there are tonnes of monsters to slay from start to finish!
Players must try to locate the legendary Sword of Fargoal. In true explorative fashion, unexplored parts of a dungeon are bathed in darkness until gamers venture into them.
Weirdly, all battles are controlled by the computer. Gamers don’t get much of a choice as to whether they win or lose against enemies, though they can decide to leg it if things start to go pear shaped.
I guess that’s why upping your characters stats is so important! Don’t go up against bosses that are too tough for you until you’ve got the right skills, guys!
Remember when I said that Double Dragon was classed as the spiritual successor of Renegade? Well, I think it’s pretty easy to see why. This game is considered by many to be the best beat-em-up title of all time, and it still looks impressive today!
Players take fighters on a mission to knock some sense into the evil Mr Big. They’re out for revenge after he instigated your brothers death, which means it’s ultimate payback time.
Mr Big… you’re about to become Mr Dead!
Even though Target: Renegade is a side-scroller, it appears in an isometric 3D view, giving it an edge over other games in the genre at the time.
Men and women with muscles larger than my head try to stop our bandana wearing protagonist at every turn. Use button-mash combos and kick-ass moves to stop Big’s minions and clean up the streets once and for all.
Listen, it might look simple, but once you get into the game and become immersed in the storyline, it won’t matter that it came out in 1988. It’s addictive, it plays well, and it’s a good old fashioned punching title…
… what’s not to love!
The Number 1 spot on our list of the best Commodore 64 games goes to Impossible Mission, a name that would later be reworked by Tom Cruise for a series of films…maybe that’s where he got the idea?
Like Tom in the Mission Impossible films, Impossible Mission sees you play as a secret agent who has to break into a series of hi-security areas. This game has received high praise on a number of platforms and is considered by many to be one of the best games of the time.
Your mission (should you choose to accept it – more copyright infringement I’m sure) is to stop the evil Professor Elvin Atombender (awesome name). Avoid Dr Who style robots, search for password clues, and solve Atombender’s puzzles to save the day.
Impossible Mission takes a lot of brainpower; it’s basically a brain exercise in disguise. You have six hours to collect thirty-six pieces of puzzle. Like Spy Vs Spy, dying incurs a time penalty. This game also has one of the first examples of digitised speech in a computer game. It’s practically a piece of retro gaming history!
What is the Commodore 64?
A lot of people think that the Commodore 64 has connections with Nintendo, what with the 64 part of the name. The C64 (as we will now call it to save much needed time and finger ache) was made to rival the NES and the best Master System games. It was invented and produced by Commodore International, and although it’s a legendary bit of kit, the competition eventually blew it out of the water.
Still, the fact remains that it was one of the most sought after computing consoles of its time, especially here in the UK.
What Makes It Tick?
The best Commodore 64 games are brought to life by the machine’s 8-bit brain. It seem’s crazy to be talking about an 8-bit home computer when the PS5 is now running on 256-bit. That’s progress for you!
The C64 had 64kb of RAM and a custom-created chip for waveform generation. The colour sprites (which aren’t magical graphics pixies) produced visuals that were way ahead of the consoles time. It came with a keyboard for commands and could be used with a joystick for arcade action.
More Content From The Retro Dodo Team!
- Retron Jr is the perfect way to play the best Gameboy games up on your TV
- New Pokemon Snap is coming – here’s everything we know!
- The Xbox Mini could be dropping very soon!