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The Commodore 64 is the best selling computer of all time...but basically it's most well known for it's games, of which there are thousands. Some are pretty good, some terrible, but there are a few that truly stand out as great games.

This list is a mix of platform, sports, and text/adventure games that any retro gamer should check out (follow the links for in depth explanations of each). Also included is a list of emulators for Android, Windows, and MacOS and advice on what controllers work with mobile devices and desktops.

1. Lode Runner


Lode Runner is a bit weird in that there's no shooting or jumping - and that's to its advantage.

Instead you can free fall, climb ladders, dig, and run. That's it.

Basically on each level your job is to collect every gold bar and escape the level while being pursued by any number of guards in a maze built with ladders, bricks, and suspended hand to hand bars.

Each level poses interesting challenges - this isn't about how fast you can jam buttons, it's about how to figure out how to solve each level.

Once you understand the gameplay and beat the first screen you'll be hooked, and there are 149 more. There's also an editor which allows you to make your own levels and share them with others.

From wikipedia:

Tetris designer Alexey Pajitnov claimed in 2008 that Lode Runner was his favorite puzzle game for many years.

2. Impossible Misson


One of the first games to feature a synthesized voice, this game is totally...annoying.

Awesome, but annoying in that dying is something you'll do...a lot.

You'll also want to play it again and again until you're so frustrated you'll just quit (or become obsessive and finish it).

Your job as a secret agent is to collect puzzle pieces hidden in rooms in (evil genius) Professor Elvin Atombender's lair, and assemble them before time runs out.

Once you do, you'll get the password that allows you to reach Professor Atombender.

Guarding the lair, and sometimes hunting you, are robots and one flying droid - both can zap you with an electrical charge.

The graphics are surprisingly good for the 8 bit C64.

Note: This game is incredibly hard and not for those who give up easily.

3. Project Firestart


Often called the first "survival horror" game, Project Firestart was heavily influenced by the movie Aliens and was only produced for the c64. It got no love on release, but it's one of the most influential games ever made for the c64.

As agent Jon Hawking your mission is to retrieve the science logs from a ship (Prometheus) that was developing genetically modified super miners, but has lost all communication with earth.

When you arrive on the ship, you realize the entire crew has been brutally murdered, and the super miners (creatures) are lurking everywhere. Added incentive to complete your mission as quickly as possible is that those on earth will remote detonate the ship after a certain amount of time.

It's an action/adventure game with side scrolling and set scenes in orthographic view. It also has multiple possible endings and interesting sub plots.

This one is definitely due for a remake.

Just make sure you get the original map or be prepared to make one yourself.

4. Leader Board Golf


The golf game that influenced every one after it.

Basically it boils down to reflexes, choosing a club, and reading the wind, or the slope of a putt.

There are four courses and you can choose between three levels of play - novice, amateur, and pro.

There were two sequels, World Class Leader Board, and Leader Board Executive which are equally as good.

World Class Leader Board has several famous courses to choose from while Leader Board Executive (as well as World Class) have bunkers and trees (the original only has water hazards).

If you want a relaxed, slow, 1-4 player golf game, this is it.

You'll also definitely want the Leaderboard manual for the minimum and maximum lengths of each club and how the putting level meter functions.

5. Amazon


Developed in conjunction with Michael Crichton this is one of the best text/graphical adventure games for the c64 that no one knows about. You'll need the feelies (you can find them online, specifically the map and the decoder - if you don't have these you won't be able to finish it).

When your character, working for the NSRT (National Satellite Resource Technology), receives a video satellite transmission from a team in the Amazon Rainforest you realize something is very, very wrong and you're sent to investigate.

Even though the graphics aren't the best the overall atmosphere of this game is great.

The basis is the book Congo and it was made into a pretty bad, but fun movie of the same name.

6. Wizard


Most people will cite Jumpman as their go to platform game for the c64, but Wizard is better (but...Lode Runner is better than both).

You are Wilfrid the wizard who must find a key on every level to advance to the next. Every level requires a different spell to find the key (there are many different spells) and your enemies include witches, knights, giant insects and other various monsters.


So, how does one play all of these great games?

You'll need an emulator, for either Android or desktop (no idea about iOS).

This gets a bit confusing...

For Android your best bet is Frodo64.

For the desktop the best option is Virtualc64, Vice, or Frodo64.

Virtual64 requires the additional download and installation (in the emulator, not your computer) of 4 roms - here's a video on how it works and here's where to get them.

Vice is good but can be a pain.

Frodo64 is basally the easiest, it's just download and install, but...

The caveat here is that any game that has more than one d64 (Project Firestart) will need to use Virtual64 or Vice - Frodo64 can't change disks...which is unfortunate because it's the easiest to use, and the most stable.

Another caveat is that Virtual64 and Vice are buggy on Android, so stick to the desktop with those (until they improve).

The Games

Basically all the emulators listed above use d64 roms (disk images) of the original games. So, the best place to start is a simple search. Not all roms will work, and many games have roms from multiple sources, so if one doesn't work keep trying, at some point you'll find a version that does.


This is also a bit...difficult.

Bluetooth controllers are finicky. Some work great on Android but aren't so good on desktops while others are great on desktops but won't work with Android, and some need way too much set up (and additional apps) to work.

Currently the best/cheapest bluetooth controller for Android is the BEBONCOOL Bluetooth Gamepad, Wireless Phone Controller For Android . It's cheap (and sort of feels that way) but it works very well with Android and can be used as a wired controller for Windows - unfortunately it doesn't work with a Mac either via bluetooth or wired. (discontinued).

Basically try the cheapest bluetooth controller (~$20) you can find and see if you like it.

A more expensive option is the Sony Dual Shock. This works with pretty much any Android device or desktop, but it's triple the price of the ~~BEBONCOOL. (discontinued)

A more expensive option is the 8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller.

Wired are a bit easier to deal with, basically most basic wired controllers will work on both mobile and desktop devices (for mobile you'll probably need a OTG adapter).


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1 total comments
djfrodo 5 years ago

Lode Runner is one of the best games ever. It's been ported to pretty much every platform and it combines a platform game with puzzle solving.

Love it.