YET ANOTHER POST AT THE BUZZER
Skkra recommends… Predator!
Predator is actually probably one of the worst games I’ve played on the C64. I didn’t quite realize just HOW bad the game was when I was a kid, but having played through it again recently with my friend Iron D… my god, it’s a mess. So why recommend it? Because you have to experience this game for yourself, simply to understand the depth of its badness.
The graphics are passable, but the controls are clunky. The sound is mediocre. The gameplay is slow. Plus, on top of it all, the game is insanely difficult, separate from all other issues. Oh, and you’re timed – for no reason – which is the icing on this crap cake.
The enemies all shoot fast. Very, very fast. If you get it – and it’s basically impossible not to get hit – you are massively stunlocked, during which time you’re basically guaranteed to be hit again. So! I hope you can beat the entire game without getting hit! Because if you’re shot, you might as well be dead.
The various random fights against the Predator? Oh yeah, it just walks towards you punching. It’s pretty much a cheap way to take half of your life. Or more, if you’re unlucky. There is zero skill involved. It’s just going to come at you. And there is nowhere to go, nothing to do. You just have to stand, shoot, get murdered and hope you hit him enough to go away.
At the end of this impossible game, you have the classic end of film fight against the Predator. Well, I don’t actually believe anyone beat this game without hacks. I doubt it was ever playtested, because it would’ve been quickly deemed unbeatably impossible. ANYways, when you DO finally get to the Predator, you can’t really tell what to do. There is no direction on how to set up the log trap, plus I’m pretty sure the Predator walks as fast as you, so if you stop for half a second to set up the trap in the first place, he’ll just stunlock you to death.
I’m not sure how anyone on youtube actually beat the game, but there is a video of someone completing it. And what do you get for your trouble? Maybe at least some kind of splash screen, a single frame showing the chopper flying away? Nope. You get the end credits, which reuse the opening music. And the only thing those credits are good for is to get the names of everyone you’ll want to kill.
Skkra recommends… Ultimate Wizard!
Ultimate Wizard is a semi-clone of some other C64-era games, but I think it managed to pull the idea off best. The game is a single-screen platformers that requires you – the ultimate wizard – to get to the keyhole, which exits each map. Getting there, however, is generally quite tricky and difficult. The levels are doable enough early on, but the further you get, the more maddening and difficult the maps become. Really great level design, considering the year in which it was made.
One of the most impressive parts is that the game comes with a full-featured level editor. It seems to be the same one that the designers used, if I had to guess. And it has a full trigger system. Felt like grabbing that gem? Maybe it spawns an enemy. Maybe it triggers a trap. Maybe the floor under you will disappear and you’re dead. Maybe a rope appears, opening up a newly accessible part of the stage. Really great stuff.
You kind of have to play the game to appreciate just how great of a platforming experience it is. The controls are generally tight, the enemies are well designed, and I’ve never run into any bugs, gamebreaking or minor. Definitely a C64 classic.
Skkra recommends… Summer Games!
What is ANY list of godlike C64 games without Summer Games?!
Summer Games has you play through several events in the olympics, like the pole vaunt, swimming, running, etc. Looking back, it’s hard to believe just how many events they managed to cram in. Those old C64 disks only held 170kb, which is nuts to think about today – pictures you take with your iphone are over 20x that size! Despite that limitation, they managed to fit a whole slew of events, each with their own full featured graphics profile. Impressive.
The gameplay is classic, straightforward and fun. I will say that swimming and running were probably my favorites. Pole vault was by far the most difficult of all the events – it was a game about timing, to perfectly get your vaulter to plant their pole in the correct spot. But dear god, it was nearly impossible a lot of the time. You had to have godlike timing.
Skkra recommends… Pit Stop II!
The original Pit Stop was a good racing game for it’s time. But it’s Pit Stop II on the C64 that really made the name “Pit Stop” mean something.
The graphics were spectacular at the time, with a 2-player split screen and amazing multiplayer. The tracks are fun and varied in shape and size. And it has great multiplayer. The sounds are all absolutely iconic, from the startup noise of the engine, to the roar of both cars when they hit maximum speed, to the sounds of the tires being changed and the gas tank being filled. Did I mention the multiplayer is incredible?
It’s a straightforward racer by today’s standards: two cars completing a set number of laps. No attacking, no powerups. Just the skill of navigating the tracks quickly and avoiding the other cars on the road. The split screen multiplayer was pretty sick at the time, with seamless play and no lag at any point. When your car hits other cars, or the sides of the road, whichever tire was hit will start getting a colored line on it. This color changes over time, indicating how damaged your tires are. If you hit white – the final color – your tire will pop and you’re toast. During multiplayer, purposefully shoving your opponent into the wall, or leaning hard on one of their hurt tires with your fresh ones, is a powerful strategy.
The pit stop itself is one of the most unique parts of the game, where you’re able to control both the tire changer and gas filling characters at the same time. It takes some finesse, but having a good/fast pit stop can be the difference between victory and defeat.
All in all, Pit Stop II is one of the best racing games of all time and, in my opinion, one of the best games that was ever released on the C64. I kid you not when I say that a few friends and I quite literally have a Pit Stop night several times in year, and they’re intense as hell.