The 10 Best Commodore 64 Games – Everlasting Gems

Commodore 64

After wrapping up my February review of the C64 Mini, I got to thinking: What are the 10 best Commodore 64 games for the system?

And how would I define that concept?

As you know, I am an avid gamer and really love the Commodore 64. But that makes picking out the best games that much harder; hence, my need to define what I mean by “the best.”

That is why I came up with one major criteria: No arcade ports. On top of that, I decided to emphasize the games that I played with my friends and that I have extensive experience playing. That is what I will call the nostalgia factor.

In this article, I will tell you about my top 10 picks as well as a few honorable mentions. Again, none of these are arcade ports so please try to keep that in mind, when you do not see such gems like Bubble Bobble, Ghost ‘n Goblins, or Rainbow Islands on this list.

Ready? Let’s get the party started!

(Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that – at no additional cost to you – if you click through and make a purchase, I may earn a commission)

10. International Karate + (System 3 for Europe, Epyx for NA, 1987)

International Karate + for Commodore 64

International Karate +

The first International Karate introduced computer gamers around the world to the fighting game genre, a concept that would later come to dominate arcades and consoles with the release of the legendary Street Fighter II.

If you are curious about where it all began, or you just like a fighting game that adheres to a points-based fighting system (similar to that used in karate tournaments), then International Karate + is your game.

You can see the nascent beginnings of the fighter genre as well as enjoy some pretty basic, though compelling, gameplay. There are no special moves or fatalities in this game, but what you get instead is a peek at an earlier time in gaming history as well as one of the most competitive multiplayer games released for the C64. One thing that is completely novel about it is the addition of three karateka instead of just two. You do not normally see that in a fighting game, but it was one of the major defining features of IK +.

9. Wasteland (Electronic Arts 1988)

Wasteland for Commodore 64

Wasteland

The inspiration behind the Fallout series, Wasteland thrusts you into a post-apocalyptic world and tasks you with survival as the leader of a party of four characters that have to use their combined talents to survive the deadly wastes.

An RPG with its roots in tabletop gaming, Wasteland was also notable for its gritty storyline and visuals – a true first for a C64 game. As one of the first persistent-world games ever made, Wasteland also explored a deeper narrative for the gamer by having certain texts as requisite reading when the player arrived at certain points in the game.

A sequel to Wasteland was produced for modern PCs and it is reportedly as good a distillation of the original’s spirit that you are likely to find outside of the classic Fallout games.

8. Pirates! (MicroProse 1987)

Sid Meier's Pirates! for Commodore 64

Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Coming to you straight from legendary game designer Sid Meier (of Civilization fame), Pirates! Is a combat sim that uses the titular pirate ships to wage wars across the seas.

As a Sid Meier’s game, it also tries to simulate the life of a pirate as described in 16th through 18th century texts. This means pillaging, privateering, and seaborne battling.

The play area available to gamers include most of the coastline of the Spanish New World colonies and references to real world locations and events.

A peek back into the beginnings of a legendary game design career, Sid Meier’s Pirates! is a must-play for fans of Civilization and Commodore 64 strategy titles alike.
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7. Bruce Lee (Datasoft 1984)

Bruce Lee for Commodore 64

Bruce Lee

An action platformer starring the legendary Hong Kong action star Bruce Lee.

As the title star, you run around stages avoiding bad guys and collecting lanterns along the way.

In many ways, the mechanics are similar to a Mario platforming game but with a collection element, rather than a linear completion goal.

Incredibly tough in later levels, Bruce Lee is an incredibly fast-paced game that will definitely test your reflexes.

6. Turrican I and II (Rainbow Arts 1990 and 1991)

Turrican 2 for Commodore 64

Turrican 2

Easily one of the most impressive pairs of games on this list – especially from a modern game design standpoint – Turrican I and II are both as epic as they are fun to play.

For a modern frame of reference, think classic Metroid mixed with a shoot ‘em up.

Blazing fast action, combined with an epic storyline makes Turrican one of those rare series that truly attempted to elevate the concept of what a video game could be as an entertainment medium.

Beyond the C64 version, these two games have inspired endless clones and remakes, so modern gamers do not have much of an excuse for not experiencing this title.

5. Jet Bike Simulator (Codemasters 1988)

Jet Bike Simulator for Commodore 64

Jet Bike Simulator

Another classic title from the legendary house of Codemasters, Jet Bike Simulator is, as the name implies, a jet ski racing game.

Think of Wave Race 64 but from an overhead perspective.

You have to beat your opponents while going around a track and avoiding obstacles at the same time.

It is a classic bit of racing game fun that is neither pretentious nor terribly complicated. It even features some of the most extensive use of voice sound clips in an early video game.

4. Winter Games (Epyx 1985)

Winter Games for Commodore 64

Winter Games

Epyx’s Winter Games takes the competition normally associated with the Winter Olympics and boils it down to video game format.

The objectives of each minigame are simple but fun. Back then, it was one of the most atmospheric games around: being awarded a medal to the national anthem of the country you had chosen to represent was very rewarding, especially when playing with friends.

If you have ever played a Mario Party game or an Olympic-themed sports title, then you can thank Winter Games for pioneering that format.

3. MicroProse Soccer (MicroProse 1988)

MicroProse Soccer for Commodore 64

MicroProse Soccer

An overhead soccer game that is amazingly fast paced for a 30+ year-old title. MicroProse, later known for their X-Com series as well as Sid Meier’s Civilization, originally found great success as a sports and racing title maker.

This talent is on full display with MicroProse Soccer. While you cannot see all of the players on the field, the graphics move fast enough so that it does not matter and you never sense the fog of war that limits your strategic options.

It is a pretty basic soccer game, but that is what makes it so much fun. One neat feature that made MicroProse Soccer stand out from its competition was the humble addition of rain and the weather-based effects that come with it (I still occasionally call it Rainy Soccer 😉 ).

For a more emotional description of it, please check my top 10 retro soccer-game list.

2. Creatures I and II (Thalamus Ltd 1990 and 1992)

Creatures for Commodore 64

Creatures

Another pair of classic platforming titles on the  * Commodore 64, Creatures I and II show off the C64’s amazing color palette and ability to deliver top-notch graphics on what was otherwise a pretty basic chipset.

But do not let the cute graphics fool you – there are also some moments of gore and horror that are kind of surprising for titles this old.

You basically have to free the creatures from these torture chambers to complete the games, combining platforming elements as well as exploration and light puzzle solving.

Honorable mentions:

Last Ninja 2 (System 3 1988)

Last Ninja 2 for Commodore 64

Last Ninja 2

An action-adventure title from an isometric perspective with a rocking soundtrack, Last Ninja 2 involves the player assuming the role of a ninja and avoiding environmental obstacles from a juggler to a wandering policeman on patrol.

Following the storyline of the first game, Last Ninja 2 involves similar high-stakes antics in New York City as you attempt to retrieve the Koga Scrolls and save the world from an impending doom.

What sticks out the most about Last Ninja 2 is the incredibly detailed isometric backgrounds that the player passes through. These are true graphical marvels for their time.

And that soundtrack – believe me when I say it – it rocks.

Emlyn Hughes International Soccer (Audiogenic Software Ltd. 1988)

Emlyn Hughes International Soccer for Commodore 64

Emlyn Hughes International Soccer

Named after one of the greatest English defenders of all time and the evolution of International Soccer by Andrew Spencer (the first soccer game to feature a replay after a goal), EHIS is A side-scrolling soccer game that puts eleven players with different skills on the field. Absolutely revolutionary for the time! It is definitely a good alternative for those players who do not like the overhead view offered in MicroProse Soccer.

Competitive and easy to understand, the game has less of an arcade feel to it than MicroProse Soccer, leaning a lot more towards simulation (for the time, of course), but it offers a similarly compelling experience.

It is tough to choose which one is better but, as an overall package, the MicroProse Soccer game is tough to beat… Sure, EHIS can be played in cooperative, but Rainy Soccer is simply too fun in versus mode.

Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior (Palace Software 1987)

Barbarian: the Ultimate Warrior for Commodore 64

Barbarian: the Ultimate Warrior

A mixture of Conan the Barbarian and International Karate, Barbarian lets you duke it out in the arena against a fellow male or female barbarian as you hack and slash at each other until one person is dead.

It is pretty wild to be frank.

Overseen by Shang Tsung’s own grandfather, Barbarian is another early peek at the fighting game genre and tosses out the points-based, karate tournament system popularized by IK in favor of a brutal game.

If you like hacking and slashing or Conan the Barbarian type material, this game is right up your alley.  If you like 1980s metal, this game will probably tickle your fancy.

Alright, It is time to move to the number 1 on this list!
And the winner is…
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G2G Limited - Go2Games

1. Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (Lucasfilm Games 1988)

Zak Mckracken and the Alien Mindbenders for Commodore 64

Zak Mckracken and the Alien Mindbenders

When people talk about Lucasarts legendary adventure games on the Commodore 64, this is what they are talking about. Gamers familiar with Maniac Mansion or even later games like Return to Zork are already familiar with Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders’ central conceit.

You start out working for a sleazy tabloid and, eventually, your ambitions get the better of you and lead our hero on a winding quest that reveals a lot more about his world than he probably expected.

Vibrantly told in detailed graphics, the writing is what really puts Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders over the top. The amount of interaction options and ensuing dialogue will absolutely blow your mind.

If you are looking for an awesome adventure game with a great story, from any era, you owe it to yourself to pick up Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders and play through it. It will help you understand what all the critics are raving about when they talk about Lucasarts early adventure games on computers.

The Amazing Zak McKracken concludes our journey, retro folks. It has been another fun ride to the past, but I do not like riding alone, so please let me know your thoughts in the comment below.

Commodore 64 homescreen

About Andrew A.

Andrew is the founder and owner of RetroGamingLoft. He considers himself a natural-born gamer and is on a mission to keep our younger gaming years alive through the medium of Retro Stories. His event recount includes hopes, dreams, broken joysticks, magic, nostalgia and another final boss defeated.

24 thoughts on “The 10 Best Commodore 64 Games – Everlasting Gems

  1. Jay

    I can not actually believe I played some of these games. How time flies. It seems just like yesterday that I was playing this with my friends. I did not come across most of the games here but I was fortunate enough to play few of these. I am not entirely sure about a favorite because they were all fun. 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Jay and thanks for your comment.
      Correct, time flies, for this reason I came up with this blog: to keep memories alive. 🙂
      Hope you become a regular, till next post!

      Reply
  2. Todd Matthews

    Winter Games, International Soccer, and MicroProse soccer would be my top three choices, simply considering I’ve always been a fan of classic sports video games. I’ve actually never gotten around to playing a Commodore 64, being born in 1991 and growing up with consoles like the PS1, N64, and later the XBox, and subsequent Playstations. But, being a fan of retro games, I’d love to give this one a go, especially since the console as a whole looks to be operated by a keyboard, judging from the photo, and anything with a keyboard would give me a few auto advantages, having always preferred them to handheld controllers. 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Todd, thanks for commenting again!
      I can perfectly relate to that, I too was mainly a sports video gamer. I credit Clue (talked about it in my latest post) for introducing me to Rpgs and other video game genres.
      As for playing with a keyboard, very few C64 games allow you do to that, actually. The majority of them require a 9-pin joystick.
      Of all the games listed here, the only two games that you can play with a keyboard are Wasteland and Jet Bike Simulator.
      Despite this, classic handheld controllers (aka joysticks) are a lot easy to maneuver than modern ones (aka joypads), you only have to use a button, at the end of the day. 🙂

      Thanks again for stopping by, till next retro list!

      Reply
  3. Dave

    As a child of the 60’s I grew up with 8-bit computer games in the 80’s – spending hours playing Zelda as a text only game on a 6′ green screen. I love retro games and am excited to have found your website.

    Your reviews of each of these games brought me back and made me want to play each one. I didn’t even know Lucasfilms made games back in the 80’s. I feel like I must now research Zak McKracken and give it a try. I especially enjoy a game with good dialogue. 

    Thanks for sharing your insights on these classic games!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Dave and thanks for leaving such a nice comment.
      It is always a pleasure to meet fellow retro gamers, especially when we more or less share the same memories.
      I am younger than you, but I remember seeing the text-only Zelda game. I did not get to play it, but I am sure that one of my older cousins owned that handheld video game.
      Oh and Zak is amazing, it has aged absolutely well!
      So glad that you found my post informative, I hope you become a regular here! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Charity

    I happen to be a big gaming nerd and love retro games. It’s hard to find the best sources for games and gear to support retro games. Plus if it wasn’t a major hitter then most of the time people have no idea which games are actually still available and may be fun to enjoy. Thanks for the good list and tracking down a place to buy them!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Charity and thanks for leaving a comment on my post.
      I am pleased to be of service, your words make my day, honestly.
      I started this blog with a mission in mind and every day ,I strive to be a reliable source for information. Comments like yours definitely reinforce my motivation!
      Till next retro article!

      Reply
  5. luca frangella

    I remember with pleasure the ZX version of Bruce Lee , the challenges with my schoolmates at Micro Prose Soccer and Barbarian, the graphical marvels of The Last Ninja. Another great C64 game to mention is Spy vs Spy. Good old adolescent memories here, thanks!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      It is such a pleasure to hear from you, Luca. Thanks for taking time to read and comment on my new post, it means a lot.
      Concerning the game you mentioned, it is another title that was there in the mix but eventually did not make the cut.
      Despite this, I liked it a lot. Back then it was more than a breathtaking adventure. You know, I have always had a soft spot for old text games, especially when they featured a fighting part.
      Till next retro ranking!

      Reply
  6. Aabidah Ahmed

    These are a great collection of games you have gathered here. I’ve always loved these types of games, it’s old-time games but still the best. 

    My husband will think back to the good old days when he sees the games you have selected here. We both play the new Xbox game,s but these will never get old.

    I’ll share this as well, so thank you for bringing back memories.

    All the best.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Aabidah, and thanks for your nice comment.
      I hope your husband likes my post as much as you did. I would be very glad to hear from him either. 🙂
      Bringing back pleasant memories is my mission, I hope you guys become regulars on my blog!

      Reply
  7. Harry

    Wow, you just reminded me of my young age. Now that I think about it, I still have my Commodore 64 somewhere in the house…

    I’ll take it out, call my best friend and reminisce those good old days with a couple of beers.

    I am not really sure if it’ll work though and I don’t know if I still have any games… Any chance that you know if there are any Commodore 64 games available for sale somewhere? 

    Reply
  8. Emmanuel Buysse

    To think how games looked like at that time, it’s really unbelievable how much the evolution went. I loved to play football games like that, they were so funny and awkward in the same time. Looking back to that time, those were the best childhoods. You agree with me? Thanks for sharing it with us. 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Emmanuel, always a pleasure to read a comment of yours.
      Well, yes,I do agree, I had a lot of fun growing up, and MicroProse Soccer provided that in large quantity. A storm broke out and you got a completely different game. The first time it happened, we just could not stop laughing…
      Thanks for stopping by again, till next retro ranking!

      Reply
  9. Dave

    Hallo there Andrew, 

    I have to say you have really done a good job.

    Actually, I was talking with my parents about their childhood and how their games were back then, when they mentioned some of the games you’ve listed here like the Turican I and II, micropose soccer and last ninja 2.

    Although there are some that are not here, I am keeping in mind what you said in the introduction.

    These games based on I hear were the real thing and it makes me think how we’ll also be telling our kids about fortnite and the rest. 

    Thanks for reliving those days. It has really inspired me.

    Have a good day!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Dave and welcome to my blog! I am very pleased that you appreciated my post.
      Life is a spinning wheel and we have to make sure to preserve memories, before they fly away for good.
      I am grateful to my family and older friends for sharing their memories with me, and I think that the best way to thank them is paying it forward.
      As they say, our history is what makes us who we are today. New generations can leverage that to continue evolving, and create a better future. 🙂
      Thanks again for your nice words, I hope you keep coming for more!

      Reply
  10. RoDarrick

    Reading through this post has made me nolstagia. Winter games, international soccer, microprose soccer, and Bruce Lee would be the top picks for me. I had the flair for sport related games right from time but then, I liked the Bruce Lee game because of my favorite Asian actor then. I still find it very hard to believe that I actually played these games at some points. Technology has really gone a long way. I would give my all to get a chance to play these games again though. 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Rodarrick and thanks for commenting again, It is always a pleasure to be able to bring back memories.
      I too was mainly a sports gamer in my early teens, so I can relate to that.
      If you really want to play these games again, you can take a look at my recent post about the top five retro game shops online. In case you like to see goods in person, before making a purchase, I also wrote a guide about the best ways to buy retro games.
      Thanks again for dropping by, I am glad to have you as a regular here!

      Reply
  11. Akoli

    I have always seen myself as too old to play computer games. I’m 66. In fact, anything computer frightens me into inactivity. So I hesitated before the title convinced me to read your article and see if I hadn’t been missing something.

    Yes, when you really love something , that makes picking out the best a headache.  But I think coming up with one major criteria makes it easier for people like me also to understand.

    The games I would like to try my hand at playing are:

    Wasteland: I have always worried about something happening to this world of ours. Having a game treat it could prepare my mind for it.

    Pirates also seems to interest me. As a child I loved to read stories of pirates. And now our African coats have become the new playground for pirates, especially from Somalia and now, Nigeria too.

    Some of the other games interest me too, but if I were to start playing immediately I would stick to the two above to develop interest and skill.

    Thanks for an article which has made me see that my fear of playing computer games was uncalled for. I will be visiting your site for more.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Akoli, thanks for your insightful comment. It is absolutely refreshing to receive comments like yours.
      Like I said, bringing back pleasant memories is my mission, but that also includes explaining and describing anything I talk about to the best of my knowledge.
      I never thought that I could help someone overcome their friends of playing computer games, and that is truly a great feeling. I love helping others!
      The two games that you mentioned are perfect to try your hand at playing. There is a lot of text and not much action is required. Easy to play and to understand.
      I truly hope you keep coming back for more, and if you get to play Wasteland or Pirates!, Please let me know how it goes.

      Reply
  12. Pentrental

    Wow Commodore 64! Really brining it back there. These games were classic. I can still remember the Atari too haha. For me the one I remember playing the most was Pirates. Barbarian was a pretty good one too. But you really nailed it here with Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders. I agree, dialogue is what really makes this game. This was a an interesting post that really brought back some good memories, well done!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Pentrental and thanks for your nice words. I am glad that you liked my post, especially that you agreed with my choices, hehehe. Seriously, it is always a pleasure to bring back memories and your comment is a boost to keep providing my readers with engaging content.
      Thanks again for dropping by, stay tuned for more retro articles!

      Reply

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