No site about retro computers is truly complete without having at least some articles about retro gaming. Usually, those articles are about what I call the 'true classics': great games which where made during the commercial lifetime of the platform.

For the Commdore 64, this would include games like Creatures II, Summer Games, Turrican I & II, The Last Ninja I & II, Mayhem in Monsterland, etc.

I'm never one to merely accept the norm, so this article will shine a spotlight on some of the great, new* games released for the Commodore 64 instead. The games I'll be looking at today are Edge Grinder, Knight & Grail and Prince of Persia.

There are many more modern releases for the C64, so there may be more articles in the future!

What makes these games interesting is that they are, in many ways, just as good or plainly better than some of the highest regarded commercial releases from the 80's and 90's. Most of them are also available for free, though some only run (or run best) on a cartridge.

Edge Grinder

Edge Grinder is a classic shoot-em-up, with a key difference. Instead of the usual shooting your way through the levels and trying to get to the end, the game revolves around getting as many points as you can from just one level.

To do so, your ship can both attack the aliens and hug the walls in the level really closely. The closer you get, the more points you score. So, each section forces you to choose: shoot down the aliens, hug the wall or try to do both.

Because there is only one level that you try to get the highest score for, the game is short (a run lasts less than five minutes), simple and can get quite addictive. Trying to beat yourself (or others if you post your scores online) is always a fun challenge and it's nice to see yourself gradually improving from not finishing the level at all to getting better and better scores.

Released on a 16KB cartridge, there are no loading times. This helps keep the action fast and for me, makes it easier to have 'just one more go'.

It looks, plays and sounds great, so all in all I can wholeheartedly recommend this game to shoot-em-up fans!

Knight 'n' Grail

Arguably the closest thing the Commodore 64 has to a proper 'metroidvania' game, Knight 'n' Grail is about a knight on an epic quest to gain the grail. He needs the grail to save his loved one, who has been turned into an evil dragon.

In order to win the game, you'll have to fight several dragons, collect new armours and weapons and navigate a labyrinthine castle and connected caves, find secret doors and kill / avoid lots of enemies. The game allows you to save your progress and has a number of teleports to get around the map quicker. It's quite big, so the built in map comes in handy.

The whole game is a joy to play, it has exploration aspects, some light puzzles, great balance in the combat and it never gets so hard you don't want to continue. It's one of those games I kept playing until I had seen both endings, which is always a good thing!

Released on disk and as disk image, there is quite a bit of loading in the game. This is accelerated automatically if you have a compatible fastloader / utility cartridge (such as the ever popular Action Replay series).

It plays, looks and sounds great, with some lovely music and nice graphical touches. Simply put, this game is a must-buy for serious (and not so serious) Commodore 64 fans. The 'premium disk' version comes in lovely case and has a well printed manual.

Prince of Persia

The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have deduced that Prince of Persia is not, in fact, a new game. The Commodore 64 version, however, arrived a stylish twenty two years late. As such, it is still a very new game for the good old bread bin!

In the game, you play the role of a young prince who has been captured by the grand vizier. You have to rescue the princess from his evil clutches. An extra problem is that you have no more than one hour to do so, as the grand vizier will kill the princess after that time. Your goal then, is to escape prison, overcome the guards and stop the vizier at any cost.

The game is not particularly easy. It is, in fact, quite hard. Yet, the fluid motion of the prince (captured very well in the Commodore version), the sense of wonder and exploration and the real sense of achievement when you manage to beat a tricky section of a level all make sure you want to keep on coming back for more punishment. Errr, quality gaming!

Released on the EasyFlash cartridge only (it is just too big to fit in memory otherwise), it loads instantly and -impressively enough- runs in the Commodore 64's little used multi-colour bitmap mode.

As a result, it looks absolutely fantastic and comes very close to other ports of the game, graphically. Sounds are also reproduced faithfully (but where never the original game's high point). It controls quite well for a single button joystick system and plays like a dream.

All in all, to me this is the EasyFlash's killer app. Get one (or use an emulator like Vice), get the image and have a great version of Prince of Persia to play!

Where to get the games:

  • Edge Grinder used to be available on cartridge at RGCD and be downloaded in .CRT / .D64 format from CSDb
  • Knight & Grail can be bought on disk or as .D64 disk image from the Psytronik web store.
  • Prince of Persia can be downloaded as EasyFlash compatible .CRT format from CSDb. You can read more about the technical background of the game here.

*) In this article, I'm looking at games released -roughly- 2008 onwards. All three are available from online stores and / or for free.