Glen McNamee
My Top Commodore 16 and Plus/4 Games
Posted on Mar 6, 2009 in Gaming

Commodore plus4

I didn’t always have a Commodore 64, in fact I didn’t get a C64 until 1988 when my mother was left a small amount of money in by recently deceased uncle.  Before I got the c64 I did own it’s cheap and cheerful little sister a Commodore Plus/4 (connect to a black and white portible TV). The Plus/4 along with it’s brother the Commodore 16 were Commodore’s entry-level replacement the VIC-20. Unfortunately both computers were a big flop, and were discontinued very quickly.

The Plus/4 wasn’t as powerful as C64 despite a 75% faster  processor, a better basic language, and 115 colours (99 more than the c64), as it had no sprite capability and a much weaker sound chip, but this didn’t stop game developers creating some great games for both the Plus/4 and the C16.

Here’s some of the great games I enjoyed playing during those years.

Spore ScreenshotSpore

Spore was an simplified Gauntlet clone style maze game. It was also available on the for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, with the C16 version being exactly the same as the C64 version (except for the music) and in many ways better than the ZX Spectrum version released by Mastertronic in1987.

A great feature was the game included a level editor for users to create their own maps, which kept me happy for many hours.

A remake of Spore for PC is available from the tdbsoft website.

Kikstart c16

Kikstart

Kikstart  is a motorcycle trials racing videogame based on the BBC Television series of the same name.  The basic premise of the game is to control a bike using acceleration, braking, “hopping” and “wheelies” to navigate across a course of various obstacles, from ramps and gates to telephone boxes and tyres.

The commodore C16 version  of game, despite being inferior to the c64 version, was  so popular it was  recently converted to the C64.

Treasure_islandTreasure Island

A release title for a Commodore Plus/4 (the game was not available for the C16),  obviously based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. In the game, the player takes on the role of Jim Hawkins, and has to battle through hordes of pirates before a final showdown with Long John Silver. The game view did not scroll, but used a flip-screen style.

None of the pirates moved around, but some of them would throw a cutlass at Jim if he moved in range. The pirate in question did not lose his cutlass if he does so – he always had another to use himself. A pirate would very rarely throw more than one cutlass. If Jim was hit by a cutlass thrown at him, or if he touched a pirate, he would lose a life and start again from the beginning of the screen. However, if he moved out of the way in time, the cutlass would land on the ground, and he would be able to throw it at a pirate of his choosing to kill him. A killed pirate disappeared, thus allowing Jim to pass.

This game was great fun and every bit as good as the ZX Spectrum, and Commodore 64 versions.

Way of the Exploding Fist Title ScreenshotWay of the Exploding Fist

 

A commodore 16 game in which The player takes part in a series of one-on-one karate matches, all overseen by a wise old expert who appears somewhere in the background. Once the player defeats an opponent they move up to the next stage and a more difficult adversary. Fights were not won using the energy bar style found in modern fighting games but instead the player needed to get two complete yin-yang symbols. Any move that connected with the opponent would end the round, a loosely timed or borderline kick or punch would obtain half a yin-yang icon, while a well executed move would obtain a full icon. Two complete icons ends the bout and the player progresses to the next level.

The much better C64 version of the game was successfully converted to the Plus/4.

Icicle Works ScreenshotIcicles works

This  plus/4 only title was a boulder dash clone where you take the role of Santa Claus trying to retrieve his Christmas Presents, but watch out for those Polar Bears and Penguins one touch from them makes you explode into Christmas Presents.

This game was so much fun even my mother liked it and she still remembers it to this day. She wanted me to get it for the Nintendo DS that bought for her last birthday.

Commando ScreenshotCommando

Commando was a Commodore 16 conversion of the Arcade game of the same name. Unlike the arcade this game did not scroll and only included five single screen levels. Despite this it was very difficult and I don’t think I ever completed it.

A plus/4 conversion of C64 version of the game has been created by the same guy who converted Exploding Fist

Saboteur

When you purchased Saboteur! you got two versions of this game. A C-16 version and an enhanced plus/4 only Version.

The plus/4 of the game is exactly the same as the other 8bit versions of the game, and it is therefore great looking game. The Commodore 16 version is frankly a load of old pants. The game was originally designed to run on computers with at least 48k of ram, so it looks terrible (see screenshots for details) and is missing elements, for example you cannot kill the guard dogs or use a joystick. This version occupies nearly every single byte of memory on the C16.

Saboteur C16 version

The player controls a saboteur, trained in ninja arts. His task is to break into a central security building (which is disguised as a warehouse) and steal a floppy disk that contains the names of all the rebel leaders. The saboteur arrives at the warehouse by rubber dinghy and must fight through the building to obtain the disk and then escape via a helicopter on the roof (optionally setting a bomb to destroy the building for bonus points). All of this must also be achieved against a time limit.

Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers was the first game in the Magic Knight series of games (the others being  Spellbound, Knight Tyme and Stormbringer) and was release as part of Mastertronic’s excellent 199 range (called because it only cost £1.99 to buy)

Finders Keepers Screenshot

It’s a platform game with some maze sections. The hero starts in the King’s throne room and is transported, via a teleporter, to the castle. The castle is made up of two types of playing area: flick-screen rooms in the manner of a platform game and two large scrolling mazes.

The C64 version of the game has three possible solutions. Unfortunately they had to cut a lot of things out from the C16 version, so it end up with only one, but it was still a great game

 

Soccer Boss

This was the first Football Manager game I’ve ever owned. Sure, I had played Football Manager on the C64 and Spectrum, but this game was a generate beyond that, so it had lots more features. In it you start in the fourth division and have to take your team from the bottom to the top. the FA cup is in there too.  Winning the top division got your to play in European Cup, not that I ever did that.

The funny thing about this game is that it was written in basic. So you could break it, and re-write it if you wanted.

Spiky Harold Screenshot

Spiky Harold

Spiky Harold was the first video game hedgehog and he was brought to us by Firebird software in 1986. In this classic 2D platform game you must help a Harold find enough food to go into hibernation for the winter.

Each of the chambers beneath the hedgerow contains an item of food which Harold can eat. However, he must avoid the creatures who will try to stop him, as well as conkers, sulphur clouds, bouncing balls and peeping periscopes. On his travels, Harold may find some coins which will give him extra lives, and wine glasses that will make him drunk.

A PC remake of the game is available to download

Tazz ScreenshotTazz

Tazz is a little bloke from a cowboy company ‘Bug exterminators Unlimited/Unreliable’ who has been miniaturised into a computer to gate crash a wild party hosted by a really nasty bunch of bugs. All may look easy but it soon becomes obvious that those bugs have a slight personality clash with Tazz and given half a chance will give him the touch of death.

Mindless and very silly, but most of all fun.

ThrustThrust

If you had a 8 bit computer you will have already heard of Thrust. It  is a classic 2D dimensional physics based game. The player’s aim is to maneuver a spaceship by rotating and thrusting, as it flies over a landscape and along corridors.  It was originally programmed on the  BBC Micro and Acorn Electron, but it was converted to most 8bit computer such as the  Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Atari and Commodore 16 as well as the Vectrex and Atari 2600 game consoles. Due to the games simple concept all the versions of the game are pretty much the same, although the commodore C64 would probably be consider the best version as it had great peice of music from Rob Hubbard.

45 Comments

  1. Scribbler says:

    I had Soccer Boss for the Spectrum. It was immense. I was let down by the C16 version, as obviously, it didn’t have the same amount of playability. I always remember Port Vale had a tendancy to finish last.

    Did you ever play Squirm, Powerball or Big Mac? These three are all Mastertronic games, and IM(NS)HO, absolutely brilliant.

  2. Glen McNamee says:

    If memory serves me correctly Soccer Boss was called ‘The Boss’ on the C16 and was a cut down version, the plus/4 has the full ‘Soccer Boss’ version.

    Haven’t played any of those games, Although I’ve wrote this article completely from memory so I’m sure I’m missed some even better games which I’ve complete forgotten (it’s over 20 years ago).

  3. Scribbler says:

    I can’t remember if there was a separate edition of “Soccer Boss” for the Plus 4, as I only ever had a C16, but I’m sure you’re right about it just being called “The Boss”. I know for a fact the Spectrum version was named “Soccer Boss”, on the box, and just “The Boss” in-game. Presumably, they thought it was too generic a name.

  4. Retrogame says:

    Nice article! I still remember my first C+/4 game: Panic Express, but Saboteur was my favourite! (Do you still want that account?)

  5. Glen McNamee says:

    Thanks, email on it’s way.

  6. Jim Allen says:

    I hope you can help, im trying to remeber a game that came with the Spectrum. If i remember rightly it was on the same tape as Feud, Treasure Island and Punch and Judy although i was only 7 at the time!!
    Its basically a space game where you fly around ala Asteroids blowing up space stations. You did this by destroying sixish balls on the outside of the station. Im trying to find for my sister but cant for the life of me.
    Also Bruce Lee was one of my favorites. Fighting the skinny Ninja and the fat Sumo while avoiding traps.

  7. Glen McNamee says:

    Sorry, I don’t know what the game is. Maybe Scribbler can help, he’s a ZX Spectrum expert.

    Bruce Lee rocked, you should check out this PC remake; http://www.planetflibble.com/blitz/

  8. Glen McNamee says:

    Actually, it might of been this Hyperbowl;

    http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseek.cgi?regexp=^Hyperbowl$&pub=^Mastertronic+Ltd$&loadpics=1

  9. Scribbler says:

    Alas, I am too stumped with this one. I am unfamiliar with Hyperbowl, but I found a review here…

    http://www.ysrnry.co.uk/articles/hyperbowl.htm

    Bruce Lee was good, although it was incredibly easy, to the point of being patronising. It was probably one of the first games I completed without cheating.

  10. Glen McNamee says:

    Cheers, Scrib (even if Akismet though your comment was spam?)

    I do hope the Spectrum version of Bruce Lee was easier because I was rather useless at the C64 one.

  11. chris welch says:

    Do yopu remember the Winter Games and Summer Games sports sims for the c16/plus 4 from a company called Anco. They were the best C16 games by far. The plus 4 version of Mercenary was also excellent. c

  12. Glen McNamee says:

    I didn’t have any sports games for my plus/4 although I did have a fair few good Anco games.

  13. swanee says:

    treasure island ,icicle works,classics,nostalgia

  14. swanee says:

    i seem to remember another game ‘ant attack’which i spent many an hour on

  15. Glen McNamee says:

    Yes, Ant Attack was another game that was bundled with the Plus/4 (and possibly the C16 too), and I considered adding it to the list, but I can only remember playing the first screen of the game.

  16. leigh says:

    icicle works, the exorcist, fire ant, pogo pete and strip poker!!!i remember waiting about 40mins for it to load the picture..

  17. brett says:

    this was my 1st computer and still have good memories,favorites bomb jack-and its long loading times,adventures of big mac (i think),treasure island and kung fu

  18. Peco says:

    OMG kikstart and Treasue Island I loved those games. How annoying was it that you couldnt save your progress.
    Another game I remember playing for hours was “FireAnt”
    Ahh them were the days !!

  19. Nick Jones says:

    I used to love playing Icicle works on my C64. My mum was always trying to beat my highest score. If it wasnt that it was Formula 1 on the C64. I would love to play icicle works again.

  20. Glen McNamee says:

    There are plenty of C16 and C64 emulators out there, I’m sure you could play Icicle Works again with those.

  21. kim says:

    do you know anywhere that i could get the games….kickstart, icicle works & treasure island? Iv just got a workin commadore plus 4 (i had my first when i was 10!!!) & im DESPERATE to get these games again for this commadore!!x

  22. Big MacK says:

    Thanks for the memories!!! So many great games. Icicle Works was the first game I ever completed (you became invincible after so many points) and Soccer Boss was the first game I ever managed to break into and change the code to allow me to have infinite money

  23. Ash says:

    I stumbled upon this trying to find one of my favourite games on the C16 (which was my first computer back in the day). I searched for “C16 amoeba”, “C16 virus” and no luck, so I searched for “C16 games list”, and there was your page, with Spore as the number one! What a game! I’m gonna go check out the PC remake now. Cheers.

  24. Adam says:

    Hi Glen

    I would have put Icicle works at the top.

    I had a Plus/4 for Christmas way back in the 80’s. It came with ten games which contained Treasure Island, Icicle works and a rather frustrating crazy golf game. Pretty good machine but was let down by lack of hardward sprites, decent sound chip and major titles. However the machine was more than capable of running games that looked similar to the C64, albeit without the great music.

    The best thing about the plus 4 was the superior basic and the built in dissassembler which taught me the basics for coding and probably kicked off my career in software engineering.

    After all these years I’m still playing the games on an emulator. Great times.

  25. […] long time ago, in the days before Commodore is Awesome I wrote a post on my blog about my favourite Commodore c16 and plus/4 games. A long time later it occurred to me, that I’d forgotten a very good game, but I […]

  26. colin flowerday says:

    I LOVE MY COMMODORE PLUS 4 I HAVE HUNDREDS OF GAMES FOR IT MY FAVORITE GAMES ARE FIRE ANT TREASURE ISLAND AND TOM THUMB AND MR PUNIVERSE. IVE GOT OTHER GAMES TOO OFF PLUS 4 WORLD I PLAY ON MY MACHINE ITS GREAT STUFF PS3.

  27. 😉 Great website. Thanks for all the info. I have just managed to pick-up a Commodore Plus 4 on eBay in great condition for just £20! The memories are coming back already !!!

    Best wishes …
    RetroZone (UK)

  28. Sorry made a mistake. Entered my website incorrectly above.

  29. […] A long time ago, in the days before Commodore is Awesome, I wrote a post on my blog about my favourite Commodore c16 and plus/4 games. A long time later it occurred to me, that I’d forgotten a very good game, but I couldn’t be […]

  30. […] As above this game was inspired by the commodore 16 version of Kikstart (one of my favourite c16/Plus 4 games of all time) by Shaun Southern. Which is a conversation of the superior Commodore 64 game, which has an even […]

  31. Doc75 says:

    Winter Events, Berks Trilogy (especially part 3) and Mercenary were some of the best games for the Plus/4.
    I’ve managed to get hold of a copy of Winter Events but sadly I can’t find the other two anywhere.

  32. […] long time ago, in the days before Commodore is Awesome/Vitno, I wrote a post on my blog about my favourite Commodore C16 and plus/4 games. A long time later it occurred to me, that I’d forgotten a very good game, but I couldn’t be […]

  33. Alex johnston says:

    I used to own a game that had ten games on one tape all very good games one of them was a sort of walking round a castle finding odjects it was the best one on tape would anyone know of the compilation tape i can’t remember the name.

    • Steven Allen says:

      I would hazard a guess that it would be one of the Computer Hits compilations. They came with 10 games on them and were generally of a higher quality than most C16/ Plus4 compilations.

  34. Karl says:

    I used to love Soccer Boss. The Champ Manager of its day! I have read online it was made in Basic (I even vaguely remember playing with the code as a 8 year old!) has anyone managed to make it for the PC or smartphone?

  35. Doug Turner says:

    Great to read so many nice comments about Icicle Works. It was a favourite of mine too! 🙂
    I always preferred the C64, but the the Plussy was a nice little machine, badly flawed by some dubious design decisions (awful sound, terrible built in software suite, lack of sprites…).

    Cheers,

    Doug

  36. zoeblade says:

    Huh, Tazz appears to be a port of the arcade game Tazz-Mania, complete with the names of the levels. Nice! All this time, I didn’t realise it had been ported to the humble C16 / Plus/4.

  37. […] As above this game was inspired by the commodore 16 version of Kikstart (one of my favourite c16/Plus 4 games of all time) by Shaun Southern. Which is a conversation of the superior Commodore 64 game, which has an even […]

  38. […] for this month; I’ve always loved the commodore 16 version of Kikstart (one of my favourite c16/Plus 4 games of all time) by Shaun Southern. Which is a conversation of the superior Commodore 64 game, which has an […]

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