English Invader wrote: ↑
Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:23 pm
fredghostmaster wrote: ↑
Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:42 am
I'd vote for Vic 20 but it isn't on the list. People forget just how popular a machine it was around 1982-3 until the C64 kind of killed it.
I'm a present day VIC-20 user and a long-standing member of Denial (the VIC-20 forum) and it holds up surprisingly well against supposedly more powerful machines. Its main weakness is limited memory but the Beeb, Speccy and the C64 weren't that much superior in that regard; especially when you bear in mind that the Spectrum's 128k model was under-utilised in comparison to the more popular 48k and the C64's ROM Basic left the user with a mere 38k. The basic models of the Speccy and Beeb both came with 16k (a common expansion option for the VIC) and the model B BBC shipped with 32k (which just falls short of the VIC-20's maximum 35k or 32k+3k).
You can say all that, but an unexpanded VIC-20 has only 5.5K to work with, and - unlike BBC B and 48K Spectrum that very quickly became the standard that games targeted - that's the machine that everyone had, with the RAM expansions being an additional purchase regarded by most users as optional. The incompatibility of the various expansions exacerbated the problem too, with the extra memory going into non-contiguous blocks, rearranging the system layout, and generally making it a developer's nightmare to get software to run on all of them. I'd think that ultimately most of the best VIC games targeted the 16K expansion, because there was a solid standard and a decent number of users, but there were a heck of a lot more made for the unexpanded machine just because that was the bulk of the market at the time.
Had Commodore set a standard for the 32K expansions right at the very beginning and made that the only official option for upgrading, it might have worked differently though.
The VIC-20 was also more than a match for the Speccy and the Beeb in terms of graphics and sound and I regard it as one of the best systems around for old school arcade games. It was also capable of more than that as recent ports of Doom and Manic Miner emphatically illustrate.
A couple of things that spring to mind are the double width pixels (and unlike the C64 you don't get the benefit of trading away colour clash for them) and the requirement to have the same background colour for the entire screen. It's also got no hardware sprites or scrolling support, but plenty of other machines worked well enough without those. I suppose if your game can work within those limitations the machine isn't giving too much else away though and, from a technical perspective at least, it could have continued to receive ports of a lot of the major releases well into the late 80s had the market been there for them.
Still, I'd agree with Fred that the main thing that doomed the VIC-20 was the success of the C64. Commodore could make them for a roughly similar amount of money by the end of 1984, but they could sell the C64 for a whole lot more. The C16 was an attempt to make a replacement that was cheaper to manufacture, but that's a whole other story.