Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

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ivarf
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Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by ivarf » Thu May 09, 2019 3:47 pm

This is not a question about the games released, but a question about what is possible to do with the different hardware.

The C64 is great for music, smooth scrolling and sprites. Very good within the limits of the hardware.

The ZX Spectrum, balanced lowspec machine

Amstrad CPC, hard to code for, but can do well in the right hands

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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by NorthWay » Thu May 09, 2019 7:38 pm

The CPC needs to use a lot of its memory for the display, and so sprites will also be bigger. Hence it also needs to use a lot of processing power to update the display. OTOH it has no placement restrictions to work around. Possibly it should also find use for having only 2 pixels per byte.
The C= 64 has issues with being able to update colour info fast enough (which the C= 128 did a fix for). The speed is limited and it doesn't have any affinity for 16-bit values. You'd think they would have taken more solutions from the A8 they studied. It needs to use more cpu for operations the A8 gets nearly for free.

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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by batman877 » Fri May 10, 2019 9:08 am

ivarf wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 3:47 pm
Amstrad CPC, hard to code for, but can do well in the right hands
It's not hard to code for, the Oliver Twins for example loved to programme on it as their lead platform ('Dizzy', 'Grand Prix Sim' etc). 'Basic' is a great computer language to learn. The problem was that the Spectrum and C64 were much more popular and most companies wouldn't justify the costs for a standalone CPC version, hence the unimpressive ports of a lot of games (I'm looking at you US Gold). Of course there are exceptions to this rule where the CPC has amazing games - just look at most Ocean games (Chase HQ, Robocop, Batman The Movie etc) and often those programmed in France or Spain where they have thriving Amstrad communities.
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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by ivarf » Fri May 10, 2019 4:17 pm

NorthWay wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:38 pm
The C= 64 has issues with being able to update colour info fast enough (which the C= 128 did a fix for).
Never heard about this and can't really say I understand what it is about. Do you mean something like the colourclash on the Spectrum?

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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by ivarf » Fri May 10, 2019 4:21 pm

batman877 wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 9:08 am
ivarf wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 3:47 pm
Amstrad CPC, hard to code for, but can do well in the right hands
It's not hard to code for, the Oliver Twins for example loved to programme on it as their lead platform ('Dizzy', 'Grand Prix Sim' etc).
They developed on the Amstrad CPC but for the specification of the ZX Spectrum so in my opinion their lead platform for most of their games was the Spectrum. Their early titles were Amstrad only though

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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by kiwimike » Sat May 11, 2019 12:25 am

I guess that's a question for those with technical knowledge. From a gamer point of view I probably loved the C64 best, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy my gaming on the other machines and found some superb games on them.

Often said the Amstrad I had an unfair view on earlier, as locally and pre internet days most stores only stocked the very average Amsoft stuff so you got a unfair idea that there weren't good games for it. It's RG mag that made me realise that it did in fact have some cracking titles.

I would assume all these systems would require the right programming skills to make the hardware sing, much like anything really. I mean, you only have to look at results produced from very primitive specced machines like Atari VCS and ZX81...the right hands could create some incredible things.

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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by outdated_gamer » Sat May 11, 2019 1:30 am

It's a bit like the Amiga/Atari ST/DOS PC question, thus complex to answer (as we know, Amiga rocked in the 80s but DOS PC basically killed it off in the mid 90s thanks to Doom and other factors).

I had only a ZX so I can't fully answer this, but I will say that each machine had it's strenghts and weaknesses.

For example, the ZX has a fast CPU and a vibrant colour palette, but lacked a dedicated graphics and sound chip and was thus limited here.

The ZX is technically the best for 3D/Vector 3D stuff, where the extra CPU speed comes handy (similar to how the fast CPUs gave DOS PC the edge in polygon 3D games).

The C=64 is probably the "best" in the sense that it has full dedicated and capable graphics and audio hardware, but the CPU speed is not all that and the "washed out" feel of the colour palette is a matter of taste (it also usually has a bit more blocky look than the ZX).

However, the C=64 usually had the smoothest running games and this matters the most for enjoyable gameplay. It also often had the best versions of multi-format games, outdoing even the much more capable Amiga and Atari ST (since many devs targeted the C=64 as the "prime" system and made enhanced versions for those other, less popular systems).

The CPC is a special case in that it was probably the most advanced 8-bit micro, but suffered from many bottle-necks and poor multi-format ports due to being much less popular than the other two (unless you were French).

CPC's colour palette and CPU speed are actually the best of them all, but games tended to run rather sluggish on it - even compared to the ZX.

CPC is probably the best case of "could have done better" if it was more wide-spread and had more people making stuff for it. I'd personally call it "the N64 of the 8-bit generation", in the sense that it was the most advanced 8-bit micro for the time (not counting the very late 8-bit things like MSX Turbo-R and SAM Coupe), but held back due to certain bottle-necks and programming blunders.

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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by kiwimike » Sat May 11, 2019 3:46 am

outdated_gamer wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 1:30 am
It's a bit like the Amiga/Atari ST/DOS PC question, thus complex to answer (as we know, Amiga rocked in the 80s but DOS PC basically killed it off in the mid 90s thanks to Doom and other factors).

I had only a ZX so I can't fully answer this, but I will say that each machine had it's strenghts and weaknesses.

For example, the ZX has a fast CPU and a vibrant colour palette, but lacked a dedicated graphics and sound chip and was thus limited here.

The ZX is technically the best for 3D/Vector 3D stuff, where the extra CPU speed comes handy (similar to how the fast CPUs gave DOS PC the edge in polygon 3D games).

The C=64 is probably the "best" in the sense that it has full dedicated and capable graphics and audio hardware, but the CPU speed is not all that and the "washed out" feel of the colour palette is a matter of taste (it also usually has a bit more blocky look than the ZX).

However, the C=64 usually had the smoothest running games and this matters the most for enjoyable gameplay. It also often had the best versions of multi-format games, outdoing even the much more capable Amiga and Atari ST (since many devs targeted the C=64 as the "prime" system and made enhanced versions for those other, less popular systems).

The CPC is a special case in that it was probably the most advanced 8-bit micro, but suffered from many bottle-necks and poor multi-format ports due to being much less popular than the other two (unless you were French).

CPC's colour palette and CPU speed are actually the best of them all, but games tended to run rather sluggish on it - even compared to the ZX.

CPC is probably the best case of "could have done better" if it was more wide-spread and had more people making stuff for it. I'd personally call it "the N64 of the 8-bit generation", in the sense that it was the most advanced 8-bit micro for the time (not counting the very late 8-bit things like MSX Turbo-R and SAM Coupe), but held back due to certain bottle-necks and programming blunders.
Really fair points and overview IMO. I often wondered what might have been had Amstrad been a little earlier to the scene.

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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by NorthWay » Sat May 11, 2019 7:06 pm

ivarf wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 4:17 pm
NorthWay wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:38 pm
The C= 64 has issues with being able to update colour info fast enough (which the C= 128 did a fix for).
Never heard about this and can't really say I understand what it is about. Do you mean something like the colourclash on the Spectrum?
It is exactly like the 16/48K ZX in that it has a single fixed buffer for colour per 8x8 pixels (i.e. character). So you can't double-buffer and update 1/8th or 2/8ths (scroll speed dependent) of the memory per frame, you have to chase the raster and do it in a single frame (or near 2 if you can finish really close to the raster beam). That is not really fast on a 6502 that will only read or write 1 byte per instruction (no word handling, no multi-register instructions, no x86 REPT stuff). Full-screen colour full update will typically cost you >9000 cycles out of (PAL)20000 in a frame. Plus overhead (which _can_ be done at other times). The NTSC version of Turrican drops colour to have enough time for the rest of the game.
So you find all kinds of ways to cheat; smaller scrolling part (put in some score and life info etc), restrict map tiles (which are typically 4x4 characters in size) to have a common colour and only update around the edges, or using hw tricks like VSP which I believe also modifies colour addressing.
Or don't. Like I said Turrican resorted to. Many games simply fill in colour memory with a single colour and run as 4 colours.

And like the 128K ZX the C= 128 also added an extra buffer, so it can double-buffer it. Though I haven't used it myself so I'm not sure if it works as well as it should.

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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by Antiriad2097 » Fri May 17, 2019 9:30 am

From a purely hardware perspective, I'd pick the C64.

On paper, the Amstrad would probably beat the Spectrum from a technical perspective for second place.

The reality is that Spectrum and C64 were level pegging most of the time, depending on the game, so C64 is better at some specific games/genres, while Spectrum leads for others, with Amstrad generally trailing way behind. More to do with the conversion process, time and budget constraints than anything else though.
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Re: Amstrad, Spectrum or C64. What is the worst and best hardware for gaming?

Post by Spector » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:49 am

I would say the C64 is technically the best overall for gaming because it was designed to play games, whereas the Spectrum wasn't specifically, and the C64 cost more too. In my opinion, the C64's SID chip is the single best thing aesthetically to come out of the 8 bit computer scene. The Amstrad's colour palette was fine if you bought one with a colour monitor which cost a huge amount, and then you need space for two CRT tubes in your bedroom - totally impractical!

The big problem with the C64 though is the lack of personality and atmosphere in its games. The colour mode was functional and had a lower resolution with rectangular pixels. This was a weakness when gamers wanted to control people rather than spaceships which became the trend after 1983/4, because with that resolution, you just can't draw faces properly. The sprites look bad because there's much less detail compared to the Spectrum versions. In shoot em ups you're okay, but in arcade adventure type games, or anything where you control a person, it looks uglier. John Ritman always said resolution is more important than colour, and at that time, I think generally speaking he was right.
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