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

Discuss and discover all the great games of yesteryear!

Moderators: NickThorpe, Darran@Retro Gamer

User avatar
Matt_B
Posts: 5171
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:30 am
Location: 5 minutes from the beach, 30 seconds from the pub

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

Post by Matt_B » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:15 am

English Invader wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:13 pm
One of the things I most admire about the C64 is that the bog standard model held its own from around 1984 to 1993 and there was no need for any major hardware revisions or memory/processor upgrades. You bought a C64 and that was it. The C64 you bought for Impossible Mission was just as good for Mayhem in Monsterland; the C64 that taught you to program in BASIC was just as good for the SID tunes and the demos that showed your friends what you could make your computer do; it was just you, the blue screen and 38k of memory. You bought a C64 and you didn't have to miss out on anything.
That's almost making a virtue out of the fact that the C128 - which had more ram and a better processor - saw hardly any support though. At least if you got a Spectrum or a CPC with extra RAM - there were never any models with a processor upgrade - you'd at least be able to get a few games that made use of it. That said, even they were pretty thin on the ground for the most part.

English Invader
Posts: 453
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:13 pm

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

Post by English Invader » Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:32 am

Matt_B wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:15 am
English Invader wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:13 pm
One of the things I most admire about the C64 is that the bog standard model held its own from around 1984 to 1993 and there was no need for any major hardware revisions or memory/processor upgrades. You bought a C64 and that was it. The C64 you bought for Impossible Mission was just as good for Mayhem in Monsterland; the C64 that taught you to program in BASIC was just as good for the SID tunes and the demos that showed your friends what you could make your computer do; it was just you, the blue screen and 38k of memory. You bought a C64 and you didn't have to miss out on anything.
That's almost making a virtue out of the fact that the C128 - which had more ram and a better processor - saw hardly any support though. At least if you got a Spectrum or a CPC with extra RAM - there were never any models with a processor upgrade - you'd at least be able to get a few games that made use of it. That said, even they were pretty thin on the ground for the most part.
It is a virtue because it meant C64 users were happy enough with their existing hardware to not want upgrades (Commodore even had trouble getting C64 users over to the Amiga). I'm not convinced that the C128 was even capable of running a killer app that would have blown the standard C64 away. As Stewart Cheifet once said: "I'm not buying a 486 just to have the little man run faster!"

User avatar
learnedrobb
Posts: 1282
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:17 pm
Contact:

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

Post by learnedrobb » Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:52 am

In theory, the Speccy was the worst hardware for making, and playing, games on. In reality, talented coders transcended the machines limitations, and produced games as good as, if not occasionally better, than those on rival systems.
NES/N64/GC/Wii/WiiU/SMD/SS/DC/PS1/PS2/PS3/PS4/Xbox/360/OneS/PSP/3DS/PSV
PSN: learnedrobb

User avatar
Matt_B
Posts: 5171
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:30 am
Location: 5 minutes from the beach, 30 seconds from the pub

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

Post by Matt_B » Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:38 am

English Invader wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:32 am
It is a virtue because it meant C64 users were happy enough with their existing hardware to not want upgrades (Commodore even had trouble getting C64 users over to the Amiga). I'm not convinced that the C128 was even capable of running a killer app that would have blown the standard C64 away. As Stewart Cheifet once said: "I'm not buying a 486 just to have the little man run faster!"
Commodore sold 4 million C128s, so that's still rather a lot of people wanting an upgrade. Against the 12.5 million C64s it's obviously a minority, but the 48K Spectrum and CPC464 were far and away the most popular machines of their respective platforms too.

Also, while there aren't any C128 games that'll blow away the best the C64 can offer, much the same goes for CPC6128 and 128K Spectrum games against their base models. Ultimately, the main thing they've got going for them is a bit more RAM - which is handy when it comes to reducing the need for loading extra data mid-game - but doesn't exactly open up new possibilities in terms of graphics.

The CPC+ machines (GX4000, etc.) did offer some genuinely new capabilities I suppose, but there are even less good games for them than the C128 and those really were something that next to nobody felt the need to upgrade to.

Realistically, you could have bought any of the three computers in 1984 and still got the better part of a decade's worth of quality games without needing to upgrade. It's just that with the Spectrum and the CPC you were far more likely to see games that use the extra RAM if you did, although even then they weren't very common.

User avatar
Antiriad2097
Posts: 26545
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:48 pm
Location: http://s11.zetaboards.com/RetroLeague/
Contact:

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

Post by Antiriad2097 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:28 am

English Invader wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:13 pm
the C64 that taught you to program in BASIC ...
C64 BASIC was barely useable, you really needed to learn machine code/assembly to get anything decent from it. Compared to pretty much any other system it was by far the weakest, which is a shame considering the quality keyboard. I knew BASIC from TI99/4A, Oric and Speccy, but the C64 just didn't get used for that as it was so bad, all cryptic control codes.
The Retro League - Where skill isn't an obstacle
Retrocanteen, home of the unfairly banned
Tom_Baker wrote:I just finished watching a film about Stockholm syndrome. It started out terrible but by the end I really liked it.

English Invader
Posts: 453
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:13 pm

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

Post by English Invader » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:27 am

Antiriad2097 wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:28 am
English Invader wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:13 pm
the C64 that taught you to program in BASIC ...
C64 BASIC was barely useable, you really needed to learn machine code/assembly to get anything decent from it. Compared to pretty much any other system it was by far the weakest, which is a shame considering the quality keyboard. I knew BASIC from TI99/4A, Oric and Speccy, but the C64 just didn't get used for that as it was so bad, all cryptic control codes.
I have noticed over the years that the BASIC on the C64 isn't anywhere near as highly regarded as the BASIC on the VIC-20. I always assumed this was because of the quality and range of commercial software rather than any deficiencies in the BASIC language. The general vibe I get is that it isn't worth programming for the C64 unless you're making state-of-the-art games and demos. I'm a member of Denial and the vast majority of forum members are as into coding as they are into the games whether it's just BASIC on the unexpanded VIC or assembly on a fully maxed-out system - games and demos still happen but it's cool to just do your own thing as well.

User avatar
Antiriad2097
Posts: 26545
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:48 pm
Location: http://s11.zetaboards.com/RetroLeague/
Contact:

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

Post by Antiriad2097 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 7:35 am

I just found CBM BASIC, on both Vic and C64, to be unfriendly and lacking in functionality that was common in other BASICs. It isn't as easy to read and understand, and thus not as easy to learn.

With my Oric, I could attempt to port something from another BASIC with relative ease, the exception being the CBM BASICs. Too many odd characters and codes that didn't translate.

I don't doubt you can get half decent results from it, but I could never get my head around the listings in mags and not once did I ever get anything to run properly on my C64 (not that I put a huge amount of effort into that by then - my C64 came fairly late and was a gaming machine, I had my Oric and Spectrum for coding).
The Retro League - Where skill isn't an obstacle
Retrocanteen, home of the unfairly banned
Tom_Baker wrote:I just finished watching a film about Stockholm syndrome. It started out terrible but by the end I really liked it.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests