Being a gamer in the 1980s was an exciting time, there were multiple systems you could own, each with its own unique looks, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s not like today where pretty much every system’s ports look the same, just with differences in frame rates, textures, and resolutions, back then, the same game by name, was sometimes a completely different game between competing systems!
Whilst I was a ZX Spectrum owner, I was envious of friends who owned the Commodore 64 with it’s way superior sound and full colour games with smooth hardware sprites. So here are some of the best Commodore 64 games I’ve ever experienced on the legendary ‘Breadbin’!
A game that appears on pretty much all the best C64 games lists, Wizball is a 1987 Sensible Software developed game (most famous for their 16-bit titles such as Sensible Soccer & Cannon Fodder) and published by Ocean (Famous for a whole load of 8-bit classics, especially Movie licenses).
Essentially a side-scrolling shooter, Wizball takes its own spin on the genre, you bounce horizontally shooting enemies, collecting drops of coloured paint to bring the colour back to each stage, which has been stolen by the evil Zark!
Considered to be one of the most innovative games of its time, Wizball is a challenge when first picked up, but becomes real fun once you master the controls.
Featuring fantastic music by Martin Galway, Wizball has a lot going for it on the C64.
Very much considered a cult classic, Paradroid is a 1985 game by Andrew Braybrook (also known for other classics such as Uridium). Paradroid is a unique blend of shoot-em-up and puzzle elements and is synonymous with the Commodore 64.
The game is set in a futuristic world where a fleet of spaceships has been taken over by rogue robots. You take control of a small droid, known as a paradroid, who must infiltrate the ships and take control of the other robots by using a combination of strategy, skill, and luck.
Paradroid is a simple, but deep game, which demonstrated what was possible with just a modest 64kb of memory.
“Another visitor. Stay a while… stay forever!”
Which C64 fan doesn’t know that classic piece of digitised speech?
The game is set in a futuristic world where you play as a secret agent tasked with infiltrating a high-security facility known as Elvin Atombender’s underground stronghold. You must navigate through a series of interconnected rooms, avoiding traps and enemies while searching for clues that will help them to uncover the secret of Atombender’s plan.
Impossible Mission appeared on a number of platforms, but the C64 Commodore 64 is really where this classic is at home, without a double one of the best Commodore 64 games then, and still is now!
International Karate +
IK+ for the Commodore 64 is a classic martial arts game that was released in 1987. Developed by Archer Maclean and published by System 3, the game became an instant hit with gamers and is still considered to be one of the best games for the Commodore 64.
In IK+, you take on the role of a martial artist who must fight their way through a series of opponents in order to become the champion.
IK+ is brilliantly animated and is also full of easter eggs too, try pressing the S & E keys together in the game and see what happens!
The Last Ninja 2: Back With A Vengeance
Step back in time with me to 1988, when System 3 released The Last Ninja 2, the much-anticipated sequel to The Last Ninja. The game follows the journey of Armakuni, who has been transported from his own time, into a 1980s New York City where he must battle the evil Kunitoki once again.
With its isometric perspective and detailed graphics, The Last Ninja 2 delivers an immersive gaming experience that will keep you on your toes.
So grab your original Commodore 64 or best Commodore 64 emulator and get ready to embark on another epic adventure with one of the best Commodore 64 games, as the last ninja!
Get ready to unleash your inner martial artist with Bruce Lee, the classic action-adventure game for the Commodore 64! Originally released in 1984 by Datasoft, this game has stood the test of time and remains a favorite among retro gaming enthusiasts.
Based on the legendary martial arts icon Bruce Lee, the game features him as the protagonist, on a quest working from chamber to chamber, defeating his enemies.
With its simple yet challenging gameplay, you must navigate Bruce Lee through a variety of obstacles, using his unique combat skills to overcome enemies and progress through the levels.
Watch out for The Ninja and The Green Yamo who pursue you throughout many of the chambers!
Stunt Car Racer
A 1989 classic by the legendary Geoff Crammond (Famous for loads of racing games including the fantastic Formula One Grand Prix), Stunt Car Racer instantly became one of the best Commodore 64 games and wowed racing fans with its 3D-filled vector graphics and amazing physics.
Racing along elevated tracks in a hot rod V8 complete with a turbo booster that throws flames from your engine pipes, Stunt Car Racer has a league mode where you can progress through 4 divisions, with 2 tracks in each, racing one on one against an opponent on each.
Ahead of its time, Stunt Car Racer gave not just Commodore 64 owners a taste of the future, but even delivered one of the best ZX Spectrum games with a realistic and extreme form of first-person-view racing.
Probably known as much for its classic Rob Hubbard soundtrack, Commando is a 1985 classic Commodore 64 title that was a must-have when released and is a must-play for retro fans who are checking out the best Commodore 64 games.
You play as Super Joe, equipped with your M60 and a bunch of hand grenades, you progress your way through vertically scrolling levels battling through waves of enemies until you reach the base gates at the end of each level.
There are only 3 areas to beat, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a walk in the park, Commando is a hell of a tough arcade conversion, but fun enough to keep you coming back to try again.
Batman: The Caped Crusader
Holy retro gaming, Batman! Take a trip down memory lane and talk about Batman: The Caped Crusader for the Commodore 64.
Released in 1988 by Ocean Software, this action-adventure game allows you to step into the shoes of Batman and fight crime in Gotham City.
Adopting a really unique comic book art style, as you progress through each game area, a new comic book style panel is placed on top of the previous, creating the feel of reading through your favorite comic book!
Overall, Batman: The Caped Crusader is a real gem. It’s a must-play for fans of the superhero and a great way to experience the magic of old-school Batman. So grab your C64, don your cowl, and get ready to save Gotham City as Batman!
Ghosts ‘n Goblins
One of the hardest games of the decade, Ghost ‘n Goblins found its way onto the C64 in 1986 courtesy of Elite.
In Ghost ‘n Goblins, you take control of the valiant knight, Arthur, on a perilous quest to save his beloved princess from the clutches of the evil demon king. Along the way, you must navigate treacherous levels, battling hordes of undead monsters and otherworldly creatures.
With Arthur being able to be killed with just 2 hits, the first knocks off your armour, then the second kills you, Ghosts ‘n Goblins has become known as the ‘Dark Souls’ of its day, thanks to its borderline frustrating levels of difficulty.
This is a perfect game to introduce younger gamers to if they want a taste of what gaming used to be like!
What can be said about Bubble Bobble that’s not already been said before? Well, aside from being one of the best Taito arcade games, we’re going to likely repeat it here because it’s such an all-time classic and deserves its place in this best Commodore 64 games list!
Brought to the Commodore 64 by Firebird in 1987, the C64 port has everything the arcade version does, just slimmed down slightly for Commodore’s chunky breadbin! You play as Bub in solo or Bub and Bob in two-player mode, jumping around and capturing enemies in bubbles that you blow, then popping the bubbles to destroy them.
That’s all there is to it, but its beauty is in its additive gameplay and increasing challenge as the game progresses.
Most importantly, the classic earworm Bubble Bobble theme music is there, made even more unique by the C64 SID chip.
The Great Giana Sisters
The Great Giana Sisters is a controversial platformer game that was released in 1987 for the Commodore 64. Not controversial in the same way that games often are these days, but more that it was viewed as a blatant Mario rip-off (ok, let’s say Mario ‘inspired’ to be generous!).
But inspiration aside, The Great Giana Sisters is actually not a bad little game, especially at a time when Mario was all the rage with NES owners.
You play as Giana, leaping across platforms of bricks, releasing items by headbutting blocks, and using warp blocks to skip to different parts of the game – Hmmm, I can understand perhaps why Nintendo got a little jumpy about this game!
In retrospect though, no damage was done to Nintendo’s most valuable franchise and the Great Giana Sisters still exist in modern gaming, albeit a little less Mario inspired!
A very late game in the Commodore 64’s life, Turrican II is an excellent 1991 Rainbow Arts version of one of the best Amiga games.
The game puts you in the shoes of Bren McGuire, a futuristic soldier tasked with saving the galaxy from an evil entity known as The Machine. Armed with a powerful exoskeleton suit, Bren must blast his way through hordes of enemies and navigate treacherous terrain in order to fulfill his mission.
Turrican II truly shines the gameplay department. The controls are tight and responsive, allowing you to dodge enemy fire and pull off impressive maneuvers with ease. There’s also a wide variety of weapons and power-ups to collect, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses.
Turrican II excels in the graphics and music department and gives you a tough ride in terms of gameplay, Turrican II showed that the trusty C64 still had some life left in its 8-bit bones, rivaling the Amiga version in gameplay.
The 1980s was a glorious time for fans of side-scrolling shooters, and R-Type was arguably the king of the genre, especially on home computers. Released in 1987 for the Commodore 64, this game set the bar for what a sci-fi shooter could be.
The game puts you in control of a futuristic spacecraft known as the R-9, tasked with saving the galaxy from an alien race known as the Bydo.
Armed with a basic rapid-fire gun and a wave cannon that charges as you hold down your fire button, R-Type has a unique power-up called a ‘Force’, this floating weaponised ball can be attached to your craft or detached for additional firepower and reach.
In addition to this, you can upgrade your weapons with a wide range of power-ups. You navigate through a series of increasingly challenging levels, taking on waves of enemy ships and gigantic bosses.
If you like tough shoot ’em ups (to be fair, most shoot ’em ups on the C64 are tough!), then R-Type will be up your street!
First appearing on the Atari range of 8-bit computers such as the Atari 400 and Atari 800, Boulder Dash for the C64 is a faithful port to the original and is now a timeless example of gaming history.
Developed by Peter Liepa and released in 1984, Boulder Dash may not look all that attractive, but of course like with many early classic C64 games, it’s the gameplay that counts, and boy, does it have bucket loads of that!
Boulder Dash puts you in the shoes of a character named Rockford, who must navigate through a series of underground caves filled with boulders, gems, and dangerous creatures. Your goal is to collect all of the gems while avoiding getting crushed by falling rocks or eaten by monsters.
It is very much a strategic game, where you must plan your moves carefully, using the boulders in the levels to your advantage to either crush enemies or block their path.
A must-play if you want to experience one of the best Commodore 64 games and most influential games of all time.
Defender of the Crown
A port of the well-loved Amiga game, Defender of the Crown is a strategy/action game set in 12th-century middle England.
What sets Defender of the Crown apart from other strategy games of the time is its unique blend of gameplay elements. You’ll need to manage your resources carefully, recruit soldiers, and engage in diplomacy to achieve your goals. But you’ll also need to be a skilled fighter, engaging in exciting battles against enemy knights in real-time combat sequences.
With its innovative gameplay, stunning visuals, and memorable soundtrack, it’s no wonder that it remains a highly-rated title to this day.
If you can handle the load times, why not dust off your old Commodore 64 and relive the glory days of medieval England?
Dropzone is from game developer legend Archer MacLean, who sadly passed away recently in December 2022. But boy does he leave a bunch of incredible quality games for us to look back on and enjoy.
Dropzone was Archers MacLeans first commercial release in 1984 and a successful one at that.
Clearly inspired by the classic Defender, in this fast-paced shooter, you’ll be blasting your way through waves of alien enemies and rescuing your fellow soldiers.
One of the main differences between Dropzone and Defender is the enemy’s tactics. Instead of trying to hijack your soldiers, the enemy ships drop deadly androids that will stop at nothing to take you down. This adds an extra layer of challenge to the game, as you’ll need to stay alert and take out these androids before they can do any damage.
Another early example of how basic gameplay but great design can equate to timeless games.
The 1980s saw a lot of sports games on home computers, it was a genre in its own right – Joystick/Keyboard Breaking Games!
Hyper Sports is no exception here, with a mixture of stamina and skill-based games, you’ll take part in 6 different sporting events – Swimming, Skeet Shooting, Gymnastics, Archery, Triple Jump, and Weight Lifting, with many of these games requiring a mixture of hitting left/right as quickly as possible, whilst timing an action just right with you fire button.
It’s actually pretty exhausting stuff, if you don’t get physically tired first, you will get overwhelmed by the increasing difficulty with each playthrough.
Hyper Sports it’s one of the best Commodore 64 games within the sports genre – Just go easy on the joystick!
Another classic game by Geoff Crammond, The Sentinel is an iconic puzzle game that really was totally unique when released in 1986.
The aim of the game is to beat ‘The Sentinel’ on each level but navigate your way around absorbing items to accumulate as much energy as possible, before moving on to absorbing the Sentinel who rotates on the spot, watching you, trying also to destroy you.
The Sentinel is well known for having 10,000 levels, fortunately, the game offers a code system so you can pick up where you left off!
Patience and perseverance are key to this game to be rewarded with a great deal of satisfaction with each level completed.
Ahoy, retro gaming fans! Today, we’re setting sail on the high seas with one of the Commodore 64’s most beloved games, the 1987 game, Pirates!
What sets Pirates! apart from other games of its time is its sense of freedom. You’re free to explore the Caribbean at your own pace, taking on quests and building your reputation as a legendary pirate captain. The game’s combat system is also noteworthy, with thrilling ship-to-ship battles that require skill and strategy to emerge victorious.
The game was one of the few games at the time that offered genuine freedom in the way you played the game, and with no specific end to the game, your aim is to ultimately retire with the highest credentials possible, based on your achievements within the game.
Pirates! is a deep game and one for those who like to set up camp at their C64 for hours on end!
We’re hitting the slopes with one of the Commodore 64’s most iconic sports games, Winter Games.
Those looking to keep their C64s and joysticks in good condition will breathe a sigh of relief with this one, as there is not quite as much joystick waggling and destruction necessary to do well in Winter Games!
With 7 events available, most of Winter Games’ events see timing and skill as the most important attributes. With events ranging from Hot Dog (Unfortunately not an eating contest!) through to Free Skating, Winter Games is as much about flair as it is about skill and energy.
With up to 8 players being able to compete for the highest amount of points, this is a great game to get a bunch of retro gaming friends round
Rod Land was released for the Commodore 64 in 1991, and it quickly became a fan favorite thanks to its adorable graphics, addictive gameplay, and catchy soundtrack.
Ported to the C64 by Steve Snake and Robert Whitaker for Storm, the game is a platformer that followed the adventures of two fairy sisters named Tam and Rit, who are on a quest to rescue their mother.
The game consists of 32 levels, each more challenging than the last, with some bonus levels thrown in for good measure. You run around each level collecting flowers scattered around, all while fending off evil creatures that would try to stop you in your tracks with your magic rod.
Rod Land for the C64 is a beautiful example of how classic 2 player arcade games could make the jump to the 8-bit platform and not lose any of their charm and gameplay.
It’s time to get your proton packs ready and hop into Ecto-1, because Ghostbusters are ready to believe you!
Released in 1984 by Activision, Ghostbusters was based on the hit movie of the same name, and it quickly became one of the most popular games on the C64 In this game, you take on the role of a Ghostbuster, tasked with not only saving New York City from an invasion of supernatural beings but also running a profitable business.
You drive around New York City catching ghosts, manage your budget, upgrade equipment, and ultimately battle against the Marshmallow-man, just like in the film!
If you’re looking to relive the glory days of the Commodore 64, or just looking for a great game to play, Ghostbusters is definitely worth a look. Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!
Spy vs. Spy
Spy vs. Spy is a classic game that has stood the test of time. Developed by First Star Software and released in 1984, Spy vs. Spy was originally released for the Commodore 64, and later on many other platforms.
The game is based on the popular MAD Magazine comic strip of the same name and features two spies – one dressed in white, and one dressed in black – who are constantly trying to outwit each other.
The game takes place in a multi-level building, with each level featuring a different layout and a different set of booby traps. The objective of the game is to find all of the necessary items to escape the building before your opponent does avoiding various traps along the way.
An excellent two-player game that is still great fun to play today!
Creatures is another game that resides in our best Commodore 64 games list that was released in the system’s later life, and earned a well-deserved place in the hearts of C64 fans. Released by Thalamus in 1990, Creatures puts you in the role of a cute, fuzzy creature known as “Clyde Radcliffe”.
Working your way through an island known as “The Hippest Place in The Known Universe”, your mission is to rescue your fellow fuzzies from a series of torture chambers, in which they are captured – Cute fuzzies in torture chambers, not quite the combination I had anticipated in this game!
Creatures is a lovely cartoon-like game with excellent SID music, it’s everything you could want in a cutesy C64 puzzle platformer!
So that’s just a small bunch of the best Commodore 64 games. There are literally thousands upon thousands of commercially released C64 games, so it’s a treasure hunter’s dream to explore and seek out hidden gems.
But if you’re looking for the right place to start, the above games will serve you well in getting a taste of what the C64 was all about.
If you’re not looking to play C64 games on original hardware I thoroughly recommend getting a Raspberry Pi and checking out RetroPie, along with our best RetroPie games list. Not only will you find a bunch of classic C64 titles there, but we also recommend the best games to play on your RetroPie for a whole range of systems.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of Retro Gaming experience. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).