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Really bad C64 games C64 logo

Greets to all retro gamer fans.

In my youth I had a C64 (and before that a VIC-20), and wrote lots of really bad C64 games, which were never published. Later on I wrote commercial games, as you can see on my gameography. If you really want, you can download my amateur games from this site, and play them using an emulator. There are many good C64 emulators at the moment; for example Frodo, CCS64 and VICE but others abound (e.g. MESS from the MAME project, C64S, and Win64 written by a fellow Kiwi).

These files are all in (broken) .T64 format. Note that Win64 Beta V0.1 has overly enthusiastic sprite-to-background collision detection, which makes the games a lot harder than they used to be! Toccata is impossible to play for example.

You may want to download this zip file of all the games.

Here are some c64 utilities for MS-DOS - an assembler, dis-assembler and BASIC list program. You can use them to write games with, if you know how. The macro assembler was powerful enough to write Speedball 2 in, and on current PCs runs much faster!

Looking at these games you can see how I and many others of my generation slowly learned our craft, before making the step to commercial games programming. I generally wrote these programs by typing in thousands of decimal numbers one at a time; for example 169, 3, 141, 33, 208, 96 will change the screen colour to cyan! (It is equivalent to POKE 53281, 3 in BASIC or LDA #3 : STA 53281 : RTS in assembler).

I have also written a few words about the commercial games I wrote for everyone's favourite bread-bin.

Speedball 2

Easter Egg

Speedball 2
Nov. 1991
Future Sports game. This game was published in the UK and Europe by Mirrorsoft, as the C64 conversion of the Atari ST game by Rob Trevellyan and the Bitmap Brothers. The Amiga version was released at a similar time, while the C64 version was in development. The C64 version hit number one in the C64 charts during November 1991. The Amiga version was famous for the sound sample "Ice-cream! Ice-cream!".

Unfortunately I cannot put this game up here. Ask the Bitmap Brothers nicely. There has been a recent version of the game published on the Gameboy Advance, developed by the now sadly defunct Crawfish Software which was run by the wonderful Cameron Sheppard.

If you type MARTIN on the title screen, you get a picture of my boyfriend at the time as an easter egg.

There was an interview with Commodore Format soon after which covered some of the development process, in which I expressed hope that New Zealand soaps might arrive over here like Aussie ones.

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
Dec. 1990

Platform combat game. This game was published in the UK and Europe by Mirrorsoft, as a conversion of the C64 disk version of the game published by Ultra Games and developed in Vancouver by Unlimited Software Inc. which became part of Electronic Arts. This game was the Christmas number one in the UK in 1990, with all formats selling over four hundred thousand units in the UK/Europe.

Unfortunately I cannot put this game up here. Ask Mirrorsoft's owners nicely.

Note that this game is completely different from the Konami arcade game that was converted to the C64 in 1991.

I note that there does not seem to be much information about this game on the Internet, partly due to there being several different games with the same names. This has finally prompted me to explain it from my point-of-view.

The conversion was required because C64s in Europe generally had tape decks, whilst in the USA they had floppy disks (1541s). The graphics, maps and general gameplay ideas were taken from the original version. The intro and outro sequences were grabbed wholesale, including the programming and music. The in-game programming was however rewritten from scratch, and the existing maps rearranged by myself and Nick Pelling, to allow for a more linear structure suitable for a tape-based game. The UK version in-game music was written by Tiny Williams (Sound Images) for a ludicrously small fee, so low it embarressed the Mirrorsoft Producer (John Norledge).

The Canadian version was written by an uncredited team of programmers, including Alan Stewart (according to the source code) and David Galloway (according to email). Art was credited to Mike Smith, Athena Bax, Michael Hiebert and Tom Singleton. The music was converted by Kris Hatelid from the original by Mike Sokyrka and Ivan Allen. The data came on several Amiga format floppy disks, so I assume that they used an Amiga based development system. It took a long time of playing with "dos2dos" to convert the raw data to PC format. To develop the code we used PDS on MS-DOS. This had a habit of blowing up C64s if it was plugged in wrong.

The two versions can be telled apart by these differences:

  1. Only the UK release has a tape version.
  2. The Canadian version uses four disk sides; the UK version uses two disk sides. The introduction sequence and compression schemes were different.
  3. The Canadian version has the in-game score centred; the UK version has it in a static position with leading zeroes.
  4. The Canadian version is "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". The UK version is "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles" since the BBC thought that "Ninja" was too strong a word to use in a kids cartoon. IIRC the Konami version may use both names.
  5. The Canadian version was released some months before the UK version, which was finished on Dec 4th 1990, and rushed to the duplicators by Mike Merrin (who had to wait overnight at the train station to get back, poor soul).
  6. The Canadian version uses the random access of disc to allow backtracking. The linear nature of tape (carried through to the UK disk version) means it is strictly linear between level loads, although several map segments may be included in a level.


One screen shooting game. This was work done for a pitch for the C64 conversion of the coin-op game Pang. I was working with Nick Pelling at the time, who was programming a version of Loopz. Another developer got the contract for the game before the demo was sent off to the publisher; I think it turned out another publisher had the rights anyway.

The proper backgrounds had not yet been put in, so a rather random bitmap was put in. The game uses sprites in the top and bottom borders. Despite not getting this contract, the experience with PDS proved to be useful when writing Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.

Smurfs - first stage

Smurfs - second stage

Smurfs - third stage

Platform game. Use joystick in Port 2, with fire for jump. Jump over prickles, avoid eggs, reach Smurfette at the end level. There are three stages - horizontally scrolling, vertically scrolling, and a flick-screen stage.

I wrote the three stages separately, taking about a month over each one, after-school when I was 15. A couple of copies were sold at the local book-shop - perhaps if I had lived in a city instead of a small town it might have made me some money.

I must be losing my touch - I should be able to complete it easily on one life, but find it trickier these days. I guess the N64's analogue joysticks and infinite continues have made me soft :-)

Necromancer ][

Necromancer 2
Arcade Adventure. This game works on a C64 or a 16K Vic-20, and is probably the most advanced amateur game here, being an isometric game more than a little influenced by Knight Lore from ACG (now Rare). The controls can be changed, but it is easiest to just press the down cursor to accept them as they are.

The object of the game is to collect all three objects (one at a time) and take them to the treasure room (which is in the second from top room). A surprise follows!
 (no picture yet) The Necromancer's Realm

Arcade Adventure. This game was published in C&VG in December 1985. It is an isometric game inspired by screen-shots of Knight Lore from ACG (now Rare). It had some BASIC code in it, whereas the sequel was 100% machine code (as the saying goes).

Considering that C&VG didn't have a checksum method, typing the game in must have been a pain since any wrong numbers might have led to disaster.



Arcade. Use joystick in Port 2. Cross the road and river, and jump into holes on river bank. There is only one stage. This was based on a game from C&VG game (from the time when they had type-in listings), but with the scrolling converted to machine code and a couple of raster interrupts added to improve the scroll smoothness.


Toccata Shoot-em-up. Includes some simple classical music. Use joystick in Port 2. Shoot the stars when they are at their smallest size to destroy them. Avoid the bombs they send to you. Then repeat, harder and faster...

The game over screen demonstrates priority inversion between sprites, where the blue text is in front of the white sprite but behind the green sprites, but the green sprites are behind the white sprite.

Balloon Bomber

Balloon Bomber

Arcade. My earliest surviving game, inspired by the coin-op game of the same name. A very low-scoring game - you only get one point per level! To start each level, press 1 or 2. Then use A=Left, L=Right, SPACE=Fire to control your ship. Destroy all three ballons to get a point. Then repeat, harder and faster... This uses the demo sprites from the C64 user manual.



Shoot-em-up. This has three continuous phases - enemies, asteroids, enemies + asteroids. Use joystick in port 2, or keys (many keys are mapped to the left/right/fire action). Note that stars are not very random on Win64 V0.1

Despite the claims on the front-end, it was never published by Computer and Video Games. I can't remember whether or not I sent a copy to them, but it seems likely.


Shoot-em-up. Very difficult to use keys. Press the PCs TAB key (CTRL on C64) then (in order) the keys you want to use for Up, Down, Left, Right and fire. You can then use those keys to control the ship.

As far as I know this is the first (end of 1985) game to use sprites in the border - I discovered the trick when writing the second stage of Smurfs, and told it (via post) to various people such as Tony Crowther and Jeff Minter. It was publicised around Compunet around the same time, but I didn't have access to the network at the time, and several people must have discovered this trick independantly.


Bosh Puzzle game. This is a Boulderdash rip-off for the 16K expanded Vic-20 (hence the software scrolling). It works fine on a C64 (I haven't tested it on a Vic - does it work with VICE or MESS?). Use I=Up, J=Left, K=Right, M=Down to control your player - pick up all the diamonds and find the exit.


Mini-dash Puzzle game. This is a Boulderdash rip-off for the C64 with tricky puzzles. Use function keys on the menu screen, and I=Up, J=Left, K=Right, M=Down to control your player - pick up all the diamonds and find the exit.

Despite the claims on the front-end, it was never published by Zzap!64 - I doubt if First Star would have been impressed anyway! I can't remember whether or not I sent a copy to them.

Island Adventure

Island Adventure Text adventure. This is a tribute to Scott Adams old text adventure games. Hey, I can't remember how to solve it now! The old-school commands (I=Inventory, N, S, E, W, LOOK etc.) still work though, using a simple one or two word parser.


Chevalier Platform game. I never finished writing this game (just as well perhaps!) so there are no aliens in here (the background can be deadly though). I did have a version once with a few aliens in it but I lost the tape. Use a joystick in Port 2, with Up for jump.

This has my own music in it (Smurfs, Toccata and Zyrax were not original tunes), although the sound driver was a bit simplistic.

Loader Game

Loader game Arcade. This game was a very small game that you could play while Chevalier was loading from tape. It actually worked! Use a joystick in Port 2 to fly around and collect all 4 flowers, using the Joust control method (Fire = flap). This also has my own music in it, with an improved sound driver, though the NZ anthem makes a guest appearance!

Stars Demo

Stars demo Graphics Demo. This is a very simple and clichéd demo I wrote a long time ago, which has had a few text changes over the years. This sort of thing used to be popular on home computers - colour bars and Lissajous figures (i.e. objects are following sine waves with the horizontal and vertical positions having different periods). I think the CES show was in Earls Court in 1991 or so.

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Copyright © 1996, 2005 Carl Muller (carlmuller@hotmail.com). All Rights Reserved.