ZZap! 64 Annual 2019 - Fusion Retro Books
ZZap! 64 Annual 2019 – Fusion Retro Books

The Commodore 64 is back!!!

December 1992, a black page with the word “game over” in the center. This was the last cover of the historic video game magazine Zzap!. The magazine was dedicated to the world of 8-bit home computers.

With the releases of 16 and 32 bit platforms, the 8 bits have not disappeared, in fact they have held up, thanks to a great spread of machines and the high costs of the most modern platforms.

Zzap! was the Italian version of the English Zzap! 64 that unlike the lastone, it’s casing, without distinction, all the 8-bit platforms on the market and not just the C64.

In the last years some masterpieces of Commodore 64 were released. They had fully exploit the capabilities of the small and versatile home computer.

How can you forget the last masterpieces of the early 90’s, including Turrican II, Creatures, Elvira, Last Ninja 3, Mayhem in Monsterland and Lemmings, excellent conversion of Psygnosis success and maybe the last commercial production released.

According to me, the “game over” at the beginning of the article has arrived too soon.

After a short break, we are attending an amazing renaissance of 8-bit platforms, maybe thanks to the advancement of technology and first of all thanks to the web with the emergence of emulation.

New software houses are born. They are specialized in the production of video games for home computers and consoles of the past. The marketplace is small but very attractive, we are talking about the 30/40’s years old people who grew up knowing those systems.

Now nostalgia operation comes alive, a turnover that cannot be ignored by historical producers.

Nintendo is the first company that invaded the market with its NES mini, it winks at the nostalgic and the aficionados of the brand. The NES clone market was full of Chinese products with hundreds of pre-installed games and on the internet the rom collections for the various emulators were easy to find and download. Despite this, the NES mini, with only 30 games, was a commercial success.

In the wake of Nintendo’s success, other projects have also taken shape with the revivals of Atari, Sega and Sony. All proposals are sold with a number of pre-installed and non-expandable games.

TheC64 Mini
TheC64 Mini

For the world of home computers, the TheC64 Mini appears, it’s an unofficial version of the Commodore 64, which with the latest firmware updates allows the loading of more programs in addition to the pre-installed ones. Not only that, it allows you to develop and write code like the original computer (even if the system is based on an emulator).

With this enthusiasm and nostalgia many ex-developers are back and new software houses have been born and still growning.

And it is in this revival that it has made possible to attend the publication of unique and exceptional masterpieces.

Among the many we remember Sam’s Journey the platform of the Knights of Bytes / Protovision and Galencia of the Protovision, shot’em up and Reset64 2017 Game of the Year winner, included in the pre-installed games of TheC64 Mini.

Let’s not forget the conversions of classics and games that the Commodore 64 has never seen yet, let’s talk about the ARCADE remakes of Ghost’n Goblins and Commando by Nostalgia, Prince of Persia by developer Andreas Vargas, the spectacular and controversial conversion of Super Mario Bros by ZeroPaige (blocked by Nintendo).

This are the list of games in development that have cought my eye:

Pinball Dreams (stopped since 2006) the exceptional conversion of the Amiga success of 21st Century Entertainment.

Limbo (released a demo in November of 2018) famous PlayDead platform released in 2010 for Xbox360 and Playstation 3 (later converted on all major modern platforms, from Windows to Android up to the Xbox one and Playstion 4).

Parasol Star announced by Simon Jameson with a twitter video in May of 2019. Simone Jameson is the winner of the 16k Cartridge Competion 2019 with the Doc Cosmos platform. The conversion of Parosol Star will come, hopefully, after the completed porting by Colin Porch that went lost because of his ex-wife in 1992 (it had to be distributed by the Ocean).

The list is long, I certainly missed some important goodies, but all this is to make you understand how this world is far from dead.

To stay up to date, in addition to the many information gathered on the web, I suggest you consult the wonderful annuals of English Zzap! 64 distributed by Fusion Retro Books which in pure 80’s style show the latest news in the 8 bit world .

Furthermore, for those wishing to make a small dream come true, there are courses and books that introduce C64 development with a modern and more user friendly approach. In this regard, I would like to recommend the development software for PC that allows you to create new and engaging masterpieces, they are the Open Source C64 Studio or Relaunch64 for those who have a mac osx.

Obviously for those who want to study in depth the topic, in addition to the development software there are a number of peripherals that allow you to create homemade cartridges and usb drive to use directly on the original C64 that you still have, hopefully, still in function, on your attic .

Have fun!

Happy return to the future.

Pasquale

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