I hadn’t thought about PlayStation 4 yet when a friend asked me a question – Do you know when is the new console actually getting released? That was probably back in 2013. Before that comment entered my mind I had been steadily working through titles available for PS3. I had played almost endless series of driving games like Need For Speed series and Dirt 1 and 3.
I had time and energy to play video games. Back then I wasn’t so interested, as you can figure, about retro games. They were only a slight curiosity I casually worked with using emulators on a PC. So I thought it would be nice to finally buy the latest PlayStation.
I actually made the purchase after I had just turned 30 years old in 2014. My budget was, back then, low, but I managed to save money to buy the device. I bought also my first PS4 game at the same time. It was Tomb Raider that was released back in 2013.
At first I had an ambitious idea of completing every game I got for PS4. It worked out only until I got like my fifth game or so. I managed to get through Tomb Raider and Call of Duty Ghosts. Games for PS4 were pricey at that time and there was only small selection. Many games were releases of old games released as HD remakes. So I had a new gaming console but there were only a handful of games.
Was it really worth it? I started to think about this. When I am writing this I think that this device had some really nice games. Some of my favorite games are NBA 2K14 and Dirt Rally. These two really stand out in the list of my favorite games for PS4. I just think there were many titles that I didn’t really get into so much. I guess it has also something to do about that I was back then already a bit over 30 years old.
It is said that when you are young you get more inspired by the music of that time. I think this goes also for video games. One year can be very significant for a nineteen-year-old but one year for a forty-year-old is not so big deal. So I was a bit older and had already got through experiences of the first PlayStation. I just think that PS4 never conquered my hearth like PS1 once did. This personal relationship made me think that it would be not a good idea to buy a new gaming console. So tot this day I haven’t found a reason to get a new console. I have a fresh PC that I can play also some new games.
After all there is an infinite amount of games that you can play. I think the games I am going to play don’t necessarily have to be the newest anymore and PS4 kind of ended my habit of playing the newest games released. PS4 is now not the newest gaming console anymore. It isn’t retro either. It is somewhere in between of retro and new. I think it’s time now for me to take some distance to this console and try to find some other games that I can enjoy. If you did enjoy PS4 or are still enjoying it that’s fine. I just think it lacked a personality and that’s why I have not played it or enjoyed playing it as much as I did PS3 and some older devices.
I decided to try playing Commodore 64. I somehow started to admire this product of computer industry. It started as I tried to figure out something new, again, something new that I yet haven’t discovered as a gamer or player. I was born in the 80s. But you would have to be a teenager back then if you picked a Commodore 64 up and really started fiddling with it.
There were just so many possibilities for a person. You could just play or you could learn BASIC and ultimately if you were good at it and had some sort of flow and interest in this technology you could go real far. You could actually learn how the thing works and program it to do whatever you wished to. This can be accomplished with Assembler programming.
My minor experiments are nothing compared to what some witty persons have accomplished. With this in mind I am going to begin. First I watched a video on YouTube that introduced me some games. It had 30 games on it. I picked the ones I found most interesting. Then I did a Google search and found this site . Just to give you a clear picture of what Commodore 64 is capable of doing I am giving you some names of some of the best games that I tested. The games are Amalyte, Bubble Bobble, Commando Arcade, International Karate, Katakis, Lode Runner, Prince of Persia, R-Type and Wasteland.
I have stumbled to Prince of Persia and Bubble Bobble way back when I was using our family’s PC so I already had a picture of what these games are like. They definitely didn’t look visually bad at all. You have to consider what kind of a device was in use. What were it’s capabilities of running games. I could just state here its specifications like processors speed and memory, ROM and RAM, that it had but that isn’t going to tell you much.
Commodore 64 was not so powerful. It is mind blowing how engineers and designers used everything they had to deliver games to consumers. There were many limitations to be taken in consideration. This made it a tough job for graphics designers, programmers and even hardware electronics professionals. They had to split the work depending on their own field of expertise. This is important also today when someone is trying to bring a product to the markets and available.
How did I feel after I tried to play some 1980s games? The limitations are there. As I was playing Commando Arcade I figured out some basic tactics and I find it to be real close to some modern shooting games. The action was fast. I had a modern game pad so it helped a bit. Bubble Bobble was nice. It is almost too familiar to me. And then there was R-Type which is a very nice space shooter. You can forgive the poor graphics because the playability is very good…and also fast.
If you are interested to find out more I suggest you use first your favorite search engine and find an emulator. I really didn’t have any hardware to test these games with. I am not sure if these games are available anymore and I think it’s okay to try them out. Later you can get familiar with hardware and you can actually also build your own C-64 if you have time and knowledge or maybe even both. I find even a small possibility of developing some or any software to Commodore 64 very interesting.
What means chiptune? Chip reminds of electronic component while tune brings in mind a simple musical melody. This even now popular genre became known when game developers, back in 80s, needed music and sound effects for their games. First very popular system that had decent music was Commodore 64 which came to markets in 1982. It had a chip called SID (“Sound Interface Device”) that was responsible for producing the sound for this system.
You can find chiptune also on NES (“Nintendo Entertainment System”), that was released in 1983. 16-bit systems that were later released also could produce music that would be categorized as chiptune althought they were of higher quality as systems moved from 8-bit to 16-bit. First very popular console that had sound quality very close to CDs was the first Sony PlayStation. You can argue for hours about which has better sound – vinyl or CD, but we are not going to go there. So chiptune was originally popular in video games from 1980s to, I think, 1995.
Today chiptune is still very popular. You can find artists that have been strongly influenced by this type of music. Usually chiptune is strongly associated with retro games or the games that originally had chiptune as their background music. As retro gaming is popular chiptune is alive even today. Some artists are producing chiptune with modern tools such as software synthesizers that are just basically virtual instruments with some presets and the ability to create various sounds, your own presets, and can run inside any kind of DAW (“Digital Audio Workstation”) you can imagine.
Since I started with this topic I have to write also more about so called tracker music that first made its way to home musicians sometime in 1980s. So tracker is simple application that runs on computer that allows you to make music. Amigas computers were first devices that made this functionality available for music production. Inside tracker you can define your songs tempo, basically just how fast the track is flowing, and add drum sounds and melodies that are created using small digital samples of audio. Trackers are used also today but they are not as powerful as music applications such as FL Studio for example. Some now popular trackers are Renoise, a very good one, Mad Tracker and OpenMPT. Some older ones are Scream Tracker, Fast Tracker and Impulse Tracker. You can find many great trackers and please comment and let us know if you have a suggestion for readers of this blog.
You can listen to some chiptune songs for example here: