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C64 - A reappraisal 2017


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#51 jmccorm OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:38 AM

Take a look at this one: Atari 2600 vs Atari 5200 vs Atari 7800 vs Atari 8-bit vs Commodore 64 vs ColecoVision vs Intellivision vs Nintendo Entertainment System

 

The 8-Bit Guy regularly churns out YouTube videos on vintage computers, and historically, he's had a clear bent towards C-64 and Apple systems. Color me surprised when runs a bake-off between "vintage game consoles" (actual consoles, or home computers with cartridge-based software) and gives the number one spot to the Atari 8-bit computer line, followed by the C-64, and then the Atari 7800.

 

 

Both the Atari 8-bit computers and the C-64 scored points for ease of use, graphics & sound quality, and the size of their software library. It is worth noting that the comparison of software libraries was done from the perspective of actual arcade titles which were available in official cartridge releases, and for systems commonly available in the US.

 

Back in the day, my perception was about the same as Bill Loguidice's (above). The C-64 seemed to have a stronger library of games going for it. But some of that was perception was fed the fact that the C-64 was still seeing new titles after the Atari 8-bit was drying up.

 



#52 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:47 AM

Back in the day, my perception was about the same as Bill Loguidice's (above). The C-64 seemed to have a stronger library of games going for it. But some of that was perception was fed the fact that the C-64 was still seeing new titles after the Atari 8-bit was drying up.

 

 

I don't think there's any question the C-64 has a better library. This is mostly due to the fact that the major publishers generously supported the C-64 and rarely supported the Atari 8-bit as the decade wore on. Some of this of course was due to the 64K versus 48K thing and supporting the widest variety of users on a platform (the Apple II was less prone to this because its users were generally more affluent and more willing to upgrade, which is why there was a lot of 64K and even 128K software for it). None of this is surprising considering how well the C-64 sold. As we know, Atari took too long to lower the price on their 8-bits (which is not surprising considering they weren't cheap to make), letting the C-64 gain a dominant foothold in the low end market.

 

Anecdotally, in my school system in central New Jersey, I could easily trade games with a dozen other kids (or more) who also owned a C-64. The Apple II side had less than half that, while the Atari 8-bit side had just a couple. Other computers, like the Kaypro II, TI-99/4a, Aquarius, etc., were mostly one-offs. It was a bit like having an Atari 2600 (1) versus a ColecoVision (2) versus an Intellivision (3) versus everything else (Odyssey2, etc.).



#53 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:07 AM

A couple of possibly frequently asked questions:

 

1) How many Atari 8-bit cartridges are known to exist? I tried to look it up a while ago but my Google-fu failed me.  On the C64 side, Mayhem's collection is usually quoted to have around 300 unique cartridges.

 

2) What was the capacity of Atari 8-bit cartridges around 1984? Back then C64 cartridges were 8-16K each, and anything larger meant tape or disk release. Not until much later, bank switched games of greater capacity emerged. If the Atari easily can take 32-64K per cartridge, I understand why it would have more cartridge releases for the more popular games.



#54 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:08 AM

The A8's cartridge port is limited to 16K without banking.



#55 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:14 AM

A couple of possibly frequently asked questions:

 

1) How many Atari 8-bit cartridges are known to exist? I tried to look it up a while ago but my Google-fu failed me.  On the C64 side, Mayhem's collection is usually quoted to have around 300 unique cartridges.

 

2) What was the capacity of Atari 8-bit cartridges around 1984? Back then C64 cartridges were 8-16K each, and anything larger meant tape or disk release. Not until much later, bank switched games of greater capacity emerged. If the Atari easily can take 32-64K per cartridge, I understand why it would have more cartridge releases for the more popular games.

 

I would hope that the Atari 8-bit would have more cartridges, seeing as how it was out 2 years before the C-64 release and also because of the Atari XEGS (and not to mention that cartridges were a better format for the Atari 400 given its limited memory). I know it was different outside of America where cassette tapes ruled, but here in the US, very early on, our C-64 software was almost exclusively disk-based.

Today, of course, modern C-64 homebrews often appear on high capacity cartridges. That makes a lot more sense than releasing on disk or cassette (which is still done, of course). I wouldn't count homebrews in the equation, though.



#56 Mr Robot OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:32 PM

Unbeatable are A8 speed in say 160x96 gfx mode. As emkay and others pointed out. That seems the A8 native mode.

GTIA shades rock, too. But except for RoF intro, Ballblazer intro, Lucasfiln intro, Koronis Rift. Which commercial game used those modes? Later I only remember home brews.

 

AttackoftheMutantCamelsSS1.gif



#57 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:36 PM

 
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Aehm... ok using gtia shade modes.... not standard Atari
Color palette ;(

#58 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:19 PM

This comparison is bit ridiculous as the author forgot to mention for computers AtariSoft made or licenced to other companies to make almost all if not all the games on his list.  It really is bit disingenuous not to mention that.  Also the NES specifically had non-compete agreement with their license so if a company made for NES that company could not make same game on another console.  A simple discussion about licensing agreements would be appropriate for disclosure before using such a cherry picked list of software.

 

No suprise at all the 8-bit Atari computers have the most Atarisoft titles.

 

I guess should do a video about the Commodore 64/64c/128 has the most official Commodore software titles , followed by the Vic 20 , then Plus4/C16 and finally dead last at zero the Atari 8-bit family.  Seriously an EPYX comparison would be pretty cool if included C64, Atari 8-bit, Lynx, AppleII/GS, PC and the 16 bit systems (Atari ST and Amiga ). 

 

I did find California Games comparison for many systems:

http://frgcb.blogspo...987-part-1.html

http://frgcb.blogspo...987-part-2.html


Edited by thetick1, Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:29 PM.


#59 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:48 PM

Honestly I think the VIC-20 has more official Commodore software than the C64 has. Using the VIC-20 Cartlist and Mayhem64's collection of C64 cartrdges, the two sites vic20tapes.org and c64tapes.org, I'm getting these rough numbers of how many titles were released by Commodore:

 

VIC-20: 49 cartridges (including utilities but not pure memory expansions), 145 tapes, likely 0 floppy disks = total 194 unique titles

C64: 43 cartridges (including some utilities, rare German releases and a few C64GS ones), 83 tapes and unknown number of floppy disks = total 126 unique titles

 

I don't know if there is a definitive list of disk releases, but Commodore needed to put out at least 68 of them, both games and utilities, to equal the VIC-20.



#60 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:58 PM

Honestly I think the VIC-20 has more official Commodore software than the C64 has. Using the VIC-20 Cartlist and Mayhem64's collection of C64 cartrdges, the two sites vic20tapes.org and c64tapes.org, I'm getting these rough numbers of how many titles were released by Commodore:

 

VIC-20: 49 cartridges (including utilities but not pure memory expansions), 145 tapes, likely 0 floppy disks = total 194 unique titles

C64: 43 cartridges (including some utilities, rare German releases and a few C64GS ones), 83 tapes and unknown number of floppy disks = total 126 unique titles

 

I don't know if there is a definitive list of disk releases, but Commodore needed to put out at least 68 of them, both games and utilities, to equal the VIC-20.

 

Maybe on cartridge from Commodore, but Commodore almost certainly released more first party software overall for the C-64 if you account for tape and disk formats. It's hard to say, though.

 

In terms of OVERALL cartridge releases for the C-64, it looks like at least 173 in the US alone: http://www.digitpres...ed=&mode=Search . 



#61 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:01 PM

Interestingly, I had neither machine back in the 80s. Hence I don't have any nostalgia for the C64 or the A8.

 

Comparing the Atari 800 and the C64 nowadays, what I notice as an 'observer' is that the two machines are soooo very different.

 

The aspect ratios of the displays are different, video modes have almost no relation to each other, and the way they handle colors is very different.

 

The C64's color palette strikes me as a bit bland. However, it throws sprites around like mad and does a nice job of sliding bitplanes around. That and the SID chip has nice bass frequencies.  

 

On the other hand, the Atari 800's displays appear brighter and more colorful, has a really nice feel to its arcade conversions, and has quick drive access speeds.

 

For those with a lot of disposable income back in the day, the ideal solution would have been to have both. 

 

Nowadays, having both systems is not a problem (lucky us).



#62 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:10 PM

Bill: I did take tapes into consideration. If you have a better or more complete source than c64tapes.org, I'll gladly use it. Also if you have a list of Commodore software on disk, which needs to be in the range of at least 65-70 titles to break even. Considering third party software is out of the question since the topic just recently changed to which format has the largest library of first party (or licensed) software. A number of those VIC-20 cartridges were licensed and unlicensed clones of arcade games but I'll count those anyway since Commodore released them commercially, hoping that Namco, Taito etc wouldn't notice.



#63 Lord Thag OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:12 PM

The c64 does have a great library, mainly due to some stellar end-of-the-decade releases from companies like SSI. The Atari vs. c64 debate is similar to the Genesis vs. SNES debate. The former is faster, but not quite as pretty looking or sounding (in general), and the latter is slower but prettier. Neither is 'better' than the other, but they do different things better than the other. For example, fighting games are usually superior on the SNES, while Shmups are way better on the Genesis. Same deal with Atari and the c64. 

The c64 just has way more late release stuff to choose from, and late release stuff is often then best on the system. 

For me personally the c64 edges out the winner as a pure game system, but as an all-around computer, the Atari wins hand's down. You don't see, even now, anything like Spartados X on the commodore. 



#64 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:17 PM

Bill: I did take tapes into consideration. If you have a better or more complete source than c64tapes.org, I'll gladly use it. Also if you have a list of Commodore software on disk, which needs to be in the range of at least 65-70 titles to break even. Considering third party software is out of the question since the topic just recently changed to which format has the largest library of first party (or licensed) software. A number of those VIC-20 cartridges were licensed and unlicensed clones of arcade games but I'll count those anyway since Commodore released them commercially, hoping that Namco, Taito etc wouldn't notice.

 

I didn't realize the topic shifted to first party titles. If that's the case, then you would hope Atari would win. Seems like a remarkably incomplete picture, however.



#65 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:17 PM

The c64 does have a great library, mainly due to some stellar end-of-the-decade releases from companies like SSI. The Atari vs. c64 debate is similar to the Genesis vs. SNES debate. The former is faster, but not quite as pretty looking or sounding (in general), and the latter is slower but prettier. Neither is 'better' than the other, but they do different things better than the other. For example, fighting games are usually superior on the SNES, while Shmups are way better on the Genesis. Same deal with Atari and the c64. 
 

 

Good observation. 



#66 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:20 PM

The c64 does have a great library, mainly due to some stellar end-of-the-decade releases from companies like SSI. The Atari vs. c64 debate is similar to the Genesis vs. SNES debate. The former is faster, but not quite as pretty looking or sounding (in general), and the latter is slower but prettier. Neither is 'better' than the other, but they do different things better than the other. For example, fighting games are usually superior on the SNES, while Shmups are way better on the Genesis. Same deal with Atari and the c64. 

The c64 just has way more late release stuff to choose from, and late release stuff is often then best on the system. 

For me personally the c64 edges out the winner as a pure game system, but as an all-around computer, the Atari wins hand's down. You don't see, even now, anything like Spartados X on the commodore. 

 

From my own perspective, the C-64 shined from 1985 on. The 1984 stuff was starting to get really good, while the 1983, and, in particular the 1982 stuff, was understandably more primitive.

 

I'm not sure when the Atari 8-bit turned the corner. It's hard to pin down because of the different models, memory configurations, and whims of ownership.



#67 www.atarimania.com OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:26 PM

Also if you have a list of Commodore software on disk, which needs to be in the range of at least 65-70 titles to break even.

 

There's already at least 30-40 titles in the Commodore Educational Software series for the C64.

 

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#68 jmccorm OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:26 PM

This comparison is bit ridiculous as the author forgot to mention for computers AtariSoft made or licenced to other companies to make almost all if not all the games on his list.  It really is bit disingenuous not to mention that.

 

I don't have to defend the content video, but I'll go ahead and offer a few things on his behalf:

 

Three aspects were compared across platforms. One was video/sound quality (not just capabilities, but TV image quality). Another was ease-of-use. The last aspect dealt with game titles. It looks like you're taking exception to that last one, and I don't think anyone would have been entirely happy with comparisons on that metric, for any number of reasons.

 

I read your post, and I'm not sure if you actually think that he was intentionally trying to deceive everyone? He may or may not have taken licensing into account. Perhaps a numeric comparison against a standard of titles was the best neutral yet useful metric that he could come up with. I'd actually tend to believe the latter, for three reasons:

 

1. His coverage typical obsesses over the C-64 while ignoring anything Atari but the VCS

2. Availability of arcade titles was actually an important consideration of that period (although not universally the top consideration)

3. Comparing software libraries is hard, and reducing it to a small countable numbers makes it easy

 

Of course, we could say that this is terribly unfair to the NES because of the cut-off date, and as the former owner of a PlayChoice-10 arcade game, I'd want for all its arcade titles to be put into the mix as well (even if a technicality at best). We could say the existing comparison is terribly unfair to Atari 8-bit and C-64 systems when someone arbitrarily rules of disk-based software.

 

If I ran this comparison, I'd probably throw in availability (hardware and software), reliability, and cost. I'd probably throw in a few more metrics into a dynamic table and let the reader end up with their own choice depending on how they rate the categories.

 

Still, you make a very good point! I only saw one comment which even mentioned Atarisoft in passing, so you're probably more insightful than most. I wonder how a better comparison of available titles could be structured that made it less arbitrary, less subject to manipulation, and more meaningful?



#69 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:50 PM

I think it was the 8-Bit Guy's video above that brought the subject. He listed 40 popular games of the era:

 

Asteroids, Battlezone, Breakout, Centipede, Choplifter, Congo Bongo, Defender, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr, Frogger, Galaga, Galaxian, Gorf, H.E.R.O., Joust, Jr Pac-Man, Jumpman, Lode Runner, Mario Bros, Millipede, Miner 2049'er, Missile Command, Montezuma's Revenge, Moon Patrol, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man, Pitfall, Pitfall II, Pitstop, Pole Position, Popeye, Q*Bert, Qix, River Raid, Robotron 2084, Space Invaders, Spy Hunter, Zaxxon, Xevious
 

Out of those, I count 6 games by Atari plus at least 15 games from other publishers where Atari for a while held the license for home versions. If it wasn't for the fact that Atari released their own and others' titles for competiting formats under the Atarisoft label, the Atari systems would win hands down which format has the biggest library of these selected games. Obviously Atari could not dictate which formats Sega, Activision, Broderbund, Epyx etc should target, but e.g. the above list of arcade games on the C64 would be reduced from 26 of 40 to only 18 of 40 if Atari never had published C64 games.

 

AtariAge user thetick1 commented that he should make a similar video about which format had the biggest library of Commodore's own games, expecting the C64 to have the biggest library. The numbers I crunched indicates that the VIC-20 might have more of those titles, though as noted above there are some 30-40 educational disk titles for the C64 that would indicate that indeed the C64 has the most Commodore published software. Quite likely the Atari 8-bit has close to zero of those titles, as most of Commodore's games were clones or licensed arcade games that probably appeared on the Atari without the intervention of Commodore, and the utility and productivity software most of the time would already have counter options on the Atari.



#70 Lord Thag OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:34 PM

 

From my own perspective, the C-64 shined from 1985 on. The 1984 stuff was starting to get really good, while the 1983, and, in particular the 1982 stuff, was understandably more primitive.

 

I'm not sure when the Atari 8-bit turned the corner. It's hard to pin down because of the different models, memory configurations, and whims of ownership.

Yeah, that's a fair assessment. The Atari was around much earlier, and it survived more or less intact (outside of some ram expansions and a couple of other minor board extensions/revisions). It was very ahead of it's time. People didn't know what to make of it, and Atari's confused marketing didn't help. For me, I'd say the 82-83 years were the 'golden age' for the Arcade ports. This is where the system really shined against it's competitors. Then the market changed with the crash, and computer games got the focus. The Atari's second strong point was at the end of it's lifespan (85-87), which saw a lot of the more complex, 'PC' style games like the Ultima IV, SSI's Eternal Dagger/Wizard's Crown, Autoduel etc that the c64 thrived on. Support dropped off around then, so we only got the intial wave of that stuff, which is why we never saw Ultima V, Magic Candle, Shards of Spring, Star Command, the Gold Box series etc.

It's a shame, the system could have done those.  

 



#71 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:55 PM

To me, the best A8 games are the ones with graphics suited to the capabilities of the system. Things like Fort Apocalypse and Shadow World have a good high-contrast look. I know that with that big color palette it's tempting to waste all your colors on shading, but many of the later games just look too bland and monochrome because they tried to use extensive shading on everything.



#72 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:55 PM

I think this is the most civilized vs thread yet.

 

I was lucky to have a plethora of machines back in the day, and this included an Apple II+ & //e, Atari 400/800, C-64, and more. That aside, and ignoring hard marketing numbers in print, and machine specifications, I preferred the Atari and Apple for gaming among many other things.

 

I always felt the C-64 was rather stuffy, almost as if the software had to wade through a lot of "stuff" to get something done. Almost as if there were a lot things getting in the way, or things took too many steps. The next most "stuffiest" would be the Ti-99/4A, especially with its twice interpreted BASIC. Not that the C64's BASIC was fast either.

 

In contrast (no pun intended) I thoroughly liked the more vibrant palette the Atari 400/800 offered. It seemed the Ataris were adept at changing luminances and colors very quickly, almost freewheeling. Less muddy. Fast and responsive. Less lag. There was an ineffable crispness and speed to a lot of the Atari games. They were VCS-like in action.

 

I loved defender for the explosions, and other arcade translations for their color combinations. Games like Shamus, BallBlazer, and Star Raiders, among many others played rather smoothly and fast. Atari was 8-bit was adept at moving things quickly in many different directions at many changing angles.

 

Despite the rig's prowess I didn't like BoulderDash on it. They didn't use appealing colors for whatever reason. The Apple II version would always be my favorite, if just for the contrasting colors. But I *did* like the expansion levels available on the Atari.

 

The Apple II was a different beast altogether in that it had no custom chippery going on. It didn't even have color graphics or a sound chip. More like a sound transistor! You had to make sounds by pushing the speaker cone. No waveform generators, not even a tone generator. It was all software in a tight loop. And the "color" graphics stemmed from "disturbing" the NTSC signal at the right times to make artifacts in what was a black-n-white raster. Color was essentially created by certain bits (in the framebuffer) next to each other.

 

And yet there was a mechanical speed feeling. Like crisp brittle inflexible parts with light machine oil on them. There was no lag. As soon as you did something with the keyboard or controller, the software knew about it instantly it seemed. Very bare metal. You could feel the game timing loops right away. Thus they were easy to fine-tune. The C64 flavor was all a mushbox, rubbery, and that godawful keyboard.. Did they uses sponges instead of snappy springs or what? The Atari and Apple were nice and crisp.

 

And BASIC? I loved it. I had immediate instant access to X,Y graphics. And I could toggle that speaker like nobody's business! It was truly magical when I discovered TASC and EINSTEIN. These compilers would take my infantile BASIC program experiments and totally re-write them in the mysterious god-like superfast "machine language". It was like getting a 3x accelerator in software! This is the kind of magic that makes you get up from your seat and twirl around like and over-excited ballerina. The possibilities were orgasmic. Made me feel like a god!

 

Much of the above opinions are formed from how a kid into (but not fully understanding) how hardware and the platforms at large worked and how well they penetrated their respective markets.


Edited by Keatah, Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:57 PM.


#73 emkay OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:05 PM

Civilized thread... hmmmm
;)
What I can say about the C64: the 16 colors ruled back in the days. Particular the 16 color text mode in "hires", which allowed to show "Teletext" on a homecomputer. Then SID with it's great deep sounds, and the sprites... very nice.
Outside that small world, there is much more going on. The Atari was rather limited , but had other stuff to show and capabilities beyond the C64.
Possibly, I'd have better words for the C64, if the development of local stuff for the A8 hadn't stalled , caused by development on the C64.

#74 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:21 PM

...

 

AtariAge user thetick1 commented that he should make a similar video about which format had the biggest library of Commodore's own games, expecting the C64 to have the biggest library. The numbers I crunched indicates that the VIC-20 might have more of those titles, though as noted above there are some 30-40 educational disk titles for the C64 that would indicate that indeed the C64 has the most Commodore published software. Quite likely the Atari 8-bit has close to zero of those titles, as most of Commodore's games were clones or licensed arcade games that probably appeared on the Atari without the intervention of Commodore, and the utility and productivity software most of the time would already have counter options on the Atari.

 

I was just going by what I remembered in the magazines.  Look at ads from Commodore Power and Play magazine.  It was OWNED by Commodore so it had more ads for the Commodore originals and likely any Commodore original software being sold by Commodore. Just look  though pages 6,7,8,9 for the C64 and pages 10,11 for the Vic 20.  Looks like more C64 applications than Vic20 ?  

Though it may be biased because of the date (Spring '84) as Commodore would rather sell the sexy new C64 than old Vic 20, but maybe not biased as Commodore would want to unload all their Vic-20 hardware and software inventory.

 

See https://archive.org/...e-power-play-08

 

Also look at page 1 right after the cover page, Commodore sure wants you to think the C64 has the most software. :)


Edited by thetick1, Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:28 PM.


#75 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:30 PM

Sure. If we count the actual titles advertised there, I'm getting to 16 + 16 + 16 = 48 titles on the C64, and 19 + 25 = 44 titles on the VIC-20 which means that by Spring 1984 when the VIC-20 was just about to get discontinued, Commodore themselves advertised 4 more software packages for the less than two years old C64 than they advertised for the more than three years old VIC.

 

But yes, after adding Infocom adventures and more which Commodore actually did sell under their own label, in the long run the C64 probably edges out the VIC regarding "1st party" software. In both cases, I'd say that after ~3 years on the market, the number of 1st party titles greatly declined as there begun to arrive plenty of quality 3rd party software.

 

Infocom is an interesting case as they released Atari 8-bit versions of their adventures in 1983 but not until 1984 they grew tired (?) of Commodore's distribution and released their own versions of their own games on the C64. Obviously in a count of "Commodore" software, we can't count Infocom's own Atari releases, but should we count Commodore's releases as unique Commodore software?


Edited by carlsson, Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:34 PM.





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