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phuzaxeman

classic battle atari 8bit vs commodore 64

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ok...it's been dragged a million times, and my 800xl is the king of atari hardware, but what do you all think? how does the atari match up against the c64?

Edited by phuzaxeman

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ok...it's been dragged a million times, and my 800xl is the king of atari hardware, but what do you all think? how does the atari match up against the c64?

 

There a re some "IFs"...

IF the ATARI was sold as good as the C64....

If the ATARI had as much capable coders as the C64...

 

Then there probably was some "other truth" ;-)

 

...

 

IF ATARI was doing some "1Cent" upgrades with th XL line, the ATARI would have encountered a quantum leap.

 

If, when, why, what ;-)

Edited by emkay

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I had a VIC-20 and a Commodore 64 and only played with Atari computers at the store, so I don't know which is better. All I can say is that I loved my VIC-20 more. I had a RAM expansion cartridge and a ton of fun making all kinds of programs. I got kind of bogged down with the C-64 and didn't do a whole heck of a lot.

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Commodore 64 has been released 3 years after Atari 800 (XL and XE are similar to the original 800) so I think it's normal that C64 hardware is more powerful.

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C64 is specialised gaming machine. In comparision to 8bit Atari it has better sprite system, better graphic modes, and SID music chip which is easy to program and get nice music. Weak point of the C64 is poor, only 16 colors palette.

 

Atari has a faster main processor, but worse sprite system. So any better games must use software sprites which consumes a lot of computing power. A8 has worse graphic modes, but 16-times larger color palette, which means you can achieve many colorfull efects, but drawing more color on screen is not as easy. Pokey is more flexible than SID, but I think it is harder to achieve nice sounding effect.

 

Thats about hardware. The rest is marketing. Atari made a lot of mistakes in this field and that's why many software titles wasn't ported to Atari.

Edited by urborg
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C64 is specialised gaming machine. In comparision to 8bit Atari it has better sprite system, better graphic modes, and SID music chip which is easy to program and get nice music. Weak point of the C64 is poor, only 16 colors palette.

 

Atari has a faster main processor, but worse sprite system. So any better games must use software sprites which consumes a lot of computing power. A8 has worse graphic modes, but 16-times larger color palette, which means you can achieve many colorfull efects, but drawing more color on screen is not as easy. Pokey is more flexible than SID, but I think it is harder to achieve nice sounding effect.

 

Thats about hardware. The rest is marketing. Atari made a lot of mistakes in this field and that's why many software titles wasn't ported to Atari.

 

 

Everything you say is true except I would argue the Pokey was better suited for game sounds since it was commonly used in arcade games back in the day... the rest is all a matter of which system you had. Nothing could of pryed my b-key'ed 48k 400 or later my Atari 130xe out of my hands back in the day. It may have bowed out of the commerical scene before the C64 but there were plenty of games for me and it kept me going until around 86/87 when I picked up a NES and I still used my trusty XE for school papers, calling bbs's and even the occasional European game (like Zybex for example) until 1990 when I moved on to the Amiga. I've seen some mighty impressive stuff on the Commodore 64 and I can appreciate for example the way they offered the 128 which is a neat 8bit system (I wish Atari made something similar for the 8bits..) but it doesn't hold that place in my heart that the Atari 8-bit series does and it never will. Maybe if I started off with a Vic-20 instead of a A400 way back when it would but I didn't and that pretty much sums up the argument: there is no which is best. It's all down to a matter of preference. Now if you wanna talk Nintendo/Sega clearly Nintendo was better... :)

Edited by kevin242

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I think the only machine that could compete with a C64 is a Atari 130XE, because of aditional 64K memory with banking system. Few games use this extra memory in Atari computers, most of them have nice features (long music background, digitized effects, mixing graphics, fast loadings)

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Commodore 64 has been released 3 years after Atari 800 (XL and XE are similar to the original 800) so I think it's normal that C64 hardware is more powerful.

 

Not across the board. A fixed palette of 16 colors isn't more powerful. That's the Apple II way of handling color circa 1977.

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i had a ton of titles back in the day on the 8bit. i even used the atari writer through high school and part college. one thing i noticed was that there weren't as many titles as the c64 released. i remember seeing an add for defenders of the crown for c64 and was jealous. also, i think the graphics between the two were very close but i have to give the nod to c64 for their awesome soundtracks and music.

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A8 has worse graphic modes

IIRC: The only thing commodore has over the 8-bit is the ability to display hirez text and hi-rez graphics in more colors (limited to 40x25 res). You also get 256 characters vs 128. You also have the ability in the 4 color modes to have one color change among 40x25 res. The multicolor text is good for somethings though.

 

On the atari 8bits: DLI's, the ability to locate data for any screen row in memory, 128 colors, ease to mix different graphics/text modes, and overscan capabilities trumps many of the above. DLI's and the ability to locate parts of the screen in any part of memory makes scrolling (especially parts of the screen) easier.

 

Commodore wins on the sprites for most games. There may be a few weird cases where PM's might be of advantage. It is really pain to get lots of different multicolored objects moving around on the Atari 8-bit.

 

I like pokey better for sound effects in many cases but that is probably a personal preference.

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A8 has worse graphic modes

 

 

I like pokey better for sound effects in many cases but that is probably a personal preference.

 

oh man...the c64 had an amazing sound processor back in the day.

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I'm going to look at a different aspect....

 

BASIC programing on the C64 (sorry.. this originally said atari.. good thing I came back and read it again!) was darn near impossible... anything and everything had to be done by POKE's in decimal... ugh!

 

Atari BASIC was slow, but powerful... you had a rich set of commands that allowed you to do most anything... except (ironically enough) PM graphics...

 

The Atari would have been a better choice for a kid--he would have the tools necessary to write great programs... The C64 was really only useful as a game machine...

 

Thanks,

 

Mike

Edited by lord_mike

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LOL, this is the debate I think of whenever someone mentions opening a "can of worms." :ponder:

 

 

haha...it's all good fun. i used to get into arguements long ago when i was a boy....

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how about a C64 with CMD harddrive, SuperCPU, SID2SID vs. a 130XE with dual POKEY, blackbox, and videoboard XE :) Or maybe throw a hacked and upgraded C64 DTV into the ring.

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Commodore 64 has been released 3 years after Atari 800 (XL and XE are similar to the original 800) so I think it's normal that C64 hardware is more powerful.

 

Not across the board. A fixed palette of 16 colors isn't more powerful. That's the Apple II way of handling color circa 1977.

 

Not to forget: The C64's CPU is clearly slower. Even if the Sprite system saves cpu time. The A8 is real 1.7 times faster.

 

Particular when much screen manipulations are done (Rasters,DLI and or Screen routines. They are done while the screen is shown on the display. This is also the time where DMA from ANTIC steals CPU cycles. So, using Screen manipulations are not stealing as much cpu power as many people think, because during the VBI the cycles are still at the same speed.

Doing a command there, means having 1,7 times faster finished than on the C64.

 

Also: People are blaming about the PMg... which is odd, because people didn't use that advantage. So while vertically the data has to be set new, why not using different data to have almost animations inside? Thinking about Arkanoid where the A8 version's ball seems to be the ugliest compared to all versions.

 

People also say: The ATARI cannot do colourfull hires. Well, with hires and PMg you can get a screen similar to the Spectrum, which was fair enough...

 

Example:

Looking at starquake, hires games at fullscreen are "no problem"

 

starquake.png

 

Then look at the G2F image of Dizzy:

 

Using the ability that the hires mode always switches two colours by a clever way, will give 4 colours to an object instead of 2 or 3.

And, if the A8 really was to slow to manage the game at 320pixel width, the coder could switch to a resolution of 256 pixels width.

(256x192 is spectrum native. Also some C64 games use smaller width to gain speed (and there was a huge border already) )

 

And, really, where is the problem to do some "filters" like :

If Dizzy is at position x,y to x+8,y+8 then switch off pm at a,b .... to make sure that the protagonist always has the same colour?

 

Even on the C64 and the Speccy some "odd" colours are accepted. So they should never been a problem on the A8 aswell.

Edited by emkay

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I had a Vic-20 before purchasing an Atari 8-bit system. I still think the Ataris' advantage was the faster CPU speed and 128 color palette. Would like to say 256 colors, but very few games took advantage of those GTIA modes. I think when Atari was taken over by the Tramiels, it was doomed. They had people proposing further upgrades for the 8-bit system. I think they could have made some simple enhancements to Antic/GTIA chipset to give it better graphics, like more Players (maybe 8 or 16 instead of 4), compress the overscan mode to fit the screen( maybe use 64 bytes instead of 48), maybe run at higher speed. But even when Atari was taken over, both companies invested in the 16-bit 68000 series computers.

 

One major advantage Atari had was its DOS and abilities there. I remember something on the Commodores, you had to do everything from basic, like write a program to bring up the directory. Atari DOS in its day might have been a rival for MS-DOS on the earlier PCs.

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Commodore 64 has been released 3 years after Atari 800 (XL and XE are similar to the original 800) so I think it's normal that C64 hardware is more powerful.

 

This is the point I would have made. They aren't exactly of the same generation.

 

I really like the engineering that went into the Atari. The hardware is really elegant and was far above anything else on the market when it was released. I've always felt that the 64 has cool hardware but seems less polished compared to the Atari. Rushed firmware is sort of a Tramiel trademark.

 

Atari's marketing practices (like keeping the hardware spec a secret) severely limited the machine's success and once the low-cost (and well documented) 64 hit the market, it was all over.

 

-Bry

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The battle was always Commodore 64 vs Spectrum, Atari 800 was way above those.

 

Even the English C64 magazine ZZAP!64 admitted that the Atari 800 was the better machine when compared to the C64 (This was mentioned numerous times in the magazine).

Why did I read ZZAP!64? I use both since 1986, A8/fdd and C64/fdd.

 

Top Spectrum programmer Matthew Smith also said when interviewed in Retro Gamer magazine on which is the better computer, C64 or Spectrum: "The Atari 800 is the superior machine".

(If you read through the first 18 issues of Retro Gamer, many other interviewed British programmers admitted to this as well).

Edited by thomasholzer

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