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Keatah

Which is better, Atari 400/800 vs. Commodore-64 (GRAPHICS ONLY!)

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I think it's worth looking at demos today for some of the answer to this question.

 

One problem with that is more Atari demos are needed. Or, I'm not seeing them. Something... Does somebody have a quick link or links to the latest Atari productions?

 

In any case, given the ones I know we've all seen, and the "better" problem depending on definitions of better, I much prefer comparing strengths...

 

Totally agreed on game ports. It's rare to see a game really changed to incorporate the strengths of machines other than the one it was authored on.

 

and you should really check out drunk chessboard...it's one of my favorite a8 demos....
This is ahard question to answer.
I like both machines...as far as gaming goes (graphically) I'd say the C64 wins....although there are some A8 games I like better.
For instance Chucky Egg.
for me, there is no actuall winner here..
180 darts on the other hand was superior on the C64 compared to any other version I played (and I've played the A8, c64, spectrum and MSX version)
Edited by 19rsn007

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I'm coming from C64 scene and own Ataris only this millenium so I am a bit biased.

Nonetheless I'd ay that the C64 _clearly_ has the wider range of what can be done with its gfx-modes.

(btw C64 sprites have 4 colors, with one being the background though ;-) and you could easily multiplex them etc...

If you compare gfx and games you should always select the 'best'.

For C64 I'd call Mayhem in Monsterland, Turrican 1-3, Katakis, etc etc (the well known titles ;-).

I am sure though that there are vast amounts of games that look and play better on the Atari (it seems that this is true mostly for old titles pre '85 or so).

You usually prefer what you got to learn first ;-)

The Atari can do cool stuff but it has its general limits, which is i.e. why I think Lucasfilm never ported their adventures to the Ataris.

But its not just the total amount of gfx that defines a good game of course.

There are some Atari2600 games I'd favor over about 10,000 C64 games ;-)

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Despite never owning a C64 (and never wanting to, really - don't think I could cope with the build quality) I did see Turrican in action at a student's house when I was in college. It blew away anything the Atari could produce.

 

However - many Lucasfilm games didn't make full use of the features of the C64 or of sprites. The fact that the machine was significantly slower than the A8 meant that many games lost their edge over the Atari counterparts. Jeff Minter once commented that they must have cheated like hell to get Rescue on Fractalus to work on the 64.

 

As long as the games didn't require excessive use of the processor and rely on the processor for grunt, then the C64 would win the graphics war quite comfortably. If a game needed a little bit of extra help from the CPU then the Atari would often come out on top. What's the point of pretty graphics if they'd only move at 10 frames per second? ;)

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However - many Lucasfilm games didn't make full use of the features of the C64 or of sprites.

 

Oh, quite the opposite is true actually :) But otherwise I agree.

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When I was a teenager learning to code graphics on my Atari XL, and learned about color placement limits,  I started to develop an inferiority complex about the Atari, and felt that the C64 (and even Apple II in some cases) was capable of much better graphics.

 

What I didn't realize at time time, was that all three of these 8-bit system had its own color placement "quirks" that prevented free use of colors.  I supposed this is because high-color, high-res modes where too expensive in terms of memory required on systems designed to address 64K at one time, so each system had two and four color modes with 'cheats' to map different colors to certain screen areas

 

Atari:  generally limited to 4 or 5 colors per scanline, colors can be changed on the next scanline via DLI

C64:  Couldn't use more than 4 playfield colors per 4x8 cell in 160x200 mode, or 2 colors per 8x8 cell in 320x200 mode

Apple: Uses artifacting style colors, but each byte on screen could only used red+blue or green + purple, but not both at the same time.  Artifact colors only work on certain displays,  the in reality this mode is only two color.

 

Recently, I've been comparing games from that era between Atari and C64.

 

What I've come to realize is the answer to which is better isn't so cut and dried and depends on a number of things:

 

Sprites: C64 wins here in most use cases.  Atari can use PM graphics for interesting overlays in text/hi-res mode to squeeze more colors out

 

High-res mode:  C64 wins here with more color placement freedom.  On the Atari the foreground color has to be the same hue as the background color.  But Atari can do artifacting colors in this mode like the Apple, so in some cases game ports from Apple II looked better on Atari.

 

In comparing games between the two systems,  I noticed that most games don't use hi-res mode on either system.  Many use 160x200(ish) mode.  A lot of games are virtually identical on both the C64/Atari apart from slight palette color differences.   There are some games that use 320 mode on C64 and 160 mode on Atari, but far fewer than I thought.

 

Where the Atari shines is color.   A lot of games look more colorful on Atari.   GTIA modes were used to great effect by Lucasfilm in the loading screens to Fractalus/Ballblazer and the robot on Koronis Rift, the C64 couldn't really match that.   Also custom display lists could create effects not easy to duplicate on other systems.

 

But what it comes down to..  Game designed to the Atari's strengths looked better on the Atari.  Games designed to the C64's strength looked better on the C64.   Games designed to be multi-platform tended to look virtually identical

 

 

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It's funny, we're just having a similar gfx topic regarding C64 vs other micros: https://spectrumcomputing.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=3127

 

For me there is no clear cut winner, because all these machines had different strenghts (and of course it dpended on particular games and port quality). C64 is often picked as a winner but for me overall it was let down by low-res gfx (vs Spectrum) and that weird, shades-of-brown desaturated palette (vs Amstrad/Atari).

 

If I had to design a perfect micro, gfx wise, it'd have Spectrum's resolution, Atari/CPC colours and C64's sprites and scrolling.

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The Apple II had the most simplistic graphics hardware of all the early micros that actually had graphics. Atari 400/800 and C64 were lightyears ahead.

 

I always felt that Atari 400/800 graphics were smooth and freewheeling while the C64 was like a snot stuffed up my nose.

 

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17 minutes ago, Keatah said:

The Apple II had the most simplistic graphics hardware of all the early micros that actually had graphics. Atari 400/800 and C64 were lightyears ahead.

 

I always felt that Atari 400/800 graphics were smooth and freewheeling while the C64 was like a snot stuffed up my nose.

In the 80s all I had to see what other systems could do was screenshots in magazines.   When I saw Apple II screenshots, I'd see things that my Atari couldn't do, like high-res mode with 6 seemingly independant colors, and I felt somewhat jealous of that.

 

But there were also a lot of games that looked really good in magazines, and didn't look so good on my Atari.   I assumed those shots must be from the C64 version.   But then I'd play the C64 version and realize it didn't look as good either.   I now think a lot of those were fake mock-up screenshots.

 

I remember seeing a Sega Ad showing a home version of Congo Bongo that looked pretty good, but the Atari version looked terrible.   I later tried most home version under emultation, and none of them looked that great-- except the Apple II version, ironically.  But now that I see those Apple II games in action, I realize that my Atari did have an edge graphically over them after all.

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18 minutes ago, zzip said:

I remember seeing a Sega Ad showing a home version of Congo Bongo that looked pretty good, but the Atari version looked terrible.   I later tried most home version under emultation, and none of them looked that great-- except the Apple II version, ironically.  But now that I see those Apple II games in action, I realize that my Atari did have an edge graphically over them after all.

Congo Bongo is an interesting one in that there were a few different versions for the C-64. One looked pretty great and the other looked pretty mediocre.

Pretty Mediocre (cartridge/tape):

 

Congo Bongo Commodore 64 Gameplay on the first level (cartridge/tape version)

Pretty Great (disk):

 

Congo Bongo Commodore 64 First screen.  (US disk version)

 

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1 minute ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Congo Bongo is an interesting one in that there were a few different versions for the C-64. One looked pretty great and the other looked pretty mediocre.

Pretty Mediocre (cartridge/tape):

 

Congo Bongo Commodore 64 Gameplay on the first level (cartridge/tape version)

Pretty Great (disk):

 

Congo Bongo Commodore 64 First screen.  (US disk version)

 

oh wow.   I played the former,  didn't know about the 2nd.     I think the screenshot from the 2nd one is the one that appeared in the Sega ad

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19 minutes ago, zzip said:

oh wow.   I played the former,  didn't know about the 2nd.     I think the screenshot from the 2nd one is the one that appeared in the Sega ad

Yeah, I remember those TV ads and being blown away as a kid too. When I "procured" a version of Congo Bongo at school, it was the uglier one (the cartridge one, no doubt). Needless to say, I was disappointed.

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

In the 80s all I had to see what other systems could do was screenshots in magazines.   When I saw Apple II screenshots, I'd see things that my Atari couldn't do, like high-res mode with 6 seemingly independant colors, and I felt somewhat jealous of that.

 

I was taken by the vector-style graphics the Apple II could do. Really just hi-res white lines more or less. But I wasn't seeing that on any other console or most other computers at the time. Games like Tranquility Base or A2-FS1 or Space Vikings or StarDance were mesmerizing.

 

At the time the concept of a graphics chip hadn't formed in my pre-teen shit-fer-brain brain yet. And of course then there was Applesoft BASIC. Easy enough to set a color. Easy enough to plot a dot. And that's all I needed to know. Graphing mathematical formulas (and other ideas) seemed a natural thing. Other micros of the day didn't provide that experience. Though the Atari 8-bitters came very close.

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On 12/6/2013 at 9:58 PM, ClausB said:

ANTIC's display list is a brilliant concept. What programmer doesn't love the idea of a graphics chip that can execute its own program independently of the CPU?

 

Sure, VIC II has more of this and less of that, but it came four years later. ANTIC/CTIA still has the more elegant design.

My opinion hasn't changed in 7 years. Make that 37 years!

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I grew up with an Atari, but always knew the newer C64 had an updated sprite system.  I remember seeing some screens back in the day thinking, damn!.

 

Even so it's a hard thread to answer that I'd rather leave to a bench test of some sort to avoid any needless bashing.  It's more peaceful to hate on a bench test when we don't agree instead.

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The  problem with C64 is that due to its small color palette all games  look the same (the familiar Dirty Grey style).

To be fair all classic 8bit micros have  their unique recognizable style (Speccy,CPC,C64).

That is not so true about the Atari 8bit line.

One of the  most common comment under a new Atari home brew game video  is "I can not believe that its an 8bit Atari !".

The advanced graphical capabilities of the Atari hardware  still surprise us even ~30 years after its commercial "death".

With "Crownland" for the first time (if I am not wrong) we saw transparencies, in "Druidarium" "Atari blast"  and "Tiger Attack" we saw smooth pan scrolling, in Albert we show ~50 colors on screen and huge/fast colorful sprites  and in Space Harrier...functional hardware scaling.

 

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For the most part, Atari 400/800 win my favor.

 

There are a few C64 games that are more colorful, and truer to the arcade (palettewise) like Gyruss. Surprisingly there are many Apple II games that win the title too, like BoulderDash. Love how it looks on the II series.

 

But VCS takes the cake with its glorious saturation and well separated colors.

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14 hours ago, Nickolasgaspar said:

To be fair all classic 8bit micros have  their unique recognizable style (Speccy,CPC,C64).

That is not so true about the Atari 8bit lin

It can be.   I've seen plenty of Atari game screenshots that are easily recognizable because they show off Atari-isms,   like the standard font,  the graphics 8/text luminence mode,  GTIA modes or mode lines or heavy use of DLIs.

 

But when developers really reach into the Atari's bag of tricks, they can produce things that don't look like an Atari at all.   I see that more in homebrews than in commercial games from BITD though.

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This is atariage and anyone saying that the commodore look better than atari must be immediately kicked out the forum and executed by firing squad !.

xD

 

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On 8/14/2013 at 12:58 AM, Keatah said:

Which is better, the Atari 400/800 vs. Commodore-64? With only one catch. This discussion is to be limited to the graphics aspect of the 2 systems. No discussion of sound, or disk drives, or add-ons or anything else. Please limit it to the stock on-board graphics chips and architecture.

 

I was studying the two systems (at the layman's level of course) and had a lot of my previous assumptions and preconceived notions overturned. And now I want to get others' insights.

 

You might also say a small but vocal lot had at one time persuaded me to think one system was significantly better, but now after a couple hours of reading I clearly see otherwise.

Everyone talks about the amount of sprites of lc C64 but with interruption
 of the Antic dozens more can appear on the screen in the Atari 800XL, 
not for nothing does the design of the Amiga 1000 preserve the concept of sprites
 of the entire HEIGHT of the screen, for me it is a great advantage, why? 
To make images, which RASTACONVERTER does in the Atari images that only 
the commodore 16 (1985) based on the TED can make an 8-bit computer, 
so if I must choose Graphic Quality

1) Ted Commodore Machines (1985) C116 / C16 / Plus 4 (128 Colors) (320x200 flickering images)
2) Atari 800XL GTIA 8 With 256 Colors (160x240 no flickering images)
3) VIC II C64 Chipset (1982) (16 Colors) (160x200 no flickering images)

 

The C64 can do the car image? not not 

The C16 yes yes yes

But Is Made in An Atari 800

79 colors of the CTIA design of 128 colors of 1979

Amazing Vs 1982 (c64) vs C16 (1985)

six years before the design of te GPU was magnific job

of jay minner

 

AmberCruiser.xex

Captura de Pantalla 2021-09-04 a la(s) 06.19.35.jpg

Edited by Mauro Rodriguez

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and in a COMPLETE machine for games the list changes in 2 seconds

 

1)C64 , best sprites logic and use , Best Sound chip? mmm maybe i like the pokey

2)A8 , The sprites PM are not so practical sometimes ,Very Good Color Pallete (256) Sounds i like pokey more than SID 

3)C16 , NO SPRITES , TED SOUND IS NOT TERRIBLE but 2 channel sound

 

this is why the C64 as complete game machines was the better choice 

And in games like The Last Ninja , the C64 Shines

 

if the C64 has more colors (128 like C16) there is no doubt that the C64 was the number 1 in every chart you made

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34 minutes ago, Mauro Rodriguez said:

And in games like The Last Ninja , the C64 Shines

And in games like Ninja, Atari shines. In some other games, other platforms shine. It's a wonderful world indeed :)

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15 hours ago, Mauro Rodriguez said:

and in a COMPLETE machine for games the list changes in 2 seconds

 

1)C64 , best sprites logic and use , Best Sound chip? mmm maybe i like the pokey

2)A8 , The sprites PM are not so practical sometimes ,Very Good Color Pallete (256) Sounds i like pokey more than SID 

3)C16 , NO SPRITES , TED SOUND IS NOT TERRIBLE but 2 channel sound

 

this is why the C64 as complete game machines was the better choice 

And in games like The Last Ninja , the C64 Shines

 

if the C64 has more colors (128 like C16) there is no doubt that the C64 was the number 1 in every chart you made

Here is how this picture is supposed to look ( PAL version/all lines).


Now the homebrew community has shown  that Jay Miner's machine has  a superior architecture, rendering the specs you mentioned,in my opinion, almost irrelevant(its an IPC issue). Sure C64 sprites logic is superior since it was newer by some years, but even with  that deficit the Atari machine  manages  to outperform it by using many of its tricks.

Software sprites are easily  animated by  its faster architecture and CPU clock(Albert,RGB, project Abyssus, The extirpator, Calisto,Pang etc)the hardware scrolling and scaling capabilities have allowed games (Yoomp!, Space Harrier,Total Eclipse, Stunt car racer) to appear  colorful , display a larger screen and provide higher frame rate. The machine's lower resolution does help of course but at least atari games don't all look the same (C64 Dirty grey look).

The POKEY chip can simulate SID's tone and ever produce clearer sound while doing it...but I can understand that sound choice is based on our subjective preference. The fact is that SID can not reproduce POKEY's SFX and dynamic music sounds while the POKEY can't reproduce SID's bass.

  The C64 was designed  to be sold in SM and toy stores so for its price tag the machine was surprisingly good, but we managed to see almost 100% of its capabilities during its commercial life. The Atari 8bit line still surprises us with what the home brew community is delivering.

 

They are both good machines...but I find Miner's work to be superior and for my second choice (if not the first) it will always be the "scrolless" Amstrad 6128 with its limited but amazing color palette, ideal for arcade games and decent sound chip. I just love what I see on the CPC! Even the programmers of the contemporary software houses admitted that  they felt  writing  code for a superior machine when they were working on the CPC.

So my classification for the  8bit multimedia micros group is 1.Atari/CPC 2. C64

 

 

AmberCruiser.png

Edited by Nickolasgaspar

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Sorry, but I just don't see the appeal of the Amstrad CPC as a games machine. The proof is in the games and very few games hold up to the performance of either of the two platforms in question. In terms of the palette, sure it can push a good amount of color, but they're often quite garish due to other limitations. The CPC platform feels like a better Spectrum, which is really not saying much, and many of the games lack speed or smoothness. Of course, I'm an American who came to both the Spectrum and CPC platforms well after their commercial lifespans and I was already spoiled by platforms like the Apple II, Atari 8-bit, and C-64, among others, not to mention the 16-bit stuff that came after, so I don't have the nostalgia for what either of those British-centric platforms can do.

 

And of course, for everyone in this thread, it comes down to a person's personal history, nostalgia, and their preferred platform what they'll find superior. For me, I no doubt have a slight C-64 bias, but then I feel like there are not only plenty of stellar back-in-the-day examples, but plenty of stellar top-notch homebrews on a near daily basis to back up my opinion that it overall outperforms any of the platforms mentioned when it comes to gaming. It has to make the fewest concessions with nearly every game type.

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