The Big Question: Amiga Or Commodore 64

The Big Question: Amiga Or Commodore 64

When I was very growing up, I was fortunate enough to have two sets of family friends. One owned the glorious gaming machine that was the Commodore 64, while another was a computer loving family that grew up with a couple of Amiga machines.

The two families never interacted, and for whatever reason my brother and I were well behaved enough not to stoke any Amiga/Commodore 64 flames between the two. And having vastly less money growing up, my family had neither – the best we had were crappy 286’s and 386’s discarded by local medical centres, banks and the like. (My dad sourced them, being a programmer.)

I never quite knew growing up which was more financially successful in Australia. The Amiga was obviously a superior product, having been borne from the Commodore line, but for some reason I have memories of games on the C64 that I never quite had playing the Amiga. Things like International Karate and Decathlon have stuck with me forever. From the Amiga, it’s really just the original Worms and maybe Mortal Kombat for the first time out of the arcades.

God that music was great back in the day.

Between the two machines, which do you have a greater reverence for? The Commodore 64, or the Amiga?


      • Another Atari ST ex-owner here. Coming from the 8-bit era (Amstrad CPC) I remember badgering my dad for months with the technical achievements of the new 16-bit generation. He eventually gave in (mostly to shut me up, I think) and got me a 520 STFm.

        Deep down, I always knew the Amiga was the better machine (yeah, shoot me, Atariphiles) but I only knew people with Ataris so it made sense from a game-swapping perspective.

        I’ve had magical moments on both 8-bit and 16-bit computers. You don’t need to pick one, it didn’t matter what the game ran on, as long as it was fun.

        • I was too young to know the technical differences, I didn’t come to Amiga until my teens (mid-late 90s) but yeah I’d agree it was probably the better machine.

          I seem to remember somebody saying something to me then along the lines of “Atari may have had the technically superior machine but they had to fight against their marketing and corporate image and so lost the race before it even began”

  • What about the people with the VIC20 and datasette. You were really committed when you had to write down on a sheet of paper where on the tape the program you wanted started.

    • Here, here. I had all 3 through out the years (selling, saving etc). My fondest memories are of my Vic20. That may be just because it was my first also.

  • Commodore 64 all the way!

    International Karate was so cool as was Ghostbusters, which amazingly had alot of RPG game features that are still used today.

  • I can’t split the two. Too many classics on both. C64 had all of those Epyx games (Summer Games, Winter Games, etc, Impossible Mission eyc), plus stuff like Wizball, Elite, Parallax, Uridium, etc etc). Amiga had the likes of the Cinemaware games, Dungeon Master, Cannon Fodder, Sensible Soccer, Another World, etc etc. As well as updated versions of some of the old C64 games like Wizball, Elite, International Karate +, etc – the “”HD Remaster” is by no means a new phenomenon πŸ˜›

    • This. So very much this. Almost word for word what I was going to write, down to the same games πŸ™‚ I’d do a shoutout for Leaderboard on the C64 as well though. That was such a game changer.

      Thing for me is that while I know the games on Amiga were prettier, and often played smoother and better, I just struggle to remember the names of games like Speedball, Turrican, and Alien Breed. I dont with those C64 classics.

      I wouldnt want to pick one over the other though. While those handful of C64 classics are easy to remember, with the power of Google at my fingertips I would come up with a far bigger Amiga list.

      Civ, Gods, Jimmy Whites Snooker (or Archer Macleans) would slowly make the list. Wings, Stunt Car Racer, Populus. See what I mean? I wont immediately remember them, but after a bit the list just builds and builds. SWIV, Nebulous, Great Giana Sisters, New Zealand Story, Sentinel.

      Makes it a tough call, especially given how many of those were on C64 as well.

      • Amiga also had Wings of Fury (criminally underrated), Stunt Car Racer, Kick Off, Prince of Persia… If I had time to Google I could produce a list as long as your arm for both platforms.

        • Definitely, and thats what makes the decision so hard. When I look at Google, the Amiga is clearly the better machine, but when I think instantly, I can mostly only name C64 games.

          Give yourself an uppercut by the way (I’ll give myself one). We both missed Paradroid on the C64….

  • We had some friends down the road with a Amiga, but we had the C64. most of my earlier game memories are from playing the C64 at home ….. but some of my best childhood memories are of playing at my mates house with him and his older brother.

    So I guess I vote for C64 as its the only one I (my dad) actually owned, but I still have a lot of love for the Amiga.

    thanks for the memories Alex

  • Had an Amstrad CPC 464.. it’s where I learned my first lines of BASIC from the back of an Amstrad Action magazine. I guess it’d be C64 given the choice of these two.

    Paperboy, Rainbow Islands, Werewolves of London, alllllllll the Dizzy games. So many years of memories.

    • I too had an Amstrad CPC 464 – the tape version. Learned to program on the little guy.

      I really saddened me that it eventually got donated to the Salvos. I know there are emulators but nothing beats the real deal.

      From what I read though (never had the privilege of owning either machine), the C64 which left a large mark in computer gaming while the Amiga (in my view) really showed some good ideas of OS design and implementation. Some ideas are now common place but others have become trapped in the niche.

      Of interest to me is how the OS handled file types. Seriously, I just love the idea how the OS handled the semantics of file structures and not the programs. Why that feature never made it into other modern OSes is beyond me.

      • Paperboy was the one video game I’ve ever seen my mum play.

        I’ve had hours to reminisce – I have a feeling I’m going home from work and finding a CPC emulator.

  • You only remember Worms and Mortal Kombat from the Amiga? These came quite late in the machine’s life, though. Plenty of all-time classics that will trigger nostalgic tears from old gamers on the Amiga: Dungeon Master, Carrier Command, Starglider 1 & 2, Lemmings, Another World, Populous 1 & 2, the whole Bitmap Brothers catalogue (Xenon 1 & 2, Speedball 1 & 2, Chaos Engine, Gods, etc.), Kick-off, Sensible Soccer, Turrican 1 & 2, too many to mention. You also mention International Karate on C64, I give you International Karate Plus on Amiga.

    One thing where the Amiga seemed too good to be true were the arcade conversions. It was mind-blowing to us to play versions from coin-op games that were so close to the real thing, compared to the watered-down ports you had to put with on C64, Spectrum and CPC. Space Harrier, R-Type, Super-Hang-On, Pac-Mania, Bubble Bobble, Toki, Golden Axe, Silkworm, Ghost ‘n Goblins, New Zealand Story, Pang, etc.

  • I had a VIC-20. I was never lucky enough to have a C64 or an Amiga. I had a friend with an Amiga and we spent many glorious hours playing Lords of Midnight, Wizball, Great Giana Sisters, New Zealand Story, & more.

  • I had a Commodore 64 and my friend had an Amiga 500.

    Amiga was like the deluxe version of the C64 for me. The C64 had some awesome games that the Amiga didn’t have, but in terms of a better experience, I’d say Amiga.

  • C64! Though a few of these are multi-plat, fondly remember Law of the west, Defender of the Crown, Summer Games, Space Harrier, Aliens, The Last Ninja. Oh the nostalgia!

  • Was the Atari 2600 for me. My father tried to convince me that a Nintendo (just released) would be better, but I wouldn’t hear of it as I’d only ever played on a friends Atari. Oh what I’d love to go back and say to my 7 year old self!

  • I loved them both (at their respective times).
    The Amiga 500 was a must have upgrade though (going from cassette tape to disks) from the C64.

  • I like both but the C64 would come out in top for me. So many classic games I remember and love. Wizball, The Last Ninja, Defender of the Crown … so many great memories!

  • Amiga 500!

    I still have the answers memorised for the “18+ test” at the start of Leisure Suite Larry. Nothing like a little trial and error for some pixelated, debaucherous fun!
    As for my standout list of gaming memories on the 500; Shadow of the beast, Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, Frontier: Elite II, Lemmings, Stunt Car Racer, Super Skidmarks, F-19 Stealth Fighter, F/A 18 Interceptor, Technocop, Barbarian, Test Drive [TEST DRIVE!!!], Leaderboard Golf [with the stupid little hardware dongle copy protection!], Silkworm!!!!, Speedball, Police Quest…… I could go on and on and on!

    Of course it was also a very useful general purpose PC. Great range of software for word processing, digital art, programming etc….

  • Although I missed the boat when it came to micros, shouldn’t it be a discussion about the Commodore 64 vs the ZX Spectrum? The Amiga was a gen above those two, and it was the C64 vs the Speccy for yeaaaaars (well at least in the UK). Was the Speccy pretty much a non entity in Australia during the 80’s?

    • Bingo. While the Amstrad CPC had a local presence, the venerable ZX Speccy was all but absent for the most part. While I believe there were some released locally, the bulk of the ones I’ve seen in recent years were all bought/imported from the UK and had their power supplies converted to work with Australian plugs.

      • Ahh fair enough. I am surprised that Sinclair or Amstrad never bothered to flog Speccys down here (since we are a colony after all), but I also am not surprised considering Sir Clive’s reluctance to pursuit anything that can actually make them money.

  • My computer history:

    VIC 20 with 64kb RAM pack. Had dip switches to change the active amount of extended memory. And a couple of games on cartridge. Madness.
    Amstrad CPC 464 (with external floppy drive)
    Atari ST. Many hours spent flying Falcon.
    Amiga 500 (with 20MB hard disk, and 3MB total RAM, oh yes).
    PC – DX4-100 with 1 gig hard disk and a QUAD SPEED CD ROM and 32MB RAM so eat that.
    Then a P2-350, then an Athlon XP something, then an I7 which is still going strong.

    The Amiga was probably the most revolutionary of them all. What a machine. What memories.

    • Sorry, but you are mistaken there. The largest ram expansion ever released forthe Vic 20 was 32kb – is is actually impossible for the Vic 20 to access 64kb due to the way the 6502 operates and the fact that it has to access system roms which take up part of the addressing space available. Well, I guess it would be possible with some fancy bank switching…. but this was never done on the Vic 20.

      • The largest RAM expansion released for the VIC-20 by Commodore was 16kb. There were 32kb and 64kb 3rd party expansions. And my VIC-20 had one of the 64kb ones.

        I don’t remember which one it was I had, I think it might have been a Century one, but have no way to know for sure these days. The VIC-20 disappeared when my parents moved house and my dad wouldn’t remember now.

        List of all cartridges available for the VIC-20 here:

  • C64 was great. That was literally the only computer device I had access to until about ’98. To put that in context, my friends had various Pentiums, Playstations, and N64s while I was still rocking the C64 and trying to convince them that Zak McKracken was brilliant.

  • Man, you rich people and your Commodore 64s. When I was six, I unwrapped a Christmas present to reveal… a Commodore 16!

    Years later I finally got a secondhand C64 with both tape and disk drive (a 1541-II, in fact!) and my friends were all jealous because I had the C model with the cool looking Amiga-style design rather than the crappy ‘breadbox’ design.

    A friend of my family’s had an Amiga and she used to babysit me after school so I spent a lot of time playing such classics as Test Drive II, Lemmings, Monkey Island, Alien Breed, Speedball 2, and, uh, Superfrog on it.

  • We had a Spectrum, and friends had the C64 and Amiga.
    IMO, The Amiga had better games and graphics at the time.

  • C64 for life. Generally, the 8-bit era was far more creative in terms of developers, and you got some incredibly unique games for its time. Even now, there’s still an amazingly vibrant community creating spectacular titles pushing the bounds – the success of “Unknown Realm” on Kickstarter is a great example, and the upcoming Sam’s Journey is easily going to blow people away for what an 8-bit platformer can do.

    The Amiga was an amazing platform, but truth be told? There were so many games which were compromised by being Atari ST ports. So many great action games which should have been glorious to look at, running at lower resolutions (320×256 for a PAL Amiga vs. 320×200 for the ST).

    By the time it came into its own, it was too late as the Wintel hegemony had started advancing at a far faster rate.

    There were lots of amazing games on the Amiga (as plenty of folk have pointed out above), but as a platform it was so underutilised, that well… it’s legacy just isn’t as impressive.

    Makes me want to dig my A1200 out and play some Pinball Fantasies, but my heart will always belong to my C64 πŸ˜‰

  • Commodore 64! Still got one today, works with AV cables so we can play it on our modern day TV just fine. Got both the tape and disk units as well.

  • I had an Amiga 1000 (the original Amiga before all the other models) and then upgraded to an Amiga 3000 later on – so definitely the Amiga (although I did own a C64 before that, and a VIC-20 before the C64).

  • The Amiga was initially created by Jay Miner who named the PC Amiga as Spanish for girlfriend. He created a company that was to be known as the Amiga Corporation. Amiga Corp got into debt and the project was sold to Commodore, who brought it to market — otherwise the project would have been stillborn.

    I had the C64, the SX64, C128 (which ran C64, C128 and CPM), the Amiga 500 and Amiga 1200.

    Add the VIC-20, and the Commodore Plus/4, the C16, their older PET and their IBM versions, called the CBM Colt — they were Commodore Business Machines. So, when you also and you went into a computer store and asked…” I’d like to buy a computer…” It was no wonder Commodore went broke, you could die of thirst waiting for the salesman to do his thing…

    The C64 was 8 bit and the previous generation. The Amiga was 16 bit with different custom chips — my favourite being “Fat Agnes” — to handle sound, vision etc. It was a different beast to the C64 and when I put in a 40meg HD into the A1200, I thought I had it made!

    If you want to see what the Amiga was capable of, I believe it was used in Max Headroom and Babylon 5 with an addon called “The Toaster”.

    Nevertheless, I loved them both for what the were, i’m not sure it’s really fair to compare the 2 – it’s a bit like comparing a trail bike with a road bike; piston aircraft with jets; the Amiga was quick and pretty to look at, she was called “Amiga after all”, but, like the old warbirds of WWII, the C64 just keeps flying.

    Just in case you missed this..

    Now, If you want to get into some serious ‘discussion” from devotees, do an article comparing the C64 to the Spectrum, Atari 400 , the Apple II and the homegrown Microbee; and the Amiga to the Atari ST…

    Anyway, C64 .. Alternate Reality, Defender of the Crown, Impossible Mission, Reach for the Stars, Elite, the Bards Tale (ported to IOS and it’s brilliant) & Jeff Minter and his crazy Llamasoft games like Gridrunner. The GEOS operating system
    Amiga: Wings, Lemmings, Elite, Sim City, Turrican, Barbarian, Dune 2, Barbarian, Silent Service, Shadow of the Beast, Populus.

    Like a parent with two children; I loved them both and would happily play with either πŸ™‚

    PS My Amiga 1200 was thrown out on a collection day when my girlfriend cleaned out the house thinking it was just an old keyboard.
    PPS I should say…. my “ex-amiga” πŸ™‚

  • C-64 for me. I worked at a computer shop and we sold all of the machines mentioned above: VIC-20, C-64, C-128, Amiga, Atari-ST, Amstrad, ZX-Spectrum, as well as genuine IBM PC’s and some early cheap clones.

    Best thing was having access to try out all the games when they came in and getting them for wholesale.

    I studied IT at Uni while working there and was friends with some clever dudes. At Uni they taught us about the MS-DOS disk editor and these guys would bypass every new protection scheme overnight whenever I provided a “sample” of a new game.

    One of the guys worked at his families video store and he setup a vic-20 to monitor the alarm and dial his C-64 at home if it went off. Pretty advanced stuff considering the limitations of the machines and the dial up 2400 baud modems we were using.

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