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"The Retro Console Review of The Commodore 64 Collection 3 features classic games presented in a stylish and nostalgic way."
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“The Retro Console Review of The Commodore 64 Collection 3 features classic games presented in a stylish and nostalgic way.”

It is an odd feeling having an unremitting barrage of childhood memories fired at you by a game cartridge no larger than a matchbox. That’s certainly been my experience of the C64 Collection 3, the latest in a series of vintage gaming compilations assembled by Blaze Entertainment for its Evercade retro consoles. Each of these little carts contains a dozen or so classic titles from various arcade manufacturers and home computers, all emulated to a pretty high standard. This one, for me, and I suspect a lot of other C64 veterans, is unmissable – for several reasons.

I believe that one of the best home computer games ever created is included in it: Paradroid. This sci-fi blaster game by Hewson has a top-down multidirectional view and is visually appealing. It is also impressively challenging and features one of the earliest instances of the commonly used hacking mini-game.

When I played it in 2024, nearly four decades after it was first released, I was amazed by how well it has aged. Both its graphics and gameplay are still impressive, and when played on the Evercade VS console, it looks stunning on my LED TV. Rediscovering the vast spaceships in the game on a larger screen in my living room, rather than on a faulty PC emulator, was a much more emotional experience than one would anticipate from an old game about battling robots.

Also here are two more genuine classics: the cave exploration puzzler Boulder Dash and the multiplayer sports sim Summer Games II. Like Paradroid, they hold up well to 21st-century scrutiny, although the latter isn’t quite the visual treat I remembered from my school days. It’s nice to be able to go into the pause menu and change the aspect ratio and add scanlines for a traditional CRT effect. And – I won’t lie – the built-in save feature has also been handy.

In other locations, the options for compilation are less obvious, but this is a positive aspect of Evercade compilations: even avid fans like myself can come across new games. There are many titles from Hewson (one of the fantastic developers from Britain during that time) that I have not yet experienced, such as the multidirectional scroller Netherworld, the side-scrolling game Deliverance: Stormlord II, which is similar to Golden Axe, and Cybernoid II, combining elements from Contra and R-Type and featuring an impressive soundtrack using the SID-chip.

Some notable features include Street Sports Soccer from Epyx, which is a simulation game reminiscent of playing soccer with makeshift goalposts on the street or in a park. Super Cycle 64, inspired by the successful Hang-On game at the time, is a motorcycle simulation that brings back nostalgic memories of the era of endless scrolling racing games.

The most unexpected treat, however, is the inclusion of Break Dance, also from Epyx. It’s a street dancing game (and a forebear of the rhythm action genre) where you have to mimic the moves of a computer-controlled performer. It is both delightfully kitsch and absolutely awful, but I remember buying it because I was obsessed with hip-hop; I played it a lot while also repeatedly renting Breakdance: The Movie from our local video haven. How weird to encounter it again so many years later.

The third volume of the C64 Collection is a unique and charming compilation that fills in some gaps from the previous two volumes while also exploring unfamiliar nostalgic elements. Even for those who did not own a computer in the 1980s, these games are worth experiencing as historical artifacts. They showcase the influence of arcade culture on early home computers, as well as the experimentation and development of new ideas during the mid-1980s. Although these games can be found for free online with the use of an emulator and ROMs, the convenience and accessibility of Evercade is preferred. The save function and compatibility with larger screens is also a bonus. These games hold special memories for many, and revisiting them should be done in a stylish and enjoyable manner.

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Source: theguardian.com