Reset64 Magazine 2017 Commodore 64 Game of the Year Award

It really seems that each subsequent year for modern C64 game development improves on the previous, and 2017 has been no different! On behalf of the staff at Reset Magazine, I would like to congratulate all of you who have been involved in C64 gamedev in 2017, whether as an individual or as part of a team. 2017 has been nothing short of stunning, beginning with The Bear Essentials (released digitally in 2016, but physical version with a 2017 © stamp released later), and finishing in style with the long awaited Sam’s Journey on Christmas Eve (with a few releases making it out before the new year, too). In between, well, we were spoilt for choice.

The physical releases from the likes of Protovision, RGCD, Psytronik and Poly.Play also impressed, with each distributor/publisher raising the bar for the presentation of their physical releases – perfectly complimenting the outstanding quality of the games themselves. So much thought went into the packaging, artwork, labels, instruction booklets etc. to keep us collectors more than happy!

We will look at 2017 as an amazing year for Commodore 64 games of a quality that could arguably challenge many of the years during the computer’s heyday. It was great to see so many of the contemporary developers remaining so active, old timers returning as well as a host of first time coders, artists and musicians joining in all the fun. Make no mistake, gamedev on the C64 is a challenging and time consuming task, and we are truly appreciative of the efforts and hours that everyone involved has put in.

So to sum it all up, although there can only be one game awarded GOTY, we truly believe that you all deserve to be congratulated (whether or not your game or crew is mentioned within this article), and we take our hats off to everyone involved in the 2017 C64 games development scene.

Kevin (Unkle K) Tilley, Reset64 Editor.

Kevin Tilley (Editor’s Pick)

#1 – Sam’s Journey (Knights of Bytes/Protovision):
Sam’s Journey is a truly astonishing C64 platformer that, amazingly, lives up to all of its hype! Breathtaking presentation, colourful and fast graphics; Sam’s plays like a high-end Amiga platformer with mechanics and design sensibilities not seen in a C64 game before. Beautiful to look at and fun to play, it’s my GOTY and a truly amazing game from Knights of Bytes. Nailed the physics too, KoB 😉

#2 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
Jason Aldred came from nowhere to deliver this superb Galaga/Gaplus inspired shooter. Incredibly polished, with wonderful presentation, graphics (the animations are superb) and a suitably stunning soundtrack from Pulse Bot. It’s one of those games that you can come back to again and again and it is incredibly addictive. The physical release from Protovision is stunning, and that box-art by Lobo!! An amazing effort from Team Galencia!

#3 – The Bear Essentials (Graham Axten/Pond Software):
Graham Axten produced a game that tugged right at my nostalgic heartstrings with The Bear Essentials. Bear could easily have been a full price release from Thalamus and contains more than one nod to the games from that legendary Commodore 64 games publisher from back in the day. It’s one of the most charming games I’ve seen on the C64, and the final level blew me away. I’m tearing up right now thinking about it!

Honourable Mentions:
There have been so many other games I would have loved to have voted for. Rescuing Orc is another favourite – it is such a beautifully designed and playable game. I also loved LuftrauserZ, Platman Worlds and John Darnell’s charming Sleepwalker amongst many others. Oh, and then there’s Frogs, which is another absolutely charming multiplayer game from Dr. Wuro Industries. Any of these games could have featured in my top 3, they’re all so good!

image source: Jason Aldred & Protovision

Cameron Davis

#1 – The Bear Essentials (Graham Axten/Pond Software):
I’m thrilled that games like this exist on our beloved micro – it’s just so charming! With plenty of secrets to discover, a wild array of cute (but deadly) creatures to avoid and great platforming action, The Bear Essentials has provided me with more joy than any other recent C64 release I can think of. A world without this Essential game is something I couldn’t Bear to think about. (You’re fired – Ed)

#2 – Planet Golf (Antonio Savona/Aldo Chiummo/Gaetano Chiummo/Ilkka Sjöstedt/Massimilano ‘WiZkiD’ De Ruvo/Psytronik/RGCD):
Planet Golf is the demanding but beautiful girlfriend of Commodore 64 games. You’ll be driven mad with its fiendish level layouts and excruciatingly annoying traps, but when you do everything right it’s the best feeling in the world. I love this game even though it feels like an unhealthy relationship at times!

#3 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
This modern spin on the Galaga formula is not just a technical marvel – it’s by far the best shmup to hit the C64 in years! The movement of all the ships (oh, so many ships) feels nice and fluid, the blasting action satisfyingly explosion-filled, and there’s a real sense of accomplishment to survive the first few levels! We really are lucky to have games of this calibre grace our system.

Rob Caporetto

#1 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
Arcade-esque games are totally a ‘been there, seen that’ proposition on the C64 in the homebrew age, where many try to rekindle the feel, but most I’ve felt have always missed that something. Galencia, on the other hand? Nails it. From its old school difficulty curve, its high level of polish, and the overall polish of the package, it’s a labour of love which totally, totally manages to feel fresh, and challenging for 2017!

#2 – LuftrauserZ (Paul Koller/Stein Pedersen/RGCD):
I’m a sucker for games involving air-combat, and working around gravity, both of which are core to this C64 adaptation of the indie hit. What blows my mind away the most though? The fact that the original game has been squeezed over into a C64 cartridge. In full. The pace is even more frantic, the controls flow excellently, and the challenge on offer is intense – for anyone after a fresh twist on arcade action, LuftrauserZ is easily one of the best picks you can go for!

#3 – Rescuing Orc (Juan J. Martinez/Vanja Utne/Poly.Play):
One of the great things with the homebrew community is in seeing less visited genres make an appearance on our favourite micro. Rescuing Orc brings over the tradition of the exploratory platformer, with an old-school difficulty to match. The challenge of course being to locate your friend said Orc, whilst exploring the world, and dispatching the devious hordes who stand in your way. Compared to some of the other releases in 2017, that level of challenge may be a turn off, but despite some misgivings, it’s a throwback release, which is well worth checking out!

Honourable Mentions:
Sam’s Journey (Knights of Bytes/Protovision):
The Knights of Bytes crew have been working on this one for a long time, and it truly, truly shows on so many levels. Compared to many other platformers on the C64, it’s expansive, packed to the brim with levels, and power ups and features. If I’d been able to spent more time with it before submitting this GOTY, I expect it would have made the top 3. But considering I’ve not put anywhere near enough time in, an honourable mention will have to do…

Petunia Pickle’s Pumpkin Preview (Anthony Stiller/Vanja Utne/Pond Software):
Seeing new faces start off with amazing releases is something I always find mighty positive. It might sound a little too biased here, but I had a lot of fun with this little preview, and it being by a good friend is just the icing on the cake.

image source: Knights Of Bytes & Protovision

Paul Morrison

#1 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
I’ve been playing arcade shmups like Galaxian since the 1970s. I love them, so it always rankled with me that the Commodore 64 didn’t really have any that could truly stand among them. Consider me rankled no more. Galencia is an incredible clone of Galaga which has kept me playing since its release date. I’ve played it more than most of the PC and PS4 games I’ve bought this year, and I’m going to keep playing it. It may have been 35 years in coming, but it’s the best game of its type on the C64, and it’s my Game of the Year.

#2 – LuftrauserZ (Paul Koller/Stein Pedersen/RGCD):
The original PC game was a simplistic but fast-paced shoot ’em up which featured an absolute mountain of extra weaponry to experiment with. That Paul Koller has replicated the game so accurately on the 64 is nothing short of miraculous. I’ve got a pretty sweet crate right now, but I’m looking forward to unlocking more and seeing just how destructive I can become.

#3 – Planet Golf (Antonio Savona/Aldo Chiummo/Gaetano Chiummo/Ilkka Sjöstedt/Massimilano ‘WiZkiD’ De Ruvo/Psytronik/RGCD):
I played Desert Golfing and Stick Golf on my phone for far too long, becoming totally addicted to seeing how far I could progress or if I could whittle down my best scores. Planet Golf captures the feeling of those games emphatically, whilst adding a flavour that could only have come from our beloved C64. It’s hair-tearingly frustrating at times, but that one-more-go factor is in full effect.

Anthony Stiller

#1 – LuftrauserZ (Paul Koller/Stein Pedersen/RGCD):
Paul Koller’s demake of Vlambeer’s aerobatic blaster is a miracle. Somehow Paul has captured the frenetic feel of the original and crammed in almost all of the features. Fast, furious and more fun than a barrel full of barrel rolls. Buy this game immediately.

#2 – The Bear Essentials (Graham Axten/Pond Software):
Graham Axten of Pond Software brought so much joy to my C64 when he released The Bear Essentials. A delightful, highly playable platformer, polished like a shiny red apple, Bear is what C64 gaming is all about. Check out Graham’s dev diary, too, if you get a chance.

#3 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
Jason Aldred turns run-of-the-mill Galaga up to 11 with the exhilarating Galencia. With superb design, crisp graphics, and faultless gameplay, Galencia is a marvel to behold and has been a firm favourite in the RESET offices. A stellar release!

Honourable Mention:
Rescuing Orc
Juan J. Martinez’s wonderfully named game, Rescuing Orc, is everything I love. An adventurous romp with sword in hand, perilous leaps, varied enemies, deep caverns, and bats! Bats are great and so is Rescuing Orc.

Merman

#1 – Argus (Trevor Storey/Achim Volkers/Saul Cross/Psytronik):
From the moment I saw the preview video on YouTube, I knew this was going to be special. The first-person view of the action is superb, there is a huge and involved quest to complete and Psytronik pulled out all the stops with the amazing Ultimate Edition (cramming loads of extras into the box, including the poster with the all-important map of the land of Argus). A landmark RPG for the C64 and my game of the year.

#2 – Planet Golf (Antonio Savona/Aldo Chiummo/Gaetano Chiummo/Ilkka Sjöstedt/Massimilano ‘WiZkiD’ De Ruvo/Psytronik/RGCD):
Antonio Savona strikes again with a beautifully crafted game. The physics of the golf ball – and the fast-forward option – work really well, but it is the superb presentation that stays with me. The clear sampled speech and the amazing introduction sequence (with digitised graphics) set a high bar for others to reach.

#3 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
A very polished shoot ’em up, particularly the mutating aliens. It really captures the Galaga style and brings it up to date with great graphics and sound. So glad it was finished.

Honourable Mention:
Just sneaking into 2017 was the digital release of SAM’S JOURNEY. I have only had time to play it briefly but it looks amazing – it could already be my game of the year for 2018!

Richard Bayliss

#1 – Sam’s Journey (Knights of Bytes/Protovision):
I purchased a digital download of Sam’s Journey on Boxing Day 2017. The game has very stunning presentation. The game is really colourful, but when it comes to playing it, I was almost late for work, due to its pure addictiveness. The game has a fun story line, and each world is well crafted. The ideas put into this game really pushed the Commodore 64 to its limits. There are some very colourful maps, cute enemies, which Sam can jump on (or avoid). The power ups are truly amazing. This game gets my vote to be the best ever game of 2017.

#2 – Slipstream (Bauknecht/Psytronik)
I always wondered what the Commodore 64 could spin out for the C64 gaming world. We have seen many C64 demos, and demo coders of big groups today continue to show off their talent. Now what if you had this idea to produce a game, which uses some of the demo effects, such as realtime, vector animation? Bauknecht has proven this by developing something spectacular. The game has stunning presentation, along with some very amazing animated effects. The concept was quite original. You take control of two different modules through a simulation. This game reminds me a little of Domark’s Star Wars. Slipstream has very slick presentation, thumping soundtracks, and is also addictive to play. I love this game for the originality and addictive game play. It is very difficult to master at first, but you’ll get used to this game after a few attempts. Slipstream is a stunner.

#3 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
I always loved a good and decent shoot ’em up. Looking at this game. It takes me back in time and reminds me a lot of Galaxians, Galaga, Gaplus blended in together. This game is well designed, has some good bonus rewards for the play. Some alien attack patterns can end up as a little surprise. The Galencia like to transform into different types aliens. There are plenty of in game options, to enhance game play even more. You can even select competition mode, which is a real challenge. This is a really good retro-standard shoot ’em up. Nicely animated sprites, graphics, loading picture, music, etc. I enjoyed this game a lot, due to the quality arcade standard, presentation and excellent music. Some funny boss fights in between. Nice loading and intro graphics. Great series of options.

image source: Psytronik

Damian Caynes

#1 – Planet Golf (Antonio Savona/Aldo Chiummo/Gaetano Chiummo/Ilkka Sjöstedt/Massimilano ‘WiZkiD’ De Ruvo/Psytronik/RGCD):
Antonio Savona’s Planet Golf was not only a very playable game, but had superb production qualities and awesome digital sound. The intros were brilliant, and the game itself was difficult and addictive.

#2 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
One of my favourite arcade games as a kid was Galaga, and Jason Aldred’s Galencia hits all the buttons. It has bright, colourful graphics and excellent fx, as well as masterful attack waves and bosses. Well worth the asking price, and I can’t wait to get it on cartridge.

#3 – The Bear Essentials (Graham Axten/Pond Software):
I really hate to give this game one point, but there have been so many great games in 2017. Graham Axten’s Bear Essentials has a lot of similarities with the style of Creatures 2, but is an awesome game in its own right. Pond must be very proud of this release

Roy Fielding

#1 – Planet Golf (Antonio Savona/Aldo Chiummo/Gaetano Chiummo/Ilkka Sjöstedt/Massimilano ‘WiZkiD’ De Ruvo/Psytronik/RGCD):
From the moment I first heard of this game, I knew it was one for me. Antonio certainly delivered with a splendid and very professional game. The physical release is sublime with great original artwork by none other than Oliver Frey. Top notch game with oodles of replayability. This game will remain one of my faves, alongside the likes of the Leaderboard range.

#2 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
A very close second is Galencia. This game came out of nowhere for me and really grabbed my attention immediately. I am a big fan of early arcade shooters like Galaxian/Galaga so this game really ticked my box on that score. The game looks and plays wonderfully and will certainly be a game to return to time and time again. Very high production value and again, we have a super physical release, with lovely original box art by Fleming DuPont. A wonderful game just slightly pipped (for me) by Planet Golf.

#3 – Sam’s Journey (Knights of Bytes/Protovision):
This was a very close call between this and Paul Koller’s excellent Luftrausers demake. I went with Sam’s Journey as it is an original title and has one of the most beautiful scrolling engines I’ve seen on the C64, with such vibrant use of colours. A very playable game, albeit probably not one I’d return to as much as #1 and #2. It’s still super impressive and delivers on the early promises and smashes away the doubts people had that it was not for real. I cannot comment on the physical release as it wasn’t available at time of writing.

Simon Quernhorst

#1 – Rescuing Orc (Juan J. Martinez/Vanja Utne/Poly.Play):
A very nice and atmospheric game, which I really liked playing through the end!

#2 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
A perfect arcade game with fun graphics and always good for a round now and then.

#3 – Frogs (Dr. Wuro Industries):
What a fun game when playing with four players… always great to push ’em into the water.

Roy Widding

#1 – Planet Golf (Antonio Savona/Aldo Chiummo/Gaetano Chiummo/Ilkka Sjöstedt/Massimilano ‘WiZkiD’ De Ruvo/Psytronik/RGCD):
I decided to give my top 3 points to Antonio and his addictive and funny golf game! Nice graphics, nice music and addictive. Very addictive!

#2 – Sam’s Journey (Knights of Bytes/Protovision):
I struggled a bit to play the digital version on my real hardware, but except for that, the game is amazing. A brilliant story, a nice plattform adventure, and it is not too hard, so I have kept my interest for this, and I think I still will have that interest when I receive the physical cartridge. (2 points to Chester)

#3 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
The game is so well made/polished/full of details that you can’t leave it out of a top 3. Even if I’m not such a huge shooter fan, I have played this game several times, and it is not one of the games you try and forget… (1 point to Jason)

Honourable Mentions:
I have bought all commercial releases this year, and kept my eye on all free games too. I might have missed some, but I have placed my votes on the ones I kept coming back too and enjoyed playing. There were some games like Bear, Orc, LuftrauserZ and some other Psytronik titles that I liked too, but I had to leave some out of the top 3 so it ended with these.

image source: Usebox.Net & Poly.Play

Jari Karjalainen

#1 – Sam’s Journey (Knights of Bytes/Protovision):
It definitely came close for not happening in time, but my vote for GOTY goes to Sam’s Journey, without a shred of doubt. It’s not only a logical continuation of new hardware exploitation from Prince of Persia made for EasyFlash, but also yet another thus far missing link between the old C64 games and 16-bit games from all platforms – impressive in every expectable manner, and definitely lives up to its hype.

#2 – Planet Golf (Antonio Savona/Aldo Chiummo/Gaetano Chiummo/Ilkka Sjöstedt/Massimilano ‘WiZkiD’ De Ruvo/Psytronik/RGCD):
If Sam’s Journey hadn’t made it this year, its place would have been taken by Planet Golf, which will now take the #2 spot. I thought the preview already was fantastic, and the full version is definitely one of the most intriguing, impressive and unique C64 golf games of all time. Definitely worth having in anyone’s collection.

#3 – Planet X2 (The 8-Bit Guy):
My vote for #3 was much more difficult to choose, since there were so many fantastic games put out this year – the Bear Essentials, Galencia, LuftrauserZ, Slipstream and Argus to name but a few, each very impressive in their own ways. In the end, I settled for Planet X2, because it represents a genre that hadn’t been explored on the C64 before, and rather well at that, too.

Frank Gasking

#1 – Sam’s Journey (Knights of Bytes/Protovision):
When playing Sonic 1 on the Mega Drive or Mayhem on the C64 that I remember the goosebumps first I had, experiencing something unlike i’d ever seen before. Although a predictable number 1 from me, Sam’s Journey this Christmas has given me just those feelings. Combining some of the best features from various 16-bit platformers, the game is a sight to behold, and it lives up to all the hype it has deservidely had.

#2 – Galencia (Jason Aldred/Team Galencia/Protovision):
I’m a big fan of single screen shooters like Galaga and Gyruss, so Galencia was a very welcome release to see this year. There are some wonderful touches throughout the game and little sub sections which make this one of the best games of its genre on the C64. It’s been great to see yet another ex-C64 developer come back to the platform too.

#3 – Planet Golf (Antonio Savona/Aldo Chiummo/Gaetano Chiummo/Ilkka Sjöstedt/Massimilano ‘WiZkiD’ De Ruvo/Psytronik/RGCD):
An extremely frustrating, but fun game, where any errors are your own fault and not the game. Deviously designed courses with some great gravitational effects on later planets make for a game that will keep you playing for a long time. The added polish of the crisp graphics/smooth animation and speech effects round off a great release.

….AND THE WINNER IS!

It is with great pleasure that we announce Galencia, by Jason Aldred and Team Galencia as the 2017 Commodore 64 Game of the Year, as voted by the Reset Magazine staff & contributors. A worthy winner, Galencia oozes quality from a coding perspective, as well as featuring the highest quality aesthetics and super addictive gameplay. It’s the perfect all rounder. The physical edition from Protovision was stunning and extremely high quality, everything from the beautiful art, labels, feelies, posters and that lovely green cartridge! Galencia also achieved the highest number of individual votes in this count and was a hot topic of discussion on social media and retro gaming forums for much of 2017.

Congratulations to Jason, the rest of Team Galencia and Protovision on your achievement!

image source: Jason Aldred & Protovision

Final Standings:
#1 – Galencia (Protovision)
#2 – Planet Golf (Psytronik/RGCD)
#3 – Sam’s Journey (Protovision)
#4 – LuftrauserZ (RGCD), The Bear Essentials (Pond Software)
#5 – Rescuing Orc (Poly.Play)
#6 – Argus (Psytronik)
#7 – Slipstream (Psytronik)
#8 – Frogs (Dr. Wuro Industries), Planet X2 (The 8-Bit Guy)

Honourable Mentions:
Platman Worlds (Psytronik), Sleepwalker (Psytronik), Petunia Pickle’s Pumpkin Preview (Pond Software).

 

Galencia Blasts Onto Your C64

Fire up your trusty Commodore 64 and grab Jason Aldred’s brilliant new shoot’em up Galencia.

For those that have been away on Mars and have just landed back on Earth, Galencia is a fast action shoot ’em up for the C64 in the mould of Galaga, but even better! Yes, it is that good that we reckon it is even better than Galaga – there, we said it.

Galencia features 50 action packed levels with asteroid fields, challenging stages, boss battles, ebb and flow difficulty curve and siren enemy with tractor beam for double ship action (Ed: oo’er!). The game includes gorgeous intro, launch and completion sequences, coupled with 6 unique SID chiptunes for your aural pleasure.

Blast-Off!

But wait, there is more! In-game options include:

  • Load, Save and Reset High Scores
  • Extensive CRT options including 3 levels of Starfield Brightness
  • 3 different Score Palettes
  • Tournament Mode
  • Music and Simultaneous Sound Effects or Sound Effects only
  • 3 selectable difficulty levels; and
  • Pause and Quit game options

There are many great people behind great games, just like the peeps that had a hand in creating Galencia. We can all thank these talented group of people for making such a wonderful and sublime game:

  • Jason Aldred: programming and graphics
  • Pulsebot: all music and some sound effects
  • Saul Cross: additional graphics and sound effects
  • Lobo: physical artwork including box and manual
  • Mark Hardisty: manual back cover illustration
  • Flemming Dupont: concept art
  • Jakob Chen-Voos: Protovison

Even the great Julian ‘Jaz’ Rignall gives his sizzling approval!

You can grab the digital version right now via itch.io for US$4.99 (which is an absolute steal!), or for the more traditionalists among us, Galencia will be available on physical media from Friday, November 17 via Protovision Games, just take a look at these tangible temptations:

  • Cassette (without box) €10.00 – comes on a green cassette with a j-card that can be flipped around for an alternative cover picture. The tape comes in a neon green jewel case (front side is fully transparent, only back is neon green).
  • Cassette (boxed) €30.00
  • Disk (boxed) €30.00
  • Cartridge (boxed) €40.00
  • Disk and Cartridge Special Edition (boxed) €50.00

All boxed editions of Galencia will come in a fully printed cardboard box with custom inlays to hold the disk, tape or cartridge, which will also include:

  • a full colour manual with 16 carefully designed pages (A5 sized),
  • Galencia coaster with a scratch free glass surface,
  • Bee key ring that can serve you as a trophy when you battle against vermin,
  • Big Galencia sticker that you can stick on your disk sleeve if you have the disk version; and
  • While stocks last – the first 200 boxed version orders will receive an additional small Galencia sticker!

With the Disk and Cartridge special edition, both physical media will be in the one box with all of the above inclusions, plus a space amulet that is much needed in higher levels of Galencia, as it has been reported to promote good fortune!

Oh yeah, the game works on both PAL and NTSC C64 computers, with all physical editions containing the tape and disk digital images. If you don’t have a C64, then emulation is fully supported through VICE.

So what are you waiting for, go and pilot the 1981 Galencia Fighter to restore order, before it’s too late!

The game is never over!

The eyes have it!

Credit where credit is due

Tough choice – will you grab Galencia on cart?

On disk?

Or on tape? The choice is yours (you can’t go wrong!)

Time to squash some bugs!

Go on, get blastin’

image source: Jason Aldred – Galencia HQ