Lyonsden Blog

Category - VIC 20

Six Classic VIC20 Games Added & Remembered

I received a nice package in the post this week containing half a dozen classic games for the VIC20. Four of these are actually re-acquisitions after I foolishly sold them. In my defence, at the time I believed I no longer still had my VIC20 so had little use for them. The other two (Skyhawk & Myriad) I only ever had copies copies of. I wanted to have the original games in my collection.

The Six Game Packages

 

 

All but one of the games loaded fine, though a couple needed a second try, either from the flip side of the tape or in the case of Skyhawk, the correct side of the tape! Sadly Tank Commander just didn’t load at all, it never even registered a ‘found’ on either side of the cassette so that one goes back on my shopping list…

 

They’re all in great condition and complete with their little instruction booklets. I have to admit I’ve never really been a big fan of these early plastic clam-shell cases. They often tended to have ill fitting inlays that stuck out of the top or bottom of the case leading to them becoming dog-eared or worse. Thankfully these cases have fared pretty well considering their age and still look really smart.

 

A brief look at each game together with a screenshot

 

I thought I’d honour the occasion with a screenshot of each game taken after I got them to load (or not). Maybe it will jog a few happy memories for you too. I know I had completely forgotten what a few of these looked like until loading them up. Crucially I’d forgotten what they sounded like! The woosh and thrum of my harrier jump jet loading fuel and getting ready to fly in Skyhawk instantly whisked me back to my childhood for example.

 

Classic VIC20 Games

Skyhawk by Quicksilva – needs either a 3K or 8K RAM expansion. Make sure to load the correct side or you’ll get an ‘out of memory’ error! I used to love this game, even preferring it to Falcon Patrol on the C64. It just just seemed to play and sound better to me, offering a faster paced game that was just more fun to play. Even the bright chunky graphics had a charm of their own that FP couldn’t match.

 

Classic VIC20 Games

Myriad by Rabbit Software – needs 8K RAM expansion. A brilliant little vertical shoot ’em up with colourful graphics and great sound effects. I found this pretty addictive as a child taking turns playing against my school friend to try and get the highest score. This was one of the games I copied, probably off that same friend I was playing against. I’m glad I finally own the game now.

 

Classic VIC20 Games

Submarine Commander by Creative Sparks – needs 16K RAM expansion. Not quite on a par with Silent Service on the C64 but still an engrossing sub sim on the VIC that convinced childhood me that I was the Captain of a submarine!

 

Classic VIC20 Games

Chariot Race by Micro Antics – the only game here that runs on an unexpanded machine. Amazingly this was one of the few VIC games that had a 2 player option. There was no joystick option though, you both had to use the keyboard to control your chariot. With my much larger adult hands this is probably a bit restrictive now but as a child playing against my sister (and beating her all the time) it was never a problem!

 

Classic VIC20 Games

Computer War by Creative Sparks – needs 8K RAM expansion. This was basically a game based on the movie War Games. I suppose you could describe it as a variety of mini games where you had to crack codes and shoot down missiles in order to avoid WW3! This was another game that used to keep me entertained for long periods of time!

 

Classic VIC20 Games

Tank Commander by Creative Sparks – needs 8K RAM expansion. Sadly this is as far as it got when attempting to load it 🙁 It was a great game though, you had to control your little tank within a large scrolling map, taking out enemy tanks and destroying their bases whilst hiding behind cover avoiding their attacks. Think top-down World of Tanks using just 14 kilobytes of memory! 🙂

 

All of these games were played heavily as a child, particularly those that required more RAM. The extra memory afforded improved effects and more interesting, in-depth games.  I remember being especially fond of Skyhawk, Myriad and Tank commander back in the day. This makes the fact that Tank Commander wouldn’t load all the more disappointing. However I can’t help but be amazed that the other five games still loaded perfectly, nearly 40 years after they were made on a format that was never expected to last this long.

 

Classic VIC20 Games

Looks like there’s still a couple of original games I still need to track down before I can retire this tape! Incidentally the cassette inlay was designed and printed on the VIC20 by me using the Commodore 1520 Printer Plotter and BASIC.

Vic-20 Attic Find – Reacquainting myself with an old friend

VIC-20

Whilst rummaging around in the attic looking for a box of lights during the Christmas 2018 period I stumbled upon something amazing. It looked innocuous enough, a really dusty brown box tucked away under the eaves.  A box that I’d completely forgotten about. A box that hadn’t seen the light of day since I moved into our house 24 years ago. The contents had probably in that box for years before that too. What am I rambling on about? Only my Commodore VIC-20 that’s what. The very first computer I ever owned or indeed used! Not an eBay re-acquisition but the actual machine that my parents bought me for Christmas when I was 12 years old!

 

VIC-20

Peering inside the box my VIC-20, C2N, Zipstick and PSU were all visible

 

The box was chock full of goodies, some in better condition than others. My VIC-20 had held up quite well albeit slightly yellowed. Unfortunately the sockets on the underside of some of the keys had become brittle and broken apart. When I removed the faux leather cover several simply fell away. The space bar had come off too but fortunately that just clipped straight back on.

 

VIC-20

VIC-20 Keyboard looking a little worse for wear.

 

Besides the VIC, a lot of my old software was in the box too including all my old cartridge games. There was also a vintage cassette case containing most of my old tape games too. I used to have a load ‘school playground’ acquisitions as well but they where nowhere to be found sadly.

 

VIC-20

A whole bunch of cartridge games…

 

VIC-20

My VIC-20 cassette games

 

Thankfully all of my more esoteric accessories were present and correct. My Adman Speech synthesizer, Vixen switchable 16K RAM pack and my Stack 4 slot cartridge expander

 

VIC-20

RAM pack, cartridge port expander on top of a stack of cartridge games 🙂

 

VIC-20

A better look at all the cartridges and accessories

 

Once I’d made sure that pretty much everything I remembered from my childhood was present and correct I naturally wanted to see if it still worked! To be safe I decided to open up the case and check that nothing had fell inside that might cause a short circuit. I also checked that none of the capacitors had degraded or leaked onto the motherboard. Happily, besides looking a little dusty the old girl looked to be in good condition!

 

VIC-20

A look at the VIC-20’s motherboard.

 

The original PSU still worked but as they can be notoriously bad for your Commodore’s health if they fail I didn’t want to take any chances. To protect my VIC-20 I used my SAV64 between the VIC-20 and PSU which would prevent any errant voltages reaching the motherboard.  Suitably protected I plugged everything in and turned on the power. I have to admit I was fearing the worst so I was relieved when I was greeted by a lovely glowing red LED! A very good start.

 

VIC-20

She’s alive!

 

Next I needed to hook it up to my TV. Although the modulator was in the box there was no way I was going to try and use that, the picture quality would have been appalling. I grabbed my C64 video cable to see if it would fit but unfortunately it didn’t. The VIC-20 uses a 5 pin DIN socket whereas my C64 uses an 8 pin one (for the extra chroma & luma info presumably).

 

VIC-20

The 5 pin video DIN port

 

Not to be deterred I rummaged through my boxes of old cables. Eventually I found a suitable composite cable that I used to use for my C64 before upgrading. I plugged it in, switched everything on and with some trepidation, switched the TV over to its’ AV input channel. I couldn’t have been happier when I was greeted with that familiar white and cyan screen. That message saying ‘**** CBM BASIC V2 **** 3583 BYTES FREE almost brought a tear to my eye.

 

VIC-20

A dear old friend says ‘hello’

 

Buoyed by this success I quickly dug out one of my favourite old game cartridges, Omega Race. Everything worked perfectly, the joystick, the sound, just as it had done the last time I played it about 30 years ago. Incredible!

 

VIC-20

Omega Race

 

In the coming months I will be trying to restore it to it’s former glory, cleaning up the insides, adding heat sinks to some of the chips to prolong their life and possibly retrobriting the case. I will also be looking into the current VIC-20 scene and expanding my game collection, trying to get hold of games that I previously only owned copies of. Not only that but I will be scanning my whole VIC-20 game collection and putting them on this site as 3D models for everyone to enjoy.