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Which system had the better multiplatform games c64 or atari 800xl

Jim Pez

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Both or none, depending on which you prefer. Due to technical differences, some games seem to have been easier to implement on either of them while other games worked as well on both and some multi platform games didn't really cut it on neither, compared to other competitive systems of the time. It is a subject that has had several heated discussions over the years, both technical and non-technical.


Though the C64 was commercially supported for a longer period of time, so it tends to have more of the later games that came out on consoles and 16-bit computers. But that is not always positive, if the C64 version is inferior to other (non Atari 8-bit) systems.


When it comes to raw numbers, counting system exclusive titles as well, I get that Atarimania has 9057 entries of which a few are duplicates/different versions and 176 are compilations. Lemon64 only has 4121 entries but those are generally free of duplicates, homebrews and most of the obscure games released through mail order, public domain, magazine listings are not covered by the site. Gamebase64 on the other hand has a whopping 25700 entries (six times as many as Lemon64) but that site contains a huge amount of duplicates, hacks and public domain games barely anyone heard of. How many of those respective games are multi platform I can't tell. Sometimes you might even want to compare different titles of the same genre to say which is better even if they're not supposed to be the same game.

Edited by carlsson
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What is the definition of multi-platform games? Games that were ports from other systems? I'd argue the C-64 probably fared better in that regard, although both suffered from straight AV ports from the Apple II. I personally find the C-64 library far superior overall to the Atari 8-bit's library, and that gap has only widened in the modern era with homebrew releases (and yes, the Atari 8-bits are no slouch in that regard, but the C-64 is on a whole other level).

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It tended to be the system the game was developed on. They would use hardware features that the others often struggled with.


Atari developed games would use things like DLIs to add many colors, GTIA modes for shading, 4 voice sound that the C64 couldn't reproduce.

C64 games would take advantage of more freedom in color placement, special SID effects, and improved sprites that gave the Atari trouble.


But what surprises me now that I can go back and play games from both systems, is that many games were virtually identical on C64 and Atari. Minor differences, sure, but not major differences that make one implementation clearly better than the other.

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I agree with zzip that it tended to depend on which was the "original" system. If it was a C64 game ported to Atari, the C64 version was superior. If it was an Atari game ported to C64, the Atari version was superior. As time went on the C64 became more popular than the Atari 8 bit line, so more games eventually were C64 games first, but that wasn't always the case.


Also, I always look at the M.U.L.E. intro for a really good demo of what the Atari systems were good at vs. the C64, both in terms of graphics and sound:


Atari 8 bit:



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Something that has struck me when it comes to Atari games, is that many of the early ones in particular are eager to show off the palette in form of gradients in both title screeens and game graphics. On a C64 or another system with fewer colours, a port of a such game may seem dull and inferior, even if the gameplay isn't compromised. C64 games using other visual effects that the Atari is struggling with may to a larger degree affect gameplay.

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I believe you might be the first person in history to call the M.U.L.E. theme "mediocre at best".


To clarify, it was deservedly praised upon its release, because there really wasn't a lot going on audio-wise in 1983. It wouldn't be until a year or two later that the C-64 in particular would start to be pushed from an audio standpoint. It's a catchy tune to be sure, but I think, for instance, some of the percussive effects leave a lot to be desired on the C-64. Of course, there was a very high bar set on the platform. Anyway, my only point was I don't think MULE is the best comparative example. It was done well on the Atari 8-bit (I like that version much better) and a little less well when ported over to the C-64, which we know could do a lot better.

Edited by BillLoguidice
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