64 - WORLD'S GREATEST GAMES MACHINE
Some people say the keyboard is tacky. Some people can't stand the Basic.Some people find the colour of the plastic makes them ill. Some people are just plain jealous. But what do key people in the micro industry say? Is the 64 really the world's greatest games machine? And does it have a future? Chris Anderson asked the questions.
Commodore retail products manager
ĎCommodore is 100 per cent committed to the 64 and will remain so for a long time into the future. Itís a first class machine, and offers first class value for money. The vast majority of people who buy it use it to run pre-programmed software - and no one can beat the vast range available for it either in terms of quantity or quality.
The version of Basic on the machine has been widely criticised, but it has a few supporters as well, The Poke commands you need to use graphics and sound are more closely allied to machine code, which means that you inevitably earn a lot more about the machine itself than you would with other Basics.
Of course if people want to learn an easier version of Basic, they can always buy our Simonís Basic program. We couldnít change the machine's Basic at this stage because it would make the existing software incompatible.
It's interesting to compare the 64's success with that of the Atari machines - they haven't sold nearly as well despite having a very similar technical specification. Itís partly to do with the Commodore name. Following the success of the Vic 20 we had an extremely high reputation in the home computer market This immediately gave the 64 massive software support which the Atari never had.
This is going to continue. The new Commodore 128 is compatible with the 64. And with more than half a million 64 owners in Britain alone l donít think software houses are going to suddenly stop writing games for it.
Price cuts on the 64? No there aren't going to be any in the forseeable future it's selling very well as it is'
US Gold marketing manager
The 64 is still the best machine to play games on. Here we have the task of converting 64 games onto the Spectrum, and believe me itís like drinking champagne and then drinking house wine afterwards. The 64ís capabilities are far superior - in sound, handling of colour, scrolling, everything.
I donít expect any immediate cut in the price of the Ď64. Commodore arenít panicking. Theyíre not responding to the price moves around them. Theyíre bigger than all their competitors. They should lead not follow.
The companyís management is still very strong despite the departure of Jack Tramiel ( Commodoreís former managing director) to Atari. His philosophy is Ďbusiness is warí and Commodore still believe it. Theyíre a very tough company to do business with.'
Gremlin Graphics director
ĎIn terms of its hardware the 64 is clearly superior to the Spectrum, but I think the Atari machines have the edge on the Commodore. The problem for Atari in the UK is that it didnít get the support of software houses.
On the 64 thereíve been some very exciting pieces of software and I think thereís more to come. The machine has already been stretched to its limits, but I donít think the imagination of the software writers has been.
So as far as weíre concerned the machine does have a good life expectancy, and we shall he supporting it with games, but only those which come up to the standard set by the American software now being released.
So far the Americans have been coming up with much more original games , we have to compete with that.
64 graphics king
ĎObviously itís a good machine, but I donít think itís as good as the Atari - I could never understand why the Atari died, itís the weirdest thing. Iíll be looking at the new Atari when it comes out.
The 64 is still not being stretched to its full- no oneís approached its full capacity, me included. Iíve never been close yet. Itís like the Spectrum - everyone says, youíll never beat this game, itís the best game ever. But next week you get one thatís even better, thatís rattled it even more. You canít really get to the end of a machine.
I donít know that the 64ís memory imposes too much of a limit. My games use up all the memory available- theyíre about 54K long. But there again, thatís because I use up any remaining space with extra routines. Like on Gryphon the test card routine at the start uses up 10K-I only put it in because the memory space was there.
The software has a long way to go. In a yearís time there will be stuff thatís, far better than the software around today.'
ĎThereís still no doubt in my mind that the 64ís hardware is stilI the best home computer hardware for games that exists. Itís the fact that they bothered with two special chips - the SID chip and the VIC chip (handling sound and graphics respectively).
When you Iook at the screen capabilities, thereís nothing to touch it. Take the screen speed of the Amstrad compared with the 64 - thereís no comparison. And on the Atari there are only four meaningful sprites, compared with eight on the 64. As for the Spectrum. what can I say?
Once the hardware people get their job right, the software just follows - it makes it so easy.
I think the release of the Commodore 128 will add to the strength of the 64 - provided Commodore get their prices right. They canít keep the 64 on £229 as itís supposed to be at the moment.
The 64 has such a big user base now itís just not going to go away. Certainly in a yearís time there will still be stacks of software being released. In two yearsí time - well, thatís a lifetime in this industry - but my feeling is itíll still be a strong machine then.
My feeling is that those 64s which are out there are actually being used - I mean, I know quite a few people with Spectrums who only use them once in a blue moon. Whereas those with 64s do use them a lot.
The fact is, the 64 is the worldís most written for machine - thereís a staggering number of titles available for it. What this means is that the user wins, because standards have to be so high.'