Sometimes, 8-bit life can go through funny twists and turns. We thought hard about how we could end 2017 at on an uplifting note, and in the end the note came to us on its own.

Maybe you’ve heard of the fine Atari folks who not only invented the wonderful MultiJoy interface (which allows you to connect eight joysticks to a single 8-bit Atari) but–even more wonderful–keep it alive through an endless stream of new multiplayer party games and patches to old games to work with it. These people have now updated the design of MultiJoy so that it will work also with the Commodore 64.

This is very good news because MultiJoy is extremely easy to code for and at a time when new hardware projects are often fragmenting the scene further instead of uniting it, it will be nice to have a device that works across several platforms.

Just as with the old version of the device, its schematics will be freely available, so the more skilled 8-bit enthusiasts will be able to build a MultiJoy on their own. Talks are now being held about how to bring it to the less skilled of us. There seem to be doubts about how many people out there would be actually interested in buying MultiJoy. As far as we know, we’re talking about a price point of around EUR 30.- (which, incidentally, is the price of a Competiton PRO joystick at Individual Computers, so we think getting an adapter for 8 joys for your 8-bitter for the same money would be a good deal).

We’ll let you know when the schematics go online and if there’s a way to order the adapter. As we are publishing this news with an explicit permission of the designers, the best you can do to support making a batch of MultiJoys manufactured is leave a comment expressing your interest under this article.

For a long time, I was living in the conviction that Atari games were ugly, boring, and lame. Then I got to know a local Atari community, and they showed me games that are absolutely fantastic. No matter that their release year is quite low. The playability of those games is brilliant, and one even doesn’t mind the squareness of the graphics. One such game is Millipede by Atari Inc., a sequel to the extremely popular Centipede. It was originally released for an arcade cabinet in 1982 but got home computer and console conversions for Atari VCS and Atari 8-bit, as well as (later) for the Atari ST (1986) and, finally a non-Atari, 8-bit NES console in 1988.

Let’s focus on the Atari 8-bit version, which is my favorite.


Millipede is based on the very same idea like its predecessor, Centipede. You are controlling a little shooting spaceship that moves on the bottom of the screen, and you try to shoot everything that moves and also that doesn’t move on the screen. There are flowers (growth) that don’t move and centipedes- Oops! Sorry – the millipedes running from top to bottom in horizontal rows. When they reach a flower, they change their direction and go one row down. When you shoot them, they divide themselves into smaller, shorter millipedes and so on. But that’s not enough; sometimes an inchworm or an earwig appears on the screen going from the left to the right or in the opposite direction, and you must shoot it. If you do, you get extra points. Every 10,000 points you get an extra life. Having enough lives is important in this game, as you never know what will kill you next.

Almost every action has its dedicated sound effect, so you’ll feel like you’re playing the real arcade or that you’re chased by a police car!

The game consists of multiple subsections. In the first one, you fight a normal millipede, flowers, and nasties like jumping spiders and bugs. When you kill the millipede completely, the level changes a little bit and there’s an attack of evil dragonflies going directly from the top to bottom. But that’s still not enough. There are DDT bombs with powder placed randomly on the screen. When they’re hit and the millipede or any other baddie is near, the powder kills them immediately. After disposing of enough insects you finally get to the toughest part. There you have to shoot mosquitos that go down in non-orthogonal directions, so it’s difficult to attack and/or avoid them. I mentioned jumping spiders. They’re very creepy, and they move more and more randomly as the game progresses, so it’s dangerous to stay in their neighborhood. Finally, bugs come from the left or right at the playfield’s bottom, and therefore you should move your ship up to avoid them.


It’s a very hard game, almost every millisecond you have to be on alert. It’s fast, and the beasts are treacherous. You need a really good joystick that fits in your hand. Thanks God you don’t need to press the fire button all the time. If you keep it pressed, a kind of autofire effect is applied, but you can’t be sure that’s enough in critical situations. The farther you get in the game, the tougher the beasts are and everything’s getting worse. You might collect many extra lives during the game, but then a lethal part comes and you can easily loose them all in one level. I think the game doesn’t have any goal set except reaching as high a score as possible. At the start, you choose a starting score from 0 to 60,000 points, which effectively chooses the start difficulty (you skip the easier part connected with the lower score). You’re getting bonuses at every 10,000 points. Information about each next bonus is on the bottom of the screen.


The graphics are pretty basic, there’s nothing outstanding about them. You recognize beetles, spiders, millipedes, flowers easily. But there’s no remarkable art in the game. The sounds are crazy. Almost every action has its dedicated sound effect, so you’ll feel like you’re playing the real arcade — or that you’re chased by a police car!


Millipede is one of my most favorite games on the Atari because of its incredible simplicity. I’m playing the game again and again from time to time, and it’s still the same fun like it used to be when I saw it for the first time. If you feel like shooting someone or something, don’t do it in reality — go and play this game instead!

We’re introducing a new section of our web: Average Stuff. Here’s how it came to be.

A while back, at a staff meeting (well, yeah, we’re an online project, but we’re based pretty much locally, the advantage of which is that we can convene in the flesh), I asked Akio Tenshi, “As a retro gaming site, knowing what’s ever been hot and what not, do we have any kind of right to review average games, or should we just focus on the best of the best?”

His reply was ingenious in its simplicity. “‘course we do. Actually, we have to!” he said.


“Because no one else is doing it. Plus, you could say that there are many average games that are great to someone. Take me, for example. I’ve never been into those huge, complex, endless games. RPGs? Turricans? Strategies? Text adventures? No, siree. Cookie, Jet Pac — those are my games. I grew up with those, and they’re the best!”

“Well, maybe, but you’re a freak of nature,” I thought. But then I remembered Jeep Command.

Jeep Command is a great game. In spite of its simple principles (it’s just an extremely well done clone of Moon Buggy with a few improvements) and simplistic graphics, its playability is polished to the last bit – the game teaches you how to play it and continuously makes you learn more and more tricks until you make it. It practically wants you to go through it, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Yet, no one seemed to notice Jeep Command. It never left its home platform of Commodore 64, it wasn’t converted even to the Speccy, on which usually every good game appeared sooner or later. And today, it doesn’t even has its own page at Wikipedia. If you’re a game and Auntie Wiki doesn’t know you, it’s like you’ve never existed. So, even though Jeep Command is on my list of, say, top 100, or even top 50 C=64 games, maybe it’s not a tops game. Maybe it’s average. Well, yeah, probably it is.

But you know what? I bet there are other people like me: people who would find Jeep Command great, if they ever learned about its existence. Nowadays, even more people could appreciate Jeep Command, because we’re living in the blessed (and cursed, but that’s a topic for a philosophical and religious discussion) times of 8-bit emulation. It needs just one thing: spreading the word.

Average games won’t blow you away. They’re bad by no means, but they don’t stand out like the most famous games that everyone remembers do. No unforgettable graphics, no stellar music, no incredible technical feats. But we’re always happy to go back to them.

So we’re happy and proud to tell you that, among others, we’ll review truly average games.


Did you think that you can drive a Porsche without driving licence? In Ocean’s 1989 game Chase H.Q. which is a Taito’s 1988 coin-op conversion you can because they said you’re the right hand of the law from Miami Vice or so. You’re chasing thieves escaping in fast, luxury fancy cars, and you have to stop them. Everything would go smooth and clear, but on certain platforms it’s just… Let’s have a closer look at it.

The game came out on major 8-bit platforms. The Commodore 64 (boo!), the Amstrad CPC, and the Spectrum and even some more like Nintendo Gameboy, NES/Famicom or MSX. We’ll focus on the popular 8-bit home computers versions, though. I’m not sure if the CPC and Spectrum versions are equal in many ways, but I’m pretty sure the C64 port is bad.

Simply forget about the C64 version. Really.



The C64 loading screen looks like it had been drawn by one eyed retarded child. Nice colours, hmm, but… Look at the heroes’ faces. They look weird. Now the CPC screen. Hmm, nice – but wait, I’ve seen this before! On the Spectrum. It seems it’s a conversion because even the attribute clash remained in there. The picture itself is a nice pic of the two main heroes in high resolution and decent attribute (even on the CPC!) undercoloring. So the result – C64 sucks with its lame proportions, the CPC has the same Spectrum hires screen but there are more colours on the Speccy. So I’d choose the Spectrum one because it looks the most realistic and has acceptable colours.

Look at the C64 picture above. Doesn’t it look weird? Below are the Spectrum and CPC loading screens that look much better.


Sounds on the C64 aren’t bad. You easily recognize what’s the matter. It’s SID, although it sounds a bit basic. I’d expect something better in this game, though. Nothing much to say about it. The Amstrad has nice sounds, even a digitized speech, but there’s no title music. The sounds are almost same like on the Spectrum, but the Speccy even has music, which is special as the drums are interpreted by beeper and the melody is played by the AY sound chip. Beeper sounds are also in the game so you experience two different sound sources, which makes the game special. In addition, on the CPC, there’s no siren sound when chasing the bad guy, which the Speccy and C64 have. The MSX port seems to be ported from the 48K Spectrum even with beeper sounds! All of this points to the Speccy version as the winner.


Oh dear, the graphics on the C64 isn’t really nice. The cars are brown-grey boxes, the road has no lanes. Spectrum version is very detailed as expected, although it’s monochrome with some bits of attribute colouring. But the CPC rules with colours. The lowres mode doesn’t seem too blocky due to so many colourful details, so can I declare my favourite is the CPC in this case? Too bad the Speccy can’t have it in more colours. Last but not least, I have to mention the MSX version of the game, which looks almost identical to the Spectrum one.

Spectrum (top left), C64 (top right) and the CPC (bottom) gameplay screenshots.


The gameplay on the C64 is just horrible. Everything is so slow, slow as hell, even a worm would crawl faster than your 64-ized blocky Porsche. All I felt while playing was just boredom. Everything takes so much time and when you catch up with the villain at last and have to wreck his car, oh my, that’s just straining your patience. Endlessly. Simply forget about the C64 version. Really. Let’s move to the Spectrum. Well, it’s a completely different cup of tea. Nice and detailed graphics and great gameplay make the game a gem in a Spectrum gamer’s collection. It’s fast and well designed. You feel all the details, you catch the target car and the destruction derby starts. I like it! On the CPC, well, well… Colourful graphics and solid gameplay, just a little less smoother than on the Spectrum. The game’s taking the best from the Speccy and adds nice colours. Who cares it’s in the lowres mode. Even nicely made blocky graphics can look cute … erm. perhaps. The Spectrum’s overall gameplay is a little bit better, so the Spectrum wins again.


I’m very sorry, Amstrad guys, the Speccy won this race, but it was close. The Amstrad game isn’t bad, it has fancy colours, but the smoothness and absence of Spectrum details are frustrating for me. The Spectrum gameplay is just great. The MSX can be happy with its Spectrum 48K-like conversion and shut up, and even I don’t mention the stupid NES version, which looks silly, but the big beige breadbox can just envy the CPC and Speccy and only regret the programmers of Chase H.Q. probably didn’t know what could be done with this beast. Shame on you, C64!