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Comic Relief: A ‘Blast from the Past’ with Commodore 64

A little "Comic Relief!" to help you smile through the trials and tribulations of the mid-week madness. Break out those old school Memorex and BASF floppy discs, 'cause this week we are traveling back in time.

So for our younger readers, I need to start this week’s column with a little history lesson. Before everything was transferred onto CD-ROM format, there was this thing called the floppy disc and a timeless machine known as the Commodore 64.

No, we’re not talking about the 3.5 inch ones sold in stores that have been largely replaced by USB memory drives. The ones I’m talking about were considered “mini” in the 1980s by standing just 5.75 inches tall.

And let me tell you friends, they contained some amazing information that helped pave the way for the video games you see today.

Oh, Commodore 64, how you were my hero during my early childhood years, expanding my imagination with countless video games that allowed me to be the general manager of a football team or explore the race tracks on North America.

Let’s be honest for a minute though: these weren’t modeled after anything real life except for the basic concept. See "2001" if you need an example.

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Today we take a moment to recognize a machine that has been lost, but not forgotten in so many lives. Actually, on second thought, they may not have been lost. The federal government and their slow standards of operation may actually still be using them as part of regular, everyday business. That’s why it takes 10 weeks for me to get my electronically filed tax return…

Wait, this actually makes sense! I was wondering where all those machines went after the development of a little something called the PC!

Umm, well, anyway…back to the original topic at hand. With an eye to our favorite childhood wonder, let’s take a look at some of the best Commodore 64 games of all time.

7. Donkey Kong: Most people associate Donkey Kong with the Nintendo series, but the 1981 release (which happened two years before I was even born) was a simple idea that came from the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto long before the existence of Nintendo. This game had it all, objects to avoid and ladders to climb all while trying to save the princess.

Even better yet, it spawned all the Mario and Donkey Kong Country games that followed. That’s what I call a real win. Plus, old school arcade games are awesome.

6. ALF: The First Adventure: OK, so listen people. I am a HUGE ALF fan and before today, I didn’t even know this game existed. But I love Gordon Shumway. So enough with the description, click the link if you want more because I’m off to find this game…

5. 4th & Inches: Before the existence of Madden, before Tecmo Super Bowl rocked our world in the 1990’s, there was another game that allowed us to bring the most watched American sport into our homes: 4th & Inches. Not only was this game classic in offering a variety of real life plays and focusing on the major moments of a game, but it presented one of the earliest “GM modes.” Victory!

4. River Raid: Like first-person shooters? Why not navigate the narrow passages of an unknown river while taking out enemy aircrafts and boats? This game was filled with unusual challenges and could provide hours of gameplay without users even realizing it. By the way, you will not beat me if you want to go head to head.

3. Boulder Dash: Here’s your chance to be a miner, collecting diamonds and solving puzzles faster than the speed of sound…or at least a little timer in the corner of your screen. And with a character such as “Rockford” to lead the way for you, how could you not love it?

2. Pitfall!:
The Mayans may have called for the end of the world in 2012, but before that it appears they placed treasures across an entire rain forest for our protagonist hero “Harry” to find in an allotted 20-minute time period. It was the game that many people felt they could never beat. Guess what? I did. And I’ve kept playing this game ever since.

And the top game from the Commodore 64 days is:

1. YOUR CHOICE HERE!

Speaking from the heart, there were some great games and there were some awful games. But in the end, video games rule and the Commodore 64 was the perfect machine to start of lifetime of video game love. For that, we thank you MOS Technology, Inc.

Unfortunately, now that we have presented this list, good luck trying to dig up this awesome machine. Well, that is, if you still even have it. And if you do, good luck trying to focus on anything else other than playing it.

But if you can, we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

It's only Wednesday, but it feels like the weekend should have been here two days ago. You have a full plate ahead, lots of work left to do, classes at or college to sit through or are just plain in need of a break. We have you covered.

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