Over the years I rarely saw anything specifically for the C128 besides CP/M and C-Net 128. I searched at one point for any C128 specific games but only found a version of "The Last V8" which didn't appear to be any different from the C64 version.

It doesn't seem like there was much effort to make games specifically for the C128 as there are so few out there. But that being said, was there any advantage to having a game run natively on the C128 or were the media functions limited to the VIC-II and SID that was "C64 grade" in the first place?

I can understand from the publishers point of view that they could just target the C64 and get both markets while limiting to the C128 would cut out the majority of people. However, I'm just curious if the improvements of the C128 were strictly "business application focused" and all gaming was limited to the legacy C64 mode.

  • This is probably "too broad"; the answer to "was there any?" is always either "yes, here's one" or "yes, we just haven't found one yet" except with really uncommon systems. The first part of the title, second sentence of second paragraph and third paragraph is a great question though. – wizzwizz4 Apr 18 '17 at 18:40
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    Mobygames lists 23 C128 games, at least some of which aren’t available on the C64. I haven’t looked into the specifics... – Stephen Kitt Apr 18 '17 at 18:40
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    Doesn't the processor run twice as fast in C128 mode? That would likely be an advantage. – Tommy Apr 18 '17 at 20:30
  • The 6502 processor can only run twice as fast (2 MHz) when the 40 column VIC-II chip is turned off. – Tim Locke Apr 19 '17 at 13:36

Ultima V was I think the best known game that behaved differently on a Commodore 128 than it did on the Commodore 64, on the C128 it had music but not on the C64. I believe this was accomplished by separate C64 and C128 versions on the same disk. Apparently some of Andrew Braybrook's games for the C64, like Morpheus and Alleykat, took advantage the ability to switch briefly into 2MHz mode when running in C64 mode on a C128 in order to get better graphical effects.

There were also a fair number of games that either were only available in C128 versions or had separate C64 and C128 versions. It's easy enough to find lists of C128 games if you search the web but its not obvious what about the C128 made these games better or possible. I think the Infocom games that were available on the C128 but not the C64, like Trinity, Bureaucracy, and Beyond Zork, needed the extra memory the C128 had.

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    I did notice that the Infocom games had separate C128 versions, but given that they were text adventures, wouldn't the only real difference there be that it was in 80-column mode (optionally) and perhaps taking advantage of the 128KB of RAM to avoid disk paging? A text mode adventure game isn't all that different in capabilities from a business application (IMHO). – bjb Apr 19 '17 at 16:38
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    @bjb I don't know definitively but I don't think the width of the screen would have been a technical barrier that would have prevented a C64 version of those games. However there would have been some reason they gave up the much greater sales a C64 version would have received. Something that made a C64 version impossible or impracticable. The most likely technically barrier, and the explanation I remember from the time, is that these games needed the extra 64K of RAM. – user722 Apr 19 '17 at 18:12
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    Wikipedia seems to agree with you, noting that "[Bureaucracy] was also part of the Infocom Plus range, which required a machine with a minimum of 128K of memory." No citation, though. – Ilmari Karonen Mar 11 '18 at 1:18
  • Maybe the Infocom games were easily ported to the 128 from another Z80 platform. – Petruza Feb 3 '20 at 19:12
  • @Petruza it has nothing to do with the Z80. The C128 Infocom games run on the 8502 only. Bucreaucracy, Trinity, A Mind Forever Voyaging and Beyond Zork also required 80 character screen width. The other three V4/V5 games, Nord and Bert, Border Zone and Sherlock, did not - and those were available in C64 compatible versions, though still using the extra RAM and fast disk access if run on a 128. – TeaRex Mar 13 '20 at 11:21

I'm not sure if it counts as proper example because it is not a game from the days but recently released Super Mario Bros for C64 has a C128 mode.

This game is a direct port from NES. As the NES processor is faster (NTSC 1.79, PAL 1.66 MHz) than Commodore 64 (NTSC 1.023, PAL 0.985 MHz) there are slowdowns during gameplay. In C128 mode, it switches to 2MHz in borders to effectively reduce such slowdowns.

  • Hold on. I think that game requires a SuperCPU, n'est-ce pas? – OmarL May 22 '19 at 13:07
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    "This port will try to detect and use any kind of turbo functionality, such as: - Commodore 128 (2 MHz in the border) - C64 DTV - Schnedler Systems Turbo Master CPU (untested) - Swisscomp Turbo Processor (untested) - Rossmoeller Flash 8 (untested) - CMD SuperCPU Accelerator (untested) - Icomp Turbo Chameleon 64" -archive.org/details/Super_Mario_Bros_C64_Zeropaige – Bruce Abbott May 23 '19 at 0:26
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    Yes, this definitely counts! I enjoyed playing around with this when it came out and you can tell the difference in slowdowns between it running on a stock C64 versus a C128. Haven't tried a SuperCPU or any of those, but things are definitely smoother. – bjb May 23 '19 at 16:34

Easy 80-columns

Double horizontal and vertical resolution.

RAM, twice as much

CPU, twice as fast

Disk access twice as fast

Another CPU added (z80). Parallel processing & multitasking capable.

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    Not sure the C128 could do parallel processing. One CPU was really disabled while the other one was working. – OmarL Mar 7 '18 at 8:38
  • only two issues. docs.google.com/document/d/… – zerothis baud Mar 7 '18 at 19:20
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    Easy 80-Columns and double resolution is only available with VDC in C128 mode. 2MHz mode is not available when using VIC-II for graphic display but you can switch off VIC-II when the raster beam is in upper and lower borders. Also C128 architecture doesn't allow parallel processing. – wizofwor May 22 '19 at 12:20
  • @Wilson: Have you got a citation for that? Otherwise I might post a new question on the topic. – hippietrail Apr 14 '20 at 2:45
  • @hippietrail, there already is a question about that on here. It's called, "can the two CPUs in a C128 run at the same time" or something like that. – OmarL Apr 14 '20 at 7:29

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