Although the C64 supported a wide variety of business and productivity software, such as Broderbund’s The Print Shop desktop publishing package and Microsoft’s Multiplan spreadsheet program, the game library is what brought most users to the system. With such a huge library of commercial and public domain games available, C64 owners had access to every conceivable genre. Even when games originated on other systems, the C64 ports tended to contain graphics and sound enhancements only available on the platform.
“We were fresh out of ideas for whatever chips the rest of the world might want us to do. So we decided to produce state-of-the-art video and sound chips for the world’s next great video game.” -- Albert Charpentier, as quoted by Ian Matthews in “The Commodore 64: The Machine of Destiny” on the Commodore.ca website
Even into the early 1990s, long after the C64 and other 8-bit computers were rendered technically obsolete by 16-bit machines like the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga, several major game developers continued to offer scaled-down ports of their games for the system, like Capcom’s Street Fighter II (1992) arcade fighting game and Ocean’s The Addams Family (1992) platformer. Of course, there are still games being made by independent developers for the system today, particularly in Eastern Europe.
One reason the C64 was able to endure for so long is somewhat paradoxical. The longer software developers have to learn a particular platform, the more likely they are to find innovative ways to harness its power -- to pull off feats that the hardware engineers never dreamed were possible. This phenomenon is demonstrated on the C64, where many early games like Commodore’s Wizard arcade clone, Sirius Software’s The Blade of Blackpoole text and graphics adventure, and Broderbund’s Choplifter! action game, all released in 1982, look almost childishly simplistic compared to Core Design’s Chuck Rock or Thalamus’ Creatures 2: Torture Trouble platformers, both released in 1992.
Perhaps the most visually stunning C64 game of all time was platformer Mayhem in Monsterland, released in 1993 by Apex Computer Productions. Mayhem in Monsterland was so artfully programmed that some gamers felt it could pass for a 16-bit console game.