The All-Time Top C64 Game Tunes

Welcome to the definitive listing of the greatest C64 game music ever created!
The top Commodore 64 games music reviewed and rated.

Hyperlinks:
Main tableGame music reviewsBest arcade conversionsTop 50 C64 Demo/Scene TunesSurveyForum

30/05/2008:
Top 50 scene/demo music overhauled!

31/07/03:
Top C64 scene/demo music
reviewed and rated. Main C64 music reviews are now on separate reviews page Full C64 Cavern tune now available for download!
When the Commodore 64 computer was launched in the early eighties, it was clearly a machine ahead of its time. In particular, the SID (Sound Interface Device) chip was a marked improvement over the tinny "blip blop" sound generated by other systems of that era. In time, skilled composers would harness the SID's abilities to the full, creating tracks which simulated multiple chords and featured sound and voice samples. C64 composers such as Rob Hubbard, Tim Follin and Jeroen Tel attracted a large number of fans, and are still
Skytopia exclusive!

Do you wish that more music could be made in the style of the C64 and Amiga greats? Well, with the exciting new Eclipse of Mars CD production, chip and synthesizer music is back - and taken to the next level.

Click here to stream the music directly to Winamp...
...or simply download from:
  • eclipse_mono.mp3   (lo-fi 1 meg)
  • eclipse_stereo.mp3  (hi-fi 5 meg)
  • If you like what you hear, visit here to order the CD!
    well-known today - particularly in the retro scene. For in-depth SID information, FAQs and a collection of almost every C64 tune ever, visit The High Voltage SID Collection - the ultimate SID resource site maintained by Warren Pilkington.

    Although there is an existing Top 100, as voted for by members of the HVSC (visit LaLa's homepage - HVSC_Top100), we feel that a number of important tunes have been neglected in favour of, perhaps, more popular but arguably less deserving ones. In an attempt to rectify this, we have compiled a list of what we believe to be the 64 (of course!) greatest C64 game tunes of all-time. (Our favourite scene/demo tracks are covered separately further down the page.) Each entry has been carefully positioned according to its melodic content, intricacy, atmosphere, catchiness, or a combination of these. The table below displays the 64 titles in descending order, with the tunes available for download individually or together as a collection in ZIP format. On this page, you can find a small review of each title, with an explanation as to why it was chosen. First though, you will need a player. The usual type of C64 emulator will be able to play C64 games too, but there are some great C64 emulators dedicated to playing just the music. Visit the official SIDPlay download page to obtain a player for your computer.

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    1 Monty on the RunRob Hubbard
    2 R-typeChris Huelsbeck & Ramiro Vaca
    3 One Man and His DroidRob Hubbard
    4 SpellboundRob Hubbard
    5 Ocean Loader v3.0Pete Clark
    6 After the WarCharles Deenen
    7 Ghouls 'n' GhostsTim Follin
    8 KinetixJeroen Tel
    9 Auf Wiedersehen MontyRob Hubbard and Ben Daglish
    10 Bionic CommandoTim Follin
    11 Turbo OutrunJeroen Tel
    12 Batman The Caped CrusaderFred Gray
    13 ZamzaraCharles Deenen
    14 Battle ShipsMark Cooksey
    15 LoopzDavid Whittaker
    16 Ocean Loader 4/5Jonathan Dunn
    17 DNA WarriorThomas Petersen & K. Christensen
    18 RubiconJeroen Tel & Reyn Oeuwehand
    19 The Last V8Rob Hubbard
    20 AlloyrunJeroen Tel
    21 HawkeyeJeroen Tel
    22 HotrodJeroen Tel
    23 Super Hang-OnSteve Barrett
    24 CataballMark Cooksey
    25 Ghosts'n'GoblinsMark Cooksey
    26 Black LampTim Follin
    27 DeltaRob Hubbard
    28 SupremacyJeroen Tel
    29 TurricanC. Huelsbeck & R. Vaca & S. Hartwig
    30 Gauntlet IIITim and Geoff Follin
    31 StartrashRamiro Vaca & Chris Huelsbeck
    32 Flimbo's QuestReyn Ouwehand & J. Bjerregaard
    33 CybernoidJeroen Tel
    34 ScorpionMarcel Donne
    35 The Last NinjaBen Daglish & Anthony Lees
    36 Blood MoneyFredrik Segarfalk
    37 L.E.D. StormTim Follin
    38 Thing on a SpringRob Hubbard
    39 FruitbankJohannes Bjerregaard
    40 Trivia The Ultimate ChallengeJeroen Tel
    41 CommandoRob Hubbard
    42 Hollywood or BustRob Hubbard
    43 SpeedballDavid Whittaker
    44 Peter Pack RatTim Follin
    45 International KarateRob Hubbard
    46 Last Ninja 3Reyn Ouwehand
    47 Gerry the GermRob Hubbard
    48 Battle of BritainRob Hubbard
    49 Agent X II: The Mad Prof's BackTim Follin
    50 BarbarianRichard Joseph
    51 Revenge of DohJonathan Dunn
    52 StormlordJohannes Bjerregaard & Jeroen Tel
    53 TiltSteve Barrett
    54 SavageJeroen Tel
    55 EliminatorJeroen Tel
    56 ScumballTim Follin
    57 ShadowFireFred Gray
    58 Cybernoid IIJeroen Tel
    59 PaperboyMark Cooksey
    60 Task III(unknown)
    61 Mr. HeliCharles Deenen
    62 Yie Ar Kung FuMartin Galway
    63 The Way of the Exploding FistNeil Brennan
    64 Crazy CometsRob Hubbard






    Click the gold bag to download all 64 tunes in one ZIP file!!

    Click here to see all music reviews




    Disagree with one of the placings, or think we've missed a great C64 tune out?
    Visit Skytopia's Leisure Zone Forum.


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    The ones that didn't quite make it...


    After slugging it out for a coveted placement in the top 64, there are bound to be some casualties. Let's have a run through those which missed out.

    Wizball is very popular with the HVSC voters (it made number 2 in their Top 100), but we consider that the main theme (tune 4), although possessing a timeless charm, feels a bit empty. Parallax is Galway's other 'epic', lasting over 10 minutes, but it does tend to drag. We prefer the shorter tune 2, and module fans will enjoy this excellent remix we found. Sanxion came in at number 3 in the HVSC Top 100 and yes, it does sound like it's going to be a bit of a stonker at first hearing. However, after about a couple of minutes, Sanxion loses the plot, drifting aimlessly without any real resolution, and thus it just misses out in our chart. Stormlord 2 - tunes 1 and 2 are actually pretty decent, but Laxity does better elsewhere (cf. the top demo tunes lower down the page), whereas Ark Pandora (tune 3) is a nice melody but a bit corny and (more importantly) not long enough.

    Dulcedo Cogitationis by Chris Huelsbeck has quite a deep introduction with effective use of the sample channel, but sadly goes downhill after that. Wizardry and Fairlight by Mike Alsop are both nice and sweet in an old-fashioned kind of way, but a bit short and therefore repetitive after a couple of listens. Rambo: First Blood Part II is a very well structured piece let down by poor orchestration. Thankfully, the beefed up cover version on Chris Abbot's Back in Time CD shows how it was surely meant to be heard - it beats the original hands down in just about every department. Forbidden Forest is atmospheric in its own morose way, but isn't so good if you're not playing the game.

    What do people find in Mutants? I've heard it so many times - each time thinking I'll "get it" - but I never do. It's boring and mundane. I suppose similar could be said about the much-vaunted Zoids - is it honestly all that good? Spellbound does it all a hundred times better. Nemesis the Warlock is mediocre, whilst Knucklebusters is actually quite painful to listen to. Lightforce is one of the most covered C64 tracks of all time and it's actually quite good (to start with at least)... but not good enough.

    There - bet all that's stirred up a bit of controversy! Let us know your views, but please keep your comments as constructive and objective as possible.





    Skytopia presents....

    C64 Cavern

    Capturing the essence and atmosphere of the classic C64 sound, we bring you this specially compiled medley. The music was first given away with the Amiga Format CD, but it has since been updated and vastly improved. You'll notice shades of Galway, Tel, Follin and Hubbard as you listen to its various sections. Enjoy!
  • Download C64 Cavern in MED format - 232k zipped
    (requires appropriate plugin (visit this site to obtain the correct MED plug in for winamp).
    If you're using something other than Winamp, then you might want to download this XM version of C64 Cavern instead. It doesn't sound quite as accurate, but it's not bad.

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    Best Arcade Conversions


    The top 10 C64 titles whose tunes are direct covers of the arcade. We have kept these intentionally separate from the top 64 list above as they weren't originally designed with the SID chip in mind. If you are wondering why there are still some conversions present in the top 64, this is either because those are either vastly improved over the arcade version (e.g. R-Type) or only loosely based on the original theme (e.g. Commando or Ghouls 'n' Ghosts).

    1: Wonderboy in Monsterland James Smart (original - Sega)
    Expertly recreated from the Sega arcade game, these tunes bring about a real sense of atmosphere as you progress through this action adventure. This is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but special mention must go to tune 10 "Life on the Ocean Waves (!)" and tune 12, with its clever construction and sense of 'finality'.
    [This was originally placed 17th in the top 64 tunes].


    2: Slap Fight Martin Galway (original - Taito)
    Although lacking some of the channels of the arcade original, Galway did a sterling job of converting Slap Fight's diverse range of tunes. The synths are somewhat basic, but everything else is magic. Interestingly, the mysterious tune 6 is noticeably better than the somewhat flat arcade equivalent.
    [This was originally placed 28th in the top 64 tunes].


    3: Dragon Breed Martin Walker (original - IREM)
    Martin Walker was one of the C64's most technically accomplished composers, as this flawless coin-op conversion testifies. Mystical and imaginative.
    [This was originally placed 56th in the top 64 tunes].


    4: Altered Beast Martin Walker (original - Sega)
    As with Dragon Breed, an outstanding effort from Walker. The arcade music from this mythical Sega beat 'em up has been converted brilliantly.
    [This was originally placed 62nd in the top 64 tunes].


    5: Bubble Bobble Peter Clarke (original - Taito)
    Ah, who could forget the catchy chirpy ditties from this great game? Will have you whistling in your sleep...

    6: St Dragon Andy Taylor (original - Jaleco)
    Only covering the first level of the arcade, this is a pretty polished piece with a character all of its own.

    7: Pacland Jason Brooke (original - Namco)
    As with Bubble Bobble, the theme tune to this game is ingrained in the minds of videogame otakus the world over. This, plus all the sprightly jingles, have been converted quite skilfully to Commodore's little wonder.

    8: Rainbow Islands Jason Page (original - Taito)
    Bubble Bobble's successor featured a reworked version of the famous "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" theme from The Wizard of Oz, which caused some problems for Taito's legal department apparently! The C64 renditions of the arcade's catchy ditties are pretty much spot-on.

    9: Pang Sound Images (original - Mitchell)
    Apart from the all-but-ruined Australia level theme (#11), which was actually the original's best, this is a passable attempt to recreate some of the arcade's very memorable tunes. Fans should check out the Amiga version though, which is perfect.

    10: Midnight Resistance Keith Tinman (original - Data East)
    The arcade Midnight Resistance had some great supporting tracks. The C64 renditions by comparison sound weak and diluted, though the original's essence is still there.

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    Top 50 C64 Demo/Scene Tunes

    Following on from the top 64 game tunes, we present you with the finest selection of C64 scene/demo tracks. This type of music was usually used to accompany presentations from talented (and not so talented) programmers keen to show off their coding skills. In some cases however, there are standalone tracks.

    Unlike the Amiga, where tunes such as those from Alpha Omega and Phenomena Enigma are some of the best on the machine, the quality of C64 demo music is usually of a lower standard than its professional game counterparts. There are literally thousands upon thousands of tunes to check through and much of it is mediocre. Nevertheless, we have uncovered a few gems hidden amongst the rubble to share with you.

    The selection process involved sifting through tracks from the more popular composers as well as those which scored a high number of votes from the Best of VARIOUS archive. Of course, we couldn't possibly have listened to all the demo music out there, so please contact us via email if you know of a fantastic tune we have missed or post your recommendations in the Comments box at the top of the page.

    UPDATE 30/05/2008: Since this section was first introduced in 2002, we have been hard at work seeking out new great scene tracks. I am pleased to say the time spent has been worth it: we have a total of 19 new entries (including a brand new number one) pushing the total collection up to 50. There has also been some shuffling within the chart, resulting in greater accuracy in the placements. In particular, Tim Kleinert's multi-channel fest "Graphixmania 2" (part 6) enjoys a substantial rise from 15th position and is now at number 8. Others haven't fared quite so well and have moved down the list or dropped out altogether.

    The new leader is Glenn Rune Gallefoss's sensational "Pop". Not much of a name and also fairly short in length, these are the only two criticisms of a blistering track which masterfully blends original chord sequences and stretch-phasing. Still sitting comfortably at two is "The Alibi" - a very popular Laxity track which is well known amongst sceners with its timeless quality and melodious chord sequences. Fans should check out this excellent remix by Jogeir Liljedahl in module format. "Come on Please" is Volker Meitz's finest moment, which though not flawless, boasts great energy and dynamics with some stunning climaxes. Veteran genius Jeroen Tel's comparatively recent release, "Alternative Fuel", has been a big hit among SID fans with its chunky bass line and classic game-style melody. Hein Holt is an interesting and talented composer - his bizarre, somewhat twisted and unique style is encapsulated best in "PMS". "Nibbleman" is just plain funky, whereas "3545_II" is Laxity's very successful attempt to imitate the Hubbard greats. The others featured all have at least one memorable moment and are well worth a listen.

    NB. Titles with [NTSC] sound better when played at the faster NTSC speed in SidPlay. Numbers in brackets represent our old (misjudged) rankings.


    Click here to download all of the
    below scene/demo tunes

    *WINNER* 1 (NEW): Pop (Glenn Rune Gallefoss)
    2 (1): The Alibi (Thomas Petersen - Laxity)
    3 (2): Come On, Please (Volker Meitz - PRI)
    4 (NEW): Alternative Fuel (Jeroen Tel)
    5 (NEW): PMS (Hein Holt)
    6 (3): Nibbleman [NTSC] (K. Røstøen & G. R. Gallefoss)
    7 (4): 3545 II (Thomas Petersen - Laxity)
    8 (15): Graphixmania 2 (part 6) (Tim Kleinert)
    9 (5): Zimx USA [NTSC] (Thomas Petersen - Laxity)
    10 (6): Ultimate Intro (Volker Meitz - PRI)
    11 (11): Arcade Intro (Tim Kleinert)
    12 (NEW): Alien Seahorses Invading Heaven / Double Dodo (Hein Holt)
    13 (13): Dutch Breeze: The End (Reyn Oeuwehand)
    14 (NEW): Hamlet (Timo Taipalus - Abaddon)
    15 (8): Break Free (#1 + #2) (Thomas Petersen - Laxity)
    16 (14): Sweet and Sour (Volker Meitz - PRI)
    17 (7): Happy Hour (Thomas Petersen - Laxity)
    18 (NEW): Spunk (Thomas Mogensen - DRAX)
    19 (NEW): Pink Alien (Riku Kangas - Flotsam)
    20 (10): Blackmail Tune 1 (Reyn Oeuwehand)
    21 (NEW): Sidamp Theme (Hans Axelsson - TDM)
    22 (NEW): Touch Down (Alexander Rotzsch - Fanta)
    23 (9): Track'n Sector 2 (Steven Diemer - A-Man)
    24 (12): Rainbow Shuffle (Volker Meitz - PRI)
    25 (NEW): Discokeen (K. Røstøen & G. R. Gallefoss)
    26 (17): M.A.C.C. (Jeroen Tel)
    27 (20): DMC Demo IV (#4) (Johannes Bjerregaard)
    28 (16): Telefax (Torben Hansen - Metal)
    29 (NEW): Swamp Poo (Thomas Mogensen - DRAX)
    30 (18): Upfront (Thomas Petersen - Laxity)
    31 (NEW): Slap Mix (Stellan Andersson - Dane)
    32 (NEW): Escape From Reality (Stellan Andersson - Dane)
    33 (19): Double Bubble (DariusZ Paliga - Sage)
    34 (35): Got to Soul [NTSC] (Steven Diemer - A-Man)
    35 (NEW): Pool Party (Volker Meitz - PRI)
    36 (NEW): Premature (Glenn Rune Gallefoss)
    37 (NEW): Jigsaw (Mitch & Dane)
    38 (22): That's the Way it is (Jeroen Tel)
    39 (30): Sample (#1) (Jeroen Tel)
    40 (NEW): Legoman (Mitch & Dane)
    41 (21): Coma Light 11 (#2) (Volker Meitz - PRI)
    42 (29): Triiix! (Torben Hansen - Metal)
    43 (32): Groove [NTSC] (Thomas Danko)
    44 (28): Blow of Fate (Volker Meitz - PRI)
    45 (33): Noisy Pillars (#2) (Jeroen Tel)
    46 (34): Dutch Breeze (introduction) (Jeroen Tel)
    47 (36): Waste III (Thomas Petersen - Laxity)
    48 (23): Bit Like Johannes (Matt Simmonds - 4-Mat)
    49 (NEW): Assatas Song (Michal Hoffmann - Randall)
    50 (NEW): Tropical Funk (G. Tjelta & K. Røstøen)

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    Survey!

    Just a few questions to answer here, so it won't take a minute. Be sure to
    have had a good look at the tunes on this site before you attempt to answer them.


    Prior to visiting this site, how many of the C64 tunes shown had you already heard?

    I've heard practically everything! Even most of the demo and miscellaneous tunes you have listed
    I've heard practically all of the game tunes, but few of the scene/demo tunes
    I've heard almost all of your game tunes, but few if any of the scene/demo tracks
    I've heard most of the game tunes listed
    I've heard around half of them before
    I've heard under half of them
    I've only heard around a quarter of them
    I'm new to the scene, so haven't heard all that many!

    How many new tunes have you discovered as a result of this site? (If you haven't looked yet, I suggest you do, and then take this survey afterwards).

    I discovered loads of classics I've never heard before - thanks!
    You've found quite a few great tunes I missed!
    There were a few gems I hadn't previously heard
    You listed some interesting tunes I hadn't heard before
    There wasn't much new to me - but then I've generally heard them all anyway
    Bah, I sorta wasted my time with this lot, and found nothing new I liked much
    I'm new to the scene, so they're all new to me!


    After studying the choices of our top C64 music, what would you say:

    Incredible! I agree with practically every choice! These really are the best C64 tunes.
    Excellent selection. I see few cool C64 omissions or errors.
    Very good on the whole, though maybe some of the tunes should be ranked higher or lower.
    Quite good, but you've missed some of my favorite C64 music.
    Average. Many of the tunes could do with a shift in placement.
    Poor. I disagree with many of your ratings and important tunes were missing
    Bah - who likes C64 music anyway?

    Finally, what did you think of the C64 Cavern tune featured here?
    Incredible
    Excellent
    Good - very good
    Competent
    Average
    Mediocre
    Poor

    Comments (optional)




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    All music on this page borrowed with the kind permission of the High Voltage SID Collection crew. All SID tunes are the copyright of their respective owners. Text on this page (with the exception of the STIL excerpts) copyright N. White 2002 onwards