Commodore 64 Day – the work of Paul Koller

Dutch coder Paul Koller took the Commodore 64 games scene by storm. With three complete games and a stunning preview, Paul showed outstanding programming and knowledge of the C64. We look back at those games and speculate on what he will do next.

Commodore 64 coder Paul Koller

Commodore 64 coder Paul Koller

Paul’s debut in 2010 amazed people – a playable preview of VVVVVV. Terry Cavanagh’s superb indie title drew on retro games as its inspiration, creating a challenging platform game that played with gravity. Paul’s C64 version recreated the first space station level, showing off the unique features and traps. As a temporary measure Paul added the soundtrack to Driller by Matt Gray, which added to the atmosphere. His aim is to complete this conversion with a full SID soundtrack based on the original.

Dancing on the ceiling...

Pressing fire makes gravity reverse in VVVVVV – the key to all the game’s puzzles.

In 2011 RGCD launched the 16K cartridge competition. The challenge was to code a new cartridge game that fitted into 16K of memory and was playable on all C64-compatible machines. Over four years the competition has inspired old and new programmers to create nearly 50 new C64 games and Paul has an unenviable record in finishing high in the rankings. He achieved this with demakes – taking a game from a modern format and converting it back to the C64.

The winning RGCD competition game gets made into a cartridge - here is Paul's C64anabalt

The winning RGCD competition game gets made into a cartridge – here is Paul’s C64anabalt

2011’s entry from Paul was C64anabalt, a fantastic conversion of Adam Atomic’s superb infinite runner Canabalt. So many details from the original are included – the flying birds, the giant cranes, the sound FX. Paul reached 2nd place in the competition and the game was made available on cartridge to buy. It is NTSC compatible. Interestingly there are two versions – one with a conversion of DannyB’s original PC music, the other with a cover of another PC indie game. Andreas Varga, responsible for the C64 port of Prince of Persia also released his C64 version of Canabalt.

The iOS version of Canabalt was updated with extra game modes

The iOS version of Canabalt was updated with extra game modes

 

As the building crumbles, C64anabalt shakes the screen

As the building crumbles, C64anabalt shakes the screen

 

In 2012 Paul turned to a famous mobile app and won the RGCD competition. Vlambeer had a hit on its hands with Super Crate Box, the tricky platform game with unlockable levels, characters and weapons. What made it unique was the way the game’s website kept track of how many crates players had collected.

Collecting crates in Super Crate Box (iOS)

Collecting crates in Super Crate Box (iOS)

That feature made it into the C64 version too with a clever pass code feature. In honour of the C64 the conversion became Super Bread Box and wowed gamers. The many types of weapon and enemy are all present with outstanding background graphics. This was another hit on cartridge for Paul and well worth playing.

Clever use of software sprites makes Super Bread Box a busy game

Clever use of software sprites makes Super Bread Box a busy game

For 2013 Paul returned to the work of Terry Cavanagh with an ambitious conversion of Super Hexagon. This game of reflexes sees the player navigating among rotating barriers zooming out of the screen. At first glance it looks like a game that would struggle to convert to the C64.

Navigate between the walls in Super Hexagon (iOS)

Navigate between the walls in Super Hexagon (iOS)

Paul achieved it in style with Micro Hexagon. The hypnotic music and moving barriers work smoothly, and it becomes a real challenge fast. The barriers were actually created with 240 pieces, multiplexed on screen to give the movement. It earned Paul another second place. The cartridge was available as a strictly limited edition with the Kickstarter campaign for a C64 book and is highly collectible.

 

Title screen of the C64 conversion Micro Hexagon

Title screen of the C64 conversion Micro Hexagon

Blue is the colour - avoiding walls in Micro Hexagon (C64)

Blue is the colour – avoiding walls in Micro Hexagon (C64)

So where does Paul go next? He did not compete in 2014’s RGCD competition, but he did release something at the X’2014 demo party. Called Join The War Effort, this bitmap was a big clue to what Paul might be working on. As well as wanting to complete VVVVVV, Paul regularly posts messages on Twitter about what he is coding (or struggling to code). 2016 might see this Dutch genius make a comeback…

Searching for "junkboy" on a popular gallery for artists might reveal a clue to what Paul is doing next...

Join The War Effort by paulko64

 

Paul’s profile at the Commodore Scene Database

(with download links)

http://csdb.dk/scener/?id=21728

 

The RGCD website, with links to the competitions and cartridge shop

http://www.rgcd.co.uk

 

Super Bread Box website, with player high score lists and crate collection statistics (165,278 crates collected at time of writing)

http://www.superbreadbox.com

 

Follow Paul on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/paul.koller.142

Follow Paul on Twitter

@paulko64

 

 

 

 

 

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About Merman

Gaming since the 1980s, Nintendo and Commodore C64 fan, writer for Retro Gamer and gamesTM

2 Comments

  1. Excellent affirmation of quite a guy! Glad to learn about Koller and his efforts — thanks for a well-rounded, well-written post.

  2. Paul’s games are top notch quality! My ultimate wet dream is of course a full (or remixed) version of VVVVVV for the C64. What he has achived with this old bread box so far has just blown my mind.

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