I’m sure you know how much I love buying games I already own again and again, especially when it comes to the Commodore 64, so this was a no brainer when I saw the store had been updated with SPACE TAXI and (wait for it…) WIZBALL.

Hang on a second, I gotta catch my breath.

SPACE TAXI AND WIZBALL HOLY CRAP IN A SANDWICH YES

So let’s take a look at how these games turned out in addition to some of the new stuff that’s part of the 1.6 release.

Space Taxi is one of the greatest C64 games ever made. It’s just a fact and if you’re not on board with it than you’re my enemy, it’s that simple. Imagine Lunar Lander with characters that you pick up and transport to different areas, and really bizarre landscapes like a beach and a giant growing cactus. I love it.

It controls really well – surprisingly well – on the iPhone. Space Taxi is a very sensitive game in the best of times but I didn’t really have problems flying around the first couple of levels. It is a bit tricky if you play in the half screen view since you tend to oversteer a lot so play in the full screen view if you can.

One item of note is that the game costs about twice as much as most of the other games on the service – totally worth it to me, especially if the money goes to the original creator. (Oh yeah, the title screen shows we’re playing a cracked copy of the game – what’s up with that?)

The BIG question everyone will have with Space Taxi is: What about the cheesy speech? I’m sorry to report that the speech really isn’t emulated at all – it just kind of comes out as a series of pops which makes me think the SID chip isn’t really being emulated 100% faithfully. A shame, but I hope it gets fixed soon. Which brings me neatly onto…

…Wizball, which to me is the definitive Commodore 64 experience. It just does everything right and to me is pretty much the perfect video game. When the title screen appears and Martin Galway’s incredible soundtrack blasts effortlessly out of the iPhone speakers, oh man, you couldn’t get rid of the smile on my face. Wizball. On my iPhone. Suddenly I feel like my iPhone is complete.

Playing it though…hmm. There’s problems. Wizball has always been one of the trickiest games to get working right, and goodness knows the C64 itself is a tricky enough bugger to emulate properly, but…there’s a couple of issues. Wiz sometimes disappears off the screen for a few seconds, and the colour pots alternate on and off with the power up icons instead of having their own spaces. The power up icons aren’t visible at all in half screen mode and are only half visible in full screen mode – I guess because in the original they were sprites in the outside border.

Controls don’t work that well – Wizball is a real joystick game if ever there was one and touch controls could never work right. I barely like playing Wizball with a dpad. I adjusted after a little while but it adds a smidge of lag to everything and once you get into the colour complete stage you shouldn’t expect to last long. I’m sure I’ll get better at it as time goes on but I can’t see myself playing this as readily as I would if it was on a more tactile system.

The notes in 1.6 say that you can adjust the sensitively of each game’s controls but I can’t see where that is. Hmm.

OH! There’s a ton of new free games with the 1.6 release, including Jeff Minter’s lawn ’em up Hovver Bovver (still great and I love that his games are geting re-released on here for free, though I’d gladly pay for them) and a conversion of Data East coin op Express Raider / Western Express. So that’s good. Other new games that came with the 1.6 release include Boulderdash II (which was never my thing) and Super Pipeline, which was a cool game back in the day. So glad to see these ‘back of the catalogue’ games are getting a release.

I really wish I knew what the road map for C64 iPhone was. Are they going to try and improve the emulation issues on already released games, or are they just pressing on with new games in further releases?

At the end of the day – SPACE TAXI is still SPACE TAXI so that’s worthwhile. Even a compromised version of Wizball is still better than a slap in the face and it’s the only way to play it on the move since the DS Commodore 64 emulator can’t load Wizball for some weird reason. Huzzah!