To celebrate August being C64 Month, we’re writing about a different Commodore 64 game every day! Start from the beginning here!

We’re getting to the tricky part of the alphabet here because there are dozens of classic original C64 games that start with S, such as Samurai Warrior or The Sentinel or Sanxion or Stunt Car Racer or Space Taxi or or or…well, anyway. However, today I want to talk about a very important piece of C64 software that had a huge impact on so many lives.

The Shoot ‘Em Up Construction Kit – or SEUCK to its friends – is a surprisingly versatile game creation utility made by the geniuses behind Wizball and Mega Lo Mania. It lets you make a vertically scrolling shmup (did you know the term “shmup” started on the C64, in Zzap! 64 magazine no less? Cool huh) with your own sprites, backgrounds and sound effects. You can also edit attack waves, determine how many points shot baddies are worth (and when you get an extra life) and also design levels to let two players join in on the fun. And when you’re done making your next arcade masterpiece, games can be exported out into their own programs that don’t need a copy of SEUCK to play, making it a one-stop shop to make games for your friends.

SEUCK was a huge deal when it hit. I adored this thing, and spent many long months crafting game after game after game, each one pushing the strict boundaries of the utility. There was a game where I tried to recreate Xenon 2 on the C64. There was a game where I tried to recreate Toobin’, except going up the screen instead of down, and that one was a bit of a hit in the schoolground tape-swapping circuit. There was a game where you were a smiley face and you shot Lemmings, because I really hated Lemmings. I had an absolute blast with SEUCK.

Compared to the extremely limited game creation tools of the era – The Quill let you make passable text adventures, but took a lot of work, Garry Kitchen’s Game Maker only let you make games with two screens and you ran out of memory by the time you started – SEUCK packed a lot of power. Yes, not being able to have power-ups was a shame, but you were still able to make very enjoyable experiences.

Even today people are still exploring the potential of SEUCK and making new, fresh games with the utility. Heck, play the recently released and award-winning Abyssonaut for a taste of what the system can do with a few hacks.

I like to think that having SEUCK helped push me towards my career in game development, and I’m sure there’s plenty of other people in the industry who spent a good chunk of the childhood drawing sprites one joystick button click at a time in the tool’s sprite editor and watching them whizz around the screen in amazement. Go get yourself a copy and see what you can make!

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