Introduced by Commodore in 1985, the Amiga was a line of 16-bit computers with a strong game development community. It was released at a time when their 8-bit Commodore 64 was only three years old and still popular but with rival companies making powerful new computers, it was important to get the system out to tackle the higher end market. Its primary competition was Atari’s ST and Apple’s IIGS. The latter never really took off but initially the ST was selling better than the Amiga.
Many games in the '80s were released on both ST and Amiga. The ST was a bit weaker and lacked hardware scrolling so many of these games were developed at ST level and didn’t use the Amiga’s full abilities (although they were still impressive). It wasn’t until the '90s that I think the Amiga would really shine in the games department. By then the ST was becoming less relevant and the Amiga was getting more exclusives.
Similar to the jump from NES to SNES, or SMS to Genesis, the jump from C64 to Amiga was a big graphical improvement and many games were refinements of the previous system’s concepts. However, I don’t think the C64-Amiga situation parallels exactly with what happened with the consoles for these reasons:
The Amiga’s heyday coincided with other awesome games systems with exclusive games: Genesis, TurboGrafx, SNES and DOS PC. The C64 was in a position in the mid '80s where owning just it would cover you very well. Consoles were dying in support and many of 1984’s NA console games were on C64. I love the Atari 800 and Apple II but many of their best games were ported nicely to C64. And DOS PC wasn’t really relevant for games yet. I am speaking specifically about the North American market, though. Japan obviously had good Famicom and MSX stuff that most of us couldn’t get to yet and Europe had Spectrum and Amstrad games.
The Amiga computers remained at a price level competing with other high end computers while the C64 dropped closer to console prices, and could be hooked to a TV without needing an adapter. The Amiga had more of a reputation for non-gaming software than the C64.
Despite Commodore being an American company (although founded in Canada in their pre-computer days), and the C64 having sold well in North America, the Amiga wasn’t very successful in that region. This resulted in the Amiga’s game development scene being largely European while the C64 had more of a NA/EU mix. A bunch of the Amiga’s great games (LucasArts and Sierra adventures, Civilization, Dune II, Desert Strike, Prince of Persia, Ultima games, etc.) did originate from NA but these were straight ports mostly from PC and not originally made for Amiga.
Here are 20 quality Amiga games:
(Years ago, I made a much bigger version of this thread if anyone wants more game pics. It seemed like overkill to post that many. http://www.the-nextlevel.com/tnl/threads/54727-Commodore-Amiga )
Agony (Art and Magic/Psygnosis)
This is one I admit I liked more for style over substance. It was still solid for gameplay but the art, detail, music, and animation were incredible.
Another World AKA Out of this World (Delphine Software/U.S. Gold/Interplay)
I was amazed at the cinematic nature and surreal art style in this game. I had never seen or played anything quite like it. I was bummed that I didn’t own an Amiga at the time but I ended up getting its first console port in 1992 (SNES) and it was a worthy conversion as were others. The Amiga version remained the best one visually until modern ports. This game was also a big influence on one of Japan’s few Amiga owner-turned game designers, Fumito Ueda, the main man at Team Ico.
Apidya (Kaiko/Blue Byte)
Although it took inspiration from Japanese games like Insector-X and Gradius in theme and power up system, this popular Amiga shooter was very European in look and feel. It has held up well over time for fans of methodical shooters.
B.A.T. series (Computer’s Dream/Esprit Software Programs/Ubi Soft)
I preferred and put more time into the second game (also known as Koshan Conspiracy). It was a hard game to categorize as it felt like an open-ended adventure game but had RPG stats/battles, arcade-y minigames, and 3d flight areas. It was quite ambitious for a 1992 game. I think the ST version might have come first but the Amiga and PC versions were very similar.
BC Kid (Factor 5/Hudson Soft)
Yes, that’s Bonk’s Adventure on Amiga. It was quite a good port, too (most Amiga ports of Japanese games were hideous bastardizations). I missed the turbo switch super spin, and it was a little odd pressing up to jump, but it retained most of the look and feel of the TG16 classic. It played a little faster than the original and had some nice colour touch ups although I didn’t like the new soundtrack as much. BC Kid along with R-Type and Katakis are available for free to download at Factor 5’s site. http://www.factor5.de/downloads.shtml
Cannon Fodder series (Sensible Software/Virgin Interactive)
Kick ass action/strategy hybrid. It did manage to get console ports (even to the Jaguar) but the mouse control on Amiga was more intuitive.
Crazy Cars series (Titus Software)
This series didn’t really get good until part 3. Crazy Cars III had both smooth motion and a great speed sensation.
This blended genres really well (action, stealth, puzzles). The PC and ST versions might have been made first (I don’t know) but the Amiga and CD32 got versions with enhanced graphics a few years later.
Dreamweb (Creative Reality/Empire Interactive)
Dark, demented, and quite gory for its time. Opinions remain polarized on this adventure game. Some hate how it lets you pick up tons of objects you will never use but that never bothered me as the puzzles were logical enough.
Flashback (Delphine Software/U.S. Gold)
Man, I loved this game. I figure most of you have played a console port of it if not the Amiga original. The Genesis version was the first one I played and owned.
Future Wars: Time Travellers (Delphine Software/Palace Software)
A couple years before Out of this World, Eric Chahi did the graphics for this, one of better sci-fi graphic adventures of the '80s and still worth playing. The PC version was pretty close in quality but I think the Amiga one looked a tad nicer.
Like Mercenary before it, this was step towards modern GTA-style sandbox gaming with its 3d environment, ability to grab and use various vehicles, and freedom to choose missions. Games like this are an example of Amiga culture living on in future game eras despite the mainstream seeming to forget most stuff not on Nintendo systems.
Lemmings series (DMA Design/Psygnosis)
I hope no one missed out this breakthrough puzzle game as it was ported to nearly everything.
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge series (Magnetic Fields/Gremlin)
The first game came out in 1990 and it was so much smoother than any racing game you could get on console.
Moonstone: A Hard Day’s Knight (Mindscape)
A mix of real-time fighting and RPG leveling.
Perihelion: The Prophecy (Morbid Visions/Psygnosis)
One of more overlooked RPGs of the early '90s. It was scarce for enemy encounters but it nailed the bleak cyberpunk vibe with cool computer hacking stuff. It also had an Elder Scrolls-like leveling system where skills upgraded through usage.
Qwak (Team 17)
A remake of an older BBC Micro game. The Bubble Bobble influence is obvious but this could hold its own as a great single-screen platformer. It was later ported to PC and Mac but I think some of the charm was lost there.
Shadow of the Beast series (Reflections/Pygnosis)
My jaw dropped when saw the first game back in '89. It was the most graphically impressive home game I had seen, especially in motion with all the layers of scrolling. SotB 1 and 2 were good action-adventures but I feel SotB3 is the one that holds up best. Normally a series becoming easier and more linear is a red flag but I think in this case having a less frustrating game was an improvement.
Pang meets Asteroids in this freeware gem.
Turrican series (Factor 5/Rainbow Arts)
You can’t go wrong with any of the three Turrican games on Amiga. Part 2 is probably my favourite. It was a refinement of the first game’s formula and more exploratory than T3 and the console games.
It’s a system with a strong and influential history for games even though Commodore itself went bankrupt not long after attempting a console version of the system with the CD32 in 1993. Some links: