When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works

Home / Features / Commodore’s Amiga turns 30 – here are its 10 best games ever

Commodore’s Amiga turns 30 – here are its 10 best games ever

Speedball Monkey Cannon SWOS Car Lemmings Engine 2! Or something.

If you ever used an Amiga back in the day, prepare to feel old, because Commodore’s masterpiece just turned 30. Back in the late 80s and early 90s it was a beast of a machine, with its 16-bit processor, custom chips for graphics and audio, colour mouse-based UI (take that, Mac Plus!), and enough RAM to make all the 8-bit micros green with envy.

Advertising at the time suggested the Amiga was the ideal business machine, or perfect for creative endeavours. But of course everyone just wanted to play games. Here’s Stuff’s definitive guide to the ten best Amiga games ever made that are still worth playing today. (If you disagree, tweet at us. But the first person to mention the risible Shadow of the Beast will be forced to play Rise of the Robots for a solid week as punishment. You have been warned.)

Photo credit: Tobias Toft

1. The Secret of Monkey Island

While Lucasfilm’s point-and-click SCUMM engine appealed to audiences upon Maniac Mansion‘s release, it was the near-perfect Secret of Monkey Island that consigned the traditional text-based adventure to oblivion. Ron Gilbert’s superb writing infuses this cartoonish pirate adventure with energy and life. It also eradicated the typical dead-ends seen before in so many adventures, by making it impossible for protagonist Guybrush Threepwood to die. Fall off a cliff and you’re hurled back into the air by bouncing on a rubber tree! It’s not surprising the adventure keeps getting remade and reimagined on modern kit, but the original Amiga outing remains especially joyful to play.

2. Cannon Fodder

Command & Conquer usually gets kudos for kickstarting the modern RTS, but Cannon Fodder got there first, adding an injection of black satire that sailed over the heads of every do-gooder censorship-happy miseryguts and tabloid hack of the day. The premise was to lead your little squad around battlefields, stealthily taking out enemies and completing missions.

Controversy came through the juxtaposition of humour and war, and the roll calls at the end of each level, which listed the names of the fallen against a poppy backdrop; your squad was then refreshed from an endless queue of oblivious recruits awaiting their turn, next to a hill that amassed an increasing number of graves. Brilliant, poignant and playable, it’s a title ripe for remake.


Forget FIFA and PES — in the 1990s, SWOS was where footie games were at. Sensible Software (quite sensibly) decided ‘realism’ was a waste of time if you only had 16 bits to play with, and instead presented football as you imagined it to be in your head as a kid, winning the World Cup on a barren patch of grass behind your gran’s house.

The result ended up more like pinball, with fast and furious overhead matches that were endlessly frenetic and exciting. Quite why we haven’t seen a proper mobile version for Android and iOS is a mystery.

4. Stunt Car Racer

If you’re into thoroughly modern racers, you might balk at Stunt Car Racer‘s jerky framerate and simple graphics. To do so would be to sniffily avoid a fantastic racer that asked the question: how cool would it be to mash-up drag racing and roller-coasters? The answer: very.

With perfect, solid-feeling physics, it’s one of very few racers to properly leave your stomach in your mouth as you zoom about on vertigo-inducing tracks, slam into banked corners, and try very hard not to nitro your eyebrows off in a mad dash for the chequered flag.

5. Lemmings

With all the sequels, remakes and clones, Lemmings for a while almost became part of gaming’s wallpaper, and so it’s hard to remember how fresh the concept was back in 1991. The aim was simple: guide a bunch of tiny bipedal lemmings home, helping them navigate hazards along the way. The lemmings automatically doddled along, and you could assign individuals special powers, such as digging, blocking, or building a ramp.

Initially an enjoyable and sweet-natured game, later levels could have you tearing your hair out as you screamed DON’T GO THAT WAY, YOU STUPID IDIOT at the screen, watching forlornly as the lemming you needed to make up your quota nose-dived to oblivion. Fortunately, catharsis came via the ‘Nuke’ command, which blew up all the remaining little buggers at once. Oh no!

6. Syndicate

The first in Bullfrog’s long-running real-time tactics series has you order a bunch of cyborg goons about an isometric landscape of corporate dystopia, intent on killing off executives from rival firms. Hostile takeover doesn’t really cover it. And there’s more than a hint of satire in the manner you can ‘persuade’ civilians and scientists to join your company’s cause (their other choice being ‘death’). At the time, its scope and living world made it compelling, unique and ahead of its time; the rest of the gaming world’s long caught up, but Syndicate still manages to hold its own, especially if you’re looking for ‘alternate’ means to get ahead in the boardroom.

7. Speedball 2

We don’t know about you, but the future of sport looks pretty exciting, as armoured lunks dash about arenas, smashing metal balls into rivals’ faces, while refreshments are hawked in the distance by someone yelling ICE CREAM! ICE CREAM! over and over.

At least, that’s how Speedball 2 has it, borrowing heavily from Rollerball and early 2000 AD future-sports strips. For such an old game, there’s surprising depth, too, as you attempt to somehow transform the Luton FC of this future world (the appallingly named Brutal Deluxe) into champions.

8. Populous

Considered the earliest ‘god game’, Populous has you scroll about hilltops populated by uncivilised rabble. Your powers initially make you wonder whether the game should have been by Codemasters and entitled Advanced Landscaping Simulator, since you can only raise and lower land. The larger the flat areas, the bigger structures your little folks can construct, until they’re all living in houses and castles.

Your followers breed like rabbits, gain you ‘mana’, train up knights, and want to keep spreading. You can then send knights on to duff up the opposition and take over their land, providing a helping god-like hand by using mana to fling firestorms, earthquakes and volcanos at anyone you want rid of.

9. Turrican 2

There’s a smattering of Metroid in the DNA of Turrican 2, with you bounding about huge side-on platform-filled worlds, blowing up anything that goes for you. But Turrican 2 is very much an Amiga game, from its urgent Chris Huelsbeck soundtrack through to the rich and diverse level design that keeps hurling new challenges at you.

Perhaps the best bit is never really knowing what’s coming next. More traditional level design gradually ramps up the difficulty level over the course of a game. But in Turrican 2, you can be ambling down a corridor and suddenly find yourself desperately fending off a screens-high adversary, or discover the entire game’s suddenly transformed into a breakneck horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up. Top stuff.

10. Datastorm

Every era of videogames is transformative and in some way leaves the past behind. With the 16-bit computers, there was a desire to provide deeper and more complex experiences, but Datastorm had no truck with that. Instead, it harked back to classic arcade blasters, merging Defender and Dropzone into a lightning-fast feat of horizontal blasting action. Making use of the host hardware, it also had you face bloody great big foes like the terrifying screen-high space squid and intergalactic space skull, the latter of which still makes us think its pilots had a pretty major insecurity problem.

Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.

Enable referrer and click cookie to search for eefc48a8bf715c1b 20231024b972d108 [] 2.7.22