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6th June 2182, Mars

The Space Station Factory orbiting the planet is undergoing an unprecedented mutiny.

The main computer of the space station UNSS ASAMI has gone rougue during decommissioning and gained control of the guardian droids.

After winning a short battle with the UN army dislocated on Mars, the rebellious mainframe is now pointing the station towards earth with its load of uncontained radioactive material.

You are the android L-3573-R, the first of a new generation of guardian droids independent from a central AI.  Given your strenghts, you are the only hope to stop this threat and figure out what happened to the station.




- An entire space station to explore

- 60+ rooms full of metroidvania action

- Upgradable weapon, special powers, map and inventory

- 11 tracks OST

- THEC64 (Maxi and mini) compatibility


Welcome to Lester!

This game takes inspiration from modern MSX metroidvanias like Ghost / Minighost (which is clearly the most direct inspiration for it) and the old Konami's productions like The maze of Galious.
Lester is my first release for the Commodore 64. Actually this is my hello world project started fiddling with a TRSE tutorial which then, in a three year arc, became a graphic adventure engine, a zelda-like engine, a single screen platform engine, an attempt to convert Minighost and then a standalone game. It's been quite a long and twisty road... But here it is!

I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed making it.



The game is played with a joystick plugged in port 2.

JOY UP: Jump

JOY DOWN: Descend Stairs - Enter through doors - Access terminals

JOY LEFT/RIGHT: Moves left/right

TAP FIRE BUTTON: Fire weapon

HOLD FIRE BUTTON AND RELEASE: Activate special power

P KEY: Pause


LIVES: number of tries Lester has to complete the mission. Once you loose them all you can still restart from the first room keeping all your equipment.

HP: Your energy.

XP: Increases by one everytime you kill an enemy or you dare to wake up a sleeping drone. Once you reach the maximum XP you'll be rewarded with an extra HP.

COINS: Number of coins collected / Maximum number of coins collectable

SPECIAL POWER SLOT: Special power currently equipped.



You'll start your mission on the upper left bridge. The station was going through decommissioning at the moment of the incident.  The last updates on the status of the work confirm that you may find uncontained radioactive fuel in the lower part and some rooms not covered by auxiliary power.

During your mission to regain the control of the station you'll also find some objects with various functions.

BARRELS: Scattered through the station, they hide useful items and a lot of coins.
TERMINALS: Use them to save a checkpoint, view a map of the station, restore health and upgrade your weapon spending your coins. You can collect coins killing enemies and destroying barrels.
TRIGGERS: Activate them to open new passages inside the station.



Other than coins, you can gain also some useful extra powers by shooting to enemies.

EMP: A single pulse that can pass through walls and destroys everything in the line of fire. Armored droids are not affected.

BOMB: Destroys everything visible on the screen. Armored droids are not affected.

SHIELD: Temporary invulnerability, even from armored droids.

You can carry only one special power at a time, use them wisely!



You can achieve permanent upgrades and more coins shooting to the barrels disseminated through the station.

SMALL AND BIG COINS: Spend them when connected to terminals to restore your hp and upgrade your weapon. One big coin counts as 5 small coins.
PASS: Gives you access to the same numbered area
BATTERY: Increases your maximum HP
WALLET: Doubles your maximum amount of collectable coins.
INFRARED: Allows you to see through dark areas
RADIOACTIVE SHIELD: Protects you from radioactive liquids



A Commodore 64/128 PAL (recommended) or NTSC

A Joystick plugged in port 2

Supports THEC64 (Maxi and Mini), VICE and FPGA solutions

V 1.1 - 11 January 2023  (See devlog for details)
V 1.0 - 7 January 2023


Design, Code, Gfx and Sound by Knifegrinder.

Thanks to Nicolaas Ervik Groeneboom and Andy Hewitt.

Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
(28 total ratings)
Tags2D, 8-Bit, Commodore 64, Cute, Metroidvania, Retro, Shoot 'Em Up, Singleplayer
Average sessionAbout an hour
InputsGamepad (any), Joystick


Download NowName your own price

Click download now to get access to the following files:

lester-v1.1 - C64 Version 79 kB
lester-v1.1 with VICE for Windows 38 MB

Development log


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Best game I've played on my commie all year.  Ready for Lester 2!

What do you think about to add second fire (POTX) as option to "Activate special power" ?

(3 edits) (+2)

The game has now made it to the world's largest game fair as one of the best of the last 12 months! We showed it to an enthusiastic audience on the Retro Stage of the Retro Area at Gamescom 2023 in Cologne. You can watch the video here starting at 00:12:47. English subtitles should be available here. 馃檪



La curva de dificultad est谩 bien medida,  no llegando a ser demasiado dif铆cil hasta bien entrada la segunda mitad de nuestro recorrido.

El manejo del personaje es sublime, con una sensacion de control bien conseguida que hace que jugarlo con un mando tipo pad sea una experiencia recomendable.

El apartado sonoro  cumple a la perfecci贸n, disponiendo de nada mas y nada menos que de 11 pistas musicales que nos acompa帽an durante toda nuestra misi贸n.


What about a cartridge version? I would buy it right away, it's such a great game

You can buy cartridge version at the Bobr Games shop.



I bought it two weeks ago. Great game in a great box!


This is right up my alley.. Thanks for taking the time to create games for ancient consoles..! Much love!


I really enjoyed this game. Very challenging towards the end - thank god for emulation and savestates!! Great graphics, sound, and gameplay, well worth that zzap sizzler, thanks for all the hard work knifegrinder


Its a very good game, it feels nice, has a good soundtrack, the sprites are cute and the gameplay is great. 


Love it, love it, love it! 

A single thing would make it even better: savegames (codes / whatever). 

Keep rocking. 

I really like your game very much. It's visually pleasing. I also like the music and background effects. It's really amazing what is still possible with the C64. It's fun to play, sometimes it is tricky. It really works best on real Commodore hardware; struggling more on the TheC64 (probably input lag of the system itself). Excellent work! I am recommending it to others.

I'd have two ideas for your game: Maybe have two or three different difficulty levels. And have checkpoints generate codes (letters and digits) which would enable the player to resume from that checkpoint even after power-cycling the computer. A similar feature is implemented for example by the game Grid Pix.

Maybe the code could also contain all of the upgrades that the player had by that point. I don't know whether that'd be easier to implement than a save to disk (and load again) feature.


great game! Gets really tough at the end but it鈥檚 overall rewarding.

Brought the game to the most recent episode of New Game Old Flame podcast go have a listen!


Excellent game in every aspect! I loved it! Congratulations!


What a FANTASTIC game! This is a must have for all C64 fans!




Just wanted to say, thank you for bringing this to life. I'm just getting back to the C64 after too many years away and I am amazed at the games being released! Lester feels so new yet right at home on the C64. Thanks again.


Thanks for playing it!

(1 edit) (+3)

Simple, addictive and charming.  Excellent graphics, thumping soundtrack and solid gameplay.

Only one gripe though... I want more of it.  Sequels, sequels and more sequels!

This will be in my top C64 releases for 2023 for sure.

Well done!  Thanks for your efforts!

Adam (Commodore Chronicles Podcast)


Great game. I enjoyed a lot. Smooth movement, good jump, enough amount of rooms well designed, objects to collect, correct music...perhaps I would like more type of enemies but I said, very good game as it is

(1 edit) (+3)

A great game, thank you so much Knifegrinder! It totally brings the spirit of the great old 8-bit games.

But now I'm lost in the game's many rooms, i.e. I think I visited all rooms which are reachable with the key-cards for level 2, but am stuck. Is there a map like some giant PNG picture containing all the rooms in detail?


Thanks! I don't want to spoil the game here but if you are stuck there's a great playthrough done by VIPER's Retrogame videos down in the comment section, at 20:30 in the video you'll find the answer.

(1 edit) (+2)

Thanks for referencing the play-through video. I only watched the section which helped me to find the next level-pass.

What a nearly perfect 8 bit game you created. Well done! I played many 8 and 16 bit games (back then in the good old 1980'ies, as well as today).

Do you intend to publish a few more words about the "making of" your game, next to what you wrote in the very very short "dev log"? For example are you a professional programmer or graphic artist, or did you already collect experiences in the 8 bit days, did you use an assembler or a compiler or special software tools to pack all the code and data into the <64 KB RAM, or the like...

No private details needed, just some info to get an idea of what it takes a ~one-man-developer to create such a lovely and polished game.

In any case, all the best to you, and good luck with potential future games.


I really thought there was the list of the programs used to make Lester in the game description... but there isn't O_o

Anyway, Lester is made with...

Code: TRSE

Gfx: Charpad PRO and Spritepad PRO

Sound: GoatTracker

Regarding my experience this is my first game ever. Not for the C64 but for every platform. But I'm a good player and in all those years I developed a taste for a certain type of games and I tried to reproduce what I like about them. Or, at least, the things reproducible on an 8-bit machine.

What I like about the C64 is that despite its infinite library there are few games that explicitly try to mimic the japanese productions on consoles and home computers. The great majority feel so 64ish. But what I learned with much surprise in those last years is that it's more a design choice than an actual limitation of the machine. Despite the heavy limitations of its graphic modes the C64 has a palette that is more colorful and vibrant than what the average 80s game made us think. And Lester is not even the best demonstration of this because I choose to have a dominant color per section which made my life a lot easier but take a look at Sam's Journey. What they made is insane and a testament of the VIC-II real capabilities.

Regarding the next game I'd like to take again inspiration from productions on other machines like I did for Lester which was a love-letter to both MSX and NES platforming, but this time looking to the other side of Japan... late master system/early mega drive era.


Many thanks for your kind and very informative developer comment.

All the best to you writing another fine love-letter in the style of the beautiful Japanese video-games.


This is a good game to start 2023. I simply loved it even if I kept being killed before reaching the end.

I cannot imagine that you can do a better game than this one. Will be on my top 10 of C64 games for 2023.

(2 edits) (+2)

Awesome game and for sure one of the best free C64 single player games in recent years! 馃槑馃憤 Our German-language review can be found in our recorded livestream starting at 01:09:13 and there is also a longplay starting at 04:29:54. Automatic subtitles should hopefully be available via YouTube soon (switch on, if necessary). Subscription to our YouTube or Twitch channel is welcome. 馃槉


Knifegrinder hat ein richtig tolles Sci-Fi-Action-Adventure herausgebracht mit 眉ber 60 R盲umen und jeder Menge Extras. 馃暪

Auf meinem YouTube Kanal habe ich es im Rahmen der C64 Spielzeit vorgestellt. Schaut doch mal vorbei:


very god


Just to reiterate: Absolutely Fantastic game, and a breathtaking first effort.

I really would love a "save to disk" function. Right now, I'm using an Action Replay cartridge (on real hardware) to freeze/restore and it works - but it would be nice it were easier to resume playing from where I left off.


Happy to buy this game.  Congrats.  Plays very well.  Hope it gets a Zzap!64 Sizzler Award!




It came too late for issue #12 (we already had slots filled especially with A Pig Quest!) but it will be in issue #13.


Excellent game. Best release of the year so far. Well... Considering it's only January. LMAO




Can you somehow play this in a normal notebook, maybe with emulators and the likes?
cany ou give some tutorial on that?


Yes, you can. I developed and tested this game on a PC, so it's viable. I used this emulator:



Brilliant work, can鈥檛 believe it鈥檚 your first C64 game. Kudos!!


Very nice title.


Delightful game. Been playing this on my Steamdeck and it's just lovely. Super polished.


Great game with some wonderful graphics. Music is also good, and the game is pretty addictive. Well done.


A great game, graphics are very nice and colorful, it works perfectly on The C64 full size. Congratulation ^^ !

wish list: 2nd button support, high score table + saving, progress saving

Why high score table if there is no score counted?
You can save check points to RAM at computer terminals.


Supernice game! I like the used color palet and background graphics. Maybe some extra sound FX when you enter the computer... I mean, the sound of the beginning of a Boulderdash level. Congrats with this masterpiece!


Great game! Can you please support a second firebutton?

(3 edits) (+1)

old hardware meets "new" concept: super metroid - dig dug edition

cool stuff, not much of a metroid player myself but it's alright. 7.5/10

i like that it's not trying to be a 'sonic the hedgehog on c64', punching above it's weight, gfx all fit nicely into the hardware limitations. gg


Your game is so awesome!! I really don't know how much joy you had while making this game, but it has to be a lot, since I'm really enjoying it!

It has such a good feeling, it is great that you can't loose completely and I really want to play it to the end. I want to get further and further... Unfortunately I had not enough time to play it to the end in one run. I need a little bit of sleep. 馃槄 But I'm looking foreward to play again tomorrow!

Also I really enjoy the music. It's still stuck in my head, even though the C64 isn't running right now. 馃槉
馃幎 Baa ba dap dap, baa ba dapp dapp 馃幎

The graphics are really nice, too! I really enjoy looking at, listening to and playing the game!

Thank you for this brilliant piece of fun!


Great game ! Congratulations !!! 馃ぉ馃槑馃榿

I faced the issue that in the boss room sometimes no more enemies/shots appeared without the boss receiving any substantial hit before. So I could to get any more EMPs to hit it. But I was still able to move, so no hookup in general.
May be caused that I destroyed both guards and collected 2 EMPs, not only one. Someone else reported issues with collecting the same item twice. Might be the same root cause.

Hi, thanks for the feedback. It's one of the bugfix on the todo list for v1.1.

Hi, the bug has been reproduced and fixed in V1.1 which will roll out shortly. Thanks again for the report.


Great game, glad to contribute !
Can't wait for your next one :)


Game of the Year 2023!

The text at the end is aligned to the right (and overflows) otherwise not many flaws.


Thanks! Can I ask you where you played the game (real hw, winvice, vice on linux, other)? Another player spotted the same bug and I'm collecting info for a fix in v1.1


Reloaded V1 with old VIC2.


Thanks! It will be fixed in V1.1!

(1 edit) (+1)

You mean I now have to play it through to the end again! :D

(1 edit) (+4)

Beautiful! One of the highlights of the year and after some work today, here is my longplay.


Wow, you mastered it! Thanks!

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