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Commodore 64

Getting started with game emulation

By Jacob Gunness

Latest revision: 26.03.2018


Background

The C64 is said to be the most sold home computer in history, with sales figures ranging from 20 to 30 million units. The C64 underwent a few revisions along the way, but for all intents and purposes, the different models were completely compatible.
The follow-up to the C64 was the C128, which doubled the amount of memory, featured a much improved BASIC and CP/M. From a gaming perspective, however, this made little difference as only a handful of adventure games were released for the C128. C128 owners would therefore start a gaming session by typing GO64.

File types

Games are either disk or tape based (we'll disregard the odd cartridge based titles here). Disk games are the easiest and fastest to run. Disk images have the file type .D64, whereas tape images are of the .TAP or .T64 types.
The file you want to start is usually the first on the disk/tape.

Emulators

The two most popular choices are CCS64 and VICE. The former is Windows-only, while the latter is available for a large number of OS's. I find that VICE is easier to navigate and use.

Running a game with VICE (easiest)

Select File -> Autostart disk/tape image...
Doubleclick the image you want to run. This will run the first game on the disk/tape.
If you wish to run a file that isn't the first on the image - say, a documentation file - highlight the game image you want to start then double click the appropriate file in the "Image contents" box.

Running a game from disk - manually

Insert a disk image (VICE: press Alt+F8) then type:
LOAD"$",8
LIST

This gives you a list of the files on the disk. Type:
LOAD"*",8,1 to load the first file on the disk or
LOAD"filename",8,1 to load a specific file ('*' can be used as a wildcard).

Then simply type
RUN (to start the game)

Should the need to change disks during gameplay arise, press Alt+F8 to insert a new disk image.

Running a game from tape - manually

Insert a tape image (VICE: press Alt+T), then type:
LOAD
after a bit the text "FOUND filename" will appear. Press [Space] and wait until loading completes, then type:
RUN

Save states

To quickly save and load a emulator snapshot in VICE, press Alt+S and Alt+L, respectively.
To save and load to a specific file, choose the Snapshot menu.