How to play Commodore 64 games
About 3800 C64 games are available or will be soon published on MyAbandonware. A very small part compared to the 20000+ games released by TOSEC (The Old School Emulation Center) and 25000 listed by Gamebase 64, but you can already spend days playing the Commodore 64 games we have. This quick how-to will help you run C64 games on Windows, Mac or Linux.
Although C64 emulation is less popular than DOS emulation, a strong community is still active on websites like C64.com or Lemon64.com. Several emulators are available, although the vast majority of them are now inactive project.
Commodore 64 emulators
Several emulators are still active, though two of the list below are just front-ends and use existing emulators:
- VICE: stands for "Versatile Commodore Emulator" and sometimes called WinVICE, VICE supports tons of operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X...) and also provide emulation for almost all Commodore computer systems. A very solid emulator with tons of options, recommended. Note: select amd64/x64 version without SDL.
- CCS64: an ongoing project started in 1995, still active but Windows only. CCS64 is a shareware without limits, if you enjoy it, please register your version to support the author.
- C64 Forever: an easy to use VICE front-end for Windows, with a free and a paid version for advanced users.
- Hoxs64: a more recent C64 emulator, supports Windows XP and up.
- Gamebase: a nice front-end and database program to play games on various platforms, including the Commodore computers.
As VICE is the most versatile emulator, this page will use it for the tutorial. Other emulators are quite similar and should not pose any problem.
Running C64 games in VICE
Note: This tutorial is focused on Windows, but it's almost the same on other operating systems.
VICE comes with several emulators for the various computers released by Commodore. Most of the time, you will just want to run the Commodore 64 emulator, named x64.exe (or x64.app on Mac).
After downloading a C64 game and unzipping it, you will usually find one .NFO containing game information, and one or more files containing the actual game code. Game files can be stored in various formats:
- .d64, disk format: the most popular format for games, some of the later games where released on several disks.
- .tap or .t64, tape format: tapes where quite popular too, around 7000 games were released in this cheap and slow format, according to C64Tapes.org.
- .crt, cartridge format: cartridge were fast, but very expensive, less than 400 cartridge games are listed by C64-Wiki.
- .prg, plain program file: program files that can be loaded immediately, not a physical format per se.
Look for the game file or the first one if the game is on multiple disks. Most of the time, multiple disks are named GAME0.D64, GAME1.D64, and so on.
Drag and drop into VICE
Most C64 games can be launched in just a few seconds with a simple drag and drop of the game file, or the first file, into the VICE main window, where you can see the Commodore 64 prompt screen. Alternatively, you may select File > Smart attach Disk/Tape, then select the program name to run in the image contents.
Games with multiple disks will prompt you to insert disk number two or more at some point. Use the File > Attach Disk Image to attach the required disk, then press a button to continue.
Running games in VICE is quite straightforward most of the time. If you have trouble to run games, try to edit options in Settings > Peripheral Drives. If you really need help, best place to ask politely in the Emulators forums on Lemon64.