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TheC64 Commodore 64 replica


Active member
Tutorial Author
May 3, 2020
Hay guys!

Just wondering if any of you heard of this Commodore 64 replica called TheC64?

it is unofficially called the "Maxi" because there is also a "Mini" version that is basically nothing but a retro game console with built in C64 games.
But the "Maxi" is a full size replica with working keyboard and the ability to even write your own programs and games in Commodore BASIC.
It was released 3 years ago and I have no idea how I have never heard of it. I was constantly searching the web for modern retro home computers but only those crazy expensive €500 options was coming up like the ZX Spectrum Next or one of those Raspberry Pi powered emulator boxes but this one is only €127. It does not support any accessories like printers, disk drivers but lot of people on the internet says it is perfect for games and programming, yet it didn't make any noise.

I just find it insane how did it slip under my radar.

Did any of you tried it or ever heard of it?

With this I have also discovered that there are still lot of people developing games for the C64 and with this replica, it could potentially make a come back and I am honestly puzzled how I have never heard of it in the past 3 years since it was released. Wondering how complicated would it be to target C64 with Cerberus. Guess it would require a completely new graphics engine, mojo and OpenGL is not compatible.

I don't know why, I am just excited about it, as a kid I have skipped this retro era of computers but for some reason I feel like I should have experienced it and now I am considering to get one of this to actually make games for it.

Am I crazy?
Retro Game do a few Commodore machines.
TheC64 will not make that big a wave. Those that buy it will go for the nostalgia thrill on the cheap without the worry of having to deal with the original Commodore 64 and all the potential pitfalls that can make owning one a bit expensive.

As for a C64 Cerberus X target. The would be a major under taking and would not work out too well. Old system like the C64 required intimate knowledge of the hardware and how it all ties together.

If you want to have a go at programming a C64, then download the V.I.C.E. emulator, get C64 Studio, and dig around the internet for information. Here's a few bits:
Commodore 64 Whole Memory Guide - isbn: 0-86161-194-2
Commodore Programmers Reference Guide - isbn: 0-672-22056-3
Programming the Commodore 64: The Definitive Guide - isbn: 0-942386-50-7
Commodore 64 Machine Language for the Absolute Beginner - isbn: 0-86161-145-4
Mapping the Commodore 64 & 64C - isbn: 0-87455-082-3
Using hardware interrupts for timing visual displays and reaction-time key interfacing on the commodore 64 https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/BF03202601
Thank you for all the useful resources, I'm going to read them.
I honestly didn't know about these replicas. I have heard about the Mini few years ago but didn't care, didn't look. Had no idea since they have also released theC64 and I can see they have also released theVIC-20 full size.

I have tried Vice but I'm getting bugs with the text colour and it is not the same as programming on the actual hardware. It feels just like an other dev tool running in a window.

Regarding it is not going to make a big wave and people buy it only for nostalgic reason to play games, guess you are right. though I am surprised how many people still making games for C64.

Can't really explain why but there is something interesting about the idea to be able to develop games on the actual game console where I play the games in the living room. Sure I can do the same on a PC or Mac connected to a TV in the living room but there are so many options, distraction, virtually no limitations on today hardware. The fact on theC64 we can either play games or program in Basic and we have very limited memory, colours, screens just make it interesting.

Can't explain, never had one, never used one yet I did want to try it since I was a kid but old hardware is too much trouble, other replicas crazy expensive. When I discovered this for just €127 with all the positive feedbacks regarding its programming capabilities I could not believe it.

Anyway, I have ordered theC64, it should arrive next week. If anyone has any questions about it and want me to try something just post it and see if I can answer it.

I have also ordered some old C64 programming guides for graphics, game and the official C64 manual, wondering how much of it is going to be applicable.
It’s funny that you mentioned that an emulator is not your thing but TheC64 is just that. A replica hardware powered by an emulator. For sure with anything C64 related, you will find the most interest and biggest fan groups for itnn by on the net.

I am also interested in 8bit machines but there more the self made ones. Because the Foenix256, Mega64, Commander X16, Spectrum Next are all great machines but cost to much for my taste. It’s not that they are not worth their price but after all these are just toys. Anyhow, I discovered a little 8bit machine that I might want to get, still on the edge decision wise. Will post a link to it later as I am on my phone atm.
It’s funny that you mentioned that an emulator is not your thing but TheC64 is just that. A replica hardware powered by an emulator.
Yes I am aware of that but as far as I know they do their own software and hardware while others just use a Raspberry Pi and Vice. There are many great feedbacks about theC64 and everyone says it is a great machine.

Yes other replicas trying to maintain compatibility with original hardware, software and accessories are insane expensive. This is why I settle for theC64 for now. Will see.
Yes I am aware of that but as far as I know they do their own software and hardware while others just use a Raspberry Pi and Vice.
If memory serves me. It uses VICE and their own customised version of Linux, running on ARM based hardware, so not much difference to that of what you see with Retro Pie.

I am also interested in 8bit machines but there more the self made ones.
Could this be those from thebyteattic?
YES, the AgonLight 2 is what I am thinking about.
But you can’t get it or rarely get one.
You can get the parts, but you'd have to build it yourself.
When the chip shortage is finally over and I can get a decent hot air work station for the right price that won't burst into flames if it's turned on for five minutes. I will see about building one.

Edit: Speaking of ARM based CPUs. I wonder how RISC OS OPEN is going for the Raspberry PI?
I was considering for a moment to get one of these 8 bit computer boards or a Raspberry Pi and build my own, but I wanted something complete for now inside an authentic case. AgonLight 2 for only 50 Euros is pretty good though and I did also see cases for just 15 euros and I already have a small old VGA monitor. Total setup would cost me only 50-70 euros, that is not too bad at all.

I was looking at the replicas made by AMI64, they are using a Raspberry Pi to create C64 and Amiga replicas when I have discovered theC64 and figured it might be a better option.

To my surprise it is just arrived, they have posted it with priority. was travelling all weekend and was delivered today.
I spent all afternoon playing with it.

First impression was good, the machine look and feel amazing. Many people complained about being light and hollow, but I don't really feel that, it feels good, doesn't feel cheap and looks great in my living room. it is also brown and not gray which I like better. The keyboard feels great, typing is really good. The space bar is horrible though. It does sound hollow. If all the keys was the same I would be disapointed, maybe this is what few people talked about. It is a 2021 model I have, so I can imagine the first 2019 model was worse quality maybe. But my 2021 model is honestly look and feel good except the space bar.

The joystick also not great it feels like it has a few milliseconds input lag or maybe I am used to modern joys, not sure. After couple hours I did begin to get the hang of it, but to be honest many games is simply unplayable with theC64 joystick.

The included games are also not so great, but it is just my opinion there is few from my childhood and a couple I never played and I did enjoy playing even with this horrible joystick but I can't really recommend getting it for the included games.

Programming in basic, I haven't done much but that weird glitch with the text color I had with VICE on macOS is not present here, so even if it is nothing but VICE, the experience is better than on my Mac. Then maybe if I have built my own using a Raspberry Pi and VICE it would be just as good.

Anyway, overall I am very happy with this purchase.
The plan for now is to go and update the firmware, see if it fixes the input lag with the joy.
Download few more games.
Wait for the programming books to arrive later this week and then I dive in to programming.
Maybe look for an other joystick too.
The input and sound lag got better over several firmware updates I read on the net but sometimes it is still noticeable to some people. Regarding the space bar, wasn’t it pretty loose on an original machine as well? It is over 35 years since I had one so my memory can be faulty regarding this.

I think I will get an agonlight 2 and play with it.
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I can’t remember I never had a C64, I used it only at the friends house and school. It is possible the original had also loose space bar.

Unfortunately it is already on the latest firmware. Guess it is possible then may be the refresh rate of my TV causing the input lag.

As I was downloading some new C64 games from itch.io I have noticed some C64 games also available for NES, Windows, Mac, Linux and HTML5. Does anyone have any idea how can you port or package a C64 game to Windows, NES, and HTML5?
I did some search but the only thing I find is how to play games using emulators, the web does not understand the question of how to port/package the game you make. I think I did come across a compiler for Windows on GitHub using MinGW but I lost it, I couldn’t find it after because I was looking for one for Mac and HTML5 in the first place.
Not even ChatGPT understand what I want. It was recommending me to use Phaser and Unity to port the C64 game.

I am thinking, the most simple way to go about it would be to bundle the game with an HTML5 emulator and go from there.

I did find this open-source one called Viciious, maybe worth a try:
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You will not be able to port over existing C64 titles, or any game specifically written in 6502 assembly.
You have to use a cross compiler. The only one I know of for 6502 processors is cc65. It's a C compiler that will output to any of the supported 6502 systems, but you will need to be very aware of the code being generated and what optimisation it's doing if any.

You'll find this blog on some hints of cross compiling.
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Thank you. It was an interesting read. I admit I did not understand all the topics he was talking about in the blog but with my very limited C knowledge I think I did understand some of the programming challenges he was facing.

I lean more toward bundling the game with an emulator and I was hoping there is already some sort of building/packaging tool something similar to Cordova and Node.js for HTML5 games. It seems there is not. Maybe an interesting project for some day.
The blog I linked to, is basically saying that the game was written in C and 6502 assembly and compiled using the tools found in cc65 for the Commodore 64. The C code was then modified to work with MinGW and added bridging code that basically simulated (not emulated) the Commodore 64 hardware. Basically the game code did everything in a 64K array to the locations where screen and hardware register are mapped to, with additional library code written to read the array and simulate the C64 hardware. The python scripts mentioned would just convert the raw sprite data into either the 6502 assembler code or into a C array.
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I've just discovered that there is also a few other C compilers that produce 6502 code. Doesn't show links to those being tested though. So here's a list of links that should be correct (note some of these my require that you have to build them from source):
There is also the possibility that TRSE PASCAL may be an option for cross platform development with code then being modified to use Lazarus IDE or Free Pascal, with SDL2 PASCAL.

The only thing I don't like about TRSE is that the program is monolithc with all targets compiled together instead of each target being loaded from a shared library.

Sure that @MikeHart in one of his previous posts mentioned that he has a bit of a soft spot like me for Pascal. And may be interested in having a play around with it.
My eyes are not what they used to be so I can't read everything. But if you need a true emulation of the C64 as cheap as possible and using common hardware, the Pi has a less well known Baremetal software on github that emulates 100%. The only thing that would make you relaise that you don't use the real hardware might be the lack of a CRT.

The man behind the emulator worked hard to get rid of any lag and jitter that normal emulators all have to some degree. I can't remember the name but he has done a youtube video presentation about it too in front of an audience. Very promising. Not sure this is what you need but I wanted to meantion it.

BMC64 is the name of this software I believe.
The blog I linked to, is basically saying that
Thank you for the summary, I appreciate it.

There is also the possibility that TRSE PASCAL may be an option for cross platform development with code then being modified to use Lazarus IDE or Free Pascal, with SDL2 PASCAL.
Last time I tried Pascal with any game or graphics library, I was getting lots of compile and runtime errors on macOS. I don’t think I would try something this complicated with Pascal. Otherwise for desktop app development Lazarus was pretty amaizing.

BMC64 is the name of this software I believe.
Looks very promising. If the board inside theC64 case dies maybe I’ll give it a try and replace it with a Pi and this. Thanks.
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