Commodore 64 Emulator In VR Delivers A Full 80s Experience

The simulated color CRT monitor looks surprisingly convincing in VR.

One way to play with vintage hardware without owning the hardware is to use an emulator, but [omni_shaNker] announced taking it to the next level by using VR to deliver a complete Commodore 64 system, in its full glory, complete with a native 80s habitat playset! This is a pretty interesting angle for simulating vintage hardware, especially since the emulator is paired with what looks like a pretty convincing CRT monitor effect in VR, not to mention a virtual 5.25″ floppy drive that makes compellingly authentic sounds.

The project is hosted on GitHub and supports a variety of VR hardware, but for owners of Oculus headsets, the application is also available on SideQuest for maximum convenience. SideQuest is essentially an off-the-books app store for managing software that is neither approved nor distributed by Facebook. Oculus is owned by Facebook, and Facebook is keen to keep a tight grip on their hardware.

As functional as the application is, there are still improvements and optimizations to be made. To address this, [omni_shaNker] put out a call for beta testers on Reddit, so if that’s up your alley be sure to get in touch. A video demonstration and overview that is chock-full of technical details is also embedded below; be sure to give it a watch to see what the project is all about.

18 thoughts on “Commodore 64 Emulator In VR Delivers A Full 80s Experience

  1. “Playing” a C64 means being able to do all the nifty hacks we used to do – like Sprites fired on raster IRQ addresses to get text writing on the border, sample playback on the volume register or leveraging of the power supply’s frequency “jitter” for (semi-)random values.

    Games … meh, who needs games if you can learn 6502 by heart and write self-modifying (machine) code on paper … no need for a floppy sound simulation if you’re going to “hyperspeed” it anyway :-)

    Bragging aside: Being a kid of the 70s/80s, I really consider the C64 and its competitors of the days (TI99, Sinclair, BBC) “a game of their own quality”. The “fun” of that can easily be achieved by simulating the hardware IN HARDWARE. The “look and feel” … has never REALLY been great …

    1. I’d rather have real hardware in front of me than a illusion of it. The fun wasn’t so much in the games, it was learning how to program them to do things you wanted.and the sense of accomplishment you got. The nice thing about these 8 bit and later 16 bit systems was that they were accessible by mere mortals. You didn’t have to digest a 3000 page data book and figure out what bit to toggle in a hundred different config registers, or work with a undocumented GCC compiler that takes a week to learn how to compile a simple program.

  2. Nice. A 1702 used to be my Nintendo monitor. It looked nice via CVBS. Not sure if the 1702 had a real comb filter. My Super Nintendo games weren’t pretty looking via S-Video (Chroma/Luma), though. The best feature of the 170x were the knobs behind the front clap. They allowed for adjusting anything. Hope that feature gets implemented in that digital illusion, too.

    1. Hm I tested SNES S-Video with my 1701 once and it didn’t look too bad, it didn’t look significantly better than composite, but the color fringing was less. Alas it was just a short test with a crappy bodge adapter.
      I’d still rather hook it up to my Atari SC1224 via RGB (if that’s possible, need to check, the 1224 needs weird sync)

  3. All but the smallest picture tubes had curved sides and round corners. The straight sides on this fake up are a dead giveaway. Maybe on a studio monitor but consumer tubes looked like the logo for TV Guide. This shape symbolized TV for half a century.

  4. Not to be negative, but I have to ask. Where were all the C64 enthusiasts in the 1980’s. I lived in Mountain View and then Palo Alto and I met only one C64 user. And I was quite involved in several 8 bit communities, mostly due to Forth (I worked at Mountain View Press when I first got there). But also a number of projects at Apple and Epyx and startups. And the guy porting Forth to his C64 actually compiled his assembly code on a PDP-11/70 with a target assembler because the C64 took all night. I did work on drivers for the floppy drives at one time and it was a nightmare.

    Anyway, I wonder why I did not run into more Commodore enthusiasts. MVP had tables at all the local monthly computer fairs and swaps meets and at the West Coast Faire every year. We had Forth packages with source code for every platform around. The same is true for the later 68K bases systems. Never met a single user except at Epyx on the Handy (Lynx) project I think. It was an R. J. Mical and Dave Needle operation.

    1. I was a TRS-80 Color Computer kid myself, and there was a club that met monthly in the cafeteria of the science museum. I got my dad to drive me. There must have been 50 people there every month, and this was in Nashville, TN. In Palo Alto, you should have been swimming in them.

      Granted, what we mostly did was trade tapes and the secret peeks and pokes. But y’know. Nerds. :)

  5. I like this, it brings two ideas to my mind, imagine if there was an entire museum of computing in VR and imagine an AR/VR system that let you see the room you are in but shifted back in time to earlier eras, so that whatever was there now would be replaced with the older equivalent.

  6. It annoys me that this was made for quest or Gear VR, but no program for PC based vr. I read in like one post there is one for the Rift S, but I see no way of downloading it. The github has 2 made for mobile VR platforms only, using APK file format. If someone has a link to one that can work on my Oculus rift CV1 that’d be appreciated.

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