C64 Emulator Recommendations

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Matt James

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Commodore 64Emulators

The Commodore 64 is officially old! At the time of writing, Released in 1982, it is now over 40 years old (unbelievable, I know!), but it remains in the hearts of those who experienced it the first time around.

C64 emulators have been around for almost 30 years with a very early example being The 64 Emulator by ReadySoft. But what is the go to C64 Emulators today?

To make this as easy as possible for you, we’re not going to list out every single emulator available, we’re going to cut straight to the chase and cover the most powerful and accessible options out there.

VICE

The C64 Emulator of choice for Windows PC & Mac users

VICE (VersatIle Commodore Emulator) is not just one of the most popular C64 Emulators, it is also one of the oldest, with development first taking place in 1993.

Not only will VICE serve you well in terms of C64 emulation, but it also provides emulation for the C128, VIC20, PET, PLUS4, and CBM-II, so you are well catered for in terms of Commodore emulation here.

VICE C64 Emulator
VICE C64 Emulator in action running Robocop

VICE also has some really nice built-in CRT simulation tools which are easily adjustable to recreate that old playing experience. VICE is pretty much considered the standard in C64 Emulation.

TIP – Note that upon downloading VICE, you will find the emulator files hidden away in the ‘bin’ folder of the download. For example, load the ‘x64sc’ application file to access the Commodore 64 emulator.

VICE Features Include:

  • VICE emulates multiple Commodore systems – VICE not only emulates the Commodore 64, it also has C64DTV, C128, PET, PLUS4, SCPU64, and CBM-II emulators.
  • Excellent SID sound chip emulation – Includes the ‘reSID’ engine which is a lot more accurate than the standard engine.
  • Full Tape, Disk & Cartridge functionality – VICE can handle tape, disk & cartridge files with ease. Simply select your file and load.
  • Cycle Accurate CIA (Complex Interface Adapter) & VIA (Versatile Interface Adapter) emulation
  • Recreate CRT displays with fully configurable CRT emulation controls – Adjust settings such as brightness, saturation, gamma, scanline shade, tint & blur to recreate that classic CRT screen look.
  • Snapshot Images (Save States) – Save the current state of your C64 for later use and instantly recall where you left off with snapshot images.

C64 Forever

The easiest C64 Emulator to set uUp

C64 Forever is definitely the package for you if you want easy access to C64 games on your PC. Made by Cloanto, the same team behind the Amiga Forever package. C64 Forever gives you an easy setup experience, easy-to-use interface, accurate C64 emulation, and a wealth of additional features.

If you want ease of access, versatility, and robust emulation, then C64 Forever could well be your best bet.

There are paid versions of C64 Forever which offer unrestricted access including a full-screen option, but there is a free package available to allow you to get a feel for it before maybe jumping in with the full product.

C64 Forever
C64 Forever Running Multiple Commodore Emulators (Screenshot from c64forever.com)

C64 Forever Features Include:

  • Based on the Excellent VICE Emulator – C64 Forever gives you the benefits of using the excellent VICE emulation engine, but with a simpler front end
  • Easy to Set Up – No expertise required, just click and install
  • Simple User Interface – No messing around with terminology and tricky menu systems
  • Customisable Controls Per Game – Save your own custom control mappings at a system of game level
  • RetroPlatfrom Library Database Integration
  • RP9 Format Compatible – Makes managing your software library easier with one-click access

Mobile C64

A great C64 Emulator for Android users

Mobile C64 by Joerg Jahnke is a free Commodore 64 Emulator for Android. It is also one that has received more recent updates and maintenance. There are several older apps on the Play Store still which have not received updates for years, but Mobile C64 is a more recent addition and one that is currently updated.

Online C64 Emulator

If you would rather not mess around installing emulators, then check out what The Internet Archive (archive.org) has to offer. They have a huge library of C64 games ready to play in your browser. You will need to use a laptop or desktop computer to play them effectively, you can easily map your controls to your keyboard or controller within the emulator on archive.org, but be warned, you will lose your settings if you change games.

If you are after a quick play on something, it is an easy way to get an instant C64 game fix! Highlights of the collection for me include; Hyper Sports, Action Biker, Wizball, and IK+.

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