Gamebase64 – instant C64 collection

If you had a Commodore 64 in your youth, or you’re simply curious about the games produced for the system then Gamebase64 is for you.

Gamebase64 is an effort to catalogue every single Commodore 64 game, along with associated media like music, tape or disk covers, adverts and magazine reviews

It’s huge! The latest version is V15 and was released in 2016 holding 25,700 games. The games themselves don’t take up too much data but the artwork, music, and associated material really take up a lot of room. The whole collection is available as 3 ISO files and an artwork zip file. You can find download links to all of those in this thread, but if you don’t want to download them you can browse the collection here (or here) too. You’ll need to download the GameBase frontend to view everything as well as the V15 database files. I use Vice to emulate the Commodore 64.

GameBase itself is a database frontend for Windows that supports multiple databases. Many systems from the Commodore Vic20 to the Amiga or the Speccy and Amstrad CPC range are covered. You can find links to them on the GameBase website as well as many other databases.

I mainly use a Mac so I use Gamebase64 Browser. It’s a very slick frontend but if you search around you’ll find frontends written in a variety of languages for various modern platforms.

Installation was as simple as copying everything out of the ISO files into a directory, installing GameBase64 Browser in the usual way and when first run, pointing it at the directory where I had copied everything else.

Single disk and tape games work perfectly fine but I’ve had trouble with multi-disk games. To play Retrograde I had to manually unzip both disks into a temporary directory and load them in Vice outside of GameBase64 Browser. Not difficult at all but worth remembering when your favourite game asks you to insert disk 2. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re at all interested in retro computers then GameBase is definitely worth checking out!

Retrograde

Ah Retrograde, a Commodore 64 game released by Thalamus in 1989. The Rowland Brothers, of Creatures, Creatures 2 and Mayhem in Monsterland fame created this game and it shows. Presentation is top notch. Some would say that this is a repetitive shoot ’em up but I love it. Nice mix of flying around shooting aliens and then a bit of a break with the underground bits. I love the graphics and the sound is a delight.

The gameplay is very simplistic, especially underground but the flying weapons are super! Just make sure you have an autofire on your controller. My thumb was sore from two levels when I remember Vice can do the hard work for me. I’m also glad Vice can save a snapshot of the computer state to save my progress as this game takes some time to complete.

Here’s a video someone else made of it:

You Have To Win The Game

What game? No, that’s the title of a free game on Steam and on the Commodore 64!

The C64 version can be found here on CSDb while the Steam version is here. The Steam version works on Windows, Mac and 32 bit Linux! A comment on the original announcement post links to what could be a port to something called FreeBASIC which is available here.

The game is a very hard platform game where you have to collect all the items in the game to complete it 100%. The CSDb page has some spoiler comments so beware of those if you want to avoid them. Then again, this game came out in 2012 so you probably know about it already.

The game is great, but the the stand out thing for me is the flawless C64 port. It looks very much like the modern Steam version, with the same sounds and graphics which isn’t surprising as they’re fairly basic. The game plays the same, at least as far as I’ve got to!

Many people love this game for the CGA colour palette but it’s a reminder that the PC had humble beginnings comparable to the Commodore 64. The Commodore Amiga released in the mid-eighties blew away anything produced on the PC for many years.

Jedininja

Sometimes you accidentally dive down a rabbit hole of your own making.
I came across the Retro Computer Scene search engine a few days ago andย  accidentally clicked on a link to a Commodore 64 disk image. Those files are small at 175KB so I decided to keep it and look at it later.

This morning I did and found Noice Driver v3.0a, a music disk for the Commodore 64 released in 1993. There are some great tunes on there but the name JEDININJA leapt out at me. It’s a good tune too!

The filename of the disk image is sb130978-1fbef9.d64 so I guessed it might have something to do with Scene Base. I downloaded their metadata list and found it there in the c64disk set!

You can find JEDININJA on csdb and a later version of the music disk there too: Noice Driver V3.8c.

It’s quite amazing the amount of digital history that’s out there. I’m only scratching the surface.

My Favourite C64 Intro Music

The version of Super Snake Simulator I used to play on the C64 was a cracked version by The Wanderer Group. I loved the game but the music in the intro was an infectious tune.

Listening to it in a Youtube video doesn’t have quite the same impact. It cuts off a bit too early as well. Perhaps rose tinted glasses and all that? It doesย  bring back memories of typing “left arrow” L to load games from a tape and “Turbo Tape by Jeff”, the tape loader used to pack more games on to one cassette. Piracy was rife on the C64, but I still have a box of (original) game cassettes and disks in the attic.

Want to hear the original “Wanderer”? It was originally recorded in 1961 and reached no 2 in the US charts!

Super Snake Simulator itself was a lot of fun too. It’s still worth checking out!

Lots of C64 Intros

Vice – autostart with a directory

Vice, the Commodore 64 emulator is a cross platform emulator that works on Windows, Linux, MacOS and other operating systems. It also allows you to emulate the Vic 20, C128 and other early Commodore machines.

Double clicking on a Commodore d64 disk image file will load x64, the Commodore 64 emulator and load the first programme on the disk image.

LOAD”*”,8,1

Quite often I want to look at a D64 image directory listing instead of running the first programme on the disk.

You can do this by unchecking the “autostart” box on the file open box of course but it’s not as convenient.

So, last Friday I asked on Twitter if it was possible to drag and drop a D64 image onto Vice to display the disk contents. Logiker replied and helped me by DM to handle double clicking on a C64 disk image.

What I needed to do was load the disk image and then feed the directory listing command to the C64.

LOAD"$",8
LIST
LOAD”$”,8

Getting MacOS to accept the command line was harder to achieve. In Windows you can change the start up parameters for a programme. In MacOS it should be possible to modify the emulator “package” with a script that calls the real executable but I couldn’t get that working.
In Linux I would have just created a shell script that called the emulator. ๐Ÿ™‚

What did work in MacOS was using Automator. I created a “Run Shell Script” action and filled it in with the following. If you want to follow along at home you’ll have to change the path to x64.


/Applications/Vice64/x64.app/Contents/MacOS/x64 -8 "$@" -keybuf load\\"$\\",8\\nlist\\n

I saved that as a new app in ~/bin/ called “Vice64”, and associated all D64 images with that application. Now double clicking on a disk image shows me a directory listing!

It doesn’t work unfortunately when I have an Action Replay cartridge loaded. Maybe I need to add F3 or F7 to the keyboard buffer?

One of the advantages of looking at the directory structure is the directory art some demos have. Here’s one from Pearls for Pigs, a D64 I happened to use while testing this but there are loads of them. I saw that Logiker has a page dedicated to directory art!

Happy times! ๐Ÿ™‚

Maze of the Mummy & Freeze64!

Maze of the Mummy, rare “purple” Freeze64 and my regular Freeze64

Look what the postman delivered last week! I entered a competition held by Freeze64 author/publisher Vinny for C64 game Maze of the Mummy and a rare misprint of the Freeze64 fanzine and I won! You should watch the live video of Vinny picking the winner, if only to wonder at everything he has plugged into his C64 and a preview of issue 18 of Freeze64. He pronounced my name wrong too, but that’s to be expected. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have yet to play Maze of the Mummy as it’s been a hectic few days here but I’m going to get my 1541-II down out of the attic and make a backup d64 image to play in Vice this week.

I think the last boxed C64 game I ever bought was Creatures 2 which was a long time ago so handling a physical copy of a new game sets off a mix of nostalgia for the old and eagerness to try something new. I’m looking forward to trying this game!


Thalamus The Hits

Thalamus was a game developer based in the UK in the mid 80s to early 90s. They had a reputation for flashy games and and pounding soundtracks. Most of their games were highly rated and their first compilation, The Hits, had some amazing games.

Sanxion and Armalyte were among my favourite shoot ’em ups while Hawkeye had great looking parallax scrolling. I thought the Delta theme music was great but the game didn’t grab me like Armalyte did. I’m going to get that game out again later..

Still have the receipt from Turbosoft in the box too!

Thanks Commodore Format for reminding me I bought this!

How to catch my eye in the Newsagent

While in Eason newsagents today I glanced over at the gaming magazines and something caught my eye and brought me back almost 30 years to when my brother and I bought our first copy of Zzap! 64.

Future Publishing have a new retro gaming magazine on sale that has a very familiar front cover.

Zzap! 64 issue 50, May 1989.
Retro Volume 10, September 2017.

The RETRO title will be familiar to Speccy owners, as it looks very similar to the title graphic of Crash magazine, another Newsfield publication from long ago.

I had a quick look through the magazine. Not much in the way of C64 games. It did have a bit about the Amiga 500, but the paper felt cheap, and I knew it would only end up collecting dust if I bought it.