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. 🙂

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! 🙂

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.

I found my first computer: Telesport SD 050C

Telesport SD 050C

Many years ago I mentioned the first computer system that came into my family home. I couldn’t remember what it was called and it had been thrown out years before. I had searched retro console sites, looking through “history of computing” Youtube videos, and more but I couldn’t find it anywhere.

That was until Saturday afternoon while out on a photowalk in Cork City! In the window of the retro gaming shop on North Main Street was a sight I had last seen more than thirty years previously. I couldn’t believe it!

Now that I have a name, the Telesport SD 050C I could look it up and I found out that it was one of a number of Pong clone machines released in the late 1970’s. The 050C family aren’t very rare and aren’t worth much but it was a strange nostalgic feeling looking at it there after all this time.

It’s a Pong clone. The screenshots above are basic but in the early 80s it was a lot of fun. I don’t remember the model we had having that many colours. Must have been an earlier model I guess. Here’s a brief history lesson:

The world was undergoing “PONG Madness”. It seemed only natural that developers would create advancements to the original AY-3-8500 chip to incorporate color and even more games. This explains the amount of PONG systems since each machine contained a different chip. However things were handled different in some areas particularly in Europe.

Europe did not see the release of the Intellivision and Atari 2600 till the early 1980s. This allowed Pong to have a longer success. Rather then creating a new machine for each new chip, developers took the General Instruments popular line of chips and slapped them into cartridges. These carts were not like ROM carts used in later systems. They simply housed a specific General Instruments processor chip with pin outs to interface with a console. These were the PC-50X line of cartridges (see the Games section for specifics).

With the PC-50X cartridges available, console manufacturers were able to produce a machine that could play several games and market them at a low cost. The units were made in various countries and were marketed by Creatronic, Hanimex, ITMC, Rollet, GrandStand, Soundic and lord knows how many other manufacturers. There are literally over two hundred console variations that utilized this technology.

The initial model SD-050 varied in terms of outward appearance (colors, etc), manufacturers names and slight modifications. However each unit had the same overall design with two detachable controllers with 10 buttons located on the top of the machine. These 10 buttons, which clearly identify a PC-50X based console, were used to select the different games available on each cart. The SD-050 model only produced black and white video.

New models such as the SD-070 and SD-090 appeared and sold well into the 80s since the units were far cheaper then the newer consoles making waves in the US and Japan. These newer models played the same carts, but added additional settings, sound and SECAM color (4 colors).

There were far too many PC-50X cart accepting consoles and it is difficult to list them all.

More links to read up on the PC-50X cartridge and related machines:


I found one video on Youtube featuring this machine!

I resisted the urge to buy that machine last weekend. I may have a CRT TV in the attic but the games are so simplistic it’s best to leave them in the past where they belong. The machine architecture isn’t emulated but the games could be remade easily by anyone interested. Hmm, maybe..

The JXD A1000 Arrived!

Tweets have been flying around all day as people get their shiny new iPads but the postman delivered something I was looking forward to for a few weeks.

Yes, the JXD A1000 arrived this afternoon. I tried a few games and videos on it and it works quite well! The bundled 720p trailers were a bit jumpy but lower resolution DVD rips were fine.

The GBA games I tried, F-Zero and Rayman Origins (original carts in the attic) played perfectly and it’s a pleasure to play them on a decent screen! The original GBA screen is notoriously dark.

The screen is huge, the sound is loud, controls are great with even a small nipple joystick that works in GBA games.

Not many things to complain about except for the fiddly volume control and how to exit a game or save/load state (press the power button briefly to bring up a small menu).
The instruction manual is written in Chinese which is a bit of a pain too and it’s impossible to charge it from a USB port and play a game/video at the same time. I’m sure you can plug it into a wall socket and it’ll be fine though.

Battery will probably be a problem too as it’s built in. I’m sure I’ll end up taking the thing apart and searching for a replacement when it starts to wear down.

Also, the device includes a couple of games and pictures that I’m quite sure haven’t been licensed…

Still, a great way to play old GBA, NES and SNES in a handheld and cheap too. I was rudely reminded that games back then were a lot harder than games nowadays and my son briefly tried to touch the screen in attempt to use the GUI. No, this isn’t a touch screen device!
It’s on sale at Focalprice where I bought it. Shipping takes a while but it’s cheap and very cheerful.

Wing Commander IV

Oh look what I found at home a few days ago! A boxed copy of Wing Commander IV for Windows 95 and DOS. I have never even played this and honestly don’t remember buying it but since GOG have just released the third game in the series I should give this a go. The game comes on 6 CDs so I might just wait until the GOG release of one nicely zipped up download. I wonder if they’ll give me a discount if I send them a scan of the barcode?

I also found Resident Evil 2 for PC, which boldly says it only requires a P166. Imagine that. A PC running on a 166MHz CPU. How quaint. My phone is close to ten times faster than that. Gulp.

Painkiller!

No, not the podcast, but a Polish game released in 2004 and it’s on gog.com now. Yesterday it was priced at $3.99 and I jumped at the chance after watching the Zero Punctuation review and a couple of Youtube gameplay videos. Looks very old school like Quake, Doom or Serious Sam!

It’s back to $9.99 now however.

Gaming History in Pictures

A few games I found recently while sorting through boxes at home:

  • Quake 3 tin box, Linux edition. I wrote an article about this for the Irish Times a few years ago.
  • Double Dragon, C64 version, I posted pictures of this before of course.
  • Gyroscope, the first 5 1/4 disk based game I owned on the C64. It was given to me by someone, can’t remember who now but I used it later for Stunt Car Racer and even printed the loading screen from that game on a dot matrix printer for the disk cover.
  • The excellent Stunt Car Racer manual and box cover.
  • The System 3 Premier Collection and Thalamus The Hits compilations were the pride of my games collection at one time. I still remember the excitement of getting those boxes in the post.
  • C64 Cabal, tape version. Brilliant game. I remember spending as much time tinkering with the game ASM code as playing it..
  • Half Life 2 Collector’s Edition and Half Life 1. Steam was launched when HL2 was released and I was recently able to register the HL1 CD key in Steam and download that great game.

Pangea Arcade is free on the Mac App sto…

Pangea Arcade is free on the Mac App store right now. There are 3 classic arcade games in this app based on Centipede, Asteroids and Missile Command so there’s plenty of gameplay on offer here!

I’m trying to install it but the App Store has frozen on my machine. Hopefully it’ll stop being a buggy POS sometime this morning so I can download this. *sigh* (Thanks James for the news!)