SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Commodore 64 Emulator Cheat Sheet
June 22nd, 2020 by Rob O'Hara

YOU: You’re trying to get the Commodore 64 working in an emulator but you didn’t have one growing up or you don’t remember some specifics. That’s ok! Commodork is here to help you! Take it away, Rob!

01. BASIC

Powering on the Commodore 64 places you at a BASIC prompt. Note that by simply turning the machine on, the amount of available RAM drops from 64k to 39k. Fake news!

02. ATTACHING A DISK IMAGE

All Commodore 64 emulators recognize .D64 files as Commodore disk images. In real life you would would insert a disk into your disk drive before using it. In an emulator, you must “attach” the disk. Different emulators have different ways to do this but they’re all the same basic idea. Note that each physical disk drive on the Commodore 64 had an assigned number on the serial bus, and the first one was always #8. 99% of all Commodore programs assume you are loading from drive 8, and many/most multifile programs will fail if loaded from a different drive.

03. GET A DIRECTORY

Getting the list of files on a C64 floppy takes two commands. The first command loads the list of files and the second one displays them. The command to load a directory is:
LOAD”$”,8
LIST
A few things here. First, the C64 keyboard does not match up with a PC keyboard. The quotation mark on a C64 keyboard is Shift-2 (@ on a PC keyboard). Also note that spaces are optional in the middle of most commands, so the following three commands are identical:
Code: Select all

LOAD”$”,8
LOAD “$” ,8
LOAD “$” ,8
After typing LIST, you can see that the disk I inserted contains a few games.

04. LOADING PROGRAMS / WILDCARDS

The Commodore 64 processes filenames in sequential order, and supports wildcards (*) when matching file names. If we want to load “Hideous Bill”, which also happens to be the first file on the disk, we can do that in a number of ways.
LOAD “HIDEOUS BILL” ,8,1 — this works because the file name is an exact match.
LOAD “HID*” ,8,1 — this works because HID* matches the first file.
LOAD “*” ,8,1 — this works because the wildcard just matches the first file it comes to.

Many people think LOAD “*” ,8,1 means “load the game!” or something. Really it means “load the first file you come to,” and for all commercial games, the loader file would be the first file on the game’s disk.

05. LOADING / RUN

Once the game has loaded, type RUN to start the game (or often, to start more loading.)

06. WAIT

Commodore’s 1541 disk drive was notoriously slow, so be patient. Eventually, your game should load and run. If you come to one of those fancy cracking screens, you’ll have to hit the space bar to bypass it.

07. LOADING OTHER FILES ON A DISK

Let’s jump back to the directory for a moment. Let’s say instead of Hideous Bill, we wanted to play Archon II. Since we know the filename, we COULD type LOAD “ARCHON II” ,8,1 … but I am lazy, so let’s just load “A*” since “Archon II” is the first file that starts with the letter “A” on the disk.

Note in the directory that there are two files that start with the letter A. The first one (Archon II) is only 1 block long and the second one (Archon II-2048) is much larger. The second one is the ML code that the first one will load into memory and execute. When in doubt, load the first/smallest file.

08. WHEN DONE, TYPE RUN

Just like that, we’ve loaded a different game off of the same disk!

09. FASTLOAD

Most emulators also support the use of cartridge files. The Epyx Fastload cartridge will not only make games load 7x faster, but also greatly simplifies all the disk commands. To use it, you’ll have to track down an image of the cartridge in .CRT format and virtually attach it to your Commodore emulator. One you have done that and turn on the machine, you should see the word “FASTLOAD” appear underneath the READY prompt. You’re in business!

10. FASTLOAD COMMANDS

With the Fastload cartridge in, you can now get a directory simply by typing $ and hitting return. The entire load command has been replaced by a % sign. To load Pipeline from the disk, all I had to type was %p* and hit enter.

11. THAT WAS FAST

You can’t tell from your side, but that game loaded really quickly!

CHEAT SHEET

Directory: LOAD “$” ,8 followed by LIST
Load: LOAD “FILENAME” ,8,1 followed by RUN
For loading files, wildcard can be used.

Keyboard quirks:

Quotation Mark: Shift 2
Asterisk: ]
Restore = Page Up
Run/Stop = ESC
Control = Tab Key
Commodore Key – Left CTRL key

 

About the author: Rob O’Hara is accomplished Commodore 64 enthusiast and author.┬áCheck out his Commodore 64 podcast called Sprite Castle and his new novel, The Human Library.


Comments are closed

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa