This summer was my 20th anniversary of owning a Commodore 64. Yes – I got mine when it was already the dusk of C64’s commercial life. But still for many years to come it was the most popular gaming machine among my friends. But why do I still play around with mine? What it gives you in 2010? Of course a great deal of my C64 hobby is nostalgia. But there’s more.
After I had moved away from using the C64 in favour to then-modern PC, I found my interest to the good old Commodore in late 90’s when I found some demos on a BBS and ran them on a C64 emulator. I wasn’t expecting that the C64 could run such effects that could be seen in e.g. Smash Designs’ Triage demos. I was amazed and I wanted to be able to run the most amazing demos I could find on a real machine as the emulation was far from perfect by the time. At this point I had few different models of C64s and I was transferring floppy images to 5,25″ DD floppies with Star Commander.
So it was the demos that got me into this madness. And still today it’s the demos and other scene productions that keeps me excited and amazed. All the stuff that is still released regularly in 2010. Especially in the last few years the technical limits of C64 have been pushed time after time in graphics, audio and realtime effects. Some examples: New hi-res screen mode (Crest Slide Story 90%), Amiga MOD playback (Vicious SID) and “MP3” playback (C64MP3) on a stock C64, and the 15 minutes nonstop “code-porn” demo Edge of Disgrace.
I can’t wait what the X-2010 will bring!
And talking about the audio – the technical milestones mentioned above are just curiosities. What’s wonderful is the amount of great synthesized music available and still being made for the SID chip. The music releases today are no bleep-blop but skilfully crafted pieces of music. I genuinely enjoy the sound of SID sound chip. Right now as I write I’m listening sids from HVSC with my HardSID.
My hobby is not only about old games and new productions but I also have a large(ish) collection of C64 hardware. I study and tinker around with the machines and have repaired broken ones. It’s all part of the fun for me. And the old hardware is not the only thing to play around and to get familiar with. In the last ten years there has been a growing(!) trend of newly produced peripherals! From Retro Replay to network modules and 1541 Ultimate – devices making use of modern technology to bring new features and possibilities to the use of C64. Thanks to these new devices it is more effortless than ever to use the real machine instead of emulators.
The C64 scene and community is well alive and active. I think the last few years have been wonderful for a C64 enthusiastic like me. I believe the key factor is to combine nostalgia with exploring new. And there has been so much new to explore in the recent years!
Given all the activity and possibilities today, it’s never been easier to love the 64.