This time I’m writing about a C64 game and how I got involved with it, rewinding to early 2015.
For my part things got in motion when my Out Run Memories picture got some positive attention at the time of its release. Thanks to that I got in contact with Antonio Savona, who kindly asked me if I could make a loading picture for his game P0 Snake. Antonio had already created the game for the RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition 2014, and the game ended up winning the competition by a fair margin!
And it’s no surprise. It’s a clever snake game with a twist, with varied levels and gameplay, and an ingenious one-button game mechanics! On top of the solid game design there are some surprising features for a 16k game like a password system and digitized speech samples! I mean, the game fits into 16 kilobytes. And when that game greets you with a speech sample saying “Welcome to P zero Snake” and introduces more samples during the gameplay, it does raise an eyebrow! There’s an interesting article at the game’s development blog about the challenges with the audio and how it was pulled off.
Just take a look. Note the clever references to various classic games:
Thanks to the 16k game’s success and popularity, it was going to have an extended RGCD C64 cartridge release. And for this extended version I got to make the intro screen! Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s what I made as a 30 year birthday present for a friend of mine. Maniac Mansion cartridge for the Commodore 64!
Of course a cartridge like this never existed back in the day, as the original Manic Mansion released for the C64 was disk only game. It’s only thanks to the crackers, patchers and hardware developers of recent years who we can thank for the possibility to have this much acclaimed and loved game in a C64 cartridge format today.
You’ve probably guessed already that it’s an EasyFlash cartridge in a ‘custom’ Maniac Mansion themed cartridge case. And on the EasyFlash, there is written the excellent EasyFlash-patched Maniac Mansion Mercury by Onslaught. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been already quite a while since I last wrote anything about 1541 Ultimate. In the meantime I’ve gotten myself also the new model, the 1541 Ultimate-II. It’s a good time to recap the project and device status at the moment, especially since the latest firmware update brought some nice new features.
So what’s different from the previous model?
Let’s start with the physical differences.
Obviously the appearance has changed a lot. The most apparent change is that this new model comes in a case, and is more compact. Now it actually looks like a cartridge, and it doesn’t have those silly legs the previous model was standing on. And yes, having the case on it is a definite plus.
The smaller size comes with a downside though. The SD card slot is replaced by a microSD card one. Regular size SD cards are much nicer to handle I think. But it’s not only that! Since the first few production batches the microSD card slot part had to be changed due to sourcing issues. Mine is with the new slot, and I must admit, the new microSD slot is a bitch. With this new card slot, the microSD card goes deeper inside the cartridge. You need to have something thin to insert or eject the card. You just can’t do it with the tip of your finger. Read the rest of this entry »
Not too long ago, the C64 community saw a release of a new game, Soulless. New games for the C64 gets released every once in a while, but what made Soulless stand out from the usual new C64 game releases was the passion put into it’s proper commercial release. I was impressed enough to order myself two copies of it!
The game was released under Psytronik Software label and is being sold by two UK based retro game stores; Binary Zone Interactive and RGCD. The game was released simultaneously in all imaginable C64 formats: Cartridge, floppy disk and tape, plus digital downloads to complete the lineup. RGCD distributes the top of the line cartridge version and Binary Zone sells the floppy and tape versions of the game, and the digital downloads. I ordered the cartridge version from RGCD and the premium disk version from Binary Zone. As a nice touch the fellows from both stores sent the game as digital download by email after confirmed order.
The game is identical between all the versions, one can just choose the option that fits one’s retro tripping the best! Cartridge, floppy and tape versions are only for a real C64 of course, but the digital downloads can be used with emulators and devices like Chameleon, 1541 Ultimate, sd2iec drives and so on.
Both stores additionally offers a choice between a budget and a premium version – the game can be bought as a cartridge/disk/tape only or with extras. I’d recommend getting the game with all the extras, as all that stuff makes it feel a genuine old school game!
And besides – just look at all this stuff! This is the cartridge version from RGCD:
At the end of last year skoe released the EasyFlash 3 design. Just like the original EasyFlash, the design is open source, so basically anyone is able to start making those. It’s likely that these boards start surfacing from different sources. The first place selling assembled EasyFlash 3 cartridges I found was Retro-Donald’s Sinchai-Shop, and mine’s from there.
There are already at least two board designs. One like mine here, a short cartridge with buttons on both sides. The other design has longer board and the buttons are at the back in the usual way.
You North-American folks are probably pleased to know that RETRO Innovations is going to manufacture and sell them as well.
And yes – this is your JiffyDOS on a stick .. err.. cart solution!
Seriously, calling EasyFlash 3 just that is a vile devaluation (and I’ve seen it already happen). It’s much more than “just” a KERNAL on a cartridge. Read the rest of this entry »
Just a quick heads-up, I recently ordered some stuff from Retro-Donald’s Sinchai-Shop. Finally the goods arrived, and above you can see the loot I got.
Top: Micromys V3. Below, from left to right: EasyFlash 3, MMC2IEC + programmed AVR, Nano SwinSID, Super PLA.
Sinchai.de is an online shop that is specializing in Commodore 8 bit accessories and DIY kits. Unfortunately the site is in German only, as is all communication and support. Additionally the information and instructions for the products may be very slight, and most of the product support seems to be at the German C64 forum Forum-64. The shop supports the community there and vice versa it appears.
At least the product assortment is very interesting, and they ship worldwide. And Google Translate is your friend if you are like me and don’t speak nor read German.
Apart from the language barrier and almost three weeks’ delivery time I’m very pleased with the experience. Might be that Donald is busy putting the now-released EasyFlash 3 boards together! The pieces I finally got are of good quality, and the packaging was well done. Postage rates were reasonable, and generally, so are the prices at the shop. My recommendations.
At the time of my overview there were only few EasyFlash tailored releases around, and I thought that the most prominent use of EasyFlash cartridge was the possibility to create EasyFlash multicart images from several single load programs using the Draco Cart Maker.
Since that, the EasyFlash tailored game releases kept on coming. These are usually some of the bigger games for C64, or even compilations of them, modified to run from EasyFlash without loading pauses, often including extra graphics, documents or other bonuses, incorporating bug fixes to the originals, and often with game or score saving feature writing directly to the flash memory. These features are sometimes found only in the EasyFlash patched versions.
At the moment there are quite a few EF releases already, and I’m sure new ones keep on appearing. Basically EasyFlash has become a new medium standard for C64.
And even more so with the phenomenal C64 port of Prince of Persia by Mr. SID. It’s a 1:1 port of the original Apple II game and graphically almost on par with the PC and Amiga versions. The famous fluid animation is there and the gameplay is identical to the original game. Not to mention it’s a great game and a classic, now for the first time ever available on C64 and C128. And it’s available only for the EasyFlash cartridge. Read the rest of this entry »
New hardware just keeps on coming for the C64. Now, a new device called Alien Flash Cartridge and the long-awaited Chameleon cartridge are available.
The Alien Flash Cartridge was revealed at Lemon 64 Forums only two weeks ago. It is 16 megabyte Flash memory cartridge that has EasyFlash support and Action Replay compatibility. It also features USB connection that can be used for flashing the cartridge and also to download programs directly to C64 memory. Basically the cartridge has 16 one megabyte memory banks and each of them act like EasyFlash cartridge – except those can be flashed over USB connection. This alone is awesome, plus add the Action Replay mode and the ability to push single load programs to C64’s memory over the USB connection. Certainly a very interesting piece of kit!
If this sounds like must thing to have better act fast. These cartridges can be preordered now and the preordering is open only until 6th March! The developer Stingray sells the cartridges over at his website Multimeter Calibrations Australia. Check the link to Lemon discussion for more info. Find also the few demonstrative YouTube videos.
If I didn’t have EasyFlash and several Action Replay compatible devices already I would be placing order right now!
The Chameleon, in turn, has been in development for a long time. It started out as a “VGA box for C64” but bloated out to become something much greater.
Since the C64 does not provide any higher spec video signal than S-video, the starting point idea for Chameleon was to replicate the VIC-II video chip using a powerful FPGA core and have it generate the VGA video signal to have high quality picture for today’s monitors and televisions. Since there’s some serious processing power available, why not use it also for something else? Well, they did. Read the rest of this entry »
New hardware for the C64 appears like it was still a production machine. It’s amazing. This time I’m talking about EasyFlash cartridge. EasyFlash has existed for some time already, and now I got myself one of those.
I bought mine fully assembled from Mike Betz via Lemon64 Forums. These carts are nicely finished with quality case, stickers and all. And of course I peeked inside – the case hides the real quality of the cartridge; Professionally made PCB, all socketed chips and flawless soldering make up these EasyFlash cartridges.
So what’s EasyFlash?
EasyFlash is a Flash memory based programmable cartridge for C64. Basically it works like any original game or software cartridge except that the cartridge binary (data, or cartridge image) can be easily erased and rewritten. And this is done using no other tools than the C64 and software called EasyProg. Any standard (8k & 16k) or Ocean Type 1 (128k & 256k) cartridge image can be written into EasyFlash and it effectively “becomes” that cartridge. Read the rest of this entry »
I came across this interesting C64 hardware add-on project some time ago and I was so impressed over it that I ordered one for myself right away. I have had it for some time already, so maybe I could write some thoughts about it.
1541 Ultimate with travel speakers
In short, 1541 Ultimate is a floppy drive replacement for Commodore 64, hence the name. It’s a SD card based solution which allows you to store and use disk images on the SD card as if they were floppy disks on a real drive. But it doesn’t end there. 1541 Ultimate offers an impressive list of great features that makes it perhaps the single best peripheral ever made for C64 to date. I’m not going to copy-paste the specifications and feature list here, those can be found from the project site.
When I got my unit, I honestly had an empty feeling for a while. I realized that 1541 Ultimate made just about every C64 peripheral I had obsolete and even offered more. Now that I have grown out of that empty feeling, here’s a little sum-up of my thoughts on the device. Read the rest of this entry »