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moodorf

Talk me into (or out of) buying a Commodore 64

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Hey there, lately I've been tinkering with the idea of buying a Commodore 64 to add to my sort of collection of consoles.

 

Here are some things I should make clear off the bat:

 

-I don't have any classic computers, the closet thing I have is an Atari 2600 Jr. I know my way around computers to some degree, but I'm not as knowledgable as many of commodore fans seem to be.

-I never had one as a kid, so everything I know about it is simply stuff I've gathered from the internet.

-I don't have any stores or many resources--except the internet--for acquiring the peripherals/games.

-I don't want to spend any more money that I have to to get a working unit and games.

 

Having said all that here is how I would acquire a working C64, all the stuff I'd want, as well as the prices I expect to pay:

 

-I'd want to get one from CL, but I'll probably have to resort to Ebay (so I'm guessing around $80- ish for the unit & power supply, $30-$40 for shipping)

-I don't want to go the 1541 route, So i'm probably going to want to buy a SD2IEC to get .D64 files. ($80-ish) ( http://www.thefuturewas8bit.com/shop/commodore.html )

-As a side note, I already have a 16G SD card, so that's already taken care of.

-I plan to use the detachable cord and switchbox from my Jr. as a way to since I believe it should be compatible with the C64. Here is what it looks like:antenna_switch%26cable.JPG

and in case you're wondering, yes, I have a compatible tv for this switchbox :)

 

Now, here's what's holding me back (potential deal-breakers)

 

-I'm not really finding the "$50 commodore 64 tested and in good working order" that I keep reading about and was hoping to acquire. I'm not sure if I'm just not looking in the right channels or if prices have gone up lately. But $80-$100 for a machine that I likely won't be able to just go out and buy game disks for seems pricey.

 

-I'm wondering if the SD2IEC that is being sold on the above ^ website is going to be compatible with a NTSC C64. I really, really don't want to break down and buy a 1541, because I don't really have the space and they're (supposedly) less than reliable.

 

-I've heard/read that finding roms online in NTSC format is a pain and it won't be easy to find the best games/software online for free.

 

-Lastly, I'm wondering if a machine that may end costing me over $200 will be worth the money and effort.

 

Ok guys. Someone talk me into or out of buying a commodore 64. Argue your case. Is it truly a worthy gaming computer that I should invest in, or am I in wayyyy over my head and need to pull back??

 

Thanks for reading! :) :)

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I have seen at least two C64 and disk drive go for $50 and under on eBay. Now, add one more person to the mix and the price goes up, but it is still not impossible to find. I already deleted them from my watch lists otherwise I would post up examples.

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What do you want to do with it?

If you want to program in BASIC, Commodore BASIC is pretty limited and you'll need to do a lot of PEEKS/POKES to deal with the hardware if you want to write games.
It's a bit sucky really. You could buy a Simon's BASIC cart to help but I'd pass.

If you want to program in assembly, you are banging the hardware direct anyway and the sprite & sound hardware is some of the best for the time.

If you just want to play games (which is what it sounds like), the DOS is probably the most awkward one I've used but if you can follow some "just do this" type of instructions you'll be fine.

Reliability wise... the C64 has some issues. Power supplies like to die when they get old and take the computer with them so keep an eye on the voltage and possibly plan on getting an replacement eventually.

As far as games go, it has a huge library and many of the games are really good.
The many SD interfaces out there give you a lot of options for loading programs without the 5 1/4" disk drives. From that standpoint the C64 has the most options I've seen.

I'd look at the Top 40 game list on lemon64.com and see if anything appeals to you. (under games)


Personally, for the things I like to tinker with, I actually like the Plus/4 better.
But hey, I'm not a huge gamer and I grew up with a computer that didn't have sprites or any sound chip so what do I know.

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The Commodore 64 can be a great, fun system.

 

Having said that, if you are just wanting to try out some old 1980s computer tech, I'd suggest trying out some of the computers from other makers first. The Atari 600XL and 800XL are pretty reliable, and would likely be a pretty good "stepping stone" from the 2600 to 8-bit computing. I'd also recommend the TI-99/4A, as every single one I have ever come across has been fully functional, and we have a nice, active little sub-forum here at AtariAge focused on them. Some of the Radio-Shack/Tandy Color Computer models can be good as well, though the earliest versions can be very limited in memory and have sub-par keyboard setups. However, they are well made (compared to Commodore stuff), tend to be fully functional, and there is quite a bit of hobbyist support for them as well.

 

Really, just scrounge up any decent little 1980s 8-bit home computer that you can find in functional condition for pretty cheap, and start playing with the thing! I have come across several fully functional TI-99/4As for less than $10. Any of these old 8-bit computers should give you a good idea of whether or not you may like this somewhat different approach to vintage gaming. Personally, I find the vintage computers to be far more interesting than vintage game consoles.

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Go for it!

 

Opposite to the other replies, I don't see why you should take your first steps into vintage computing with a less common system that uses near unobtainium connectors for its peripherals. Of course you can emulate both a C64 and an Atari 800 and see which game library you like the better.

 

As for reliability, try to get a C64C or newer model, ideally one with the graphic symbols printed on top of the key next to the letter, instead of graphics on front of the key. It usually means it has the later motherboard with improved PLA that nearly ever goes bad, compared to the breadbox and early C models with the early motherboard where PLA chips die like flies. The newer models also tend to come with slightly better PSU's, or at least that is the case over here in Europe - perhaps power supplies never were improved much in the US.

 

The SD2IEC should work fine, there are no region differences on the peripherals except for input voltage of a floppy drive of course. Remember though that it will only support a subset of known fastloaders, so most of the time you will need to run D64 images with so called single-filed games. Fortunately the vast majority of D64 images are of that kind... Demo groups however tend to make their own fastloaders so a D64 with the latest demo - even if it is made to run on NTSC which is not always given - may have trouble loading on the SD2IEC. But trust me as an experienced Commodore user, I've owned an uIEC/SD which is a SD2IEC variant for nearly 10 years and very rarely found I got stuck with its shortcomings. Many people point towards the much more expensive 1541 Ultimate series, which I've never had any desire to get, simply because I don't see the need for one.

 

Regarding the video option, yes the cable should work unless the 2600 switchbox contains some crazy RF filter. I have understood that NES and perhaps also Sega switchboxes contain some circuit to filter out unwanted frequencies which means they may not work with other systems than intended. However for a rather small amount of money you can get a composite video cable in case you want to hook up the C64 to a more modern TV, get a better picture and not have to tune in the channel.

 

Since I'm mostly interested in PAL stuff, I can't tell how hard it is to find games designed for NTSC. Generally the C64 is region free, it is just on a technical note about the number of raster lines on screen the two differ. It means the more advanced games and demos using visual effects based on the raster line, e.g. split screen, open borders, some custom graphics modes, will display wrongly or not at all if the code is run with a different graphics chip than it was designed for. You can try this in advance by downloading D64 images and run them in VICE. In the menus you can toggle between NTSC and PAL so you can see how a certain game behaves.

 

Edit: And yes, try to get a fastloader cartridge if you can, often one may be included in a package. Something like a The Final Cartridge 3 or even Epyx Fastload will help you a lot. Check the market for actual prices so you don't overpay.

Edited by carlsson
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Why not do some previews in VICE to see if that's what you really wanna get involved in. Perhaps emulation will be enough for you? Try it and find out!

 

Added:

One neat thing with emulation is you get 100% reliability.

Edited by Keatah
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The C-64 is a fantastic classic system if you know what you're getting going into it. Do yourself a favor, though, and forget about using the RF switchbox. Just get a good composite or S-VIDEO cable. You'll be much better off.

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I'd go for it!

VICE is good but nothing is better than the feel of real hardware. That being said don't go into deep at the start, get a C64C and if you can a pair of 1541 drives.

There are plenty of user forums to help you get started and many here to help you.

 

Let us know what you decide.

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I'd go for it!

VICE is good but nothing is better than the feel of real hardware. That being said don't go into deep at the start, get a C64C and if you can a pair of 1541 drives.

There are plenty of user forums to help you get started and many here to help you.

 

Let us know what you decide.

Stay away from Vice - it's crap. I've been using a C-64 off & on since 1983. These days I use a C-128, but it has a 64 mode that is extremely close to a real C-64. I also have a C-64 setup here to. I am mostly a hardware person. But I have been using these machines long enough to get to know them pretty well. They can be interesting, fun, and challanging - depending on what you are doing with them.

Does this thread look familiar to you (moodorf):

http://www.lemon64.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=57600

I think you have been getting similar answers there too. I still think you should go for it.

Edited by motrucker

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The C-64 is a fantastic classic system if you know what you're getting going into it. Do yourself a favor, though, and forget about using the RF switchbox. Just get a good composite or S-VIDEO cable. You'll be much better off.

 

THIS. The C64 also has a cart slot, works like a game console for instant gaming! The Floppy Disk Library is huge and worth getting the fast load cart and 1541 drive. Type Attack, Shamus, Crossfire and so many forgotten games of the 8 bit computer era.

 

Edited by CRTGAMER

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Stay away from Vice - it's crap.

 

The only emulator that is better for any system is Stella. If you can't like Vice then you definitely are a "hardware person."

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Thanks for all the input guys!

I tried VICE and I found it a bit disappointing. However, certain parts of it gave me a decent idea of what owning the real thing might be like. So I decided to quit putting it off and ordered a C64 on Ebay.

I paid $160 for it. Yes, I know that's a lot, and I could probably have waited a few weeks and gotten one for less.....but I'm lazy..... and the average price for a Tested C64 on ebay right now is $100-ish. The one I ordered is refurbished and was the cleanest one I could find on ebay. It should come with the power supply, and video cables. I'm going to start out with carts first. If I buy a few carts and still want more games, I'll invest in a 1541 or 1541U or SD2IEC, etc.

I'll probably order a new power supply for it if a few weeks after I get it. Just to be safe.

Can anyone recommend some good/great Cart games for a NTSC Commodore 64?????

Edited by moodorf
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Stay away from Vice - it's crap.

 

I think you'll find pretty much alone in that opinion. The NTSC emulation is a touch off compared to PAL (which isn't surprising given the team is mostly in Europe, and the PAL scene dominates) but fundamentally it's nigh-on accurate.

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I think you'll find pretty much alone in that opinion. The NTSC emulation is a touch off compared to PAL (which isn't surprising given the team is mostly in Europe, and the PAL scene dominates) but fundamentally it's nigh-on accurate.

You should know me well enough to know I am not singling out Vice, I just think all emulators are useless. I have had a working C-64 since 1983, and keep at least one setup working. I prefer using the real hardware, that all. This subject comes up on other forums, and my stand is always the same. I don't give people a hard time for using an emulator, it's just not for me.

Edited by motrucker

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You should know me well enough to know I am not singling out Vice, I just think all emulators are useless. I have had a working C-64 since 1983, and keep at least one setup working. I prefer using the real hardware, that all. This subject comes up on other forums, and my stand is always the same. I don't give people a hard time for using an emulator, it's just not for me.

 

Fair enough, I just took offence to the use of the word "crap" here, when the emulator clearly is not. More precisely it is "not as good as the real thing", which on the most part, I agree with you :)

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You should know me well enough to know I am not singling out Vice, I just think all emulators are useless.

 

So you think DOSBox is useless? MAME? Everything that allows people to experience software that they would otherwise NEVER be able to? That's not a "use" in your mind?

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Fair enough, I just took offence to the use of the word "crap" here, when the emulator clearly is not. More precisely it is "not as good as the real thing", which on the most part, I agree with you :)

There are times I could word posts better - to that I can only plead guilty.

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Thanks for all the input guys!

 

I tried VICE and I found it a bit disappointing. However, certain parts of it gave me a decent idea of what owning the real thing might be like. So I decided to quit putting it off and ordered a C64 on Ebay.

 

I paid $160 for it. Yes, I know that's a lot, and I could probably have waited a few weeks and gotten one for less.....but I'm lazy..... and the average price for a Tested C64 on ebay right now is $100-ish. The one I ordered is refurbished and was the cleanest one I could find on ebay. It should come with the power supply, and video cables. I'm going to start out with carts first. If I buy a few carts and still want more games, I'll invest in a 1541 or 1541U or SD2IEC, etc.

 

I'll probably order a new power supply for it if a few weeks after I get it. Just to be safe.

 

Can anyone recommend some good/great Cart games for a NTSC Commodore 64?????

Congradulations. Glad to hear it. Oddly enough I bought a C-64 cartridge this weekend at a flea market, the Gateway to Apshai. It's an old game, but it's fun.The Lode Runner series are also good game cartridges. Hope this helps.

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I just got a new in box Commodore 64. Never used. Basically inherited it as a friend gave it to me before they passed. It sat in a closet the whole time and was never even connected.

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17 hours ago, lazarai27 said:

I just got a new in box Commodore 64. Never used. Basically inherited it as a friend gave it to me before they passed. It sat in a closet the whole time and was never even connected.

 

If you plan on using this 64, I would not run it on the original power supply for very long. But I'm sure someone probably told you this.

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In my experience using C64's since...well...the beginning, this is something you really have to have patience with. Back in the old days (when the computer was sold new) it was as easy as buying a new C64 at a local TRU (or insert store here) going home and getting your computing on. But now all you have is the used market. And in my experience that market is a PITA. I have gone through and had to repair (or send out to be repaired) at least half a dozen C64 computers over the past ten years. As much as I love this computer, it really does not hold up. Things just go...random things.

 

If you are dedicated you will end up with a fully functional unit and you'll love it...or at least I think you will because I do ;) But, be prepared for something to simply not work....unless the seller can prove that everything works properly via proper diagnostic. test harness, etc.

 

Like others said, emulation is the best bet to even see if this is something you would like to invest potentially a lot of time with.

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On 8/22/2015 at 7:11 PM, moodorf said:

It should come with the power supply, and video cables.

I'm surprised that no one else has said this, but if it's an original power supply...   For the love of God, don't use it!  The original PSUs are notorious system killers (tend to over-volt and fry chips).  I had one that was tested and woking, and less than a day later it fried my first C64.  This was almost two years ago, and I'm still repairing the damage.  Ray Carlson makes some great (and safe) replacements, the cheapest of which is $35 plus shipping.  Here's the website: http://personalpages.tds.net/~rcarlsen/custom ps.html

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