Looking for some 8-bit gaming action? Can’t afford the amazing prices of original Commodore 64 games on eBay? Not fond of C64 Mini? This is fine!
You can always build your own compact Commodore 64 using nothing more than an affordable Raspberry Pi. Here’s everything you need to know about how to do it.
Why not use the C64 Mini?
Released in early 2018, the C64 Mini is a compact computer that successfully emulates the original Commodore 64. Unfortunately, it’s not without bugs and costs $100, which isn’t ideal. It’s hard to add your own game ROMs to the C64 Mini, and it comes without an AC adapter (which seems unforgivable these days).
The C64 Mini also comes with a joystick that acts as a controller for navigating the system, launching games, making saves, and more. Unfortunately, this is not a very good joystick.
While it might be ideal for hardcore enthusiasts, there’s a chance the C64 Mini could give the newbie a very poor 8-bit gaming experience. Fortunately, there is an alternative: your Raspberry Pi.
Use any Raspberry Pi model you like!
Luckily, you can run Commodore 64 emulators on just about any Raspberry Pi model you can get your hands on. Be it the original Raspberry Pi A, B or Zero any Pi is suitable for Commodore 64 emulation!
While you can install RetroPie and set up a VICE64 emulator, you’ll get more reliable results with a dedicated system. Two examples are available:
- Combian64: A Raspbian-based system that boots directly into the VICE 64 emulator. This fits almost all Raspberry Pi models and was made by Carmelo Maiolino.
- C64 by Pi Lizard: Based on Raspbian Lite, has screen settings, and is designed for Raspberry Pi 3. Like Combian64, it boots directly into the VICE64 environment.
The option you choose depends on the model of Raspberry Pi you are using. We’re using Pi Lizard’s C64 for this tutorial, but the instructions for the Combian 64 won’t be much different.
With your Raspberry Pi, you’ll need a microSD card, an HDMI cable, and a reliable power source. You should also have a comfortable USB keyboard (a mouse isn’t all that important, although it should work) and a USB joystick. Games for the C64 were either keyboard or joystick based, making gamepads and Xbox controllers less suitable.
Choose the Right Raspberry Pi Case
Also, you can put your Raspberry Pi in a suitable C64 style case. Some are available, but they are not the cheapest options due to the complexity of the design.
For example, the Raspberry Pi’s NES-style case is much simpler, after all, there’s no keyboard. For example, you’ll find a C64-based case on eBay, but you can save a lot of money by using a standard Raspberry Pi case.