Enthusiast Hacks Together Headset & 3D Game for the 34 Year Old Commodore 64


The Commodore 64—a renowned 8-bit home computer system that debuted in 1983—may be approaching antique status at 34 years old, but one enthusiast has seen fit to make sure it doesn’t get left out of the VR craze.

An enthusiast going by the alias ’64jim64′ has hacked together an impressive project for the beloved personal computer. The so-called VR64 headset not only outputs video from the computer, but 64jim64 even programmed his own game with stereoscopic depth.

Detailed on his blog, the project was adorably inspired by his 12 year old daughter’s science fair project which was a study of simple VR viewers like Google Cardboard. After understanding the basic concept of a VR viewer, 64jim64 hacked together a headset for the Commodore 64 with a $10 VR viewer, a $26 LCD, and an inexpensive power transformer. He even made some awesome graphics to imbue the headset with the Commodore 64’s classic branding. Here he shows exactly how he put it all together.

Image courtesy 64jim64

The ‘VR64’ headset, as he dubbed it, connects to the Commodore 64 with composite cables which shows what’s on the screen with 152 x 200 pixels in “high resolution” mode, and 76 x 200 in multi-color mode (both upscaled to fit the display). That was enough to play around viewing some simple 3D images, but how could 64jim64 truly live up to his alias? By programming a 3D game for the headset of course!

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Image courtesy 64jim64

Stored on a 5.25″ floppy disk, Street Defender is a simple wave shooter (the irony!) which displays a split-view that allows for stereoscopic visuals through the VR64 headset. In the game, enemies travel down corridors at the player who can punch, knife, shoot, or grenade them. And no, this isn’t any fancy single-pass stereo rendering or use of a comprehensive SDK—64jim64 hand-placed the sprites closer or further apart from one another to achieve 3D depth.

Although there’s no headtracking, it seems safe to say that this impressive project is about as close to VR as you can get on the Commodore 64.

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  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    Now that the C64 has VR, can someone explain to me why the Xbox one X and the Nintendont Sandwich can’t and won’t do VR?

    • Raphael

      Nintendo don’t understand why people like VR. They are rejecting it for the next 10 years but after that they’ve promised to take another look.

    • Bryce Thorup

      Bah! Atari had this going on way before most of the people who are working on it now were born. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/18825b96ff838e9e3da38af81fd08511e7daa4ab29670eb127670e9d969f86ea.jpg

      • Jean-Sebastien Perron

        I remember that on the Jaguar, I would have sold my soul for that. It never happened anyway, it was just a theory like the project dolphin.

        • Bub&Bob

          Not quite true. A handful of prototypes of Jaguar VR made it in to the hands of enthusiasts and at least one of them is regularly available to use at retro-gaming events. The game used is Missile Command 3D due to it featuring a VR mode. I know all of this because I’ve sampled it myself.

  • Jerald Doerr

    Can’t wait to see Street Defender II VR for the Amiga 500