The 80’s most popular home computer arrives on Quest headsets.
Back in 1982, one of the coolest devices you could own was the Commodore 64. The C64, as it’s referred to by many enthusiasts, had a screaming MOS 6510/8500 1MHz processor with a paltry 64 KByte of memory. At the time, however, this was one of the most advanced pieces of consumer electronic hardware you could buy for under $600.
The C64 was so popular that it was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest selling computer model of all time, with an estimated 12.5 to 17 million units sold. Time Magazine even listed as one of the most influential gadgets and gizmos of all time.
Available now on the Oculus Quest via SideQuest, Real Commodore 64 – Virtually brings the original Commodore 64 experience to VR, allowing Quest and Quest 2 players the chance to explore a massive catalog of retro PC games.
Built by Peter Gomberg, who goes by the name of OPEN PC Reviews on YouTube, Real Commodore VR is built around a fully functional Commodore 64 emulator which players to import their own ROMs and play their favorite games from the comfort of a nostalgia-inducing bedroom featuring models of the USS Enterprise, X-Wing Fighter, and Transformers, as well as classic movie posters. It’s the perfect homage to any OG techie who grew up during that time.
During an interview with VRScout, Gomberg said, “I have extremely fond memories of playing this with my dad when I was around 10 to 12 years old,” adding, ” I hope people will enjoy the thrill of having a Commodore 64 in VR for free without needing to spend money on a physical one; those are not cheap.”
“Also, they’re kinda bulky, and if someone just wants to have the experience of using one without spending the money on one or finding space for one, they can use this free app. Fun fact, the $299.99 cost of a Quest 2 is LESS than going out and buying a Commodore 64 with 1702 monitor and 1541 drive!”
Real Commodore 64 – Virtually is actually based off an earlier version that Gomberg built for the Oculus Go back in 2020, which itslef was based on a Commodore 64 project by Jonas Minnberg called Machineroom.
Gomberg actually reached out to Minnberg to learn more about Machineroom and how his own ROMs could be used as part of the project, but he never got a response. Gomberg continued tinkering on his own and eventually figured out his own workaround.
Those interested can learn more about the development process here.
After Gomberg released his first version, he found yet another email address for Minnberg and sent him a link to the video provided above. This time he did respond.
“He said it was entertaining and that he didn’t think anyone had any interest in the project so he ended up forgetting about it. He then offered to send me the Unity Project files! This was the most thrilling part!”
Real Commodore 64 – Virtually works really well with the Oculus Quest. You’re able to walk around and explore your room using the right joystick on your Quest controller; the left joystick controller is what you’ll use to play games on your Commodore 64.
As I mentioned earlier, Gronberg set it up so you can add your own ROMs to your virtual C64. The first step is to create a folder in the root files of your Oculus Quest. Name the folder “C64” and then drop your D64 image files into that folder. The next time you launch the app, your ROM files should auto-spawn as old-school floppy disks on your virtual desk. From there you can use your left Quest controller to pick up a disk and insert it into your C64 drive.
According to Gomberg, the project took over a year to develop, and even now it still requires some additional work.
“For me, I think the hardest part was the locomotion. I am a total C# and Unity noob so I learn as I go. The locomotion of the right thumbstick seemed to take me the longest to develop, All of it however was quite the challenge and if you look at the differences between the first version and the version I just released, you can see a ton of work was put into this,” Gomberg adds, “I still have a HUGE todo list for this thing and it will take me some time to learn.”
For now, Real Commodore 64 – Virtually is available exclusively on Oculus Quest and Quest 2 headsets via SideQuest and GitHub, but Gomberg has stated that he has submitted the app to the Oculus App Lab and is currently awaiting approval.
Gomberg told me that a release for the Oculus Rift and Rift S is currently in the works, though he’s currently running into several technical issues regarding Windows.
“I’m still troubleshooting this and this is my next main goal before I do anything else with this project. The reason is that the Oculus Rift S version looks immeasurably clearer. It puts the Quest version to shame and I know some people will enjoy it even more.”
You can download Real Commodore 64 – Virtually for free via SideQuest and Github. As previously stated,
Feature Image Credit: Peter Gomberg