August 20, 2010 | by Lars Aronsson
The iconic 8-bit Commodore C64 was manufactured for an impressive 12 years between 1982 and 1994, and it’s the best-selling single personal computer model of all time. It featured 64KB of RAM, a 1MHz processor and was a great gaming machine: both its sound and graphics were superior to IBM-compatible PCs of that time. Thanks to its SID chip that actually still is used in music production today on occasion, the C64 could make truly awesome sounds.
Frodo C64 is a Commodore 64 emulator for Android, currently the only one available. Its main interface consists of the classic blue C64 command prompt with a blinking cursor. When you press the Menu button, you get the option to load a ROM, reset the emulator, quit, load/save gamestates and change various settings.
Since you often need to press a specific key in order to get past game intros, Frodo C64 lets you quickly switch between joystick mode and keyboard mode by pressing the Back button. The most commonly used keys are Space, Enter, Y(es), N(o), Fire and the R/S button. The emulator should support all ROMs in the D64 and PRG formats, and so far it has been able to load every game that I’ve thrown at it. But for some reason you have to use the Reset command before playing a new game, otherwise the ROM won’t load.
Even though most games can be played with a fairly decent frame rate, the emulator could definitely have performed better. Sound is supported, but it can be somewhat choppy, even with a high frame skip count. Hopefully the developer will continue to improve Frodo C64 and make it faster. When you play games in portrait mode, the pixel-density is higher, but everything will naturally be much smaller than in the stretched landscape mode.
To control Frodo C64 you can either use on-screen buttons or a hardware QWERTY keyboard, but I have only been able to test the former. The on-screen controls consist of a D-pad and a fire button, and while they may not be ideal, they at least work. As far as I can tell, Frodo 64 doesn’t have multi-touch support, but you can still jump in a specific direction, for example, thanks to the 8-way D-pad.
In theory Frodo should be able to save and load gamestates, but the implementation is so-so. If you simply press Menu > Load state, you’ll likely get a “No state file found!” error message. However, you can resume a game where you left it by loading its ROM and selecting the “Load previously saved state file” option.
Even if there are a few kinks left to iron out and performance ought to be better, using Frodo C64 is great fun for those who had the original computer and the games are worth playing for the superb 8-bit chip music alone. True Commodore 64 geeks might want to check out the apps C64 Games Music Collection and SID Player in the Market as well.
- Supports touchscreen controls as well as QWERTY keyboards
- Can restore gamestates
- Sound support
- A bit slow even on Snapdragon powered devices
- Music playback can be choppy
- Some inconsistencies/glitches
App: Frodo C64