Exclusive: iPhone Commodore 64 emulator in the works

Fully licensed emu planned, with add-on game packs

Exclusive: iPhone Commodore 64 emulator in the works
| C64

Undoubtedly all you retro gamers out there will have been excited to see the classic Amiga platform/adventure game Flashback appear on the iPhone from developer Manomio. After its first update, this nostalgic classic recreated the beloved adventures of amnesiac Conrad as he thwarted an alien invasion, and has gone down a storm over on the App Store.

Well, after Manomio saw the enthusiastic reception for a retro classic on the iPhone, it decided to wander a little further down memory lane.

“In 2008 we made the C64 run on an iPhone, but left the project to die as we had no license and suspected that it might violate the SDK agreement from Apple,” explains Manomio’s Brian Lyscarz. He continues: “Then we got in contact with Commodore and Kiloo, who already had the license for Commodore64 brand, and we signed a deal with them to publish it.”

The C64 emulator is quite complete, even to the point of simulating Commodore BASIC, which could potentially allow iPhone users to sit at a virtual 8-bit computer terminal and program their own virtual games.

For those of us without the nous to hack out our own code, Manomio is planning to release game packs of original, official C64 titles as they build up a library of licenses.

Knowing this was likely to be a thorny subject (given that the emulator would need to run its own interpreted code), before work began Manomio contacted Apple to discuss the likelihood of the C64 emulator being allowed onto the App Store.

“We decided to seek some kind of pre-approval, as we had a few loose ends and heard rumours that emulators weren’t allowed on App Store,” Brian continues. “We contacted developer relations at Apple and explained our project - how we would use an add-on mechanism to sell new games from the App Store that could be installed into the emulator using only published APIs, and got a mail back saying it didn’t see any problems in us making apps emulating the Commodore64 and selling it on the App Store. We felt safe.”

Unfortunately, it turns out C64 was just submitted to Apple, and has been rejected on those very grounds after all. From what Manomio can tell, however, this really isn’t an iron clad rule, as quite a number of applications already on the App Store are downloading and running content at the user’s discretion (such as SID Player, CHIP-8 Emulator, SC68 Player and even the recent Sonic game), so all might not be lost.

Manomio is currently working to resolve the issue with Apple, which could involve it being forced to remove the BASIC function from the emulator and being used solely for games. Having seen this beautiful looking and superbly functional emulator first hand, this writer can confirm it’d be quite a tragedy if C64 was banished to silicon hell.

“We’ve spent a lot of energy, money and time in getting IPs for C64, making it run smoothly, and look good,” Brian concludes.

You can head on over to the official website that’s just been launched to help raise C64’s profile, and check out the video below to see it in action. You can also log your support for the emulator’s release by shouting loud in the comments section.

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Spanner Spencer
Spanner Spencer
Yes. Spanner's his real name, and he's already heard that joke you just thought of. Although Spanner's not very good, he's quite fast, and that seems to be enough to keep him in a regular supply of free games and away from the depressing world of real work.