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How to Start Commodore 64 Game

Have those old retro games been on your mind recently? Are you reimagining your childhood and all those hours spent playing retro games on your C64 computer? Why not relive those moments by playing those games today, in modern times?

You can still play old games from the 80s, even if you don’t have a C64 computer anymore. Developers have made sure to create special software that allows you to play these retro hits easily, and I will tell you how to start Commodore 64 Game. By the end of the article, I will also give you a full list of Commodore 64 games.

How to Start Commodore 64 Game

How to Start Commodore 64 Game

The process of starting a Commodore 64 game is similar on all supported devices, and it mainly depends on the type of device you’re using to play the game. 

A game can be started and played on a still working Commodore 64 home computer system or using an emulator software for other operating systems.

In the following sections, I will cover all the methods of how to start a Commodore 64 game, regardless if you have the original 1982 home computer system or simply want to use a software emulator and play games on your modern PC. So, let’s take a look!

Read more: How Much Was a Commodore 64 New

Different Methods

Using the original C64 home computer

Starting a game on the C64 system required using the “LOAD” command to boot it up. Unlike other computers and consoles, the C64 didn’t automatically boot up games or programs from a disk or Datasette. Here’s how to start Commodore 64 game using the original system:

Connect the device and its peripherals

Before starting the game, ensure the C64 is properly connected to the TV and that all the peripherals are attached. 

Multiple peripherals are available for the C64, but the disk drive is the most important for this purpose. Connect the disk drive to the serial port of the C64 of the back, and also insert a fast-load cartridge (if you have one) before powering on the device. 

Power the device and insert the disk

After you ensure everything is properly attached, power on the C64 first, then insert the game disk. 

It is also a better practice to insert and remove the disk with the drive powered on and not to leave the disk inside. Powering the device off with the disk still in the drive may result in corrupted files.

Loading a disk with only one game

Since the C64 doesn’t boot up games automatically, you will need to manually load and start the game from the disk. Here’s how:

  1. After putting the disc in the drive, it will be registered by the system with the number 8.
  2. In the C64 Basic command prompt, type LOAD”*”,8, and hit “Enter” to confirm.
  3. You will see several prompts telling you the game is “LOADING”, and when it is done, it will read “READY”.
  4. Now type “RUN” and hit “Enter” to confirm; the game will now start.

Loading a disk with multiple games

The process to start a particular game from a disk with multiple ones stored uses a different set of input commands. Here’s how to do it:

  1. After inserting the multiple games disk, type the LOAD”$”,8 commands in the command prompt, and hit “Enter”.
  2. When the disk files load, type the “LIST” command and hit “Enter”.
  3. A list of all the games will appear on the screen.
  4. To load a specific game, type LOAD “filename”,8, and press “Enter”. Under “filename”, you should type the game name you select from the list.
  5. Once the game loads, type “RUN” and hit “Enter” to start the game.

Using a software emulator

Thanks to the creative capabilities of developers, software emulators have been created for operating systems like Windows, macOS, or Linux, which can emulate retro games such as those played on Nintendo, Sega, and Commodore 64.

Some of the most popular Commodore 64 emulator programs are VICE, CCS64, C64 Forever, Gamebase, etc. I have picked VICE as the emulator of choice for this article.

Using VICE

VICE is short for “Versatile Commodore Emulator”, and it provides emulation for different Commodore computer models. As the name suggests, it is one of the most versatile C64 emulators, with many customization options. 

When you download the program, the package may contain several different .exe files, depending on the Commodore model and version, but the one you need should be named x64.exe (for Windows). On a Mac, it should be called x64.app. Here’s how to use it to run C64 games:

  1. Start the program by double-clicking on the x64.exe file.
  2. Once the program starts and the main window opens, you can drag and drop downloaded game files directly onto it to start them.
  3. You can also start a game by opening the “File” tab and selecting the “Smart attach Disk/Tape” option.

The most important thing to do before running a game with VICE is to make sure you download the correct and full game files, as corrupt files will not start. 

C64 game libraries for emulators can easily be found online, and the Internet Archive is a great place to start. You can also check the full list of games.


Now that you know how to start Commodore 64 game on both the original C64 computer and on any other device using an emulator software, I am sure you will have a lot of fun playing those retro games that you used to love and with which you grew up.

The CS64 was a very versatile machine for its day, and the manufacturer introduced the idea that anyone could have a personal home computer in their home, regardless of social status. 

Its release meant a revolutionary step forward and an initial step toward the computer technology we have available today.