WinVICE Commodore 64 emulator

C64 on WinVICE 3.6

WinVICE is the best Commodore 64 emulator we have seen so far, for playing C64 games on a Windows 11 or Windows 10 PC.

  • Latest version 3.8 (24 December 2023)
  • Works on Windows 11, Windows 10 and older (32/64 bits)
  • Emulates C64, C128, PET, CBM II, VIC20, PLUS/4
  • Supports X64, D64, G64, D67, D71, D81, D80, D82 disk image files, T64 tape image files, P00 program files
  • Comments: WinVICE has a nice windows interface (pull down menus) and a full screen option (ALT+D), but you might just want to resize the program window (which is possible since version 2.2, at last!) without losing image quality. You can make snapshots from your game (savegames) which are about 80K, which is a lot less than the snapshots of CCS64 (1MB).
  • Project website

Play Commodore 64 games with WinVICE on Windows 11, Windows 10 and older

So, what to do to play C64 games such as Impossible Mission with WinVICE?

  • Download WinVICE
    • 32 bits Windows: VICE 3.x (32bit GTK3)
    • 64 bits Windows: VICE 3.x (64bit GTK3)
    • Please note that there's also an SDL2 version available. This version does not have a Windows-like menu, so you'll probably prefer the GTK3 version.
  • Open the downloaded ZIP file by double clicking on it and copy the contents to an empty folder of choice. In this example we'll copy the contents to D:\Games. We'll end up with D:\Games\GTK3VICE-3.7-win64.
  • Navigate to the GTK3VICE-3.7-win64\bin folder and start WinVICE with x64sc.exe
  • While in WinVICE x64, go to Joystick settings (Preferences - Settings - Input devices - Joystick)
  • Set Joystick #1 to Keyset A
  • Press the Config Keyset A button, configure the desired keyset
  • Make sure True Drive Emulation is enabled. While in the settings window, check Peripheral devices - Drive - Enable True Drive Emulation.
  • Save your settings by checking the Save settings on exit check box in the settings window (it's in the bottom right corner)
  • Close the settings window by clicking the Close button in the left bottom corner

  • Download a C64 game, for example Impossible Mission
  • Copy the contents of the game zip file to a folder of choice
  • Start Impossible Mission in WinVICE with File - Smart attach..., navigate to the folder with the game, select the game file and press the Autostart button
  • When the controls you've set up don't work, try swapping the Joystick ports with ALT+J (Joystick port 1 becomes port 2 and vice versa)

Playing games with multiple files

The Last Ninja.Some C64 games came on more than one floppy disk, like The Last Ninja or California Games. When you download these games, they'll consist of several files (1 file for each disk). So what to do with those?

  • Make sure True Drive Emulation is enabled. While in the settings window, check Peripheral devices - Drive - Enable True Drive Emulation.
  • Start the game by loading disk file 1 or the disk file that is called "bootdisk" or similar, with File - Smart attach... as described above. Virtual Drive 8 will be used.
  • When the game asks for disk 2 (or 3, or 4, or whatever), attach the disk file to the emulator with File - Attach disk image - Drive 8. Press space, or the key that is configured as the joystick fire button to continue.

Keyboard mapping

If you want to get serious with your virtual Commodore 64, you have to know about the keyboard mapping. Default mapping mode is symbolic. All characters on your keyboard represent the corresponding keys on a C64 keyboard, if available. The other mode is positional. That means that when you press a key on your keyboard, a character shows up that should be there if it were a C64 keyboard. For example, when you press shift and 2, a double quote will show. If you press the minus key a plus sign will show.

If you'd like to change the mapping mode, follow these steps:

  • Click on Preferences - Settings and choose Input devices - Keyboard
  • Check if the keyboard layout is ok and choose the desired mapping mode
  • Save your settings by checking the Save settings on exit check box (recommended)

With symbolic mapping, your keyboard will work as expected, provided you have a keyboard with a US layout. However, there are certain keys on a C64 keyboard that are not on yours. Those keys have been mapped as follows:

  • Left CTRL is the Commodore key
  • ESC and Caps lock keys are the Run/stop key
  • Tab key is the CTRL key
  • ` (single quote) key is the Left arrow key
  • \ (backslash) key is the Pound sign key
  • Home key is the CLR HOME key
  • Page up key is the RESTORE key
  • Arrow keys represent the CRSR keys

Keep this in mind when you're choosing the keys which represent your virtual joystick. Some menus require the CRSR keys to scroll through them. By default, the arrow keys represent the CRSR keys. If you've assigned the arrow keys to joystick, you won't be able to navigate through the menu.

The screen looks blurry!

International Karate Plus: WinVICE with CRT emulation.As of version 2.4, CRT emulation is on by default. That means that when you start WinVICE, the screen looks like a CRT television: kind of blurry and full of horizontal lines. Just like in the old days! CRT emulation was available in version 2.3, but it looks much better in 2.4. However, "much better" could be interpreted as "way worse" when you like clear graphics. In that case, turn off CRT emulation:

  • Navigate to Preferences - Settings... - Display - VIC-II
  • At Render filter choose Unfiltered
  • If you'd like WinVICE to remember this, check the Save settings on exit check box