Commodore 64 Emulator for the iPhone

In a bit of news from Down Under, retro gaming fans waiting anxiously for June’s arrival of the iTunes App Store have reason to rejoyce.  Developer Stuart Carnie has used the iPhone SDK to port Frodo, a popular Commodore 64 emulator, to the iPhone.

It appears that in only three days, Carnie took his project from concept

As an Objective-C / Objective-C++ / XCode / iPhone development learning experience, I have began porting the Frodo C64 emulator to the mobile OS X platform. I chose Frodo, as I have experience with this code-base, and there is a certain satisfaction of seeing the READY prompt for the first time.

…to initial success; he has a working Commodore 64 up and running on the iPhone simulator.  Carnie indicates that his next steps will be to create a user interface to manage the user experience, such as implementing save / resume states, a file browser, auto-launching for games, and an on-screen virtual keyboard and joystick.

Interest in retro gaming today is huge — a quick look at the large number of retro remakes on XBOX Live and the Playstation Network confirms it.  The Commodore 64 is the most popular computer in history and boasted arguably the best graphics and sound of any 8-bit home computer of its era.  As such, thousands of excellent game titles were developed for it — arcade conversions as well as orginals. The promise of being able to scratch that retro itch by firing up a few of these classics on an iPhone or iPod touch while on the go has us rather excited, indeed.

A potential roadblock to mobile C64 gaming bliss on the iPhone is Apple’s possible stance on distributing emulators through the iTunes App Store.  The experience of using an emulated C64 is, by nature, a cryptic one to most users.  What’s more, emulators of this sort are usually dependent upon ROM images of the emulated system’s firmware which usually cannot be distributed legally.  Apple may have reservations about allowing such an application into the store.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed that Carnie’s effort will not be resigned to use only on jailbroken devices.