Lunar Lander 64

Introduction: Lunar Lander 64

About: I'm interested in IOT and Arduino projects. I have a BSc in Internet Software Development and am self employed.

This instructable is for a computer game I wrote over 34 years ago in 1984 when I was 14 years old. It was written on a Commodore 64 home computer connected to a portable TV in my bedroom, long before the days of Windows based PCs. The computer language used on the Commodore was called 'BASIC' and the only method I had for saving the programs I wrote were onto a cassette tape. There was no hard drive or any way to store the programs on the computer itself. (A floppy disc drive was available but I didn't have one of these). I also had no printer so I had no way of keeping a hard copy of the programs I wrote.

Step 1: Big K Magazine

In those days it was quite common for amateur programmers to submit their work (on cassette tape) to one of the many computer magazines which were around at the time. I remember one such magazine offering to pay £5 if they published your work (a few weeks pocket money in 1984) but I found a new magazine I liked called Big K (Archives of this are available here: https://archive.org/details/big-k-magazine ) and submitted my game to them. A few months went by and I heard nothing from them, then one day my older brother phoned to say he'd been reading the October issue of Big K on his way to work and found the game I sent them had been published. I was also pleasantly surprised a couple of weeks later when they sent me a cheque for £60 for using my game. I still have a copy of the magazine but my Commodore 64 and any copies of the game I had on cassette tape are long gone.

Step 2: Emulator

For years I assumed that my game was lost until one day around 10 years ago I was discussing this with a lecturer at my college, who suggested that I could use an emulator found on the web and then re-type all my code, copied from the magazine I had. I hadn't even realised that such a thing existed until he mentioned it. I discovered that there are a few different emulators for the Commodore 64 available to download for free. The one I opted for was called CCS 64 which I have attached here bundled in a zip file along with a copy of my game. I've used this on a few different versions of Windows over the years (XP, Vista, Windows 7) but I haven't tested it on Windows 10.

If you want to give it a try simply unzip the attached archive, open the folder and drag the file called 'lunar_lander2.PRG' onto the application file called 'CCS' and should run.

You can of course download your own emulator from the web and run the lunar_lander2.PRG file on that instead.

Step 3: Add Your Own Next Stage

After this had been published I created a second stage to the game where the spaceship would not land on the landing strip but instead entered an underground cavern where it had to be maneuvered around rocks etc to find a landing spot. In this phase of the game the sprite for the spaceship is doubled in size too, but unfortunately I don't have any way to retrieve this part as it was never printed anywhere and all my copies were lost over the years.

To view the code in the emulator just press the 'Esc' key and type in 'list' and press 'Enter'

Feel free to edit the code for this game, in the emulator and see what you can create for the second stage, I'd love to see the results!!!

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    3 Discussions

    I had totally forgotten about that game. I had a VIC-20 back in the early 80's along with the Datasette unit. I did have a subscription to one of the magazines that featured a monthly program to type in and install and this was one of the games I had. I spent hours typing in those Basic programs and then having to debug them from my typing errors. I loved it anyway but then eventually moving on to DOS. I downloaded the file and followed your instructions but the lander crashes every time I use a cursor key. Any suggestions? and are there other programs out on the net for download? Thanks!

    2 replies

    Hi, yes, the keys to use are not the cursor keys but the 'less than' and 'greater than' keys, or comma and full stop. I don't have any other programmes of my own for the commodore 64 but have found a lot of old 80s games that run on the emulator. Try https://c64g.com/ and http://www.c64.com/ for games. Thanks for your interest :-)

    Thanks for setting me straight on the controls and for the link. I wish I could remember the names of some of the programs that I used back then. I loved to make music on my VIC-20 albeit that it was archaic but I love electronic music so I did not care. I dabble in LUA script some now and it reminds me a lot of the BASIC programming. Thanks again for bringing back a fond memory.