Why would you pay arms and legs for a high-end computer setup and the latest VR headset when all you need to experiment true virtual reality is a $10 plastic VR goggle and your good old retro Commodore 64 laying around forgotten in a shed or the basement.The VR64 is a low-end virtual reality hack for retro DIY hardware enthusiasts, created by 64jim64, a dad who decided to hook up a headset to his 35 year old Commodore 64.
The project started with his 12 year old daughter’s science fair. The girl studied VR goggles together with her dad, and they kept thinking, split the C64 screen into two sections, one for the left eye and one for the right. Each section is 19 columns by 25 rows, and the center two rows are not used. Each eye, has 152X200 pixels in high resolution and only 76X200 in multi-color mode.
On his project page he explains how to create the 3D effect by using location of onscreen objects: “objects at the same location in both eyes looked like a “normal” distance. If the objects both moved towards the center, through the VR64, the object would appear in the same location but closer to the user!”
Watch the demo video below to see the VR64 in action:
So far there’s only one game for VR64, Street Defender, written by 64jim64 himself, and run from a single 5 1/4th floppy. The game doesn’t look too bad for a C64 title, back then people used to actually pay real money for games that looked and played even wors than this (and nbot just E.T). In Street Defender the player has to defend their position from the attack of insect-like ninjas. According to 64jim64, playing with the VR goggles the ninjas appear to come towards the player in 3D.
If you want to build a replicate of the VR64, follow the link where everything you need is listed.