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    Default Ugly color palette on C64 with Retroarch

    My all-time favorite gaming memories were with the C64 in the late 80s. I sold my Commodore 64 around 1991 for an Amiga 500 but the fondness for the C64 never went away. Recently I got the itch to play some of those classic games I first played on the C64 so I fired up my Retroarch with its libretto Vice x64 3.0 core and loaded up some disk images. Wow, was I looking through the past through rose colored lenses? The color palette on the C64 looked almost unbearably dull and ugly. How could this be? I wondered. Since I played all my old games on a CRT back then, and I now use a 42" big screen Vizio LCD I'm wondering if that's the issue. But then I realized that all my other 8-bit Retroarch emus are very vivid and colorful, like the Sega & SNES cores, so that can't be the issue. Btw, I do use a decent CRT shader (CRT-easymode) for Vice. Maybe there's an alternative external color palette I can configure but I'm just disappointed that my all-time favorite computer looks like ass in emulation. Thoughts?

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    Most emulators use the "PAL" palette by default, which in fact does look "like ass"... I don't use RetroArch but in modern versions of VICE on the PC you can change it to NTSC and use the "Sony CXA" palette which is how all my C64's look in real life. Actually, I think that palette is the default now if you choose NTSC.
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    Pete Rittwage
    C64 Preservation Project
    http://c64preservation.com

  3. The Following User Says Thank You to Pete Rittwage For This Useful Post:

    JackOfOwls (02-19-2019)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Rittwage View Post
    Most emulators use the "PAL" palette by default, which in fact does look "like ass"... I don't use RetroArch but in modern versions of VICE on the PC you can change it to NTSC and use the "Sony CXA" palette which is how all my C64's look in real life. Actually, I think that palette is the default now if you choose NTSC.
    Thanks. I just don't remember it looking that bad. I like to centralize everything into Retroarch that way I don't have to mess with so many different emus. I only wish the Vice libretto core for Retroarch had an easy way to swap disks on muti-disk games. Right now you have to write a "flipfile" then deal with command lines. It's a mess and not worth it at all. The standalone version of WinVice is more recent and makes it easier. Joystick auto-config on Retroarch for Vice is also really unreliable, something they usually get right.

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    I tried the latest RetroArch and I didn't see any way to change to NTSC mode or another palette.

    I would just download a better C64 emulator, such as the full version of VICE for SDL or Windows.
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    Pete Rittwage
    C64 Preservation Project
    http://c64preservation.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Rittwage View Post
    I tried the latest RetroArch and I didn't see any way to change to NTSC mode or another palette.

    I would just download a better C64 emulator, such as the full version of VICE for SDL or Windows.
    You have to run the GUI for the Vice x64 core itself (separate from the Retroarch GUI) by pressing F10 once you've launched a C64 disk image. Then you get a very rudimentary GUI where you can change it to NTSC and select the Sony NTSC color palette. However, there's no way to save these settings. But it did look noticeably brighter and more colorful than PAL. One thing I vastly prefer about the Vice x64 libretto core is you can use any of Retroarch's shaders with it. CRT-easymode looks magnificent with the C64 (much better than the scan line filter built into WinVice) but the inability to save your settings in the Vice x64 GUI and the requirement of a flipfile to change disks makes it much less preferable. However, if the author decides to update the Vice core and add these features it could be the way to go for c64 emulation.
    Last edited by JackOfOwls; 02-19-2019 at 09:42 PM.

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    Just an update on this: apparently you can change to NTSC and the Sony palette within RetroArch running this core. You just have to make sure you load a C64 disk image first then the Options menu opens up with the ability to select and save your NTSC/Sony palette configuration. This is promising. And I just want to thank Pete again for giving me the original info that changing to NTSC with the Sony palette makes the games look MUCH better than with PAL. Colors are just so much more vivid and games run much smoother with that extra 10 FPS that 60 Hz affords as opposed to the 50 Hz standard of PAL. Unfortunately, you do lose a lot of compatibility with euro games that were only designed to run in PAL but at least it looks like I remember my old C64 looking like on my old CRT television in the late 1980s/early 90s. Now if the author of the VICE libretto can only update it and implement a way to swap disks without the terrible tedium of creating "flipfiles" this would be the definitive way to play emulated C64 games and software. Perhaps in the next update.

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