Growing up in the early 80s personal computers had just come on the scene in terms of people actually being able to have one in their house.

My first experience with a home computer was with the Sinclair ZX81 with its membrane keyboard, black and white display and awesome screen flicker when plugged into our television.

It was fun but not enough – hence when I discovered the Commodore C64 my mind was blown.

I loved Video Games and the Arcade Games at the time were nothing like we see today, they were simple two dimensional side scroller shoot-em-ups which was an area where the Commodore C64 excelled.

As an aside, there is a wonderful documentary called “From Bedrooms to Billions” which details the history of the English Video Games Industry. The documentary is enjoyable as it pays particular attention to the fledgling C64 and Spectrum games industry in the early 1980s.

Back to the Commodore C64; So once I got my hands on a few games I realised that it was theoretically possible to get into the code and give myself a few more lives.

For those of you who remember, the C64 came with a user port which I unfortunately never actually used for any of its intended purposes. However, with a paperclip it was possible to perform a “Soft reset” while a game was in memory by connecting a couple of pins in the user port. Disclaimer – NOT RECOMMENDED but I did not have an Action Replay Cartridge – that came much later.

C64 User Port

Once the we had performed the soft reset it was then possible to give yourself 255 lives by doing the following:

Step 1 – Find out where in the computer memory the boot up code resided so that by using the C64 PEEK command you could start the game back up. From memory a lot of the games used the same starting addresses so that was the first place to try.

Step 2 – Search all memory addresses for the value 03 if your game has three lives and write them down.

Step 3 – PEEK the boot up address to start the game and die immediately and then soft reset the game again. From all the addresses you wrote down in the previous step, write down the ones that had decreased by 1

Step 4 – Repeat Step 3 until you had no lives left. From the list of addresses there would only be a handful of addresses that had dropped from hexadecimal 03 to 00.

Step 5 – For those addresses that had dropped from 03 to 00 POKE the hexadecimal value of FF (Decimal 255) into those addresses which theoretically would give you 255 lives.

Step 6 – PEEK the boot address to start the game. All going well you would have 255 lives, if not then you probably would have the enjoyment of something funky and weird happening; such is life.

As a footnote the above technique not only worked for lives but also bombs or anything where there was a limited number which dropped by an whole number each time an asset was used.

I miss those days… comment if you did anything similar and check out our colorful retro t-shirts