Laser-disc games for the C64

The graphics capabilities of computers have increased exponentially over the years.  Modern games feature almost realistic graphics, largely aided by expensive and powerful graphics cards.
The Commodore 64 had some great graphic capabilities back in its days and by employing REUs and some neat tricks, developers today are recreating awesome graphics on the old time classic.
But also back in the early 90s, there was a way to have cinematic sequences and high-resolution graphics with the C64!

The Mannheim based German company “LDG/Softwarecorner” had the idea to use the power of datastorage, the CD quality sound and video-playback capabilities from a laser-disc and combine it with a C64.

The idea was simple: hook up the C64 as a “control unit” to a laser-disc player, load special software onto the C64 to transfer the joystick and keyboard inputs to the laser-disc and basically use the two to create a fantastic gaming experience.
All of a sudden, your C64 was controlling basically 400 GBytes of ROM memory (a 30 cm laser disc could hold the equivalent of 2.3 million 1541 discs!), played games with cinematic cut-scenes and had awesome soundtracks with CD-quality.

One of the first games that was released on this combined platform was “Dragon’s Lair”, an interactive adventure game, in which you had to guide your hero through perilous dungeons and fight off evil around every corner.

Behind the gorgeous graphics, the cinematic screens and perfect stereo sound, however, lay the downside of the laser-disc concept: the freedom of movement.
Basically, you could choose every time between a couple of actions and then the laser-disc would show the next scene and so on.
The concept just couldn’t cut it for action games – Hitting the fire button at the right time was not that easy and giving the appropriate command at the right interval required some, or rather a lot of, practice

It wasn’t cheap either, as initially, you had to have a laser-disc player like the CLD 1500, CLD 1600 or CLD 2600 from Pioneer, which had a price tag back then (calculated to today’s money) of roughly 1000 Euro.  The CLD 1500 was the cheapest, but had the drawback that it was about 15% slower than its bigger brothers, which led to a longer search time on the disc to get to the next sequence.
On the upside, the LDG-package included all the necessary cables to hook up the laser-disc player to a TV or monitor, all the necessary software on a cartridge or disk and if you didn’t already own a C64, they would provide a special C64 console with cartridge slot (although I never really saw them produce these).

A great concept nonetheless, and one that opened up the door to further interactive software!

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7 Responses to Laser-disc games for the C64

  1. I’ve only read in the Software Corner advertisment, that the software and interface would be also available for the C64, but I’ve never actually seen any images. So thanks for the report. Are those images scans from a magazine or photos from your setup?

  2. Robby "The C= guy"

    Hi Gerry,
    The images came from my old Commodore paper magazines collection. I believe it was from the Dutch magazine “Commodore Info”, which was a fun magazine back in its days with courses on C64 machine language etc. and then later on, a stronger focus on the Amiga.

  3. Hi Robby,

    any chance that you scan the report from “Commodre Info” to show it here?

    BTW, the patent from LDG/Softwarecorner is available online: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/EP0508302.pdf

  4. Robby "The C= guy"

    Thanks for the link, very interesting to see that patent!
    I’ll scan the magazine’s pages (they are in Dutch though) and see if I can find some other references to the games and setup in other magazines I have as well and add them as well.

  5. Any update on the scanned pages from Commodore Info?

    I know the magazine as well… we got it in Belgium as well… one of the best magazines they ever made..

    Never had a C64 back in that time.. we started with an Amiga 500, but got interested later on in C64 as well… as collector..

    So yes, I would like to get more information about the interface and the software.

    In fact its easy to find the hardware details on Amiga interface, and there is even a disk image for Amiga for the game Dragon’s Lair.

    But I would like to make this work on a C64, and get hold of the SW titles as well.

    /Pascal

  6. The same pictures from the magazine i like the ones at the article ca be traced to the Ferbruary 1992 C64′er (at pages 8 – 9 ).

    http://www.64er.rivido.de/down_sdf324rg43903goh32H/64er/1992_02_64er.pdf

    even more info at (and more to come i believe )
    http://www.gamesthatwerent.com/gtw64/laser-disc-to-c64-interface/

  7. http://dragonslair64.areaaperta.com/
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////
    DL emu for C64
    Full emulation of Dragon’s Lair PCB with version A roms on brand-stock C64.

    It uses RS232 interface to connect with laserdisc player.

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLskgzT_hWtjB9NBnPiVqNThJm-Ls9Dtan

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    DL64 FMV edition
    Dl64 it’s a project to have the acclamed full-motion video game Dragon’s Lair on Commodore 64.

    It uses nuvie technology and REU cartridge extention like 1541 Ultimate or Chamaleon.

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLskgzT_hWtjBRapOeRVSS6KTV0riqOijc

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