Pokes are the common name for cheatcodes towards the C64 community and the Pokefinder of the Action Replay cartridge along with an option to enter a Poke on the freezer menu made this way of cheating very attractive. Magazines in the 80s published Poke lists on pages dedicated to gaming and even supplied Pokes for games they published themselves. The first lists of Pokes usually contained a SYS address or instructions on how to enter the Poke. These may cause diversity but we will publish some of this information here whenever provided anyhow.
To poke in C64 Basic V2 means to write a value to a memory address and therefore it has to consist of an address ranging from 0 to 65535 and a parameter ranging from 0 to 255. This results is a construct such as
Poking to address 0 and 1 does not make much sense in this context and programs will like never use those addresses to store information, so they can be ignored here. Many cartridge based Basic Extensions including the Replay Series, Final Cartridge or Atomic/Nordic Power will allow to use POKE along with hexadecimal values. Ranges of course are $0000 to $FFFF for addresses and $00 to $FF for hexadecimal values then. Mixing hexadecimal and decimal here is usually possible.
A Poke can usually be entered best by freezing the program with a cartridge capable of modifying the RAM and restarting the frozen program. Most Action Replay based freezers use the option E - POKES for entering the Poke with a consecutive F3 - RESTART. Simpler games can sometimes even be interrupted by pressing RUN/STOP or RUN/STOP and RESTORE. Entering the Poke in direct mode followed by RUN or SYS is the usual way then. Another possibility is to reset the C64, enter the Poke and SYS then.
Given no option to enter the Poke conveniently the user is forced to enter the cartridge monitor and modify the given memory addresses manually. The wiki will list Pokes hexadecimal next to decimal for less hazzle on such operations.
Making up Pokes
Starting with Action Replay v5 there is X - POKEFINDER available on the freezer which allows to easily find quite a few cheats. Taking a closer look at a game at assembly language level will allow professionals to quickly find what could be left to cheat. Beginners at this science or people who just want to contribute might even look up cheats in existing trainer menus and transfer them to original copies of the games they like to play or to this wiki.
We'll be looking into this topic a little deeper whenever there is some demand for it - let us know.
Adding to the collection
Pokefinder received a first batch of Pokes for about 500 games. Please mail us on errors and let us know whenever you'd like to help improve the collection.
- Polish article on cracking and finding Pokes