ColEm is a portable emulator of the old ColecoVision videogame console. It should run most ColecoVision games and supports Coleco's SuperAction controllers with spin wheels. You can always get the latest ColEm binaries, source code, and support files from
There are versions of ColEm for many platforms, with Windows, MSDOS, Unix, and Symbian ports being maintained by myself. All these ports are available for free from the above website.
The ColEm-Symbian port works on the 3rd Edition Series60 phones from Nokia and its licensees. You can download it, as well as my other Symbian products, at
ColEm is written in portable C and thus can be ported to any sufficiently fast computing platform. The current ColEm source code distribution includes portable core sources and platform-specific sources for Windows and MSDOS. The ColEm-Unix sources are also available, for a slightly older version of ColEm.
If you would like to port ColEm to another system or make changes in ColEm's code, please, contact me by email or some other means. Be aware that ColEm source code is freely distributable, but it is not public domain and it is not released under GPL. You can not use it for commercial purposes, distribute, or change it on your own, unless you contact me to arrange the conditions of such use and get my permission. Feel free to look at it though.
All versions: [ALT] - Hold to switch to the second controller [SPACE] - FIRE-R button (also: [SHIFT],A,S,D,F,G,H,J,K,L) [CONTROL] - FIRE-L button (also: Z,X,C,V,B,N,M) [Q] - SuperAction PURPLE button (also: E,T,U,O) [W] - SuperAction BLUE button (also: R,Y,I,P) - - Digit buttons [-] - [*] button [=] - [#] button [PGUP] - Fast-forward emulation (also: [F9]) [ESC] - Quit emulation (also: [F12]) [F2] - Turn soundtrack log on/off [F3] - Toggle FIRE-R autofire on/off [F4] - Toggle FIRE-L autofire on/off [F5] - Invoke configuration menu [F6] - Load emulation state [F7] - Save emulation state [F8] - Turn scanline simulation on/off [ALT]+[F8] - Toggle screen softening on/off [F9] - Fast-forward emulation (also: [PGUP]) [F11] - Reset hardware [F12] - Quit emulation (also: [ESC]) [ALT]+[PGUP] - Increase audio volume [ALT]+[PGDOWN] - Decrease audio volume With #define DEBUG: [F1] - Go into the built-in debugger With #define GIFLIB: [F10] - Make a screen snapshot (SNAPxxxx.GIF) With #define WINDOWS: [ALT]+[ENTER] - Switch between full screen and window modes
Usage: colem [-option1 [-option2...]] [filename] [filename] = Name of the file to load as a cartridge [CART.ROM] This program will transparently uncompress singular GZIPped and PKZIPped files. [-option] = -verbose <level> - Select debugging messages  0 - Silent 1 - Startup messages 2 - VDP 4 - Illegal Z80 ops 16 - Sound -skip <percent> - Percentage of frames to skip  -help - Print this help page -home <dirname> - Set directory with system ROM files [off] -pal/-ntsc - Video system to use [-ntsc] -adam/-cv - Run in Adam/ColecoVision mode [-cv] -allspr - Show all sprites [off] -autoa/-noautoa - Autofire/No autofire for FIRE-R button [-noautoa] -autob/-noautob - Autofire/No autofire for FIRE-L button [-noautob] -spin1x/-spin1y - Mouse X/Y position as SuperAction spinner 1 [off] -spin2x/-spin2y - Mouse X/Y position as SuperAction spinner 2 [off] -drums/-nodrums - Hit/Don't hit MIDI drums on noise [-nodrums] -logsnd <filename> - Write soundtrack to a MIDI file [LOG.MID] -palette <number> - Use given color palette  0 - Scaled VDP colors 1 - Original VDP colors 2 - Faded NTSC colors -sync <frequency> - Sync screen updates to <frequency> [-nosync] -nosync - Do not sync screen updates [-nosync] -tv/-notv - Simulate/Don't simulate scanlines [-notv] -soft/-nosoft - Scale screen up with softening [-nosoft] -sound [<quality>] - Sound emulation quality  -nosound - Don't emulate sound [-nosound] With #define DEBUG: -trap <address> - Trap execution when PC reaches address [FFFFh] With #define MSDOS: -vsync - Sync screen updates to VGA VBlanks [-vsync] With #define UNIX: -saver/-nosaver - Save/don't save CPU when inactive [-saver] -scale <factor> - Scale window by <factor>  With #define MITSHM: -shm/-noshm - Use/don't use MIT SHM extensions for X [-shm]
Your computer may be too slow to run the emulator. On slow machines, try
speeding things up by skipping more frames (
line option or "Draw XX% frames" menu option). In ColEm-Windows, make
window smaller or switch to the full screen mode with
If ColEm is too fast on your computer, you can slow it down by syncing it
to a timer (
-sync in ColEm-Unix), VBlanks (
in ColEm-MSDOS), or by choosing "PAL Video"/"NTSC Video" menu option in
If you can't get ROM image to work, send it to me for analysis.
NO. Nobody seems to care though, mainly because there is no profit to be made from ColecoVision software any longer. Nevertheless, be aware of the fact that by using commercial software you haven't bought you are commencing an act of piracy.
This usually means that your linker cannot find the necessary libraries
(namely, libX11 and libXext) or some additional libraries (like libsocket
and libnsl) are required. Find these libraries in your system and modify
the Makefile so that the final invocation of the C compiler has
-L<path_to_libs> options. If you have no libXext
library and the same functionality isn't provided in libX11, try
You are probably trying to run the emulator on a remote Xterminal while
it attempts to use shared memory for interfacing with X. Another reason
for this error may be the lack of MITSHM extension support in your
-noshm option to disable the usage of shared
Unix/X version of ColEm can currently be compiled for 8bit, 16bit, or 32bit Xterminals. Neither 1bit nor 4bit Xterminals will work with the drivers included into official ColEm distribution.
*.cv/*.cv.gzfiles from the file manager. ColEm-Maemo source code is included with the core source code distribution.
-scaleoption to scale window on Unix.
-hometo set home directory with system ROMs.
-soft/-nosoft, and the
[F8]key now work for both MSDOS and Unix.
-sync/-nosyncoption to ColEm-MSDOS to sync screen updates to the timer (use
-zoom/-nozoomoption to ColEm-MSDOS that will zoom ColEm display to fill the whole screen, using image softening algorithm.
-tvoptions used, otherwise it runs in 320x200x15bpp screen mode.
Finally, I would like to thank Hans Guijt, Marcel de Kogel, John Stiles, Neal Danner, Alan Steremberg, and all other people who helped me with advice, information, ROM images, and encouragment.