I recently ran across a new visual debugger for C64 emulators called ICU64, written by Mathfigure. It will be released later this year and provides some amazing visualizations of both memory access and memory-mapped devices like the video and sound chip. See the video below for how it works.
There is also another video showing how the classic game Boulder Dash can be expanded to span multiple screens. He implemented this by grabbing graphics from the same RAM areas the game uses and displaying them on a custom screen. On this forum thread, the author discusses his goal of allowing more graphical expandability for classic games.
Learning to program on a small machine with a full view of every memory location is something I’ve always seen as a great way to start. I got a lot of insight into how my computer worked by running a background task that continually copied pages of RAM to screen, so you could “scroll through” memory. For example, the tick counter showed up as a blur.
I’ve always said that my kids would have to learn to program a C64 before they got a more modern system. Wouldn’t this be a great tool for teaching anyone new to low-level computing how assembly language and memory-mapped devices work? What about adapting some of these techniques to fuzzing or modern debuggers?
[Edit: added a link to the project now that it has been released]