October 2, 2017 // 11:41 a.m.
Retro Games and Koch Media have jumped on the nostalgia bandwagon and announced the impending launch of what they call TheC64 Mini, a 'reimagining' of the best-selling home computer of the 1980s.
Launched in 1982 by Jack Tramiel's Commodore Business Machines, formerly a typewriter company, the Commodore 64 was an upgrade replacement to the company's previous VIC-20. Popular with gamers thanks to its hardware sprite handling, 16 colour support, and impressive SID-chip four-channel on-board synthesiser at a time when rival systems like the ZX Spectrum were producing bleeps and bloops, the Commodore 64 is generally recognised as the world's best-selling model of home computer - meaning there are plenty of former owners out there interested in a recreation.
Following Nintendo's success with the NES Mini and SNES Mini, Retro Games and Koch Media have announced they are producing a mini-console of their own: TheC64 Mini, henceforth to be written as 'the C64 Mini', launching in early 2018. Around half the size of the original machine, the C64 Mini includes 64 built-in games, switchable image filters which aim to reproduce the free-aliasing effect of old cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays on modern pixel-perfect liquid crystal displays (LCDs) via an HDMI connection, and a bundled Competition Pro-inspired USB joystick for control.
The good news ends there, however. Unlike projects such as the ZX Spectrum Next, which boasts full compatibility with original hardware and software, the C64 Mini is a very limited beast: The miniature keyboard is just for show and has non-functional keys, with a USB keyboard being required for text entry, and only USB peripherals are supported with no option to connect an original disk drive, tape deck, cartridge, printer, or any other period-appropriate accessory.
The companies involved have also been silent on exactly what you'll find inside the plastic housing of the C64 Mini, but reports on the official forum suggest that the guts are a simple Arm-based single-board computer (SBC) not a million miles away from a Raspberry Pi running a software-based emulator - a shame, given Retro Games' boasts of having team members previously involved in the marketing of Jeri Ellsworth's C64DTV which built a fully-functional FPGA-based reproduction of a Commodore 64 into the base of a joystick and which could be opened and attacked with a soldering iron to interface with original hardware.
The C64 Mini is due to launch in early 2018, the companies have confirmed, priced at £69.99 with joystick, USB cable, and HDMI cable but no USB power adapter, and will be followed later in the year by a larger version boasting a functional keyboard at an as-yet unannounced price point. More information is available on the official website.
The list of games bundled with the C64 Mini is as follows: AlleyKat, Anarchy, Armalyte: Competition Edition, Avenger, Battle Valley, Bounder, California Games, Chip’s Challenge, Confuzion, Cosmic Causeway: Trailblazer II, Creatures, Cyberdyne Warrior, Cybernoid II: The Revenge, Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine, Deflektor, Everyone’s A Wally, Firelord, Gribbly’s Day Out, Hawkeye, Heartland, Herobotix, Highway Encounter, Hunter’s Moon, Hysteria, Impossible Mission, Impossible Mission II, Insects In Space, Mega-Apocalypse, Mission A.D, Monty Mole, Monty on the Run, Nebulus, Netherworld, Nobby the Aardvark, Nodes Of Yesod, Paradroid, Pitstop II, Rana Rama, Robin Of The Wood, Rubicon, Skate Crazy, Skool Daze, Slayer, Snare, Speedball, Speedball II: Brutal Deluxe, Spindizzy, Star Paws, Steel, Stormlord, Street Sports Baseball, Summer Games II, Super Cycle, Temple of Apshai Trilogy, The Arc Of Yesod, Thing Bounces Back, Thing on a Spring, Trailblazer, Uchi Mata, Uridium, Who Dares Wins II, Winter Games, World Games, and Zynaps.