The PlayStation Classic may be bidding farewell, but the retro-console craze is still yet to go down. This time, it’s the Commodore 64, and no, Retro Games confirms that this will NOT be a miniature version.
So far, many of the “Classic” retro-console releases have the consistent theme of shrinking down the original console that it is supposed to represent. That is understandable, after all, some of these are considerably big compared to what the hardware can do.
Thus, retro-consoles such as the NES, SNES and PlayStation Classic, were miniaturized to about half of their original size. This even included unofficial licensed releases, such as the Genesis Mini.
The Commodore 64 itself had a previous retro-console release in the form of the Commodore 64 Mini. Released by Retro Games sometime last year, it received moderately positive views, though its emulator and game roster limitations, along with its non-functional keyboard, made its release less stellar than it should have.
Fast forward to 2019, and another official announcement revealed for a new Commodore 64 retro-console. What’s different this time, is, well, for starters, the console will be a full outer hardware recreation of the original.
In other words, it’s going to be just as big as the original Commodore 64.
And because it is full-sized, the keyboard is also full-sized, and perfectly functional. Its innards will, of course, be different, as with many “Classic” consoles that are built with modern software and hardware components. As for the obligatory joystick accessory, it will be made with micro switches for each functional button just as the one previously released for the C64 Mini.
The reveal trailer did not specify the number of games that will be available in the system. That being said, copyright laws most likely won’t be a problem for its four-decade-old game roster. As such, we can expect a relatively massive library of available titles such as Lode Runner, California Games, and the Turrican series.
Most importantly, however, this classic Commodore 64 will not just emulate games. It will follow its original BASIC (v2) programming language itself, which will allow users to design new software while emulating the hardware limitations of the original computer.
Another exciting part of the trailer is the slated availability of the earlier VIC-20 model of the C64. There is, unfortunately, no additional information as to how this would be implemented. Based on the trailer at least, it would most likely have some sort of a mode switch system that would let you run programs either on emulated VIC-20 hardware or on an original Commodore 64 one.
Honestly speaking though, the VIC-20 emulation would most likely be more of a nostalgia feature than anything else. Perhaps users can tinker with its mode to optimize games initially released for the VIC-20. Or, maybe to have fun challenging programming ideas using its more limited memory capacity.
A bit of a recap to the history and legacy of the Commodore 64. Released in 1982, it was a step above the similarly designed VIC-20. Like its predecessor, it was built to cater to the average consumer market, much in the same way as pioneering enterprise computers such as the IBM PC and Apple II.
The most significant design breakthrough that it had compared to earlier computers was that it was designed with a low hardware profile. This made the Commodore 64 affordable enough to be purchased by casual home users. Along with its BASIC v2 programming language, it became the best selling computer of all time due to its versatility during the era of its prominent use.
Incidentally, it also was one of the very first popular gaming consoles due to the number of games designed for the system, though it was only actually part of what it was widely known for.
The makers of the retro-console, Retro Games, announced that it is slated to be released on December 5th this year, retailing at an equivalent price of around $140 (£109.99).