C64 Mini is a miniature variant of the Commodore 64 retro home computer available from retail and online stores. Commodore 64 was announced to the world at CES between January 7th and 10th 1982 before officially releasing in August 1982 in which dominance of the 8-bit home computer was established as it regularly outsold PCs, Apple computers and Atari’s 8-bit computers. Commodore 64 was discontinued in April 1994 having sold somewhere in the region of 17 million units; making the C64 a Guinness World Record holder for the highest selling computer model ever. Commodore 64 is said to have amassed around 10,000 software releases from every genre of games to business and game development applications. Can C64 Mini revive the Commodore brand back to its former glory from its era and is it capable of pleasing long-term Commodore 64 fans?

C64 Mini comes with 64 classic Commodore 64 games pre-installed on the internal storage capacity covering many core genres including adventures such as Everyone’s A Wally, Skool Daze and Temple of Apshai Trilogy; maze exploration style RPGs such as Avenger, Firelord, Herobotix and Robin of the Wood; platformers such as Creatures, Cyberdyne Warrior, Gribbly’s Day Out, Hawkeye, Heartland, Impossible Mission, Impossible Mission II, Jumpman, Mission A.D., Monty Mole, Monty on the Run, Nebulus, Nobby the Aardvark, Nodes of Yesod, Star Paws, The Arc of Yesod, Thing Bounces Back and Thing on a Spring; puzzles such as Anarchy, Boulder Dash, Bounder, Chip’s Challenge, Confuzion, Cosmic Causeway, Deflektor, Snare, Spindizzy and Trailblazer; shoot ‘em ups such as Alleykat, Armalyte: Competition Edition, Battle Valley, Cybernoid, Cybernoid II, Highway Encounter, Hunter’s Moon, Hysteria, IO, Mega-Apocalypse, Netherworld, Paradroid, Ranarama, Rubicon, Steel, Uridium, Who Dares Wins II and Zynaps; racers such as Pitstop II and Super Cycle; sports such as California Games, Skate Crazy, Speedball, Speedball 2, Street Sports Baseball, Summer Games II, Uchi Mata, Winter Games and World Games.

In addition to the 64 pre-installed Commodore 64 games is version 2 of the C64 variant of the Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code that allows C64 Mini owners to be able to try their hands at coding games. A complete guide to learning BASIC on C64 Mini can be found on C64’s official website.

Post-launch system software updates are aimed at purposefully improving compatibility with a greater range of USB connected controllers, keyboards and flash drives in order to improve the all-round user experience. Flash drives are firstly used to upgrade system software as the C64 Mini is an offline computer, although it can be downloaded onto the flash drive from C64’s official website with a full tutorial of how to update the C64 Mini. A further reason for flash drives to be utilised is that C64 Mini owners can confidently with 100% official permission from the creators of the C64 Mini be able to add ROMs of Commodore 64 games that were not previously pre-installed on C64 Mini with the process of how further games are added from a flash drive also being a promise of continual focus to increase the quantity of games that can be simultaneously added, while simplifying the process via system software updates. A full tutorial of how to load more programs onto the C64 Mini is available on C64’s official website.

C64 Mini’s keyboard is not functional as it would have needed to be a full size Commodore 64 in order for it to be a fully functional keyboard, although the stylised retro joystick can be used to navigate a virtual keyboard with every letter, number, symbol and function of the original Commodore 64 home computer. However, for anyone looking for a real keyboard; a keyboard can be connected via one of the two available USB slots for typing in BASIC, although upon launch keyboards cannot be used as a second controller, so perhaps this is a future area of improvement within a system software update. Given that the keyboard is non-functional and only one controller is provided; some USB connected controllers are compatible through varying automatic configurations and performance. An odd omission is the lack of a power supply plug, although a universal 5 volt charger for current mobile and tablet devices should be compatible via a USB charging cable that is provided.

The retro joystick is a replica of the Competition Pro 5000 controller, while being naturally very responsive as a control input such as the precision movement required in Spindizzy and jumping in Impossible Mission is absolutely immediate, although if there is lag on your TV’s output, then turn the output settings to game mode. A further advantage of the responsive controller is that it is much more playable in comparison to an emulator on a tablet that would require unpredictable, frustrating touch screen controls. The retro joystick is the classic black and red colour scheme featuring a red joystick for movement and directional aiming, two large red circular buttons at the front for main controls such as shooting enemies, jumping, shifting gears and so on, two small triangular buttons to the left and right of the joystick and four small circular buttons at the back of the controller referred to as A, B, C and a menu button that produces an onscreen menu in which players can save or load a game, enter the virtual keyboard or exit a game. If C64 Mini players are ever stuck in terms of the control scheme for a particular game; then a complete manual for each pre-installed game can be found at C64’s official website.

Commodore 64 led the way forward upon its original release due to multi-colour sprites supported by the VIC-II (Video Interface Chip II) graphics chip. C64 Mini outputs at 720p HD through the HDMI cable that is provided, while graphical filter options include pixel perfect, European 4:3 and North American 4:3 on a modern day TV or a retro CRT monitor.

C64 Mini’s presentation from a boxed product point of view is amazing as it has display worthy front, back and side covers on the outer box showcasing its range of features, contents and pre-installed games, while the inner box has the C64 Mini logo printed on it in the same style of logo as the Commodore 64 with the same colours, albeit shortening Commodore 64 to The C64 Mini. C64 Mini’s menu navigation is quite easy as players can scroll onto the next or previous game within the game selection menu with a quick flick of the joystick to the right or left respectively and a press of the front left or right action button to select a game or option. Game selection menus are wonderfully presented with every possible detail a gamer would want to know before choosing a game including the title, a synopsis of the game’s story and gameplay, author, composer, genre and year of release; therefore making C64 Mini very user friendly.

Audio was another major strength of the Commodore 64 as the SID (Sound Interface Device) that allowed developers to make more of an audible impact with sound effects, voice-overs and music through waveform generators. Audio output is very clear as modern TV speakers and headphones (connected through a TV) naturally improve the audio output in comparison to ancient CRT monitors and older TVs.

Local multiplayer allows two players to compete simultaneously or in pass the controller gameplay totalling to 24 local multiplayer games. Local multiplayer games featuring simultaneous multiplayer gameplay requiring two controllers include Armalyte: Competition Edition, Mega-Apocalypse, Pitstop II, Speedball, Speedball 2, Spindizzy, Street Sports Baseball, Trailblazer and Uchi Mata, while Summer Games II, Winter Games and World Games that are optionally simultaneous play for some events. Pass the controller multiplayer games featuring alternate turn gameplay requiring only one controller includes Alleykat, Anarchy, Battle Valley, Boulder Dash, California Games, Confuzion, Hunter’s Moon, IO, Jumpman, Nebulus, Uridium and Zynaps, while Summer Games II, Winter Games and World Games have more alternate turn gameplay than simultaneous multiplayer gameplay.

C64 Mini’s value originates from the 64 pre-installed games, BASIC development tools, six graphical filter options, upgradeable system software to introduce more features or general improvements and the 100% guarantee from C64 Mini’s creators that ROMs can be added through a USB flash drive to exponentially increase the quantity of amazing Commodore 64 games available to play on the C64 Mini that will collectively keep Commodore 64 and retro gamers playing for hours every week.

 

 

Analysis

  • Hardware: C64 Mini
  • Developer: Retro Games Ltd
  • Publisher: Koch Media
  • Format: Internal Storage Capacity
  • Players: 1-2 (Simultaneous Local Multiplayer/Pass the Controller Multiplayer)

A guide to where gamers can purchase C64 Mini from retailers in various regions can be found on C64’s official website.

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