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C64 Mini, the return of the best-selling computer in history

Commodore 64? The best-selling computer in history? If this does not sound to you, it is that you lost a good part of the history of video games of the eighties. And if it sounds to you, we're sorry, you may already be an age. Both in one case and in another, this interests you, because the machine returns in a reduced format. We tested C64 Mini.

The manufacturer Commodore International revolutionized the micro-computer sector back in the early eighties with the launch of the legendary C64 (Commodore 64). According to its managers, it sold more than 17 million units, becoming the most successful computer model in sales, according to the Guinness Book of Records. A great feat, especially considering its launch price, which was around 600 dollars (equivalent to 1,500 dollars today).

Fortunately, those who want to recall the machine, or even discover it for the first time, can now do so at a much lower price: 80 euros. The manufacturer Retro Games brings us The C64 Mini, a faithful recreation with respect to the original platform and that comes with a selection of 64 video games.

Once tested in the newsroom for several days, our assessment is positive. The trend continues with regard to this type of nostalgic devices (such as occurred with NES Mini or SNES Mini ), and as such defends a very similar manufacturing quality. There are some criticizable aspects, such as that the keyboard is decorative and the catalog is not too well chosen. However, as a gift of nostalgia, as well as a memory of a legendary era, we believe it is an excellent option.

The history of Commodore 64

Original release:August 1982
CPUMOS Technology 6510/8500 at 1 MHz approx.
Memory64KB of RAM + 20KB of ROM
GraphicsVIC-II chip (16 colors and 112 simultaneous sprites)
Resolution320 x 200 pixels
SoundChip SID 6581/8530

C64 stood out at the time for being an 8-bit machine capable of technically exceeding its most immediate predecessors. With this, we refer to the popular Atari 2600 (also known as Atari VCS) and also Apple II microcomputer. The competitive advantage lay in the presentation of sprites endowed with various colors and a sound chip that was simply brutal for the time. For more signs, some consider that the "demoscene" was born from Commodore 64, and more particularly through the sound creations that allowed its advanced hardware.

However, was this the only factor that led to his dominance? Evidently not. One of the keys to success was that C64 was not only sold in specialized stores (common at that time), but also in large stores. Another very important aspect is that Commodore International had the capacity to manufacture in-house components, which allowed controlling costs and making them cheaper, also facilitating mass production. Finally, mention the nearly 10,000 titles that were released, and among which were not only video games but office applications.

As with the Spectrum or the Amstrad, this line of micro-computers was located halfway between the home console and the personal computer. That is to say, it was not a simple entertainment device. Maybe some of this many do not know, but C64 additionally included a BASIC command interpreter, something very common in the 80s in this type of devices, which allowed you to create your own programs, including video games.

C64 Mini on examination

LaunchingMarch 29, 2018
Price79.99 euros
Catalogue64 video games
Maximum resolution720p (HDMI)
Connection ports2 x USB (accepts external keyboard)
Elements includedReplica of C64, USB joystick, HDMI cable, micro USB cable for power and manual

TheC64 Mini follows the trend in terms of building this type of replicas dedicated to nostalgia. The central unit (the keyboard) is a 50% replica of the size of the original device. Being in a reduced format, and in order to optimize costs, it has been chosen to incorporate ornamental keys. This forces us to use the virtual keyboard (which is quite uncomfortable in the long run) or choose to connect any USB keyboard.

The way to connect the C64 Mini to the TV is very simple. Just an HDMI cable and a micro USB to power it (both included in the package). It does not include a power adapter, although in our case it was not necessary. The USB joystick that comes standard is decent, but nothing outstanding. It causes inaccuracies while we play, although we must also consider that it is completely faithful with respect to the controllers of the time. The cable connection of the controller is 1.5 meters, enough, although it would not have been bad half meter more to play from the sofa with comfort.

But if there is something in which this Commodore 64 Mini stands out, that is the interface. Follow closely the style of NES Mini and SNES Mini, allowing a simple navigation between video games, with data such as the year of release or the name of the developers, as well as an explanatory summary of each title. The presentation is adequate, with an eightbitera background music, and a good number of options, such as those related to modifying the screen options (4: 3 or expanded), as well as the viewing style (includes CRT filter and "scanlines" simulation ).

64 video games, a collection ... unsurpassed?

The selection made by Retro Games for TheC64 Mini is not bad. This is 64 pre-installed video games that defend a wide range of genres: platforms, shoot 'em ups, sports, puzzle ... We have exponents like Jumpman (1983), Impossible Mission (1984), Boulder Dash (1984), Winter Games (1985), Paradroid (1985) or Armalyte (1988).

All are representative and make a journey through the many years of the life of Commodore 64. What is most criticizable? Missing large icons of this platform.

Some of C64's most beloved video games are not available, such as Pirates, Maniac Mansion, Bruce Lee, Bubble Bobble, Turrican, Prince of Persia, International Karate, Wasteland, Ultima IV, Elite or Katakis, among many others. There is also no possibility of incorporating them, as it is a closed system. Of course, we are allowed to update the firmware via USB, which is ideal if any improvements are made to the system.

Obviously, video games are with their original ROM, and therefore the language is English. However, the interface menus are completely translated into Spanish. This includes the descriptions of the games. In general, and despite the improved selection of titles, we are faced with a product treated with care and that will satisfy those who seek to pay homage to Commodore 64, a platform without which probably nothing would have been the same.

What you should know…

  • It is a very careful replica of the legendary Commodore 64.
  • It includes a USB joystick that emulates those of the eighties.
  • A selection 64 video games: enough, although quite improbable.
  • 720p resolution via HDMI connection.
  • A good repertoire of viewing options: CRT, scanlines, expanded screen ...
  • The possibility of connecting a USB keyboard.
  • It includes the function of saving and resuming the game, through several slots.
  • Released on March 29 at a recommended retail price of 79.99 euros.
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