The NES Classic and SNES Classic, miniaturized versions Nintendo’s classic consoles with emulators and games pre-installed, have been so popular that supply hasn’t come close to meeting the rabid demand. Thir runaway popularity has inspired the development of a new kind of mini-console that’s a bit closer to our PC-loving hearts: The C64 Mini.
The C64 Mini is a “perfectly formed” replica, half the size of the original, and sporting an HDMI and two USB ports, so you can plug in a standard USB keyboard and “type in those old BASIC computer listings or program new games. For those who’d rather get straight to the chunky pixels, it will also come with a “classic style joystick” and 64 “legendary” preinstalled games.
“Most of these were rated over 90 percent by leading publications of the day, with many winning coveted awards,” creator Retro Games said. “From sports to shooters, platformers to puzzlers, there’s a plethora of titles to keep the most discerning retro enthusiast happy.”
If that company name rings a bell, it may be because it’s the same outfit that launched a crowdfunded effort to resurrect the Commodore 64, along with a C64SX handheld, on Indiegogo. That effort failed to reach its goal, attracting just over $100,000 of its $150,000 target, but because it was a “flexible funding” campaign, Retro Games kept the money and work on the computers continued.
The company said in an Indiegogo update that it had hooked up with “a global business partner who would help us deliver the console to backers and to the retail market,” but part of the plan for making that happen included coming up with more versions of the system—which is why the C64 Mini will be released ahead of the full-size unit.
“In conversations with retailers it has become clear that the wider retail market is demanding the C64 Mini more so than our full-size design,” it explained. “Putting this Mini model first in the production timeline will mean that not only will we have the capital to deliver to the backers and pre-order customers that have supported us, but that we will also give them far more than the product they originally paid for.”
To that end, all backers of the original Indiegogo campaign, or who preordered the new C64 prior to the announcement of the Mini, will be given a Mini console along with the regular system. That’s the good news: The bad news is that the C64 Mini doesn’t have a solid release date (though it is planned for this year), the C64 won’t be out until sometime after the Mini comes out, and the handheld is even further off—so far off, in fact, that backers of the handheld will be given the Mini and full-size C64 instead, as well as “a significant discount” on the unit should they decide to buy it when it comes out.
“Our aim is to deliver the C64 Mini console set to Indiegogo backers and pre-order supporters in time for Christmas 2017. At this stage we are still completing and testing the firmware, so we must stop short of guaranteeing this date—if we do miss it, we will deliver as early in the New Year as we can; we feel as a team that honesty is better than broken promises,” Retro Games wrote. “Once the global launch of the C64 Mini has been completed, we will switch our focus back to the full-size keyboard model of the C64, with our aim to deliver to you all in early 2018. We appreciate that any delay from an original estimate is disappointing, but we hope that the C64 Mini will keep your thumbs twiddling until then.”
The C64 Mini will carry a suggested price tag of $70/£70/€80.