When I was a kid we had a Commodore 64 gaming system. I wasn’t quite old enough to really enjoy it but I have vivid memories of the system in our basement. It was connected to an old large tube television and the cables led from the back of the system to the back of the TV. It was a cluttered mess and on more than one occasion, the Commodore 64 was pulled off the top of the TV by an arguing dog and cat. Nevertheless, I still have fond memories of my family stationed around that television enjoying the games broadcast by the system. So, when I learned about the Commodore 64 Mini, I thought, “This could be a fun nostalgic way to have some fun.”
The Commodore 64 Mini is a 50% scale replica of the original 1982 machine. It outputs 720P HD video through HDMI and features a classic joystick plus 64 built-in games including Uridium, Paradroid, California Games, Jumpman, and Speedball 2. The kit includes the C64 mini, the C64 joystick, HDMI cable, manual, and a USB power lead (AC adapter is not included). The C64 mini looks like the original Commodore 64 keyboard, but the keys on this device are non-functioning. To use the gaming system, you must have a monitor or TV that is compatible with HDMI.
- High Definition output at 720p via HDMI
- Pixel Perfect graphics at 4:3 ratio, with full width, CRT filter and US/Europe display mode options
- Save game function
- 2 USB ports: plug in a USB keyboard and use as a fully functional home computer with C64 BASIC, or add a second joystick for 2-player games
- Supports software updates via USB memory stick
The first thing I noticed was the non-working keyboard. I was very impressed with how awesome it looked. It was exactly how I remembered it — just smaller. One of the things I was looking forward to with this system was the classic mechanical keyboard that was apart of the original system. This is why I was disappointed with the setup when I found out the keyboard was nonworking. I understand that this is the main machine where the actual computing power is stored, but I still wish the keyboard was functional. The C64 Mini has a USB interface and you have the option of connecting additional joysticks or a keyboard to use the unit as a personal computing station. The C64 Mini will run BASIC and Commodore 64 ROMs if you want to go through the steps it takes to run them (load the ROM onto a USB flash drive and then run it; you can only run one ROM at a time).
Playing games on the system is very simple. It’s recommended that you power down your monitor before you plug in the C64 Mini. Once the C64 Mini is connected to the monitor, you will power it up and then the monitor. You should be taken directly to the list of games. You can use the joystick to select the game you want to play and then play said game. In testing the system, I played a handful of games to see how responsive the joystick was. It’s a bit stiff and because it’s so lightweight, it’s a little difficult to handle while you’re trying to concentrate on the game. I actually found it a bit distracting. 3
Aside from the joystick controls, the C64 Mini seemed to function normally. The interface was easy to navigate and I loved that there was a clear description of each game — complete with images — in the main menu. The games I played ran smoothly and I didn’t notice any issues with the connection. The video quality was very clear even though it was still 8-bit animation. I’m not a bit fan of the fact that an AC adapter is not included, but I did find that you can run the machine off of a rechargeable battery pack if you wish.
While I wanted to fall 100% in love with this system, it just fell short of my expectations. I love the design work on the game system unit itself, but long to see a functioning mechanical keyboard accompany it. I like all the accessories that are included but feel that the joystick design is lacking user-friendliness. I also felt that the game selection was underwhelming. There are so many more options for the C64 Mini and the 64 pre-loaded games are just the tip of the iceberg. I think other games could have been chosen or it could have been easier for users to add Commodore 64 ROMs. All-in-all it is a valiant effort for Commodore 64 fans. I actually think it’s worth the investment to own the tiny C64 Mini unit.
Originally published at macsources.com on November 27, 2018.