The retro train is here! A new retro console – the C64 mini

I remember LOAD “*” – but is the tape 8 or is the disk drive 8? TO GOOGLE!

The Commodore 64. It was the first computer my parents bought, and the system that I cut my teeth on. To this day it has a special place in my heart.

Back in those days, playing games like Gorf and Clowns on the C64 were cutting edge things. You would slip in the cartridge and just start playing for hours. Today these names probably down mean anything 🙁

Something else we would do for hours is load games and other programs from cassette tape. Yep, you heard me – cassette tapes. I remember Impossible Mission especially taking about 15 minutes to load, and maybe 1 in 5 times I would come back to a screen that said “Ooops. Can you try again?” And I would. Again and again. Impossible Mission was a game it took me about ten years to beat.

Another fond memory I have (if you can believe it) is typing in my games and saving them to tape. Now I wasn’t some magical child prodigy – I wasn’t creating games from scratch at nine years old. But you could get magazines that came with the game’s code. That you manually typed in. Yep – that was how you did it on the C64. Free games with a magazine – as long as you typed it all in yourself. That was how I began to learn to programme, and it was a massive amount of trial and error. Back in those days, there was no internet to Google the answers to a question. The magazines in question rarely explained what the BASIC language was let alone how to debug a problem.

For me, these were the frontier days of computing. For my parents and IT people of that generation, they probably felt I was as spoiled as Google kids are now.

But what is this walk down memory lane all about? Well, looking at the EB Games website this morning I realised I could preorder a C64 mini. I have heard about this on and off for a while, but now it’s coming.

This little console is coming with 64 inbuilt games (how appropriate!) and its own joystick. Unlike the Nintendo consoles, the C64 mini is using standard USB ports so that you can even plug in a keyboard and use the mini as a ‘proper’ C64!

The games on offer are all high rating games of their day, and I do not see much overlap in the types of games, not including sequels. For example, a lot of the Epyx ‘Games’ series like Summer Games, Winter Games and California Games are included. Each one played very differently even though the core idea of a bunch of different events are the same.

My first top-down shooter if you will was the classic Commando. You control an elite soldier, running up the screen to destroy the army in front of you. It’s a game I have never actually completed if I recall correctly. There was another game at the time called Who Dares Wins, a similar concept game where a lone soldier takes on the enemy army alone. Who Dares Wins got slammed as being nothing but a Commando clone, to the point of an injunction stopping sales completely. The developers then went back and remade the game as simply ‘Who Dares Wins II’. And this game became not only the Commando killer for the day but also the superior game and as such is on the C64 mini. What is noticeably not in the collection is the more well-known Commando though, so the ‘same game’ bloat is minimised in the collection.

Come March 29th 2018, I am looking forward to hooking up teh C64 mini to my screen and realising once again just how far games and technology have come in the last 30 odd years.

Preorder the C64 mini at EB Games here, or check out the C64 mini homepage here.

The joystick is bigger than the console, and a USB keyboard is a good idea
The size is about right. It takes up a little more space than the Mini NES though.
I remember playing almost all of these!

Until next time,

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