The most disappointing thing about the miniature Commodore 64 released last year was that its tiny keyboard didn’t actually work – it was just for show. Those cryptically labelled dirt-brown keys were one of the most iconic features of the C64 back in the ‘80s. But come December, the C64 Mini will be joined by another Commodore 64 replica, this time with a full sized and fully functional keyboard.
Retro Games’ The C64 was originally announced way back in 2016, but at the time, its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign failed to reach its funding goal. It was put on hold so that the C64 Mini could capitalise on the popularity of miniaturised throwback consoles like the NES and SNES Classic Editions from Nintendo. It did an admirable job at bringing a collection of 64 classic games to modern TVs, but it was a bring-your-own-keyboard affair if you wanted to try your hand at coding in BASIC again.
The C64, as the new console is simply known, has the same footprint as the original Commodore 64 that was first released back in 1982. The keyboard appears to have the same layout (and hopefully uses key switches that emulate the feel of the original’s) and that glorious beige finish that screams, “boring ‘80s computer.” It also comes with BASIC pre-installed, and it can be switched between modes that make it function like the classic C64, or even its predecessor, the Commodore Vic 20.
But that’s where the similarities end. The new C64 includes an HDMI port so it can be easily connected to modern TVs, but it maxes out at 720P, so don’t expect to finally be able to play Impossible Mission in 4K. It also includes the same collection of games that the C64 Mini has, but to improve gameplay the accurately awful throwback joystick has been upgraded with new micro switches, so hopefully, it’s a little more responsive than its predecessor.
In addition to its bundled collection of classic games, users can plug a flash drive into one of The C64's four USB ports (the C64 Mini had just two) and load any C64 or VIC20 ROM they feel was unfairly overlooked for inclusion. And, yes, in true C64 fashion, you’ll have to load those ROMS using the proper BASIC syntax.
The C64 will officially ship on 5 December 2019 and will come with a price tag of £110, which is definitely more expensive than the C64 Mini, but that working keyboard will go a long way to recreating the original Commodore experience for nostalgia seekers.