Retro Games Ltd.’s C64 Mini is not the first retro home computer that is making an attempt at reincarnation, the trend having been set by Nintendo not too long ago.
Back in the awesome 80s, the C64 ruled the roost as far as gaming hardware goes, becoming the best-selling home computer of that decade.
Now that it’s making a comeback with a scaled-down version of its evocative ancestor, the kids of that generation – who are now all middle-aged, goes without saying – have every reason to be excited.
Yes, this all-in-one emulator console is giving us yesterday once more, but with some modern trimmings, which is the least you can expect in this day and age; a cool package, for sure, but not without some major flaws, if you can call them that.
So, let’s go straight ahead and review this blast from the past!
Inside the neat packaging, you will find your 64 Mini, a Joystick, an HDMI cable, a USB power cable and a Quick Guide.
However, no AC/DC adaptor has been included, which shouldn’t really pose too much of a problem in these modern times, since USB AC units have become such a common feature in portable devices.
While the C64 Mini does not come from the same company that was behind the 80s’ original, it is made by the same people responsible for the original Spectrum Vega, which is more than evident in the basic concept of this gaming console.
And, it is a big improvement on the Vega, which is always expected on a retro recreation, when you consider the technological leaps made since back in the days.
This time around, it’s a better-rounded unit, with a cute form factor in retro brown.
It has USB and HDMI capabilities, with 720p up-scaled visuals.
You will find the two USB ports on the right-hand side of the console; it does give you the option of plugging in another joystick, or even a keyboard.
Your HDMI and your power-in ports are on the back.
Now, if you didn’t already know, the cute little keyboard is just a cosmetic bluff. Looking at the size of it, it’s easy to see why the makers chose not to make it a working keyboard; because it’s near impossible to type on it unless you’re a baby with typing skills.
As for the joystick, well, it’s no Xbox Pad by any stretch of the imagination, but it does evoke memories of the 80s’ controller, something that should go down well with the nostalgia-hungry.
Otherwise, “the joystick is trash” as Alec Meer writes on rockpapershotgun.com, calling it the “root problem.”
“It’s overly stiff and poor to respond, it feels like it came from a pound shop, and any nostalgic pleasure in holding it swiftly melts into exasperation. Even selecting a game from the roster on the main menu is a slog,” he notes.
No other USB pads work on the Mini, but, ironically, the Mini’s joystick works fine when connected to other devices.
According to the product’s website, the Mini boasts 64 pre-loaded games from “original legendary developers and publishers such as Epyx, Gremlin Graphics, Hewson and The Bitmap Brothers.”
Games like California Games, Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe, Paradroid, and Impossible Mission are some of the games that have been “rated over 90% by leading publications of the day, with many winning coveted awards,” claims the Mini’s website.
“From sports to shooters, platformers to puzzlers, there’s a plethora of titles to keep the most discerning retro enthusiast happy,” the website says.
However, some key retro titles are missing from the included games – probably because of copyright constraints.
The good news is that the Mini allows you to add games that are not available in the included library.
The available games are, again, a subjective matter but they do load up pretty quickly, one has to say.
- It’s got HDMI Output
- 720p up-scaled visuals
- 2 USB ports
- 64 good games
- D64 ROM Support for adding your own games
The Not Good
- No additional USB ports – would have been handy
- Generic USB controllers not supported
- No support for other USB pads
- The keyboard could have been a working one
- Loading games is a tedious time-consuming process since the Mini can only recognize one ROM at a time. However, we should have a firmware fix soon enough if the makers are to be believed.