In an Indiegogo campaign launched today, British hardware developer Retro Games Ltd is looking to bring back the venerable Commodore 64 computer as both a desktop system and a handheld console.
According to the $150,000 campaign's notes, "The 64 is an exciting and respectful re-imagining of the original home computer, the Commodore C64. Developed using the latest (old) technology, the highly passionate team behind The 64 is excited to bring you not only a classic desktop version of The 64 but also a brand new handheld version, meaning classic gaming on the go."
What's being offered is a newly-designed micro that's a smaller and more compact version of the world's best-selling computer. Looking at the scale model, there are many similarities in terms of the original design. The basic shape echoes the lines of the classic computer, and the keyboard and function buttons look like they could have well been lifted from an original machine. It's only when you compare The 64 next to an actual Commodore 64 that the major differences can be seen – mostly in the size and shape of the system.
Under the hood of The 64 is where there are major changes, however. Retro Games Ltd says, "The 64 consoles feature all new core technology based around the classic 64 architecture and is being designed and developed by a team of expert developers, many of whom have already created the technology behind several other classic retro consoles."
This new PCB essentially delivers original Commodore 64 functionality, such as a cartridge slot, with modern niceties like an HDMI out, a pair of USB ports, audio jack, and an SD card slot. The latter ensures that players will be able to download Commodore 64 games from the web and use them on the machine – something that Retro Games Ltd says will be very simple to do.
While The 64 console is visually very reminiscent of the original machine, the companion The 64 SX hand-held system is all-new. The concept renders are quite elegant, and show a system with a Micro-HDMI out and a Micro-USB external port. No other details have been released, however, so the size and resolution of the screen, battery life, and indeed the actual dimensions of the hand-held remain a mystery.
Both The 64 console and hand-held will come preloaded with "a selection of classic games and also some brand new content which will be exclusive to this launch version of The 64 computer console." I'm definitely interested in knowing what those games are, but no details have been announced as of yet. However, considering that The 64 project is being headed up by Darren Melbourne, who brought the popular C64DTV C64-in-a-joystick to market, I'm hoping that a similar selection of games that were featured in that novel system – including many classics from Epyx and Hewson – will also be included in The 64.
The cost of the machines is $150 for The 64 console, and $170 for the hand-held, with a variety of different packages available for those who might be interested in giving a system a try. If you want more information, all the details can be found here.