The Commodore 64 could come back as a handheld system

We want it bad but our crowdfunding senses are tingling

The Commodore 64 is a legend in gaming and computing and the best selling single computer model of all time. It began life as a project to make state-of-the-art computer chips for graphics and audio. It was thought that they could be used in future arcade machines but the arcade market was failing. The president of Commodore, Jack Tramiel, suggests the engineers create a 64 kilobyte home computer instead. They showed it off at CES in 1982 and the rest is history. The C-64 was powerful and much cheaper than alternatives like the Apple II. It was also user-friendly and very easy to program. If you didn’t know how to program, you could just insert a game cartridge like most modern games consoles and instantly play it. Everyone wins.

The legend of the C-64 lives on and it still has many passionate fans. Some of these fans are the people at Retro Games Ltd, who are looking to recreate the C-64 but bring it up to speed with the rest of our technology. The project is called “The 64” and it will be available either as a desktop computer in the form of a nostalgic C-64-like keyboard or as a portable console. Check out the 3D renditions here:

In terms of computing power it would be identical to the original. The main updates to the desktop model are the ports for HDMI, USB, SD cards, and the original cartridges. The handheld model, the 64 SX, is more like a Game Boy or DS but has ports for micro-HDMI, micro-USB and SD cards. The consoles are going to come with classics, indie games, and exclusives pre-loaded on the machine.

We love retro gaming and both models look really cool but we do have concerns. The 64 and 64 SX are being crowdfunded on Indiegogo, which is a great way to go for this sort of thing but we’re always cautious when a flexible goal system is used. This means that the team gets all the money if they don’t reach their original target. And the team itself, we know nothing about them despite supposedly working in the games industry for years.

They also say they have prototypes working but they aren’t actually shown in the videos or images. Actually, very little useful information is provided anywhere. The PC version costs $150 (£106) and the handheld costs $170 (£120), which is quite expensive but probably worth it for a well-designed system that delivers what it promises. However, we don’t know what we’re getting for that price. There are no tech specs. We could 3D-print an enclosure to hold a keyboard and Raspberry Pi that could do all of this and more. If they’re doing something similar, it really won’t be worth it.

We want to love it, it’s just we’ve been burned before with suspicious projects like the Coleco Chameleon. Come on, we just want awesome nostalgic gaming! You can check out the plans for The 64 at the Indiegogo campaign page but remember, your payment goes to them even if they fail to reach the $150,000 target.


Main image © Retro Games Ltd