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SYFY WIRE video games

The Commodore 64 is rebooting the 1980s with a full-size re-release

By Benjamin Bullard
The Commodore 64 HD remake

Brown keys, tan case, and that friendly, soft-edged wedge shape that just exudes 1980s computing competence: If you’ve waxed nostalgic for the days when the Commodore 64 was a common sight in schools and homes alike, you’ll probably be pretty stoked about the latest entrant in the seemingly unstoppable race to breathe new life into all things retro.

Retro Games Ltd., the aptly named company behind the C64 Mini, is upsizing its first effort at reimagining the Commodore 64 — only this time, what comes in the box looks uncannily like the old machine that stole so many hours of your young life with games like Boulder Dash and Radar Rat Race, a Pac-Man knock-off you could play by just pressing the four arrow keys.

Slated to release this winter, TheC64 (the reboot’s official name) already has a nostalgic trailer that unpacks all the new machine’s games-focused details, while giving off an uncannily Stranger Things-style retro vibe:

Part gaming console and part throwback computer, TheC64 features three modes: Gaming Carousel (which functions exactly as it sounds), C64, and VIC 20. The latter two modes allow nostalgia-minded programmers to dive back into the 64’s classic text-based command operating system, where they can once again write their own code, after all these years, in good old-fashioned BASIC.

Designed to connect with modern televisions via HDMI and capable of supporting up to 720p resolution, TheC64 comes pre-loaded with (what else?) 64 games, including throwback titles like Planet of Death, California Games, Paradroid, and Boulder Dash; as well as newer entries like Attack of the Mutant Camels, Hover Bovver, Iridis Alpha, Gridrunner, and 2017 shooter Galencia. Save files can be stored on a USB drive, and you can even ignore the machine’s gaming functionality altogether — just load your own programs from USB and start retro-hacking away.

The full package comes complete with a modernized version of the old-school, sold-separately joystick, which now features micro switches and configurations aimed at blending seamlessly with the included games. So far, Retro Games has only revealed pricing (around $140) and release info (Dec. 5 of 2019) for Europe, but if its track record with the older Mini model is any indication, it shouldn’t be long before we start seeing its new big brother in the U.S. as well.