I want to believe. A team in the UK has launched a campaign to crowdfund an “exciting and respectful re-imagining of the original home computer” – that is, the beloved Commodore 64. Retro Games Ltd is asking for $150,000 to fund THE 64, which will come in both computer and handheld console versions.
(Oh, how that voice brings back memories…)
The classic desktop version of THE 64 is exactly what you’d expect, but the team is also hard at work on THE 64SX, a handheld version of the hardware that will give you classic gaming on the go.
THE 64 will come bundled with a selection of both classic games and new content, some of which will be exclusive to the launch version of the console. Depending on your funding level, you can also get a joystick!
If you couldn’t tell, this is very much a labour of love. THE 64 is being designed, built and marketed by a team that is “utterly passionate” about retro gaming and the Commodore 64 in particular. Many of the developers – including bossman Darren Melbourne – have worked in this field before, including the C64DTV and the Nintendo Wii C64 games. Melbourne has been working in the industry for more than 30 years, and brings his expertise and love of old-school gaming to the table.
The Indiegogo campaign will raise money for the first production units of THE 64, and help prepare for the global retail launch of the device. Funding the project now will allow you to be one of the first in the world to own THE 64, from the initial – numbered – production run.
Perks start at $10 to get your name into the Hall of Fame, all the way up to $2800 for the one and only scale model of THE 64, signed by the entire team. The desktop computer console version is expected in December of this year, and will set you back $150 (plus shipping), while the handheld is $170 and due in April 2017. Other reward levels include signed concept art, posters, limited edition chrome computers, and even getting your name on the PCB.
We don’t know yet which games will be bundled with THE 64 – Retro Games Ltd is reportedly speaking with “a wide range of rights holders” to determine what will be included – and at this point, “you are going to be very, very happy”. Plus, if you don’t like the bundled ones, don’t fret – you’ll be able to add more of your own games from the vast collection available online.
But – as a massive Commodore 64 fan (it’s where I first learned to program), here’s the problem I have. There are no photos or videos of a working prototype. The team claims the research and development is done, but the videos and promotional images all show renders, rather than actual hardware. The team at Retro Games also has not secured the rights to use any Commodore licenses (other than the ROMS and BIOS), which feels a bit uncomfortable.
It looks lovely, it sounds great, and I was nearly overwhelmed by nostalgia when I heard the voice of SAM emanating from my speakers after so many years, but I’m still a bit wary until I see something more concrete.
If you’re intrigued, go throw your support behind THE 64, and stay tuned. I’d love to be proven wrong and for this to be something wonderful!