The age of retro mini consoles might finally be over, especially now that most gaming consoles and even one arcade cabinet has been recreated in miniaturized form. That said, some or at least one of those makes more sense as a full-sized version. That is the Commodore 64 and its THEC64, not “The C64” retro descendant has finally started shipping to preorders, at least to those living in Europe, bringing an almost faithful clone that includes an actual working keyboard.
The Commodore 64 didn’t really fit into the classic definition of a gaming device back then and neither does the THEC64 today. They’re closer to traditional computers, just that their hardware is merged with a keyboard you naturally use for input. That was what was missing from the C64 mini given size and price constraints but Commodore fans have made a more faithful recreation now possible.
THEC64 is faithful not only in size and keyboard. The console tries to faithfully recreate the original audio experience, even when that requires scaling the audio to the same level as the original. It also squeezes the image of the video down to 720p including top and bottom “headers” that some games and programs make use of. THEC64 also supports both C64 and VIC 20 cartridges and formats, the latter when plugging in a USB.
Not content to simply recreate the past, THEC64 comes with a completely new original game. Developed by Knights of Bytes, Sam’s Journey tries to create the look and feel of classic 8-bit games but with the trappings of modern games, like save games and an amount of content that would have never fit in the old C64.
Previously available on Indiegogo, THEC634 has started shipping in Europe. There’s still no word on North American availability but it might not make it in time for the holidays at this rate. Also no word on additional units being made after all pre-orders have been fulfilled.