The C64 Mini – The DVDfever Review – Commodore 64

The C64 Mini

The C64 Mini is to the Commodore 64 home computer what devices like the Atari Flashback is to the Atari 2600 – a collection of games in one unit which make it easy to plug and play. Developed by Retro Games Ltd, what you’ll get is a 50% scale replica of the original C64, is a fully functioning machine which connects straight to your TV via HDMI, and also has two USB ports, one apiece for the joystick and a keyboard.

I never did own a Commodore 64 back in the day as I had a ZX Spectrum. Yes, I could get into the debate about how the C64 had 64K but was left with 39K useable memory, while the ZX Spectrum 48K had 41K useable, by comparison, but those comparison debates are still being had today, such as – Is Brexit good or bad? Is Putin or Kim Jong-Un responsible for all the bad stuff in the world? Does Trump have bad hair? What’s the point of Boris Johnson? These are all debates I don’t have time to go into right now.

When it comes to the graphics and sound for these, I have no comparison to the original so I can only base things on how they look on this system. From seeing clips of a number of C64 titles over the years, these seem fairly representative of the originals, but experts in that field will know better than I. If I come across any game-breaking bugs, I’ll confirm below.

The C64 Mini – Unboxing! – Commodore 64 – DVDfeverGames

Yes, you can find emulators online and download lots of games in non-legitimate ways, but not too many people are comfortable with that as go to the wrong site and you could well get some malware that’s going to cost you a fortune in paracetamol, cool fans and red wine to take away the stress, so not only in appealing to the layman, this device also appeals to retro fans whether they owned a C64 or not.

Besides, even if you did spend all evening downloading all the emulators for every console and computers that’s gone by in the past, and all the games for them – as long as you had the storage space, then by the time you’ve finished… OOPS! It’s time for bed and you’ve got work in the morning, whereas with The C64 Mini, you can simply plug-and-play!

The joystick has a number of buttons, the top two allowing you to be ambidextrous, but they’re also the same as the two smaller ones just by the shaft of the stick. Of the four along the bottom, the one with three lines takes you back within menus (so, like a ‘B’ button on a joypad), or exiting back to the main game menu. Also, if allows you to save/load a game, and use a virtual keyboard, which is handy for Skool Daze. Easier, is to plug a USB keyboard in and type on that, and I wish I could also use that for a lot of the games, since the joystick is a bit of a dog to use at times and ends up with you crashing out on a game, or making a mis-step, that results in death. If I had another USB joystick of my own, I could use that, as sadly, a wireless USB joypad is no go, so my Logitech F710 isn’t picked up by it.

Any keyboard-playable games will use the original keys that came with the game at the time, but in this new machine, they should really be redefinable for each game.

I’ll be uploading footage of each and every game in this package, plus one for the menu music and one for C64 Basic.

I could’ve waited until I’d played every single one before posting this piece as it is, but there’s a LOT to get stuck into. I’ve never reviewed a package with so many games in one place and checked out every single one, and reality will get in the way as I go.

The C64 Mini – Opening menu and games list – DVDfeverGames

The 64 games are as follows:

  • 1. Alleykat – a shoot-em-up which takes a little getting used to, as you move the joystick and it feels like it takes a split-second to register, but that could be because it’s new and I’m still getting a feel for it.

  • 2. Anarchy – a fascinating game where you move round a screen, shooting particular blocks within a tight time limit. Given how well these levels are programmed, if you can complete any of them first time around, then good luck! Me

  • 3. Armalyte: Competition Edition – a fantastic classic shooter, easy to control and shoot (so any fails are down to me!)

  • 4. Avenger – run round the Pokemon-style* map, find the keys and treasure, kill lots of baddies with your shuriken – or with martial arts once you run out of those. (*okay, this came LONG before Pokemon, but you know what I mean. It’s a top-down map)

  • 5. Battle Valley – This was one that didn’t quite bank my tank, as you’re a tank commander who has to get from A to B, but it wasn’t very easy to control, and I found myself accidentally turning round when I didn’t mean to, and then I couldn’t refuel at the ammo dump, and when it came to jumping a gap in a bridge… huh? I couldn’t even enter my name in the ‘honours table’ at the end. I’m meant

  • 6. Boulder Dash – A game I remember on other platforms from back in the day, you have to tunnel through the earth to get the diamonds and avoid being crushed by rocks. Sounds easy, but then was fiendishly difficult at times, as just when you’re not looking, one gets you. However, the joystick does make this a bit harder by the fact that it’s not as responsive as it could be with this one, and I died, on occasion, because of it.

  • 7. Bounder – Bounce a tennis ball through some incredibly tough mazes where almost any slight mis-step could be instant death, whether it’s falling to your doom, or something passing by, or a question mark that could give you extra jumps in the bonus round – or be a pair of teeth that bite you to death! This is one of Gremlin Graphics’ most fondly remembered games, from 1985, and deserves every praise it has ever had.

  • 8. Calfornia Games – 6 sports in one game, the concept of which was a bargain back then, and there were many sports compilation-type titles in those days, the most famous being Daley Thompson’s Decathalon. However in this one, getting control of each event is usually something to be mastered, but the joystick makes it difficult to complete, hence why I was so bad at it!

    All the games on The C64 Mini! – DVDfeverGames
    (Well, some on there now. More coming soon)

  • 9. Chip’s Challenge – Collect the chips on the floor while trying to negotiate the obstacles of fire, ice, and evil spiders, because spiders are ALWAYS evil.

  • 10. Confuzion – A bizarre sliding block puzzle game where you have to try and guide the ‘spark’ towards the bomb. I was glad I could use the keyboard for this one as it tells you which keys to use, but it was still too much of a mindbender to get my head around.

  • 11. Cosmic Causeway – As with Bounder, you have to bounce your balls aplenty with the tiles on the floor changing to all manner of elements, this time often sending you backwards or even reversing left from right. This one whizzes by so fast that it can be pot luck as to whether or not you survive.

  • 12. Creatures – One of those classic platform gamers I would’ve spent all afternoon indulging upon on a Saturday afternoon on my ZX Spectrum, had this one been out (or Jet Set Willy and similar instead), where in time, you might beat it, but a couple of quick plays to test it out sees me only scratching the surface. Often, it’s best not to think too much about the path you’ll take, and just to go headlong into it…

  • 13. Cyberdyne Warrior – Another tough platformer, this one only giving you one life with a health bar. Lose it all and it’s game over, literally. It’s fun and colourful, and the zero-gravity atmosphere means it’s forgiving with the poor joystick we have here, but you’re going to need a lot of patience to complete this one.

  • 14. Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine – A great shoot-em-up from 1987 which I remember from the ZX Spectrum, but while it’s fun, it’s insanely difficult, and not helped greatly by this joystick. I’m also concerned that you seem to need to press ‘1’ to start the game, so the joystick alone won’t cut it. Hence, if you haven’t got a USB keyboard…

  • 15. Cybernoid II: The Revenge – The 1988 sequel: More of the same, and just as forgiving as my ex-wife(!)

  • 16. Deflektor – This is a game which will teach you more about angles than any maths class while in school. A bolt of energy shoots out and has to be directed towards the red target, destroying the grey bombs, whilst avoiding coming back on itself in some way (causing overload). It took me a while to get my head around this, and I found the keyboard controls better than the joystick, even though they’re not perfect. Since you can’t redefine them, you’re stuck with Z and X (which is okay for left/right) and ; and / (for up/down) which is counter-intuitive as the up button should be North East of the down on (like in EVERY game I ever played back in the day), but here, the up button is at North West, which isn’t easy for your fingers.

    The C64 Mini – Alleykat – DVDfeverGames

  • 17. Everyone’s a Wally – A follow-up to 1984’s Pyjamara, which isn’t this collection, EAW starred you, as Wally Week, plus the rest of the family, attempting to complete a day’s worth a work, which revolved around jumping about, swapping the items in your inventory by walking over them, and to figure out what to do and where to go. I never quite got into this game on the ZX Spectrum as it required far more work than I had time for. Fans will love it, however.

    Using a similar pallette to ths Speccy, this C64 version does, occasionally, have colour clash, which is a little odd, as everything is fine while Wally walks along. Maybe it was a fault in the game engine at the time.

  • 18. Firelord – one of those games, similar to Sabre Wulf, where you’d walk about a map, collecting items and avoiding people who’ll only drain your energy (that last one, a metaphor for life, then). I wasn’t too much into these sorts of games, but big adventure fans will love it.

  • 19. Gribbly’s Day Out – play as a frog who can hop about, shoot bubbles out of his mouth and also fly… just like real life.

  • 20. Hawkeye – run-and-gun and collect puzzle pieces, but the biggest challenge in this is to do so whilst using the supplied joystick because, as you’ll see from the footage, it can’t help you manouvre correctly, so you only have 3 lives and you die quickly!

  • 21. Heartland

  • 22. Herobotix

  • 23. Highway Encounter

  • 24. Hunter’s Moon

    The C64 Mini – Anarchy – DVDfeverGames

  • 25. Hysteria

  • 26. IO

  • 27. Impossible Mission

  • 28. Impossible Mission II

  • 29. Jumpman

  • 30. Mega Apocalypse

  • 31. Mission A.D.

  • 32. Wanted! Monty Mole

    The C64 Mini – Armalyte – DVDfeverGames

  • 33. Monty on the Run

  • 34. Nebulus

  • 35. Netherworld

  • 36. Nobby the Aardvark

  • 37. Nodes of Yesod

  • 38. Paradroid

  • 39. Pitstop II

  • 40. Ranarama

    The C64 Mini – Avenger – DVDfeverGames

  • 41. Robin of the Wood

  • 42. Rubicon

  • 43. Skate Crazy

  • 44. Skool Daze

  • 45. Snare

  • 46. Speedball

  • 47. Speedball 2 – Brutal Deluxe

  • 48. Spindizzy

    The C64 Mini – Battle Valley – DVDfeverGames

  • 49. Star Paws

  • 50. Steel

  • 51. Street Sports Baseball

  • 52. Summer Games II

  • 53. Super Cycle

  • 54. Temple of Apshai Trilogy

  • 55. The Arc of Yesod

  • 56. Thing on a Spring

    The C64 Mini – Boulder Dash – DVDfeverGames

  • 57. Things Bounces back

  • 58. Trailblazer

  • 59. Uchi Mata

  • 60. Uridium

  • 61. Who Dares Wins II

  • 62. Winter Games

  • 63. World Games

  • 64. Zynaps

    The C64 Mini – Bounder – DVDfeverGames

    If you’re looking for alternative C64 games and – as those behind this unit state – you have the legal original ROM (ahem), then you can load them onto this with a USB flash drive. However, in its current state, it is a laborious process, only allowing you to load in one game at a time. I’ve taken these instructions direct from their website and I’ll hide them behind a spoiler section, not because they’re a spoiler – like in the movies, but because it tidies them away for anyone who’s not too fussed about them.

    Spoiler Inside SelectShow

    While the team look into this, Paolo Besser has a solution called the MiniMount. It’s a little bit beyond me, so I’ll let him talk you through all that, and you can find all the info and what you need to download here.

    Note: all gaming footage was captured with an Elgato HD60, and for these games, there’s a fair bit of background hiss sometimes because the volume might’ve been too high on the Elgato, but even at 50% that’s nothing when for modern games, I’d capture at 100%. Rest assured, that with the HDMI through to the TV, it sounds perfectly fine.

    So far, I’m giving this unit a 7.5/10. There are a lot of fun games I’ve come across so far, with the occasional duffer, but while I was originally thinking an 8, it’s the joystick which drags it down. I don’t know if that’s something that can be fixed with a firmware update, or it’s down to the construction of the joystick itself.

    Score: 7.5/10

    Check out more videogame footage on the DVDfeverGames Youtube Channel!

    The C64 Mini is out now and can be bought on Amazon.

    The C64 Mini – C64 Basic – DVDfeverGames

    Important info:

    • Publisher: Koch Media
    • Developer: Koch Media
    • Players: single player
    • HDTV options: 720p

    Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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