It looks like a 64. It feels like a 64. It even appears to be a 64. The real question though – is it a 64? Yes, no, and maybe…
The Commodore 64 Mini stormed around the world as Commodore enthusiasts purchased them for nostalgia, and possiblly for their collection. Who can blame them? It was such a cute little thing! But, it had problems. Complaints about joysticks, a keyboard that was too small to function, and other minor issues pushed the Mini down to where you can pick one up for about $30 or so in many places. But then they promised us something better…
Overnight the Mini grew into a “Maxi” a term that still has me seeing women’s maxi pad commercials each time I hear it, but it’s only a name. The new 64 Maxi, or as it is called “The 64” on the console promised a full-sized working keyboard, a 64 or Vic-20 mode, 64 games already installed, and the happy, flashing white dot on the blue screen that ensures you can spend hours writing your own programs. The 64 appeared to be back.
The 64 offers a few upgrades. The following is a brief advertisment list:
Featuring three switchable modes - C64, Vic 20, and games carousel.- Connect to any modern TV via HDMI for crisp 720p HD visuals, at 60 Hz or 50 Hz.- An updated joystick, now featuring micro switches, companions the hardware making the included games even more fun than ever.- The games carousel has 64 pre-installed games including classics such as California games, paradroid and boulder dash, with new additions like attack of the mutant camels, hover bovver, iridis Alpha, and gridrunner.- Topped off with the recently released shoot 'em up galencia and text adventure planet of death to let you relive the glory days of true keyboard gaming; - Plus, THEC64 allows you to load and save your own files and games via USB stick (including multi-disk titles) and program in C64 or Vic 20 basic.
Reading through the list above, you can see that it sounds like an updated 64. The major issue I have found so far with this unique return to yesteryear is that you can’t find it. Amazon and other online retailers show the machine, but most say “Out of stock” or “coming soon.” I found one site offering it from the U.K., but even they indicated it might be out of stock. Another report I found indicated the U.S. version would be out by November 2020. After that report, I saw nothing else about it.
Along with the classic look, the 64 offers a DVD option, USB ports and HDMI outputs to allow easy television hook ups. Again, it’s back, if you can find it.
So back to the original question – is it a 64?
Well – yes. In design the machine looks like an orignal Commodore 64. It has the appearance of one and reports indicate that even the keyboard feels like a 64. It has the classic blue screen and is prelaoded with 64 classic Commdore games. So in one regard it is a 64.
We should also note that on the other hand…it is not a 64. So the answer would also be no. This machine carries things not even dreamed of in the 1980s. It has a USB port, HDMI 720 output, and the optional DVD Rom, reader. It also has the ability to save programs, but unlike your original 5 1/4 floppy drive, you’ll be using a USB drive. No longer will you hear the hum and rattle of the drive, the flip of the lever as you close the disk into the drive, or the gentle reminder on the screen to either turn the disk over or install disk two. No, this is not your Commodore 64 from 1984.
Despite the yes and no answers to is it a 64, we still have one more answer…maybe. The Commodore 64, the world’s best selling computer and record holder for most units sold, is gone. As much as we might like to think that somewhere, out of the ashes, the Commodore Corporation will rise again and the 64 will reign supreme, the fact is the company has been sold off, split up, and pushed behind the walls of giant corporations with no intent of ever reviving the classic computers…and really they should not. The Commodore 64 of our youth has now been regulated to retro gamming groups, back room repairs, and online sales of used equipment. There will never be that “Awe” of the Commodore again. There’s simply too many new, faster, and more powerful machines around. So, while we can never have the same Commodore 64, maybe the Maxi is just close enough for a new generation to feel the keyboard, play the goofy little games, and watch the blue dot flash as they type “10 Print”. The fact that for most people it’s still not available in the U.S. also makes this answer a hard “Maybe” when it gets right down to it. Only time will tell.