Now here's a surprise! We all know that retro gaming is picking up speed, but when most companies say "retro" these days they mean either the late 8-bit or early 16-bit generation of consoles or the glory days of arcades. Now the new owners of the old reliable Commodore brand are taking a stab at redefining that notion as they plan to bring back the old Commodore 64 hardware for a portable game console. The Commodore Combo is on the way.
The device is being offered with five 8-bit games included, and another 90 or so available for online downloadable purchase. It comes with a 20GB hard drive running Windows CE, and offers GPS functionality. Commodore says it wants developers to create content for the device, which will then be sold via kiosks in selected retail outlets.
I have fond memories of the Commodore 64, as it was the first computer I ever owned and my first way of playing (admittedly simple) computer games. A gift from my future-minded parents nearly twenty years ago, I clung to that Commodore 64 until 1993 when technology demanded an upgrade to an Intel-based PC running Windows 3.1. I've mucked around with Commodore emulation over the years here and there, and let me just say that Ghostbusters is just as fun today as it was then. I haven't been back to Disney edutainment titles such as Donald Duck's Playground or Mickey's Space Adventure, however. Then there was Project: Space Station, a NASA simulator that I wasn't old enough to understand until after my Commodore was long gone. And who can forget all the neat productivity programs, like The Print Shop and GEOS?
What catches my eye about the Commodore Combo is that the company behind it wants developers to create new content for the device. Forget official developers. Let's get some game-minded fans to create some official content. There's a lot of untapped programming talent out there that could do some amazing things with the well-documented and comparatively simple Commodore hardware. Open the door for fans to create new games, submit them to Commodore where the best games are filtered from the junk, and then the profits on each sale are split between the fan and the company. It sounds simple and profitable for everyone, which of course means it probably won't happen. Still, it's fun to dream.