Saturday, 14 August 2021

Commodore Amiga Mini game console announced for 2022

Retrogamers of the world, rejoice! Retro Games Ltd. have announced a new mini-console for the home market. The A500 Mini is based on the Commodore Amiga home computer and will come with 25 built-in games.

Previously, Retro Games Ltd. released the Commodore 64 Mini. This was part of a trend of releasing mini-consoles, based on classic machines from the 1980s and 1990s with a whole ton of games from those classic eras included. Nintendo had released the NES and SNES Minis, whilst Sega had shipped the Genesis Mini (aka the MegaDrive in the UK and other overseas countries) and Sony the PlayStation Classic. Even more obscure machines got involved, such as a mini version of the PC Engine/TurboGrafx 16 and the NeoGeo.

The Commodore Amiga was a range of 16-bit (late 32-bit) computers released between 1985 and 1994. The computers were initially aimed at the business, music and graphics industries but, thanks to the pushing of the European arm of the company, also became very powerful (for the time) games machines. This was consolidated by the release of the Commodore 500 model in 1987, with a lower price and various bundles which were aimed at the home market. The timing of the release of the Amiga was perfect, with it being substantially more powerful than the NES and Sega Master System consoles and existing 8-bit computers such as the Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro, and gaining a huge amount of market share in Europe before the release of the SNES and Sega MegaDrive. The Amiga proved surprisingly resilient even in the face of those consoles and remained hugely competitive with them (helped by the release of the upgraded Amiga 1200 model in 1992), only really starting to lose ground with the advent of more powerful gaming PCs in the early 1990s. Still, the machine remained popular even after its parent company's demise, with the last major game release, Worms, coming out as late as 1996.

The Amiga was hugely popular in the UK and Germany, and did respectfully well in most other European countries. In the USA it became predominantly known for its powerful graphics capabilities, augmented by the Video Toaster plug-in card. This technology was used for cheap vfx and 3D rendering, and was most famously used to create the CGI for the pilot movie and first season of Babylon 5.

A full list of classic Amiga games would be too huge to contemplate, but among its greatest titles were: Alien Breed '92, Alien Breed: Tower Assault, Another WorldBatman, Cannon FodderCarrier Command, The Chaos Engine, Cruise for a CorpseDamocles: Mercenary II, Dune II: The Battle for ArrakisDungeon Master, Eye of the BeholderFlashback, Frontier: Elite II, Future WarsGeoff Crammond's Formula One Grand Prix, Gunship 2000Hunter, International Karate +It Came From the DesertJimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker, LemmingsMagic Pockets, Mega-Lo-Mania, Micro MachinesNebulous, The New Zealand Story, North and SouthPopulousPrince of Persia, PuttyRainbow Islands, Robocod, The Secret of Monkey IslandSensible Soccer, Shadow of the BeastSpeedball II: Brutal Deluxe, Starglider II, Stunt Car Racer, SuperfrogSWIV, Syndicate, Theme HospitalTheme Park, Tower of BabelTurrican II, WingsXenon II: Megablast, and Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders.

The A500 Mini comes with twenty-five games built in (more can be side-loaded via USB stick). The twelve announced titles so far are Alien Breed 3D, Another World, ATR: All Terrain Racing, Battle Chess, Cadaver, Kick Off 2, Pinball Dreams, Simon the Sorcerer, Speedball II: Brutal Deluxe, The Chaos Engine, Worms: The Director's Cut and Zool: Ninja of the Nth Dimension. It comes with a controller and a genuinely horrible A500 box-mouse (the first computer mouse I ever used, and still the most unergonomic), though sadly the keyboard is non-functional. However, the C64 Mini did later get an expanded version with working keyboard, which hopefully is an option here.

I got a Commodore Amiga 500 in 1989 and it remained my primary gaming and word processing machine for a full nine years, until I got my first PC in 1998. The computer's legacy is surprisingly enduring, with Carrier Command 2, a sequel to one of the Amiga's most popular games, being released on PC just last week. Elite: Dangerous, a sequel to Frontier: Elite II, remains a popular space game, whilst Two Point Hospital, a remake of Theme Hospital, was also a huge hit when it was released a couple of years ago.

The A500 Mini will launch in early 2022. Thirteen more games will be announced soon.

1 comment:

Philip Mead said...

I absolutely LOVE the C64 (still have a fully functional C64SX) and Amiga, and I will hopefully be able to get one of these here in Australia. But why oh why would it come with a d-pad controller instead of a joystick??