If you’re interested in gaming reminiscent of the past, you only have to look to the future: Retro Games Ltd has announced it will release its Amiga 500 Mini console in early 2022. The $139 A500 Mini, named after the 1987 16-bit Commodore Amiga 500 personal computer the console emulates, consists of the same beige keyboard, mouse, and gamepad you might remember from your childhood—just a lot smaller. The unit comes pre-loaded with 25 games, including Battle Chess, The Chaos Engine, Pinball Dreams, and Zool: Ninja of the Nth Dimension. Being a tiny console made mainly for the sake of nostalgia, its features are limited to save and resume functionality, 50Hz and 60Hz refresh rates, a handful of scaling options, and a CRT filter. Don’t get any ideas about hooking up a Video Toaster or creating MOD files with this thing.
Users will have the option to forgo the unit’s tiny keys by plugging in their own USB keyboard, as well as side-load their own software using WHDLoad. While some find this type of flexibility to be a plus, others in the retro gaming community seem to consider it an admission of mini consoles’ inherent gaps. A number of online forum members have accused dedicated “mini” consoles of having essentially expired, given how modern miniature systems such as the Raspberry Pi and the FPGA-based MiSTer are intentionally multi-use and expandable. But at its core, the A500 Mini (like its predecessor, the 8-bit C64 Mini) is meant to be a simple way to revisit the fond memories of playing 16-bit games—or create new memories. A mini console is far easier to plug and play than other retro gaming alternatives, such as RetroPie, RetroArch, and various other PC-based emulators.
Retro Games Ltd’s A500 Mini is the latest in a fading mini console “boom,” during which Nintendo, Sega, and other manufacturers released a number of retro minis. Despite the consoles’ popularity (Nintendo sold 3.6 million of its NES Classic Edition in less than a year), most major video game companies have stopped production of their minis. As Sony has recently shown once again, a console really makes money only as a catalyst for future software, subscription, and accessory sales. Sadly, that simply isn’t possible with platforms made solely to run a handful of preloaded games—however rabid each system’s fans may be.
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