Ladies and gentlemen- We Have a Winner
It’s becoming a little bit of a game around here trying to guess which piece of classic gaming hardware will be the next to get the modern “retro mini” treatment – which is to say a miniature size version of the original hardware packed with titles from said system’s library, perfect replica controllers and plug ‘n play functionality.
While we’ve been hoping the next might have been the 3DO or CD-i, it looks like Retro Games LTD, the folks behind THEC64 Mini, THEC64 and THEVIC20 have beaten everyone to the punch by serving up another system based on classic Commodore technology.
This latest system, THEA500 Mini is an Amiga machine capable of emulating Amiga 500, 600 & 1200 (ECS/OCS/AGA) architectures right out of the box. According to Retro Games: “It features perfect emulation of not only the original A500 (OCS) and Enhanced Chip Set (ECS) of future revisions, but also the Advanced Graphics Architecture (AGA) of the A1200.”
Like all of the Commodore systems preceding it, the player has the option of settling in with one of the (25) games preinstalled on the unit or sideloading any Amiga title or demo via a USB stick.
We’re really stoked that they are including not only a newly engineered 8-button precision gamepad (which was infinitely more precise than the Competition joysticks of the C64 era) but an original style 2-button mouse to make on-screen navigation a breeze.
Of course, this is a Mini and not a full-size replica so like THEC64 before it, THEA500’s keyboard will not be functional, requiring users connect a USB keyboard or navigate the onscreen keys with the included mouse. While it has not been announced, we’re going to guess a full-size THEA500 will follow down the road with functioning keyboard.
So what about those included 25 game titles? Sadly Retro Games LTD has yet to finalize the retail list (we suspect this has everything to do with the painstakingly slow process of clearing rights). They have, however secured the following 12 games for certain:
- Alien Breed 3D
- Another World
- ATR: All Terrain Racing
- Battle Chess
- Kick Off 2
- Pinball Dreams
- Simon the Sorcerer
- Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
- The Chaos Engine
- Worms: The Director’s Cut
- Zool: Ninja Of The ”Nth” Dimension
As is standard practice these days, you get everything you need to begin gaming out of the box with the exception of the AC adapter (power brick).
At the time of this article’s writing, the unit has become available for preorder on Amazon UK for £119.99 and is slated for March 31, 2022 release. And while the user has the option of rendering the image in 50 and 60Hz refresh rates (meaning the UK variant will work fine outside of PAL regions), a dedicated North American unit is also set to be released around the same time retailing for $139.99
It makes sense Retro Games LTD would stick with the home computer oriented Amiga series (given their past entries to the retro mini market) over the Commodore console nearly all of us missed its first time around – the CD32. You may notice THEA500’s controller is very clearly inspired by the CD32’s unique design.