C64 Direct-to-TV gadget to get UK release

Competition Pro joystick bundles Winter Games, Impossible Mission and more as part of 30 game package.

The Commodore 64 is to become the latest retro gaming machine to be repackaged as a plug and play joystick, with the "Direct to TV" system being issued with 30 all-time classics later this year.

The unit has already enjoyed huge success on its US release prior to Christmas, with 40,000 reportedly sold in the first weekend, reflecting the pent up demand for the release of such a device, which is based on the best-selling home computer ever.

Much like various other retro re-releases of the past such as the Atari, Namco and SEGA's efforts of recent times, this unit is being packaged as a standalone joystick. In this case it's a Competition Pro 5000, which was adopted by many as the best controller of the era (the Eurogamer office is strewn with them to this day). As usual, no other hardware is required and users simply power it up with four AA batteries, plug it into the TV's composite or S-video input and play.

The unit houses 30 genuinely classic C64 titles, and the company behind the gadget has pulled out all the stops to license some outstanding efforts. Among them are some of Epyx and Hewson's finest titles from the mid '80s, including the seminal Impossible Mission (and its sequel), plus EG-favourite Winter Games, Summer Games, Pitstop and its superb sequel, some Andrew Braybrook classics such as Uridium and Paradroid, other Hewson-published gems like Cybernoid (1 and 2), Excelon, Zynaps, Speedball, and a clutch of other filler releases which we're not so hot on. Still, it's worth it just for those.

Head here for the full run down.

We have been assured these are genuine versions of the real games, so get ready for some tearful nostalgia. We will have a unit tomorrow so expect our possibly rose-tinted view next week. Suffice to say that those of us old enough to have gamed in the 80s spent rather a lot of time on the C64 and bang on about it to anyone who'll listen. Forget the bloody NES, forget the Atari; this was the best 8-bit gaming machine ever conceived, and its history deserves a long-overdue reappraisal.

Availability will be "limited" in the UK until later this year, but www.gadgets.co.uk has imported a limited quantity from the US (priced £29.99 inc. VAT) prior to the national launch, so our advice is get in quick! The only stipulation is your TV needs to be NTSC compatible, which shouldn't be a problem for most people these days.

For those of you maybe a little on the young side for all this '80s retro nonsense, the C64 was originally launched way back in 1982, and was way ahead of its time, and exceptionally expensive. Its launch in Europe took a long time to really take hold because of the much cheaper alternatives, in particular the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

The C64 wasn't the easiest machine to code for, and it took developers a lot longer to figure out the intricacies compared to other machines, and as a result gamers didnít really start to see the best of what it could do until 1985. But by the end of the decade it was still kicking out things many people thought were impossible - aided in part by the latter adoption of an external disk drive that made it possible to make some incredibly ambitious games.

As you can tell, we've got a lot of affection for the old Fudgeadore, so look out for our review of the C64 DTV next week. If we can stop crying like girls at a boy band gig.

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