History of video games/Platforms/Commodore 64 Games System

History edit

A Commodore 64GS powered on.

Development edit

The Commodore 64 Games System began a rushed development in spring of 1990 to address the unique needs of the European gaming market while Commodore prepared the C65, a planned successor to the popular C64.[1]

It is estimated that the system cost around $40 to manufacture.[2] A manufacturing issue required some early run cartridges made by Ocean to be manually drilled to fit the system.[3]

Prior to launch hopes for the system were initially high for some, with the system being heavily touted on the very first issue of Commodore Format magazine.[4] At CES 1990 the Commodore 64 Games System overshadowed the more capable Commodore CDTV at the Commodore booth,[5] an sign of the faith the company placed in their system.

Launch edit

I think the C64 GS will be the number one product this year.
—Kelly Sumner, Marketing Manager of Commodore UK, Commodore Format[1]

The Commodore 64 Games System was released in the UK in December of 1990 for 99.99 British pounds.[6][7][8][9] At the time a typical bundle of a standard Commodore 64 and accessories cost around 149 British pounds,[10] leading to many gamers opting for the more capable computer.[11][9]

By Easter on March 31st, 1991, retailers attempted to get rid of the system, with some systems being sold for as little as 30 British pounds.[1][11]

The system would also have a launch in Denmark in 1991, with similar results.[9][11] A planned German launch was canceled.[11]

Legacy edit

About 20,000 Commodore 64 Games Systems were sold,[8] out of 80,000 total systems manufactured.[9] Unsold consoles were parted for use in standard Commodore 64G computers.[1][11]

The Commodore 64 Games System is often remembered as a cautionary tale, a potentially good system held back by extreme cost cutting and a lack of compatibility testing.

The Commodore 64 Games System is now often referred to as the Commodore 64 GS, or abbreviated as the C64GS. Interestingly, the shortened name used on the system itself, the C64 Games System, is rarely used by contemporary media.

Technology edit

The Commodore 64 Games System is essentially a regular Commodore 64, but with reduced ports and no keyboard built in.[8] The system still used an 8-bit MOS 6510 CPU clocked at 0.985MHz, 64 kilobytes of RAM, and SID sound chip.[8] The ROM included on the Commodore 64 Games System features slight alterations compared to a standard Commodore 64.[9][11] It was hoped that by forcing gamers to load games from cartridges, the superior speed and anti-piracy characteristics of the format would help improve the standing of the Commodore 64 platform in the gaming market.[1]

The default joystick shipped with the Commodore 64 Games System was the notoriously poor quality Cheetah Annihilator.[9][3]

Notable games edit

The Commodore 64 Games System is technically compatible with every Commodore 64 game, though since most Commodore 64 games required the use of a keyboard which could not be added to the Games System, most Commodore 64 games could not actually be played on the GS.[8] This incompatibility notably affected Terminator 2: Judgement Day, a game which was specifically advertised as compatible with the Commodore 64 Games System, yet unable to progress pass the title screen on it due to explicitly requiring keyboard input.[3][12]

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. a b c d e "In 1990, Commodore turned the C64 into a console. This is the story of the C64 GS, part one." (in en). Commodore Format Archive. 2020-08-28. https://commodoreformatarchive.com/in-1990-commodore-turned-the-c64-into-a-console-this-is-the-story-of-the-c64-gs/. 
  2. "Commodore 64 – The Best Selling Computer In History – Commodore Computers: C64 VIC20 PET C128 Plus4 – 8 Bit PC's". www.commodore.ca. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  3. a b c "Commodore 64 Games System Review - C64GS | Nostalgia Nerd". Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  4. "Commodore Format 1 (October, 1990)" (in en). Commodore Format (1). October 1990. https://commodoreformatarchive.com/issue-review-cf-1-october-1990/. 
  5. "What games were released for the C64 GS?" (in en). Commodore Format Archive. 2021-01-11. https://commodoreformatarchive.com/new-what-games-were-released-for-the-commodore-64-gs/. 
  6. "Consoles that won’t die: The Commodore 64". VentureBeat. 19 April 2013. https://venturebeat.com/2013/04/19/consoles-that-wont-die-commodore-64/. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  7. "Commodore 64 Games System (1990 - 1991)". Museum of Obsolete Media. 19 April 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  8. a b c d e "Commodore 64 Games System". Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  9. a b c d e f "OLD-COMPUTERS.COM : The Museum". www.old-computers.com. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  10. "NEW! How much did a Commodore 64 cost in the UK when CF launched, and what came in the box?". Commodore Format Archive. 2021-04-30. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  11. a b c d e f "Secret Weapons of Commodore: The Game Machines: The Ultimax/Max Machine, 64GS, 64CGS". www.floodgap.com. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  12. "Think Wii U sales are bad? Recall these 13 spectacular game console failures" (in en). PCWorld. 2013-08-09. https://www.pcworld.com/article/2046066/think-wii-u-sales-are-bad-recall-these-13-spectacular-game-console-failures.html.