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Feb. 2nd, 2021

What a great way to start off the new year! Today we received the long awaited firmware update for TheC64Mini, as well as TheC64 and TheVIC20. Of course, it's nice to see some improvements for those who were fortunate enough to get their hands on TheC64 and TheVIC20 consoles. But, this upgrade for us TheC64Mini owners is particularly sweet. We finally get some advanced features for multi-disk game support and customising the interface other have enjoyed for the past year on the full sized version of the console.

This is firmware upgrade number 1.5.2, which can be downloaded from RetroGames website, right HERE. According to RetroGames, the upgrades to the consoles are as follows:

  • [THEC64 Full size European] Fixes missing Bluestar carousel cover image which was broken in release v1.5.1 under some circumstances
  • [All models] Adds C64 joystick port selection
  • [THEC64 Mini] Adds C64 only Classic mode
  • [THEC64 Mini] Adds disk swapping for multiple disk games
  • [THEC64 Mini] Adds soft and hard reset hot-keys to Classic mode
  • [THEC64 Mini] Adds freeze button support to Classic mode
  • [All models] Adds Commodore REU support with 512K, 2MB or 16MB as filename flags or CJM parameters.
  • New games for THEC64 Mini: Hessian (C64) and PET Snake (C64)
  • New games for THEC64 full size: Hessian (C64), PET Snake (C64), City Crusher(VIC20) and Mine Sweep (VIC20)
  • New games for THEVIC20: Hessian (C64), PET Snake (C64), City Crusher(VIC20) and Mine Sweep (VIC20)

As you can see, this upgrade really boosts TheC64Mini's functionality and makes up a little bit (at least to me) for giving the North American market the cold shoulder, in regards to TheC64 and TheVIC20. With this new firmware update, the desire for the full sized TheC64 has pretty much worn off.

As usual, upgrading the Mini was very easy and took less than a minute to complete. I then went right to the setup menu and was greeted with all of the new options:

New C64Mini Settings Menu

From here, you can choose which model of C64 (PAL or NTSC) you wish to have as the default, you can choose how you wish the Mini to boot (using the Carousel or BASIC 2.0), and choose the language of your USB keyboard. From here, if you're using the Carousel, you can go into BASIC 2.0 mode, which used to be a selection in the Carousel.

Choose your boot mode

When you press the joystick's Menu button from within the BASIC screen, you are now presented with some new selections in the bottom menu. You can still access the multi-save state screen, but now you can also access the new MEDIA ACCESS menu and a new OPTIONS menu.

New BASIC 2.0 options

From within the new Media menu, you have much more control over multi-disk games, as well as the ability to control a virtual datasette drive; with play, stop, FF, Rew, and tape counter controls. When it comes to floppy disk image controls, you can now swap disk images “on the fly”, just like the full sized TheC64.

You can now also swap joystick ports “on the fly” by holding down the joystick's Menu button, then press either Button A or B to switch between joystick port 1 or 2.

Advanced media controls

To access the virtual keyboard, you now need to go through the new Options menu selection. Along with the virtual keyboard, you can also control the model settings (PAL or NTSC) and screen settings.

I've spent a little bit of time playing with all of the new options and everything looks and works really well. But, I have come across one issue: For some reason, my disk image of Turbo Outrun does not seem to work when I try to run it from the Classic mode. All I get is a black screen after the trainer screen. However, if I go into Carousel mode and launch the D64 image from there, everything works as it should. I even tried recalling one of the save-states from within Classic mode, but the game still hangs.

I'm not sure why this problem is occurring. I've tried running the game with different model and screen settings, from within the Classic mode, but nothing seems to work. I can only play this game from the Carousel mode. Very strange. Turbo Outrun is the only game I've had this problem with, so far.

It was nice to see the addition of Hessian to the Carousel in this update. I've spent some time playing this game on my real C64/C128 in the past and it's a pretty good action adventure game. It was the predecessor to one of my favourite games for the C64, Steel Ranger. I'm glad that RetroGames made the effort of giving this game some well deserved attention.

Overall, this is a fantastic upgrade for TheC64Mini. Hopefully, the odd problem with Turbo Outrun is not something that I'll see very often. My next task is to see if GEOS is easier to use (or more importantly works) with the new disk swapping functionality.

I'll keep you informed!

Update (Feb-03-2021)

1. For the life of me, I couldn't seem to get the joystick selection feature to work. But, thanks to a kind Reddit reader, I got it working. You hold down the joystick's Menu button, then press either button A or B to choose the joystick port.

2. Yes, GEOS does work from both the Carousel and Classic modes.

blog/2021-02-02.txt · Last modified: 2021/02/03 17:50 by David