The PC Classic mini console is coming with old-school DOS games preinstalled.
No, this is not a joke. We repeat: this is not some company trolling everyone with yet another miniature console playing on our collective sense of nostalgia. This is a real thing made by real people who want to make money off our collective sense of nostalgia, only for classic PC games this time.
The product is called the PC Classic, and Unit-e is the tiny company of 5 or so people trying to crowdfund this thing into existence. They’ve posted a truly god-awful preview video to their YouTube page with audio so bad that they’re probably trying to get pity donations just to afford a better microphone.
Terrible marketing budget aside, they do have a real, working prototype that can play some real, classic PC games. We got to see Commander Keen, Jill of the Jungle, Doom, and even Quake II get played on a tiny computer no bigger than the palm of your hand.
On the front are two USB slots to accept mouse, keyboard, or gamepad, while on the back is a set of video jacks to display on old-school CRT monitors, or an HDMI port for the more modern screens. A third USB port allows you to have three peripherals attached at once, and it even supports Bluetooth connectivity.
As for what’s inside, we weren’t given a complete list of specs, but we were given a fairly big clue on the console’s FAQ section:
“Can’t I just buy a Raspberry Pi, an enclosure, gamepad, keyboard, and mouse, 3D print a faceplate, install Armbian, buy 30+ games, build the source for ARM or install/configure in DOSBox for each and every game, create a menu system with game art, and tell everyone about it at parties?”
Yes you could. But we're guessing you'd rather just pay $99 bucks for a PC Classic.
While we were shown four classic PC titles in Unit-e’s ad, there’s no guarantee that we’re going to get those titles on the final product. All those games were for demonstration only, and Unit-e would have to work out a licensing deal in order to sell 30+ classic titles.
On the plus side, gathering licenses is something that Unit-e has experience in. They previously made arcade games, and one of those games required 150 song licenses. Plus they say they have connections with a bunch of big-name developers so they can actually negotiate some licensing deals.
They’re hoping for a Spring/Summer 2019 release, but everything is still up in the air. The final game list still hasn’t been decided, and there might be some significant changes to the console itself before next year. But if millions of people can get all weepy for a Nintendo Classic, then surely millions more can get a little misty-eyed over a tiny beige box that can play the original Command & Conquer.