In 2016, Nintendo expanded its approach to selling nostalgia beyond re-releasing classic titles by releasing the NES Classic, which was followed by the SNES Classic in 2017. On top of this, Sony is debuting its PlayStation Classic in December. Now, the folks at Unit-e are joining the trend by developing "an adorable DOS game console for your TV" in the form of the PC Classic.
It's pretty much what you'd expect--a modem-sized computer with a "chain-smoker beige" case that will come with PC games from the '80s and '90s pre-installed. Unit-e plans to crowdfund the device in late November or early December and, if it raises enough money, to ship it in late spring or early summer 2019 for an aimed target price of $99. It hasn't said whether or not the device will be made available internationally.
Of course, Unit-e knows enthusiasts could assemble something like the PC Classic themselves. The company says in its FAQ:
"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?
Unit-e said it plans to release the PC Classic with another modern case option, to make sure the games support controller, keyboard and mouse input wherever possible and to potentially ship a miniature keyboard and mouse with each unit.
Unit-e hasn't yet finalized the list of games that will be included with the PC Classic. It has said that the device will feature at least 30 games "that defined the PC gaming experience of the '80s and '90s" though, with plans to sell additional games separately from the miniature console.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.
Will it play Wing Commander and hook up my analog joystick and hook my EGA monitor to it for that 64 Color goodness? I mean, I'd hate to play on a CGA monitor. Does it achieve the 640K DOS barrier?Reply
Hopefully it will have Windows 3.11 as a GUI or do we have to CD to the directory to play the game?
This is cheaper than my Tandy 1000HX though...
Where's the turbo button?Reply
Wing Commander, Xcom Ufo Defence, Xwing.. and god darn you name it... if its there... sign me up!Reply
"PC" can mean a lot of things when talking about old hardware, and a lot of those games haven't exactly aged well. The nostalgia factor has a far wider spread than most consoles and 30 games isn't a nearly wide enough net. Will this be x86? Power PC? Will the games run on PC hardware or is it a some kind of skinned DOS box running on ARM? Not to mention how many classic games are still easily available and have modern re-releases. I feel like it would have been a little smarter to target a specific popular classic branded computer like a commodore 64 or something because if you can get deals to license the games then surely you can license the nostalgic hardware.Reply
Otherwise what kind of classic games are we talking about? Will it play Cosmo? God of Thunder? Earth Siege 2? Army Men II? Warcraft 2? (I guess I'm pretty nostalgic about sequels) Include a 100-in-1 "galaxy of games" shareware disc? Ahem ... can it play doom ... 2
Lol. No. I couldn’t wait to leave those days behindReply
I bet Flight Simulator would run really slow on that!Reply
I love DOSBox but a machine that runs DOSBox isn't anything special. I should have known this was just a cashgrab.Reply
I was hoping this was running some cheap x86 chip with a custom BIOS (able to neuter clocks / limit RAM) that would give us an authentic DOS experience without DOSBox. PS/2 and serial ports might be nice too. You could include an optional DOS-based UI too, I suppose. It's not really necessary for anyone that actually would be interested. :P
Hmm, maybe Analogue will produce an adjustable-configuration low-level-accurate FPGA-powered PC system in the same vein as the Mega Sg. I can dream. :D
I hope it requires you to use DOS commands.Reply
I'm assuming it will be a mini x86 machine with some kind of DosBox skinned launcher. If so I'm not sure I'd be interested. I'd rather go and rescue a 486 and build it out to be a retro gaming machine. I do miss the old days of command line interface, clunky GUIs, and Windows 3.1, but not enough to spend money on a less than authentic experience. Mini keyboard? Nope. Model M or bust.Reply
All that said it is a neat idea and I hope it gets more people interested in older computer games. I desperately want to see more people rediscover the entire PC retro gaming scene. Sure, everyone remembers the Id titles, but Commander Keen, Cosmo, Crystal Caves, Blake Stone, Biohazard, Duke Nukem (the platformers, not the 3d stuff), Raptor, and so many others were great games I'd love to see more people play. I'd even like to see people get into the roots of current games, like Warcraft and Tomb Raider... and I just talked myself into looking for an old project PC.