The A500 Mini – Review, Hardware

This is how the A500 Mini looks packaged.  Pretty action packed.

Far ahead of its time

Just as today PlayStation and Xbox split the player community into two camps, it was the Amiga and Atari ST that caused heated discussions at the end of the 80s. The “Freundin”, as the Amiga was affectionately called by its fans, should emerge as the clear winner from the race, since it had the clearly impressive sales figures. When the Amiga 500 appeared in 1987, the world was suddenly different for game fans…

This is how the A500 Mini looks packaged. Pretty action packed.

A glance at the monitor was enough to get you hooked. Optics, animations and the splendor of 4,096 colors that can be displayed in titles such as It Came from the Desert, Dungeon Master, Apydia, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge or Defender of the Crown easily left everything you were used to from computer games behind. On the other hand, a PC with EGA optics didn’t stand a chance! At that time, almost every gamer was happy to deliver a few more newspapers in order to be able to afford the Amiga at some point. With a memory upgrade from 512 KB to 1 MB and an additional drive, they were at the forefront when it came to the latest and coolest games for a few years. A huge hacker scene by today’s standards, which drew attention to itself with abstrusely pretty intros when playing every “backup copy”, ensured a constant supply without having to worry too much about the monetary outlay for new titles. That went well until the VGA standard prevailed on the PC, Wing Commander and Strike Commander flickered across the screen and there was absolutely no desire to juggle the ten floppy disks from Monkey Island 2 on the Amiga.

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Retro has a heart for retronauts

And that's what's in it: The scope of delivery includes the replica, gamepad, mouse, HDMI cable and USB-C cable.  The user has to find the connector himself.

And that’s what’s in it: The scope of delivery includes the replica, gamepad, mouse, HDMI cable and USB-C cable. The user has to find the connector himself.

Manufacturer Retro Games is now bringing back those wonderful times: After the C64 Mini, the A500 Mini is a dwarf variant of the successful Commodore computer, including 25 pre-installed games. Of course, you don’t have to bother with red, white and yellow plugs, the output of picture and sound is via an HDMI connection. There are three USB ports on the back, and there is also a power connection via USB-C cable, a corresponding adapter for the power supply is not included in the scope of delivery. The first, real downer is the manufacturer’s decision to use a cheap-looking plagiarism of the gamepad from the outrageous Amiga CD32 for the input device. A finely reworked Competition Pro, preferably in transparent blue with silver keys, would have been the much more faithful and certainly better choice. The case of the small replica, on the other hand, is of quite good quality, but the mini keys cannot be pressed; the smoker’s yellow, which after a few weeks settled over the Amiga 500’s once rather white-grey housing in smoke-filled burrows, is already applied here at the factory. Nice gag! In addition to the gamepad, there is a mouse that almost comes close to the original, but of course no longer has an embedded ball on the bottom.

The small toy box is set up in a fixed manner, it takes less than a quarter of an hour to start up – but the tension increases almost immeasurably before you switch it on for the first time. Although there are hardly any real highlights among the 25 pre-installed games, one is still damn excited to see how much the ravages of time have nibbled at the then fabulous optics. Before we get started, there are still a few settings to be made in the clearly laid out menu of the A500 Mini: Should the games be displayed at 50 or 60 Hertz? Image output as full screen, with black stripes or iconic scan lines as a nostalgic extra? The taste of the buyer decides. For the test we opted for the full format, connected to an 82-inch screen, then the next shortcoming comes into play: for a seat distance of around 2.5 meters, the cables of the gamepad (1.80 m) and the Mouse much too short, so the cable extension that had to be used for the SNES Mini has to be used. Back then, nobody would have even dared to dream of such a setup, an “Amiga” on a huge screen.