The C64 GS (Games System) is basically a C64 motherboard in a simple beige plastic case without a keyboad, serial port and tape interface. Apart from some minor ROM changes the circuitboard inside is exactly a C64. Thus it can play all the C64 cartridges that don't require interaction with the keyboard. Some cartridges were specificaly produced for the C64 GS, but there are a few... These cartridges could also be used with the original C64 or C128 both being equiped with the same cartridge slot.
Priced at £99.99 in UK (Christmas 1990), the console was packaged with a joystick and a cartridge containing International Soccer, Klax, Flimbo's Quest and Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O'Fun. But as history told us, putting aging computer technology into a gaming system, never made it a winner... The Amstrad GX-4000 (using CPC hardware), the Amiga CD-32 (using Amiga hardware), the Atari XEGS (using XE xomputers hardware) or the C64 GS never became top selling systems. The companies usually tried this strategy to desperatly compete with new waves of systems. For the C64 GS that was Nintendo NES and Sega Master System. The Megadrive was even released a few months later as well as the Nintendo Superfamicom (at least in Japan). Given this information, it's clear that the C64 GS, or the Amstrad GX-4000 released at the same time and same price, could not compete...
Moreover, for a few bucks more you could buy a real C64 computer! The C64 Games System was only sold in UK in 1990, and Denmark in 1991...It was a massive flop. 80,000 units were produced; less than 25% of them eventually sold. Most of the remaining units were taken back and dissassembled for parts for the 64G.
Taneli Lukka from Finland reports:
The machine actually has a cassette connector and user port on the motherboard, but there are no holes for them in the case, it seems that either the machine was originally supposed to have the ability to play tape games too (would seem quite likely, you really only need one or two buttons to load a game from tape) or then it was cheaper to manufacture the motherboard with fewer changes compared to the C=64 computer. There might have also been some peripherals planned for the user port, but both the cassette compatibility and the user port thing must have been scrapped well before release because there are no holes for them in the case. These ports did enable Commodore to use the unsold machines as parts for C=64 computers when the console bombed.
The machine came packaged with a Cheetah Annihilator joystick, which is probably one of the worst joysticks of all time. It's a real wonder why Commodore didn't use one of their own sticks (which are all manufactured by other companies, they just have C= stickers on them) which are not very good either, but atleast you can play with them. The reason might be that The Annihilator just matched the colour of the machine.
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C64 GS (Games System)
BUILT IN SOFTWARE / GAMES
Atari compatible controllers
0.985 MHz (PAL) / 1.023 MHz (NTSC)
VIC II (Video), SID (Sound)
several, most used : 320 x 200
3 voices / 6 octaves (sound output through TV)
RGB (composite, chroma/luma and sound in/out), 2 x Joystick plugs, Cardridge slot, Power supply, RF TV output