Remember the Retro VGS? It was a console that looked a lot like the Atari Jaguar and aimed to bring back the glory days of cartridge-based gaming. However, its crowdfunding campaign faltered and the project was effectively put on ice - although the team of industry veterans behind it vowed to find a way of bringing the concept to market.
It looks like they've found it, and with an unexpected partner. Coleco - which stands for "Connecticut Leather Company" - was founded in 1932 and became a serious player in the games industry with the launch of its 1980s console, the Colecovision. The system was more powerful than its rival, the Atari 2600, but it launched just as the games industry was about to crash. The company would cease operations in 1988, but in 2005 River West Brands re-introduced the name with licensed versions of the Sega Master System and Game Gear.
While the Coleco of today is little more than a brand name, it still carries some weight - and clearly has the cash to support such a venture.
Here's the official press release:
Video-game industry pioneer COLECO re-enters the market, partnering with Retro Video Game Systems, Inc., to introduce a new, modern-day video-game system called the COLECO Chameleon.
COLECO Chameleon is a versatile new video-game system that serves as a modern day take on the classic game console and will accurately play classic games from the past. The COLECO Chameleon also has the ability play brand-new games in the 8-, 16- and 32-bit styles, a growing and popular genre in today's game scape.
Chris Cardillo, a partner in COLECO said, "Mark [Thomann] and I are excited to work hand-in-hand with Retro Video Game Systems, Inc. in the launch of the COLECO Chameleon. It's ironic that a new 'retro' video-game system would actually revolutionize and revitalize the COLECO brand."
And, for the first time in nearly 20 years, the COLECO Chameleon will once again play brand new games on long-lasting, durable cartridges that can be played, traded, and collected for a lifetime. And all game cartridges will include high quality, plastic clamshell cases with illustrated instruction manuals and game developer liner notes.
Retro Video Game Systems, Inc. President Mike Kennedy adds, "The COLECO Chameleon is a love-letter to all the classic cartridge based gaming systems that came before it and we love the fact it will succeed COLECO's successful Telstar and Colecovision product lines. It will take gamers and their families back to a simpler time where games were all about great gameplay and fun factor."
The COLECO Chameleon will launch in early 2016 and will also be demonstrated at Toy Fair New York 2016, February 13-16.
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Thu 17th December, 2015.
This is something I want to so very much like....but I know it's going to fail miserably. No one is going to buy it, it's going to be expensive, and there won't be that many games for it. But the concept is awesome. I hope I'm wrong and it succeeds though.
...and it comes with a WiiU pro controller!
Interesting. Coleco Holdings has not even Tweeted about this.
I so ready for this!
"COLECO Chameleon is a versatile new video-game system that serves as a modern day take on the classic game console and will accurately play classic games from the past. The COLECO Chameleon also has the ability play brand-new games in the 8-, 16- and 32-bit styles, a growing and popular genre in today's game scape."
if its an Retro/retro style only system why dose it have dual sticks?
I see it still comes with the same horrible controllers (Interworks Wii Pro controllers...the concept was great but the execution was crap).
I'm sorry, but I can't see this succeeding considering how ridiculously expensive it'll be and how expensive the games will be.
Niiiiice! Kinda want one. Anyone know the price tag?
Here's the problem I have with this system: I love the idea in principle, but I don't particularly like the specific design of either the hardware or controller--and despite what some people might try to have you believe, that stuff is actually part of most gamers purchase decision. And it's not that it's terrible looking; it's just a tiny bit too much like some cheap-ish third party knock-off system, which you'll find puts off a lot of people.
Personally, I'd honestly rather just see what I was talking about the other day: A re-release of the NES and/or SNES systems and games, that come with wireless versions of their respective controllers, somewhat shrunken versions of the actual consoles (because why stick with the huge size of something like the American NES when you could actually shrink it down to almost the same size as a NES cart in this day and age?), connections so they work on both retro and modern TVs/displays, and at a REALLY affordable price for both the consoles and the games.
But, to be fair, it's not like these particular guys could ever actually realise that idea so I'm being a bit cruel by mentioning that that's what I'd really want to see.
@abe_hikura I believe the PSOne was a 32-bit system, and it had a dual-stick controller later in its life. I don't know if this system will have the capability to play PSOne games, but maybe they want to leave open the possibility in the future after upgrades?
@mjharper It doesn't/can't play any other systems games. It's really just like releasing a brand new cartridge based console in the modern era--as far as I'm aware--but one that's not quite up to graphical power with any modern consoles, obviously. It is, for all intents and purposes, a new 32bit cartridge console, in 2015.
Here's what it really needs to be like if you were going to release a brand new cartridge based retro-style console in 2015, imo:
(It's still amazes me how tiny that thing was)
Like a PC-Engine in terms of size, i.e. tiny (although a bit cooler looking...maybe kinda like an PlayStation TV in terms of simple sleekness), and probably taking similar style game cards, which you could still sell in cases and still have all the benefits of old physical carts--like you own them forever and can trade them with friends--but are just smaller and more convenient. Then, it needs controllers that ideally don't really look much more complex than a SNES pad, imo, and are now wireless. I mean, I think these things look genuinely awesome:
It don't think it even needs to be any more powerful than the likes of a SNES, or at most something like a Saturn--so it really makes devs focus on classic retro-type experiences. And both the console and games need to be affordable. I'm talking REALLY affordable--like $50 for the system and $10 for the physical/boxed games.
"COLECO Chameleon is a versatile new video-game system that...will accurately play classic games from the past. The COLECO Chameleon also has the ability play brand-new games..."
So, it does play older systems' games, or it doesn't? I'm confused.
@Kirk The crazy thing is that it would be easier than ever to create a new games console that is as small as the PCE. Android-based consoles essentially use mobile chips and can be tiny - I have a Shield Android TV (which is basically X360 / PS3 level in terms of visuals, it's insanely powerful) and it's really, really small.
However, I think the look these guys are aiming for is '90s console tech (hence buying the shells of the Jag) - and lest we forget that the US version of the PCE was put inside a bigger shell because NEC/TTI believed that US consumers wouldn't buy such a small machine - "big is better".
@mjharper It can play both. Some of the confirmed titles are actually "new" games created in the retro style, Gunlord being one of them.
However, if old IP owners want to re-release their existing games on the system, they can, because it effectively emulates loads of different retro consoles. That's the theory, anyway!
@Damo Totally agree that they could make a tiny modern-retro console like this, that's easily as powerful as it needs to be to be a classic-cool but still decently up-to-date modern-retro console.
To be fair, I think they're only going for the '90s "Jag" look because those were the only cheap moulds they could find. lol
Yeah, 'mericans can be dumb sometimes.
@mjharper It doesn't--unless it plays old Coleco games--and I think what they really mean is that is plays games that look and feel like the classic old-school games from the '70s-'90s that many of us grew up with and love.
Edit: Yeah, reading the text again, it must play old Coleco games or something (not sure if physical or emulated), but I think that's probably about it.
Edit 2: Damien ^^^ knows better than me.
@Kirk I don't know how it looks like a cheap knock-off system when it's the Atari Jaguar system mold. I always liked to design of the Jaguar system case. I'm glad someone bought the mold and brought it back to the gaming world and away from medical equipment hell.
@Tsusasi Well, the Jaguar was alway kinda fugly, if we're being honest here:
I mean, it's not terrible, but it's not exactly this either:
Which, by the way, I still think is one of the slickest looking consoles ever.
Why the hate for the Jaguar mold? I think it's the slickest thing about the Jaguar and holds up today....
@artofmana Well--all things being relative--it probably is the thing that holds up most about the Jaguar.
I feel bad being so critical, because their general idea is a good one in principle--one I have myself on a regular basis and something I long for in general (returning to the all-round simplicity and purity of the 8bit-16bit and partly 32bit console/gaming era)--but I just think a lot of the execution is slightly off, by chance or choice. It's the nuance that makes all the difference, imo.
@TruenoGT Well, the PS (Vita) TV console and controller are certainly off to a better start with that general idea, and it does take small Vita/SD sized cards too, so, yeah, it's already half way there to be honest.
And, to debate some guy the other day who was saying you couldn't shrink a NES/SNES down and release it today for cheap: https://www.playstation.com/en-gb/explore/playstation-tv/ (the PlayStation TV, which is vastly more powerful and capable than either of those systems, is only £45 squid, and I presume even cheaper in the dollar equivalent. And the very same logic/principle would apply to re-releasing those old game carts again too)
The one advantage Nintendo would have with something similar to this who retro-modern console idea, however, is all the countless retro classics it has it its back catalogue. I'd be far more excited about a little Nintendo box like this that played ALL of Nintendo's classic games (plus new "retro" games) than I would a Sony equivalent--and both of those far more so than some other random brand.
Actually, to go off on a SLIGHT tangent: When I think about it, this is basically what I was trying to propose when I came up with my idea for what I thought NX could be (but also putting a handheld and Wii U GamePad in that single little "box" too): https://inceptionalnews.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/heres-the-gist-of-my-idea-for-nintendos-nx/
But hey, Nintendo didn't listen to that idea either, it seems.
@abe_hikura 32-bit games? You know, like the PlayStation. Also there were quite a number of arcade titles that used twin sticks for gameplay and I would have loved to play the early console ports of Smash TV with twin sticks. Maybe they plan on some old school FPS games too.
I had a Colecovision. I remember a terrible Smurf game. And a War Games game I played a ton of. I know I had more games for it. But they must not have left much of an impression.
I'm ALL about this. I think the Jaguar is a SEXY design (I'm in a minority, I know), and gaming had way more personality before everything was on identical looking discs. I don't care what the price tag is; I'll buy it and just pay off my credit card. I'm getting this Day One.
@ElkinFencer10 Well, they've got at least one sale.
"8-, 16- and 32-bit styles, a growing and popular genre in today's game scape"
A line like that makes me question how much they actually know about games whatsoever. 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit are not "genres." They're art styles, but certainly not a "genre" of any kind, unless you're talking about them as a genre of art...... but it just sounds clunky there, and like they have no idea what they're talking about and they're hoping someone saying "Here's a thing like old ones you remember! Please buy them? Please....?"
I really hope NX is a cartridge system.......I miss them....sure they are a pain in the behind but I'm getting old and this story makes me want the instant gratification of cartridge gaming.....well instant as long as you dont have to shake the console, or blow into the cartridge, or put the cartridge in part way, stick a controller over it to hold it in place and lightly tap the power button until it works.......on second thought lets move to all digital!
In able for this thing to be a success in this time and age, it must launch at $199 and had at least 10 exclusive good games at launch. It must had more than just indies and arcade titles and it must had at least 20 of these companies on board in supporting it:
My first system was a Colecovision, might have to keep an eye on this.
@mjharper It can, and it will. The original campaign says the following:
"The brainchild of industry veterans Mike Kennedy, John Carlsen and Steve Woita, Retro VGS will not only allow developers to produce their software on cartridges - just like the good old days - it will also be able to emulate older consoles thanks to its field-programmable gate array (FPGA)."
An FPGA is a wonderful piece of tech that can be programmed to natively run any old console or home computer that isn't CD based, so there's a whole range of systems that they can use as a library to select games from, IF they can get the licenses for them, of course...
@Kirk Well, us dumb 'mericans like our consoles looking like space craft or classic automobiles from the sixties, because that is EXACTLY how a retro console should look to emphasize the look and feel of retro gaming...
So I don't think it's ugly at all and it should definitely not be replaced with a tiny, nondescript plastic box that is hardly visible when sat next to the TV set. Must be a British thing, since even NLife itself stated in the previous article "Why do you think the Retro VGS struggled to find support? Was it the basic-looking games, the high cost or the fugly Atari Jaguar casing?". I actually think it should have controller cables too, to complete the whole retro idea. And I simply love the old Colecovision font on it. Rainbow colors make me happy...
But I totally agree with you on the PC Engine console, that is still an amazing piece of hardware, especially compared to its contemporaries. It did have some of the grills and fenders to make it look sexy, though...
Still haven't found the time to completely watch through that YouTube video you suggested to me. Either to busy setting up my own shop or just not in the mood to sit still behind my PC for more than an hour, so I still have to find the time. Maybe I'll download it and watch it on my TV instead. Either way, you will hear from me when I have seen it.
And who the hell doesn't think this looks sexy?
All it's missing is the roaring engine sounds...
No. let's all go for the bland looks that consoles have nowadays. No identity, no soul, just boxes that do things a little bit better than their predecessor each generation.
That's why I'm glad that we also still have a company like Nintendo. They may make some mistakes along the way, but at least they understand that you have to differentiate to appeal.
Will this have hdmi or old fashion av cables?, or both?
If they play their cards right, I would buy this. Price needs to be realistic, emulation must be perfect( I mean colors, music, compatibility) and output needs to be HDMI with quality as good as or greater than RGB.
I'd like to clear some shelf space and a system that can do what the NES, SNES and Genesis does would be great. But since I run all those systems through a Frameister, this thing is going to have to be pretty impressive to compete. Shelf space is nice, but quality is better.
Is that a Wii U Pro controller???
This thing will never see the light of day.
I had a Coleco Vision when I was a kid. It was so much better then the Atari 2600 which I also had. Its really great to see this project back on track and getting funded. I really wish them the best of luck with this. I was actually just thinking this morning while at work how the older games had an artistic quality not seen in a lot of current gen games. If they can get a decent range of games then I'm in. After all, cartridges are the best!
@Kirk The PC Engine is the coolest looking retro system ever In my opinion. I remember trying to import one from Japan When I was about 13 but found it too difficult. Then the TurboGraphics 16 came out but not here in Australia so I missed the whole NEC console thing. At least I got a MegaDrive and SNES, but I always wanted to play Legendary Axe.
I look at the Coleco Chameleon as name change only due to the bad pr of the Retrovgs.
I am hoping that they cut down the amount of futures it had due to the cost of the Retrovgs was going to be. The retro VGS was a flop due to not having a working prototype, and the asking price of the system itself due to all stuff it had, and the development team of the console wasn't truthful to the potential consumers.
Look like that "Pro Controller U" that came out a few years ago, the SNES themed 3rd party Wii U Controller. Unfortunately I didn't hear good things about them.
I thought this was stupid as the Retro VGS. Seeing it bear the name of another failed console ain't gonna sell it to me.
@Noonch Funny how Nintendo never gets to sue anybody and yet Nintendo gets to be sued.
I want it!
It was requested by some developers.
They're considered as good for fighting games and shootemups or as i called them when i was younger, shooters... not to be confused with first PERSON shooters.
@TheRealThanos It's not really a "British" thing. More just a good design thing.
I think the ideal games console design would/should be something that's basically invisible and just disappears under your TV. The console is just a box to deliver the games/entertainment and nothing more. In fact, the perfect console wouldn't even have any box at all. It would literally just be the controller and the display. That's why this kind of thing
is generally a much better design for a console than this kind of thing
One day, I believe the entire console innards will just be build directly into either the controller or the display (as most of it would just be digital and in the "cloud" anyway), and then we'll have an ideal "console" design.
The less boxes we have under our TVs the better off we will all be. And that's once again why my idea for the NX basically got rid of the console box altogether and only had a tiny little dongle you plugged into your TV (ideally I'd not even have the dongle but I can't think of another practical way to get the games to show on all the different TVs), because the "box" really is an unnecessary extra lump that ideally we'd eliminate entirely: https://inceptionalnews.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/heres-the-gist-of-my-idea-for-nintendos-nx/
Can't remember what the video was actually. Remind me...
@Kirk Well, the thing is that I like my consoles to have an identity, and as such I think the PS TV is worthless, because it says absolutely nothing; it doesn't speak to me, if you understand what I'm trying to say. It's just a tiny, cheap plastic box. I'm also no fan of digital and cloud only, so this generation of consoles may very well be my last if the next one abandons physical copies altogether. But for now I'm cautiously hoping Nintendo will still deliver come 2016.
I can understand that this view isn't the same for everyone and certainly in modern consoles, the aesthetics are more tuned to putting the console in a more modest role, disappearing to the background and letting the games and services speak for it, and obviously everything must be wireless and online, but with retro consoles you NEED to have this bulky thing with colorful cartridges, clunky controllers to fit the 8- and 16-bit games, and preferably also wired controllers. It's retro for a reason.
I couldn't get that feel from a nearly invisible box that emulates the NES/SNES/Genesis and what not. It needs to not only look but also feel the part for it to be truly retro, and this effort here definitely seems to fit the bill pretty closely. The Jaguar mold may not satisfy everyone, but at least it exudes nineties ridiculousness and in this case it's a good thing. Space ship or car design and bulky so it is visible underneath or next to your TV. That is the very definition of true retro gaming.
If you're really into retro, part of the fun is taking the boxes out of your closet and for example setting up that complete tower of Sega add-ons with the SegaCD and 32x or connecting all the peripherals (preferably also the bazooka) to your SNES and so on. I could name countless more examples.
Why I said that it might be a British thing (maybe I should have said European) is because since living in Europe myself, I've learned that the general view on Americans is (to this day) that all we want is bigger, better, faster, which is true in some cases, but not in all so it's a bit of a stereotype but it was also a bit of jest towards all the modern hardware, which I in general do find is becoming more and more soulless. And yes, we like our classics, so that is why besides it being a retro console, there is nothing wrong with it also showing some classic shapes to go with the classic gaming to be played on it.
In my humble opinion, "retro" gamers that want to play retro games on an Android device/box or on a modern, small, online, digital only console aren't real retro gamers and they largely don't understand what it is about.
I'm pretty sure most dedicated retro gamers feel the same way. Retro games must be played on original hardware or something that comes really close to it. I also like that they have chosen to go with FPGA, which is a hell of a lot closer to the real thing than what the other consoles like the Retron5 and so on do, and FPGA will be able to reproduce every console nearly EXACTLY as it was so it's more like recreating the hardware instead of emulating it like Android does, which always has some issue or other. In some games it is the sound, in others the animation/frame rate and what not and constant tweaking and/or updates are often necessary.
If you're interested, more info here: http://www.fpgaarcade.com/
Since you're a developer/programmer yourself, you might even be able to flesh out your idea with one of these kits...
As for the video/documentary: it was about all the covert things companies and so on do to disadvantage the general public. Evil corporation stuff...
@TheRealThanos Well, I totally get your point and actually agree with it in principle, which is why my initial suggestion was still an actual physical console and very much retro at that, just small like the PC-Engine and sleek like the Neo Geo, and it still took physical cartridges too (well, more precisely, game cards, but that's really about the fact that making these things is greatly wasting Earth's limited resources, and likely polluting with plastic waste too, so if we're going physical again then I think it's only responsible to use a little material as possible on the cartridges, and they also take up less shelf space too)--along with the wired controllers for pure convenience--which I think is actually the best compromise of getting that old-school gaming experience but not just sticking with what are actually bad/unnecessary design practices just for the sake of looking "old-school". Old-school doesn't have to equal big and fugly, imo. As consoles like the PC-Engine (tiny) and Neo Geo (slick as hell) demonstrate admirably.
Basically, imagine a Neo Geo that's the size of a PC-Engine (which are both actual/real old-school classic gaming systems), and you have what I think would be one of the slickest "old-school looking" consoles ever, and still inarguably based on classic old-school console hardware design:
Yeah, the whole "American's like it bigger, better, and faster, or whatever", is a total stereotype--and there is some truth to it as a sweeping generalisation--but that's why it's fun!
I'll check out that link.
And, yeah, watch that documentary.
Feels like something in the league of a plug-n-play to me.
@Kirk Yeah, I think we can come to a nice agreement here, except even though I'm a bit of a sucker for a better environment, I'm hardly an eco warrior, so I'm still kind of partial to the whole sixties car/space ship design of the Jaguar. Maybe on a subconscious level, I'm still sad that the actual console failed...
As for FPGA, I'm going to apologize to you in advance because from what I've heard and read, once you're hooked, it's going to eat away a lot of your precious hours...
There are several fora and boards, and the hardware itself also comes in several formats. The previous link I gave you was for an arcade board and the one I myself am most interested in, is the MiST board (a contraction of Amiga and Atari ST) that can be programmed to natively act like both these home computers, with modern versions of the actual chips and so on. Besides that it can also recreate C64, ZX-Spectrum, MSX, Atari XL/VCS, Apple II, Colecovision, Sega Master System, NES, etc.
At the risk of taking up even more of your time, here are some links of that one:
(second link is a completed build in a metal casing, made to order)
Don't know if you ever were into either of these computers, though but you must at the very least have heard from them since the Amiga was massively popular in Britain and other countries in Europe.
@DekuOnion Yeah, the photo definitely doesn't do it any justice, but I still have to come across the first plug and play that has native HDMI and cartridge slots incorporated, not to mention a built-in FPGA board, which isn't all that cheap...
@Damo FPGA doesn't emulate; it recreates (or simulates, if you will) the actual hardware with modern counterparts. Emulation, more often than not, is done via software and offers additional features, while FPGA programming is meant to be an exact recreation of the original hardware.
@Noonch Dammit, ya beat me to it. SNES button layout and everything.
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