Coleco Chameleon console promises to bring back game cartridges

Discs and downloads are no match for... abandoned technology?

Coleco Chameleon

Remember game cartridges? Of course you do: we all had stacks of NES, Mega Drive, and Super NES games next to our beloved consoles, but the format faded once the CD-powered PlayStation smacked around the Nintendo 64.

Still, some fond old fans are trying to bring the cartridge back into vogue. It's Coleco, in fact: the company behind the ColecoVision and other 1980s consoles is teaming with with Retro Video Game Systems to release the Coleco Chameleon, a system designed to run new games and old ones alike.

According to the announcement, the Chameleon has the power to run 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit style games, and Coleco aims to offer classic compilations of retro titles along with brand new games in those styles. Each game will ship in a plastic clamshell box with an instruction manual and liner notes - just like the old days.

Also like the old days? No network connection, patches, or onboard storage for the console. Also, it looks exactly like the failed Atari Jaguar, since Retro Video Game Systems purchased the original molds for that console to save money. Bit of a rough image to start from, we'd say.

"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," said Mike Kennedy, president of Retro. "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 is a new name and brand for the Retro VGS console, which tried to raise US$1,950,000 (about £1.3 million) on Indiegogo - and fell well short with just US$81,158 (about £54,500) in a campaign that ended just last month. Coleco and Retro plan to use Kickstarter for a higher-profile second attempt, and the refreshed console will make a public appearance at Toy Fair New York 2016 from 13-16 February.

It sounds like a big gamble: cartridges ultimately disappeared not only because they limited game makers' ambitions, but also because they were so darn expensive to produce. Will there be enough people willing to pay a premium for plug-and-play cartridges on a new platform, rather than drop a few bucks on a downloadable version elsewhere? We'll have to wait and see.

[Source: Retro VGS]

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