Classic gaming has been inching it’s way back into the mainstream bit by bit over the past five years. YouTube celebrities such as the Angry Video Game Nerd and Gamester81 have been rekindling interest within the older generation of gamers, along with introducing the younger and newer generation to the cartridge-based days of yonder past. Though console-clones, emulators and mobile devices have taken the reigns as the best platforms to enjoy these games on, it’s surprising to see a company take it a step “further” and re-introduce cartridge-based media back into the mainstream gaming industry. Hot off the heels of what many considered a flawed Kickstarter campaign, the COLECO Chameleon is here to show the current generation what it was like to enjoy video games before the days of discs, full-motion video and the internet.
The Chameleon, at it’s core, is a 32-bit game console. Though it has been long debunked that “bits” we’re primarily a selling point in the 80’s and 90’s to show how powerful a game console was compared to the competition (similar to Sega’s “blast processing” with the Genesis/Mega Drive), this is till a vital point in assessing what kind of games the system will be able to play. Though there are no games that have been fully confirmed for release on the system (the console is still in the planning and design phase), the following launch titles have been announced:
- The Adventures of Tiny Night
- Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death
- Read Only Memories
- Adventure In The Tower Of Light
- Knights Chance
COLECO and the company that originally conceptualized the console, RetroVGS, has been very tight-lipped and mum about the capabilities of the console and we may have to wait to see what power the fledgling console has when it is demonstrated at Toy Fair New York In February 2016.
Aside from the fact that it is using recycled parts from the Atari Jaguar for it’s shell, the Chameleon may look very similar to the RetroVGS, as that’s exactly what it is. Returning from relative obscurity with new branding from COLECO, the Chameleon is the next evolution of the plodding RetroVGS project. The original project was mired with issues from the start, as it reached it’s funding goal, but did not release any info to those who invested big bucks into the project. This ended up in eroding a massive amount of trust in the project and consumer interest. Branding the system with COLECO’s reputation as a big player in the retro scene, given their history with going toe-to-toe with Atari with the ColecoVision console in the early 80’s. Given the rise of classic gaming popularity in recent years, COLECO obviously sees profits and re-exposure to the market.
Despite how under-powered the console is compared to the current generation of systems, paired with the estimated price of $150-$200, the console still has amazing value in how it detracts from the immensely profitable market of DLC. A common gripe among gamers today is how $60 will typically net you 1/3rd of the game they expect to play upon ripping off the plastic and sliding the CD into the tray. COLECO wishes to assure gamers that they will absolutely get their money’s worth when purchasing any games for the system, without having to download patches, pay for DLC or go through the arduous process of signing in users in order to play a 2-player game. Given how rampant game developers and publishers have run with DLC practices, microtransactions and “pay-to-win” schemes with F2P games, winning over the hearts and minds of classic game lovers is well within their reach.