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You might not remember the last time Coleco released a video game console—because it was decades ago. But now, the retro video game masterminds have finally broken their silence. Partnering with Retro Video Game Systems, Coleco has announced a modernized cartridge-based console, the Coleco Chameleon.
A press release from Coleco stated that the Chameleon “has the ability to play brand-new games in the 8-, 16-, and 32-bit styles.” And with the classic gaming style comes another nostalgic bit of the past: the cartridge. Without all of the hassle of broken new games in need of patches, the Chameleon will be ready to play upon purchase (no long hours of installation required).
It’s been nearly 34 years since Coleco’s last video game console release of the ColecoVision, which took the gaming market by storm. With soaring sales, the ColecoVision could play popular favorites like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. But with the video game crash of 1983, the ColecoVision seemed to fall with everything else.
With the announcement of the Chameleon on December 17, many people have had mixed feelings—and for good reason. Retro Video Game Systems, the company Coleco is teaming up with to release the system, actually had a campaign on IndieGogo in October and November to raise money for the release of a very similar concept called, well, Retro VGS. The campaign failed miserably with a measly 4% funded of its $1,950,000 goal. You can view the original campaign trailer for the Retro VGS below.
Is this what the Chameleon is going to mirror in expectations? Now when they say “new” games, does that mean everyone will have the opportunity to see an 8-bit Nathan Drake running around and causing chaos like classic Sonic the Hedgehog? According to Retro Gamer, the Chameleon may take to crowdfunding just as its failed predecessor tried to do, only this time relying on Kickstarter instead of IndieGogo. Many have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns for the reignited attempt at the modernized cartridge-based console, which included statements about the Chameleon being a regurgitated version of what the Retro VGS was supposed to be.
Chris Cardillo, a Coleco partner, said, “It’s ironic that a new ‘retro’ video-game system would actually revolutionize and revitalize the Coleco brand.” But will it be that easy to convince a graphics-obsessed gamer audience that cartridge-based games are no longer in the past? With each release of a new PS4 or XBOne game, it seems the graphics get closer and closer to reality. Take games like Battlefield and Beyond:Two Souls; Battlefield has hyper-realistic campaigns and gun control (whereas the average FPS player will struggle) and Beyond: Two Souls uses innovative technology to mirror a character’s real-life facial expressions onto the in-game characters. But, there has certainly been a rise in the popularity for platformer games with an old-school appearance, like Towerfall Ascension, but is it enough of a growth to fuel a whole new console dedicated to this style? Coleco and Retro Video Game Systems seem to think so.
Retro Video Game Systems president Mike Kennedy said the Chameleon is a love-letter to all the classic cartridge-based systems, and added
It will take gamers and their families back to a simpler time where games were all about great gameplay and fun factor.
According to Retro Gamer, the console has no official release date, but is estimated to be released sometime in 2016 with a demonstration at Toy Fair New York in February.