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Posts Tagged ‘coleco

Wrapping up the Coleco Chameleon and My Eventual Anger

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The story is basically finished, the seemingly adaptable Coleco Chameleon, known formerly as the Retro VGS, is no more.  We’ve already covered the topic quite a bit here, so I’ll just briefly mention that you can read about the history and my opinions of the console here, Jam and I took the concepts of the console and historically dissected them in a podcast here, and as of a press release yesterday on Engadget Coleco has pulled its name from the console.  The reason this is the end of the road for the console has really little to do with Coleco pulling its name and rather why the company chose to do so.

As allegations were being thrown out left and right that the 2016 Toy Fair console showed off was nothing more than an SNES Jr. in an Atari Jaguar shell and the later revealed prototype model was proven to be a PCI capture card in a Jaguar shell, Coleco rightfully wanted proof that this device prototype actually existed.  Not only did Coleco want to know, but Kickstarter flat out requires that you have a working prototype before you can post on the fundraising site these days.  Coleco was fair in asking Retro VGS, the company behind the hardware, to present it a working prototype – as the company had previously contested they had – in order to keep the Coleco name.  Yesterday marked the one week deadline and Coleco pulled the name because it still had yet to see a working prototype.  That is the smoking gun.  Not that it matters, but Atari has also followed-up to announce that they never had an agreement with Kennedy, Retro VGS, or the Chameleon to ever put any Atari games on the console either (source is in the same Engadget article above).

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 9, 2016 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Introducing the Homer!

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The Coleco Chameleon has had a long, hard journey.  Starting out as the Retro VGS and a failed IndieGoGo, the company eventually repurposed and rebranded the console as the Coleco Chameleon (yes, that Coleco).  In this episode Fred and Jam get into what the Chameleon is, why it’s controversial, and why its Kickstarter was delayed.  The majority of the show is then spent talking about what the Chameleon is attempting to do and how viable that is in today’s gamespace.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 2, 2016 at 11:00 am

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Let’s Talk About the Coleco Chameleon

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This past weekend at the Toy Fair 2016, Coleco (yes the Connecticut Leather Company that was also responsible for the ColecoVision in 1982) announced the Coleco Chameleon.  If that shell in the top image looks familiar it’s for several reasons.  You may have noticed it’s a re-purposed Atari Jaguar shell, which the manufacturer has legally acquired.  You may also seem to remember something that looks like it in the past, which is the Retro VGS console that is the exact same item.  Basically the Coleco Chameleon is a failed project from late last year that has been brought back to life in a re-branding attempt that coincides with a Chicago-based firm, River West Brands, to bring back the Coleco name.  While the retro gamer in me likes the heart behind it – and trust me, having met and spoken with Retro VGS president Mike Kennedy, his love is legit – the Coleco Chameleon is a merging of nostalgic minds who won’t let go of the past in conjunction with money-hungry corporations looking to make a quick buck off people like us.  I haven’t seen anyone cover the actual grassroots concept of the the idea behind the Retro VGS/Coleco Chameleon with any degree of actual fact checking, true helpful information, or even a hint as to what this could be.  Even my beloved CNET let me down with this lackluster hype piece from earlier this week (and it’s from my favorite writer, Jeff Bakalar, whom I loved pre-Beastcast).  Let’s take a good long look at the Coleco Chameleon, it’s trek to this point, and determine if there’s any reason you should care that on February 26 the Kickstarter gives you the opportunity at one.   (NOTE: There is an 02/22/2016 update to this article that appears at the bottom.)

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 18, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Getting It Backwards

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ds_nesVideo game consoles are one of the most interesting electronics items on the market for several reasons. Probably the most prolific is the fact that there are frequent hardware upgrades, which we call generations, that move home consoles forward. Because each new console is basically a piece of hardware frozen in time, the need to innovate and improve on future games demands that they be constantly updated. This works counter to movies or music, which see improvements from new hardware but don’t require the upgrade to enjoy the medium. Imagine if you could play Super Mario Bros. on the Wii but with drastically upgraded visuals or Dead Space on the original Playstation with the juxtaposed setback, this is exactly what we see when we watch Ghostbusters on VHS versus DVD versus Blu Ray. As a result new consoles come out all the time, typically in 5-8 year intervals, and usher in a more interactive experience – it’s important to note that the greatest difference between games and other media is that they are active, not passive experiences – and with it comes a new format for software.

Enter the concern of the consumer. It can be frustrating for both gamers and parents of gamers alike to purchase a new console, especially when it renders an entire collection on an older console useless. As retro gamers I’m sure we see the value in it, but for the majority there’s a want to move forward and never look back. Well, that is until there are enough new games to get me to migrate over. This is another slow start that prevents all but early adopters to purchase new hardware, which can then result in fewer sales. With fewer sales comes more canceled projects on new hardware, which then results in fewer sales of the hardware and the cycle continues until a console is considered dead in the water. Just look at the Virtual Boy, Jaguar, and possibly even the WiiU about this problem; developers have enough to worry about, they can’t also deal with poor penetration rate due to a false start console. One excellent solution to help usher in that awkward period between consoles is the concept of backwards compatibility, or a new console that can play a previous generation’s games.

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Written by Fred Rojas

May 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Generation Gap Pt. 1

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It’s difficult to understand and discern the various console generations that have existed, so here’s a brief overview of each one and the consoles that spawned in North America during these generations.  Please note that these posts cover home consoles only (and goes into broad detail on specific larger market share, not every console that released) – while arcades and PCs were a signficant part of gaming in the respective 80s and 90s, they will be covered in different posts.

First Generation (1972 – 1983)

Magnavox Odyssey – Launch Price: $75-$100 (retail dependent) – Released: 1972
Designer Ralph Baer’s team started working on the console, codenamed “brown box”, in 1966 and completed a prototype in 1968.  I wasn’t even remotely alive when the Odyssey was on the market, so my experience with the console is limited to a few brief and clumsy plays of Ski at various Midwest Gaming Classic conventions.

The Odyssey had interchangeable cartridges that were purchased individually, much like more modern consoles, and also included an overlay for the television.  Since it was unable to generate graphics necessary for the games itself, it would instead use the TV overlay to create the playfield and dots or lines would be the only true visual created by the console.  Each cartridge would trigger jumpers in the console to generate the desired images or items on the screen.  Some games would also include dice and various other items, creating a virtual board game of sorts.  One of the most popular among the Odyssey titles was of course Pong, which was actually named Tennis on the console.  Unfamiliarity with a device of this sort and co-branding with Magnavox stores created a public perception that the Odyssey would only work with Magnavox televisions, which wasn’t true.

Click to see a list of Odyssey games

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 20, 2011 at 10:52 am