Remember the good old days of video games coming on cartridges? We're not talking about 3DS cards, either - we mean the big, chunky carts which NES, Mega Drive and SNES games shipped on. These lumps of plastic defined an industry for years, and they could be making a comeback if a new crowdfunding campaign is successful.
The Retro VGS is a console which bucks the trend by picking carts over disc-based media. Its other big selling point is that unlike modern systems, it doesn't require regular firmware updates and its titles don't need patching.
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).
Looking curiously like an Atari Jaguar, the console needs $1,950,000 to make it into production. Software seems to be geared towards the "faux-retro" end of the market, with NG:DEV.TEAM's Neo Geo release Gunlord being perhaps the most impressive graphically. "Pack-in" game The Adventures of Tiny Knight calls to mind the Wonder Boy series, while RPG Pier Solar and Double Dragon Trilogy are both "pending" releases.
The team behind the system seem to have their hearts in the right place, and are concerned that in 20 years we won't be able to plug in and play our current generation systems because elements such as network play and critical updates will be switched off. With that in mind, the Retro VGS has been conceived as a platform which will stand the test of time - at least from a collecting and playing perspective - rather like vintage consoles like the NES and SNES, which can still be purchased and enjoyed even today.
WayForward's Matt Bozon has already voiced his support for the concept, stating:
However, what the team doesn't seem to have considered is the high cost involved with producing physical cartridges when compared to going purely digital. It remains to be seen how many developers will support the platform should it make it into production, especially when they can hit a much larger audience via smart devices or traditional consoles, such as the Wii U, PS4, 3DS, PS Vita and Xbox One. It's also worth pointing out that while firmware and software updates can be annoying, they often add better functionality and new features - and most gamers would rather have them than do without.
Still, if Retro VGS did manage to secure a large market share - or at least one big enough to make it commercially viable for developers and publishers - it could potentially offer a way to re-publish retro games on proper cartridges, as well as give indie devs a platform where their games can gain additional attention.
Have a look at the pitch video below and let us know what you think about this unique venture by posting a comment.