The Retro VGS was revealed a while ago and met with a mixture of excitement and skepticism. The system was hyped as an all-in-one solution for games collectors who had become disillusioned with the move towards digital games, and as a bonus it would be able to emulate pretty much any hardware from the past 30 years thanks to its FPGA chip. However, the subsequent IndieGoGo campaign faltered and was cancelled before the machine reappeared with a new name: The Coleco Chameleon.
By aligning itself with such a famous name in the games industry, the Retro VGS team seemed to get a shot in the arm, and even demoed a prototype unit at the recent New York Toy Fair. A Kickstarter campaign to fund production of the Chameleon was due to begin on February 26th, but this was delayed to make improvements to the system:
Last week during Toy Fair in New York, we had the opportunity to demonstrate the Coleco Chameleon to the industry, gamers and retailers for the first time. Their response was beyond anything we'd imagined. Major retailers provided feedback on the product and expressed real interest in carrying the product for the 2016 holiday season. And, very importantly, major game companies expressed interest in providing games for our system, which meant we'd need more time to solidify those partnerships and maximize the content.
Our team's overriding goal has always been to deliver the best possible system and experience for gamers. If there's ever anything we can do to enhance the product, we believe the extra time is worth it. Therefore, we have decided to delay the pre-sell, i.e. Kickstarter, campaign in order to finalize our prototype and work with developers on having the best possible content. This delay will not affect our overall launch date for the Coleco Chameleon.
There has also been a whirlwind of interest, speculation and curiosity regarding the insides of the Chameleon. We are delighted by this and happy to confirm that we will be releasing photographs of the system now on our Facebook page, and we'll focus on turning our prototype into a production-ready product.
As soon as the system was shown off there were claims from some parts of the internet that the console was actually a Nintendo SNES Jr. inside a Chameleon shell (which, in turn, is based on the Atari Jaguar's case design):
To counter such claims, images were posted to the project's Facebook page which claimed to show the working prototype, only for some eagle-eyed individuals to spot that inside the console is a Hicap50B CCTV DVR capture card:
The image was later removed from Facebook, seemingly proving such claims.
So, to recap - a SNES Jr. was used to "demo" the system at the New York Toy Fair (presumably in an attempt to fake the console's proposed SNES emulation) and then when evidence was called for to disprove this theory, the Retro VGS team shoved a capture card into a prototype shell and tried to claim it was the real deal.
The entire project has now been put on hold pending an investigation by Coleco into the Retro VGS prototype:
We are thankful to have a large group of passionate engineers and retro game enthusiasts who follow Coleco and other product lines. It has come to our attention that the community has certain concerns over the prototypes involving the Retro VGS model. The team at Retro remains confident that their product is developed to the extent as describe; HOWEVER, in order to confirm or debase these concerns, Coleco has demanded to inspect the prototype units within a seven day time frame. At which time, independent engineers will review their findings and determine if those units are up to our standards. We will report some or all of those findings to the community so as long as they do not interfere with proprietary information. We remain hopeful that the community's concerns are merely speculations, but if there is merit to the concerns, then we have no choice but to abandon the project rather than release a sub-par product. During this time, we ask that the community allow us time to complete these inspections. Time extensions will only be granted if requested by the independent engineer. Time extensions and results will be posted here.
Even more interesting is this video, posted by Brian Thomas Barnhart, host of The Jag Bar. Brian was going to assist the Retro VGS team with making a video for the Kickstarter campaign, but pulled out over concerns with the validity of the prototype:
Will this system ever see the light of day? Let us know what you think by posting a comment.