The Coleco Chameleon project, a new gaming console said to emulate a plethora of old machines has been cancelled.
Our gaming writer, Stuart, previously reported on the announcement of the Coleco Chameleon just three weeks ago. What was initially called the Retro VGS started as a crowd funded project asking for a mere $2 million. Unfortunately it only raised a scant $80,000.
The console was to use a clever programming and hardware combination that detected whatever cartridge was inserted and then perfectly emulate that particular console so you could play the inserted game.
A promise was made that new games would also be written for the machine and these would also come on cartridges. The gaming community wasn’t impressed.
To save money, the machine itself was built using old moulds for the Atari Jaguar casing to reduce costs but the one of the biggest issues was the fact that any new games that came on carts could not be updated or feature any future DLC. One of the project founders even claimed that any new games would be rigorously checked for bugs and glitches but this kind of promise is impossible.
Earlier this year Retro VGS announced they had joined forces with Coleco to produce the Coleco Chameleon. Coleco had previously created the Colecovision console back in the early 1980’s. A new prototype of the console was to be displayed at the 2016 New York Toy Fair.
Then it all started to go downhill fast! Analysing the videos from the toy fair, retro gaming enthusiasts realised the prototype console was in fact an Atari Jaguar shell with the circuit boards from a Nintendo SNES Jnr inside.
Evidence suggests the new Coleco prototype at Toy Fair might literally be a SNES Jr. duct-taped into a Jaguar shell. pic.twitter.com/Dc4cR4XrHa
— Frank Cifaldi (@frankcifaldi) February 16, 2016
To allay fears and worries, the Retro VGS team unveiled new pictures of the latest prototype of the console in a clear shell plugged into a television. Alarm bells began to ring again. There were no cables visible connecting to the console to the television.
Then came the most damning evidence of all when the clever guys at the Atari Age Forums noticed that the circuit board in the console was in fact a PCI DVR capture card! A piece of hardware for a computer that allows it to digitize video!
Update: They posted a picture on Facebook that turned out to be an old PCI capture card. Do not support these people pic.twitter.com/2A1tyLZ4bm
— Frank Cifaldi (@frankcifaldi) March 1, 2016
Almost as soon damning evidence was discovered, the images were quickly removed from the Retro VGS Facebook page! This information and much much more, was also unearthed by the Atari Age forums and forwarded to Coleco. They issued the following statement via Facebook:
Chameleon Product: 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.
Basically, Coleco requested to see all working prototypes within the next seven days. Obviously the Retro VGS team had little or nothing to show as on the 8th March Coleco announced,
The Update that you were all anxiously awaiting: Retro VGS has decided that the work that they have created is not sufficient to demonstrate at this time. Consequently, we can no longer proceed with the project and the Chameleon project will be terminated. This separation is amicable. We wish them luck in the future. – We thank the gaming community for their continued support, input, vigilance and trust.
Within a few hours the website and Facebook page for the Retro VGS were deleted.
What I’d like to see now is a crowd sourced book explaining the whole story behind this video game console that never came to be…if that was ever the plan!