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Coleco Chameleon Stirs Controversy

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We’ve been charting the progress of Retro Video Game Systems’ new cartridge-based console for a little while now, and it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride. Originally announced as the Retro VGS, the console hit IndieGoGo back in September of 2015, with the makers promising “a great new video game system built on the old ideas that games shouldn’t waste our time – start playing quickly, never need patches or system updates, and be playable for as many years as we like.” However, just over a week later the campaign was cancelled due to slow progress.

The system re-emerged in December as the Coleco Chameleon, with promising plans to show a prototype at the New York Toy Fair on February 13th. When the date arrived, the console was indeed on display and a Kickstarter date was announced – February 26th – but that’s where the controversy arises. Eagle-eyed observers have noted that the machine was being demonstrated exclusively with SNES games, and indeed was using SNES control pads. Before long, speculation grew that the Coleco Chameleon as seen at the event was little more than a SNES Jr motherboard in an Atari Jaguar case.

When the Kickstarter date arrived, the campaign was put on indefinite hold, with Retro Video Game Systems stating “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.”

However, in what seemed to be an attempt to dispel the SNES speculation, the company posted images of the prototype hardware in a clear case. It wasn’t long before eagle-eyed members of the AtariAge forums spotted a problem – the board visible in the pictures bore an extremely striking resemblance to that of an old PCI video capture card. Very shortly afterwards, images were removed from Retro Video Game Systems’ Facebook page.

Retro Video Game Systems is currently maintaining that it has a working prototype console, but these discoveries would certainly suggest that not everything is as it seems with the Coleco Chameleon. We’ve reached out to the company for comment and will follow up with more information as we receive it.

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