Coleco Chameleon: Can Video Game Pioneer Bring Back Cartridge Gaming?

The Coleco Chameleon is attempting to do the impossible.

The new system from one of the most classic video game brands of all time is hoping to revolutionize video gaming by reverting to ancient technology.

Given today’s trends toward embracing nostalgia, it may not be that crazy of an idea. According to the Verge, the Coleco Chameleon system would be the first major system to embrace cartridge tech since the Nintendo 64.

(This, of course, does not count throwback systems that are currently on the market that boast compatibility with existing old games.)

In the Coleco Chameleon, everything old would be new again. Developers would be encouraged to create games specifically for cartridges in the 8-, 16-, and 32-bit styles.

These would essentially be new, “old” games complete with colorful plastic clamshell casing, illustrated liner notes, and more.

Also, players would, theoretically, not need an Internet connection or software updates to play and enjoy their games. That’s at least if the Coleco Chameleon predecessor, the Retro VGS, is to be believed.

The company that took over the Coleco brand and relaunched it in 2005 is modeling their system off the Retro VGS, which attempted to come to market with a failed IndieGogo campaign that only raised $80,000 of a needed $2 million.

Coleco might have better luck thanks to the brand name recognition among gamers. They plan to try it out anyway with a crowdfunding effort, according to Retro Gamer, in addition to other funding sources.

With that said, here are some things that would be nice to see if they are able to make the Coleco Chameleon a scaled reality.

Support for Classic ColecoVision Cartridges

The original ColecoVision controllers were quite horrible, thus forcing most retro gaming fans toward emulated versions of classic games. This was not remedied with ColecoVision Flashback, a previous effort to revive the system.

It does, however, appear to be priority for the Coleco Chameleon if the render in the above featured image is to be believed.

Still, there is no word yet on whether the Coleco Chameleon will boast backwards compatibility with classic ColecoVision games, in addition to the new games planned for the system. One would hope so, but there are no guarantees.

After all, the Flashback, while awesome in the sense that it came with 60 pre-loaded titles, could not play classic cartridges, which is now the only way you are going to revisit classics like Rocky and Buck Rogers.

Licensing Deals

It’s cool to be nostalgic again, and a Coleco Chameleon system that had the right amount of backing behind it could probably attract some new licensed games on dozens of commercially viable properties.

Who wouldn’t want to see a new 32-bit side-scroll Star Wars?

Cloud Compatibility

The previously failed crowdfunding of the Retro VGS likely didn’t get very far because it tried going too old school.

Fact of the matter is, people like having portability with their games nowadays. Even people who love nostalgia like the idea of being able to access it at their convenience.

That’s why the Coleco Chameleon should not be enslaved to the concept of straight-up cartridge gaming.

While the cartridge could still be how games are bought and traded, there should be some more advanced computing power inside the console and the cartridges themselves to make it possible to upload game progress through a linked account.

Imagine being able to take your entire console on trips and play it on a Samsung or Apple tablet or even a Kindle Fire via mobile application.

Fans will get a chance to see how the Coleco Chameleon turns out when it debuts at the New York Toy Fair in February.

Would you buy one?

[Image via Coleco]