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Coleco yanks name from failing Chameleon retro console project

The Retro VGS failed to make a splash, and its second iteration -- using the licensed brand name of a popular retro console manufacturer -- does not look good.

Christian Nutt, Contributor

March 8, 2016

2 Min Read

Thing are looking very grim for the the Coleco Chameleon, a proposed retro-style cartridge-based console. The holding company that owns the rights to the Coleco brand has yanked its support from the designers of the console, Retro VGS, after that company failed to provide a working prototype of the system for inspection.

Let's rewind: Late last year, Retro VGS launched an IndieGoGo campaign for an eponymous cartridge-based console -- but after major concerns about its design emerged and support began to dry up, Retro VGS cancelled the campaign.

The project re-emerged months later as the Coleco Chameleon; Retro VGS had licensed the name from the current holders of the defunct brand, which had its heyday in the 1980s; the original Coleco, which manufactured the ColecoVision console (and Cabbage Patch Kids dolls) in the early 1980s, was defunct by the end of the decade. The brand lives on primarily in licensing arrangements for retro game-themed products

Soon after the Chameleon emerged, members of the retro game community who were skeptical about the Retro VGS began to investigate the provenance of the new console.

A "prototype" demoed in New York City was alleged to be a Super Nintendo in a Chameleon housing; the company posted a picture that was represented as that same prototype in a clear housing to try and clear up the SNES rumor. 

That led to a bigger problem for the Chameleon, however: AtariAge forum member PlaysWithWolves identified a later prototype as containing a circuit board for a video capture card -- in other words, it was all but surely a decoy with a random piece of electronic guts, and not a working unit. 

After that allegation emerged, Coleco demanded that Retro VGS deliver a working prototype for evaluation, so the licensing deal for the brand could go forward. But today, the company announced on its official Facebook page that Retro VGS did not deliver, and so the deal is dead.

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.

For its part, RetroVGS' official Facebook page is down, and so is its website; its official Twitter is up, as of this writing, and it still features Coleco Chameleon branding.

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