COLECO Chameleon: a rebranding of RETRO VGS into a COLECO comeback

Fans new and old of the ColecoVision will probably be surprised to hear that a new cartridge-based system in partnership with Retro Video Game Systems, Inc will be coming out in early 2016. Dubbed the COLECO Chameleon, the system will be capable of playing classic games, and is also noted for being able to play new releases in 8-bit, 16-bit-, and 32-bit styles, which are still quite popular formats with adult gamers today. In a day of age where games are played on discs or flash cards, having a new cartridge-based system will be quite interesting to see that isn’t just a rehash of old systems released like the Sega Genesis or Atari 2600.

While information is still somewhat scant, it’s going to be demoed at the Toy Fair New York 2016, February 13-16. Upon some digging from their Twitter @RETROVGS, RGS had an unfunded Indiegogo campaign for a “RETRO VGS” system which looks quite similar to the now upcoming COLECO Chameleon, not only in design, but also it’s aim for a cartridge-based gaming system. With that said, this current console project looks to be a re-tooling of their previous attempt at doing a game system.

Going off of that, it wouldn’t be too far off to guess that the specifications will be quite similar to the following listed from that Indiegogo page:


Internal Hardware

* CPU: “Quadrunner” 4-core 1.6 GHz 32-bit ARM Cortex-A9 (16,000 DMIPS) processor plus embedded high-performance graphics processing unit (GPU) with:

* 3-D (shader, tiler, parallel vertex and pixel processing, and more, supporting OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0, OpenVG 1.1, etc.),

* 2-D (blitter with high-performance stretch and shrink plus one-pass blending, scaling, and rotation, anti-aliased line drawing, etc.), and

* Image enhancement (scaling, rotation, mirroring, etc.)

RAM: 1 GiB (2^30 bytes) 32-bit DDR3-800

* Field-programmable gate array (FPGA)

* Fast, flexible, durable cartridge interface

* Convection cooled: no noisy fan to wear out

Data Storage

* User data is stored externally only

+ No private user data is stored in console

+ Console always returns to factory state when unplugged

+ When plugged in, only time and date are saved, if the the user has set the clock

* Game-related data (such as high score lists, saved games, etc.) may be stored on each cartridge (depends on game)

* System-related data (such as preferred initials for high-score lists, preferred     controller configurations, etc.) may be stored on an optional USB thumb drive


* Universal Serial Bus (USB)

+ 4 standard type A ports

– Connects game controllers, storage devices (e.g. thumb drive), hubs, etc.

– 2 on front (side-by-side) and 2 on rear (stacked)—functionally equivalent

+ Standard type B USB connector “Host” port on rear

– Connect 2 or more consoles for multiple-screen party play

– Connect to host PC to develop software

* Game controllers—supports 2 types:

+ USB (see above) up to 4 controllers directly, or more via optional hub(s)

+ 2 front D sub-miniature 9-pin

– Flexible pin-out circuit allows connection of any classic controller with a mating connector

– Makes building custom controllers easy

* Audio/video output

+ Simultaneous output of the same image to digital output and 1 analog output

+ Signals

– Digital High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)

– Analog audio output: stereo or mono at line level via RCA connector(s)

– Analog intermediate frequency (IF) video output (1 at a time)

– Composite video, blanking, and sync (CVBS) via RCA or expansion port

– S-Video available via optional Sega 32X cable or expansion port

– RGB available via optional Sega 32X cable or expansion port

– Component available via optional Sega 32X cable or expansion port

– Analog radio frequency (RF) audio/video output available via optional Sony RFU adapters

+ Connectors


– 3 RCA for CVBS video and stereo or mono

– 2.5mm phone jack power output for optional Sony RFU

– 9-pin miniature circular DIN for optional Sega 32X cable

– Expansion port for cables or adapters

+ Formats

– Analog: NTSC or PAL (user-selectable)

– Digital: up to 1080p/60

– Aspect ratio: select 4:3, 16:9, etc.

* Expansion connector

+ Common 110-pin 2.0mm “hard metric” backplane connector (type A 22)

+ Center alignment system enables “blind mate” and prevents bending pins

+ Dust cover

Media Player

* Plays media files (MP3, etc.) from external storage devices

System Menu

Used to:

* Pause the game

* Select and configure controllers

* Select video output format

+ Analog NTSC or PAL (for CVBS or S-Video)

+ Analog RGB or component

+ Select and coordinate aspect ratio (letterbox or pillarbox on digital or analog outputs)

* Set the time and date (optional)

* Set and edit user preferences (if an optional USB thumb drive is connected)


* External power adapter with cable/plug supplied for destination nation

Regulatory Certifications

* International (CE, CSA, FCC, UL, etc.)


After comparing the specs of the the RETRO VGS to COLECO Chameleon, noticeably different are an apparent lack of of 9-pin connectors on the front which possibly removes the ability to use custom-made controllers for the system, and the addition of two more USB ports to the system. Here’s hoping that the system can launch next year without much issue

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