Retro VGS accused of fraud over Coleco Chameleon 'prototypes'

March 3, 2016 | 14:01

Tags: #coleco-chameleon #colecovision #crowd-funding #fraud #indiegogo #prototype

Companies: #coleco #retro-vgs

Coleco's triumphant-ish return to the world of video games is in jeopardy, following the discovery of serious chicanery from hardware partner Retro Video Game Systems (Retro VGS) including the use of off-the-shelf hardware and a fake prototype.

Coleco, originally the Connecticut Leather Company, made a name for itself in 1976 with the launch of the Telstar gaming console, followed by the would-be Atari 2600-killer ColecoVision in 1982. The US video games crash just a year later, though, killed the ColecoVision before it had a chance to stretch its wings, and the company's Adam home computer proved equally unsuccessful. Even the success of its final product, the Cabbage Patch Doll, didn't save the company from bankruptcy proceedings in 1988.

Late last year, though, the current owners of the brand dusted it off and announced a partnership with Retro VGS to build a new, cartridge-based vintage gaming system: the Coleco Chameleon. Based on Retro VGS's earlier designs, the Chameleon was claimed to place a custom, FPGA-based computer system into a re-purposed Atari Jaguar housing and offer the ability to play games from dedicated, allegedly collectable, cartridges evoking memories of the 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit console era.

Sadly, like the Retro VGS before it, the Coleco Chameleon appears to be nothing more than a pipe-dream. Attendees at the Toy Fair where the company was showing off its prototype discovered that it was nothing more than an already-existing SNES Jr. Super Famicon clone duct-taped into a Jaguar housing. Eager to put fans' minds at rest, Retro VGS quickly posted an image of an alleged prototype in translucent casing to its Facebook page to prove that it wasn't trying to pull a fast one - only for eagle-eyed fans to note that the hardware inside was nothing more than a disconnected PCI video capture card and not the custom, FPGA-based console hardware the company had claimed.

Unsurprisingly, Retro VGS has gone very quiet on the matter, but its partner Coleco isn't happy. The company has demanded that Retro VGS supply Chameleon prototypes to independent engineers for verification within the next seven days. Thus far, Retro VGS has not responded publicly to the demand.

Retro VGS' previous crowd-funding campaign raised $81,158, far below its ambitious $1,950,000 goal.
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