Classic console company Coleco has announced that it is re-entering the video games market, in partnership with a crowd-funded retro gaming project which failed to meet its goal.
Founded in 1932 as the Connecticut Leather Company, Coleco pivoted hard in 1976 when it launched the Telstar family of TV consoles in an attempt to capitalise on the success of Atari's home-version Pong game. Following a move into hand-held electronic games, the company launched its biggest product in 1982: the ColecoVision, a cartridge-based console designed to compete with Atari's 2600 - a device which, interestingly, the company would go on to clone as the Coleco Gemini. Sadly, the company's timing was off: the market crash of 1983 put paid to the ColecoVision, and its follow-up home computer - the Coleco Adam - failed to win any market share. Facing bankruptcy, the company pivoted once again with the launch of the Cabbage Patch Dolls - and while this saw the company through the video game crash, the faddish nature of the toy lead to the company's filing for Chapter 11 in 1988.
Following its bankruptcy proceedings, the company was put into hibernation after its assets were purchased by Hasbro and SLM Action Sports. In 2005, though, River West Brands dug out the Coleco name, dusted it off, and relaunched it with the Coleco Sonic - a somewhat uninspired hand-held Master System and Game Gear emulation system. Now, Coleco is coming back with something a little more exciting: a dedicated cartridge-based console, dubbed the Coleco Chameleon.
While the Chameleon will bear the Coleco name, it's not entirely a new design. Rather than building something from scratch, the reborn company has opted to #partner with Retro Video Game Systems (Retro VGS), a company which attempted to launch a similar device without the Coleco branding. Retro VGS's crowd-funding campaign sought $1.95 million to build a console based in no small part on the Atari Jaguar, but failed to reach anywhere near its goal before the campaign was pulled. The Coleco Chameleon is near-identical, save for a revised front panel with four USB ports and the new branding.
The console will, the companies have promised, launch in early 2016 with the ability to play classic and new games loaded on dedicated collectable cartridges and featuring graphics from the eight, 16, and 32-bit eras. 'The Coleco Chameleon is a love-letter to all the classic cartridge based gaming systems that came before it and we love the fact it will succeed Coleco's successful Telstar and ColecoVision product lines,
' claimed Retro VGS president Mike Kennedy of the partnership. 'It will take gamers and their families back to a simpler time where games were all about great gameplay and fun factor.
More information is available on the Retro VGS website