I never thought that I would play a video game at New York Toy Fair. I have demoed plenty of board games and educational apps, but a new video game console was never even on my radar.
That all changed when I got an email with a press release regarding the Coleco Chameleon. This new console was purported to be a revival of the cartridge based games that I remember from my youth. The was overcome with nostalgia for a few seconds, but then I was left with some significant concerns. The biggest among them being, “what games am I going to be playing on this thing?”
I made it a point to head over to their booth and talk to Mike Kennedy, the guy in charge of the project, and get to the bottom of it.
I found their booth, a humble 10×10, in the back corner and found Mike in deep discussions with another member of the press. While I was waiting my turn his wife approached me. She took the time to explain it all to me.
As for games, they have two routes that they are using to help expand the launch lineup. (See the video below for some of the games being released at launch.)
First, they have been approached by several prominent indie developers like Double Fine and Prima for Dev Kits (prerelease consoles that can be used to help create games). This presents an opportunity to lure some high profile games onto the console.
Second, they are working with a company who is obtaining the licenses for SNES and Genesis games that might never have been released in the US and localizing them. Some of these games are exceedingly rare and are only playable right now on emulators or by players willing to spend hundreds of dollars on cartridges.
If both of those things actually happen and the system can build a robust catalog it might be able to build a place for itself in the market. I highly doubt it will compete with juggernauts like the PlayStation 4 or even the Wii U, but it could definitely be a modest success.
My visit wasn’t all talk though. I had a chance to go hands on with an SNES inspired shooter and enjoyed myself. I didn’t spend a lot of time with it, but it definitely brought back memories from my childhood. It game me a lot of hope for the consoles potential.
Some of the advantages of using an always offline cartridge based system are attractive. The chameleon’s flyer lays some of those advantages out while throwing some serious shade at the state of the current console market.
“Never patch a game. Games are tested thoroughly before release, just like the used to be.”
“Never update your system or risk turning it into a brick. Your console stays factory fresh.”
“No network connection or game server(s) required. Never fear your favorite game will get pulled and shut down.”
“No hidden costs from downloadable content or streaming.”
None of this is a real guarantee right now though. The Chameleon won’t see life without additional funding through a Kickstarter campaign that will launch on February 26, 2016. They will have an early bird funding level at $135 dollars that will include the console, an HDMI cable, a game and a controller. Once the early bird level is expended people will be able to back the product at $150.
Keep your eyes here on Engaged Family Gaming for additional info as the Kickstarter comes closer. We might even be able to get our hands on a console for more hands on impressions.