The Coleco Chameleon from Retro Video Game Systems won’t land on Kickstarter until the end of the month. However, it did hit Toy Fair earlier this week to give the public a little taste of its retro-gaming goodness and score a few deals. And score it did, landing the rights to the Atari 2600 library. That’s over 300 games, as well an an option for the company to develop new games based on all that classic IP.
Sure, it’s not like games from Atari and other old consoles aren’t available elsewhere — over the years it’s been possible to buy compilations of old titles, as well as retro-styled systems that have hundreds of games built in. What makes the Coleco Chameleon different is that it imitates the hardware too.
The Coleco Chameleon’s hardware emulation is made possible using an FPGA (field-programmable gate array) chip. That means the chip can be reconfigured to match whatever system it’s meant to be emulating — hence the console name “Chameleon.”
In addition to the Atari games the company’s already gotten ColecoVision, Intellivision and even SNES games running on the hardware. The Chameleon is also promising unreleased ’90s Genesis games like Battle Brave Saga and Water Margin, as well as more recent 16-bit titles like adventure platformer Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death.
Eagle-eyed viewers will note something familiar about the system’s design as well: It looks like an Atari Jaguar. But it isn’t a case of simply copying an old design. The Chameleon’s chassis was actually machined using the original Jaguar mold. Retro Video Game Systems president Mike Kennedy told us Atari released the designs and specs for public use years ago. The physical mold itself was bought and sold between various companies over the past two decades, before finally ending up with Retro Video Game Systems.
Fortunately, the Chameleon will not be using the Jaguar’s 17-button controller. The system will include its own dual-thumbstick gamepad, with the four button array on the right resembling the layout from the SNES. But, since the Chameleon uses USB, players can connect any controller they want to the system for a real “retro” feel.
If the idea of accurate game emulation is something that appeals to your old school gamer heart, the Kickstarter will launch on February 26th with the standard retail edition going for $150, while early birds can snag one for a slightly cheaper $135.