Coleco Chameleon, Now Just Chameleon, Vanishes

Almost true to its namesake, what was once looked upon as a hero in the retro and indie gaming scene has seemingly faded into the background. But unlike the lizard, this Chameleon has truly vanished, at least as far as the Internet goes. Coleco Chameleon, or should we just say Chameleon now, and its parent group RetroVGS, have disappeared without a trace, after a barrage of accusations and controversy. Though no formal statement has been given yet, it is probably safe to presume that the Chameleon is dead.

The Chameleon console, then still called "Retro VGS", was almost like a dream come true when it launched on Indiegogo late last year. It promised the world to lovers of retro style games, with the possibility of playing beloved console classics and offering a platform to build up new ones in the graphical and gameplay styles of old. The campaign didn't meet its rather ambitious funding goal, so it tried yet again, this time on Kickstarter. But even before it could, it was hit hard by controversy from which it may not be able to recover.

Based on RetroVGS' recounting of its experience at Toy Fair last month, you'd think things were going the Chameleon's way. But it might have been far too early to count the chicken before they hatched and its public appearance may have done it more harm than good. While it did put out what looked like a working console, many, both on the Internet and on the floor, started suspecting the Chameleon was not it was supposed to be, that RetroVGS in fact used the guts of a model 2 SNES crammed inside an Atari Jaguar shell. RetroVGS would later produce an image "clear" shell prototype, which the Web was quick to point out as yet another fraud. The board inside resembled a video capture PCI card for PCs. RetroVGS pulled the picture down, only adding to the impression of their guilt.

Things seem to have finally come to a head. Retro magazine managing editor David Giltinan left the company because of ongoing problems with the console. Coleco Holdings, who owns the Coleco brand, has pulled the name out from the console. Atari COO Todd Shallbetter added that there was no agreement between the company and RetroVGS to have release old Atari 2600 games for the console.

With all odds against it, RetroVGS has disappeared from the Internet, both its website and its Facebook page are MIA. Whether RetroVGS was intentionally trying to fool people from the beginning, or if they simply were hard pressed to show progress when they really had nothing ready, is something we'll have to wait and see. It is definitely a tragedy considering how this case could very well affect more popular and more reliable Retro products, like its magazines.

VIA developer Frank Cifaldi on Twitter: "Evidence suggests the new Coleco prototype at Toy Fair might literally be a SNES Jr. duct-taped into a Jaguar shell."

VIA: Engadget