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Coleco Chameleon .... hardware speculations?


phoenixdownita

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Your anti-mostalgic perspective on the ColecoVision is valid, but I think you're missing the historical point of what a big deal it was AT THE TIME to have a very arcade-close version of Donkey Kong to play at home. Yes, the Famicom got a better port, but it would be several years before the NES brought it to the United States. By that time, Coleco was pretty much dead and the Donkey Kong arcade fad had cooled significantly.

 

 

Similarly, and to go back on topic with this thread, yes, it was fun to shop for and collect game cartridges way back when. It's super special to be able to buy a limited release homebrew in the original medium. But to re-create that with a new-old console like the Chameleon is just nostalgia for its own sake, it makes no sense in today's market for most modern customers. /obvious

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Similarly, and to go back on topic with this thread, yes, it was fun to shop for and collect game cartridges way back when. It's super special to be able to buy a limited release homebrew in the original medium. But to re-create that with a new-old console like the Chameleon is just nostalgia for its own sake, it makes no sense in today's market for most modern customers. /obvious

 

I think that there is a small market, but not "mass" market for a modern retro console. There are markets for "new old things", take Harley Davidson for example. HD makes a bike that is not all that different in appearance and performance from what they made 50 years ago but they sell them faster than they can make them and they do so in spite of modern options that outperform them in every case. I am a serious gamer, I have just over 100 pinball/arcade/etc. in my collection and most consoles from the Odyssey to the PS1 but I don't have a PS4 or Xbox One or Switch. It isn't about the cost because I will order a new Stern/JJ pin at 20X the cost and do so with a smile. What keeps me away is that I walk down the game case and see maybe ONE game that interests me and the rest is FPS, sports, crappy racers etc. etc. and I see no point in buying systems that I won't play.

 

There are a steady flow of new games for older systems and I do buy those, but I have always liked the excitement of a new system. If there was a new production system that featured both emulated and original content and that original content was done in the style of console/PC/coin-op gaming from the 70's - 2000, and it didn't have a lifetime tether for updates that could alter the functionality or defeat mods, and the content was supplied on durable media without the need for servers that always cease to exist one day I would be a buyer. If there was a new system on the shelf with a selection of games that met that criteria I wouldn't care if it cost as much as any other console and I wish somebody would make one. The point I made to Socal early on was that I didn't think that there were enough of "me" out there for a large production run and that the technical challenge of making such a console isn't the limiting factor, it is the demand.

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Similarly, and to go back on topic with this thread, yes, it was fun to shop for and collect game cartridges way back when.

 

Indeed it was. It was big stink to get in the family car and cruise to Venture or Toys'R'Us. But I also liked Sears. They had these metal filing cabinets, right-height for a 10 year old to go rummaging through. Pristine gloss boxes with perfect right angles. Loved bringing home 4 or 5 of them at one time!

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I suppose so...but if you want want to read about Coleco back in the day, there are the contemporary magazines online offering that perspective. I like hearing that the hardware was off the shelf and not so special, which is something that never would have occurred to me as a not particularly technical tween kid at the time.

 

I see what you mean, though. It would be like deriding the Nintendo Switch as just another mobile device because it has a touch screen and an Nvidia Tegra.

The innovation is in the dock and the controllers, not the CPU. Last I checked, XB1 and PS4 used a common off-the-shelf part as well, with minimal customization. That said, Nintendo really is a horse of a different color who beats to the sound of their own drum. Maybe people saw Coleco in a similar light when it launched here? I was barely a toddler then.

 

Anyhow, Atari used a "generic" CPU, so did Coleco, and every computer system. The distinguishing factor was the display and other supporting hardware the CPU utilized to push bits of color and sound to the user.

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Indeed it was. It was big stink to get in the family car and cruise to Venture or Toys'R'Us. But I also liked Sears. They had these metal filing cabinets, right-height for a 10 year old to go rummaging through. Pristine gloss boxes with perfect right angles. Loved bringing home 4 or 5 of them at one time!

ToysRUs had those little paper cards you brought to the register, and at check out, the clerk took it to customer service to remove said game out of the lock box. At least that's how I remember it was in the late 80s / early 90s... :P

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I think that there is a small market, but not "mass" market for a modern retro console. There are markets for "new old things", take Harley Davidson for example. HD makes a bike that is not all that different in appearance and performance from what they made 50 years ago but they sell them faster than they can make them and they do so in spite of modern options that outperform them in every case. I am a serious gamer, I have just over 100 pinball/arcade/etc. in my collection and most consoles from the Odyssey to the PS1 but I don't have a PS4 or Xbox One or Switch. It isn't about the cost because I will order a new Stern/JJ pin at 20X the cost and do so with a smile. What keeps me away is that I walk down the game case and see maybe ONE game that interests me and the rest is FPS, sports, crappy racers etc. etc. and I see no point in buying systems that I won't play.

 

There are a steady flow of new games for older systems and I do buy those, but I have always liked the excitement of a new system. If there was a new production system that featured both emulated and original content and that original content was done in the style of console/PC/coin-op gaming from the 70's - 2000, and it didn't have a lifetime tether for updates that could alter the functionality or defeat mods, and the content was supplied on durable media without the need for servers that always cease to exist one day I would be a buyer. If there was a new system on the shelf with a selection of games that met that criteria I wouldn't care if it cost as much as any other console and I wish somebody would make one. The point I made to Socal early on was that I didn't think that there were enough of "me" out there for a large production run and that the technical challenge of making such a console isn't the limiting factor, it is the demand.

 

 

I was really thinking the same. That I don't know if there's enough "me"s out there...etc.

 

And small though it surely would have been, I think if there's a market for Homebrews, there could have been a market for this. I don't think it ever would have been more than a small niche audience, however. And it would have needed to have been done right.

 

Obviously A) It would need to exist and B) It would have had to be a Labor of Love ...

 

The idea that anybody was going to "Corner the Retro Market" would have to be thrown out and replaced with a passion for producing a console in small numbers to a please a, hopefully enthusiastic, "cult" crowd.

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That's right. And the Coleco Chameleon had no passion behind it. No passion in trying to make it the best possible at whatever it would do. No labor of love in its creation. All of that was missing. Except a passion for trying to make money. And I believe the classic gaming crowd would see, has seen, right through all the posturing. It won't work with this group.

 

OTH, if you look at the nt-mini console - that's more a labor of love. As are some of the emulators showcased here on AA. The attention to detail is remarkable in these projects and should serve as example to all whom are trying to make a successful retrogame product.

 

I don't believe MK had passion in the right spots. I tend to believe he wanted to use the retro community as an income stream. A big income stream. Well no worries. We have a hundred options and ways to play the classics.

 

Simply saying "gaming is our passion" or likewise garners nothing but a Pfagghh from me. SHOW it to me in your product. Then we'll talk.

Edited by Keatah
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The idea that anybody was going to "Corner the Retro Market" would have to be thrown out and replaced with a passion for producing a console in small numbers to a please a, hopefully enthusiastic, "cult" crowd.

 

Is cornering the retro market even conceivable, much less practical? We're talking about hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts, who enjoy dozens of consoles and scores of computers, using the original hardware as well as infinite combinations of clones, emulator boxes, and modified variants of the two. Retro gaming is whatever you want it to be, I don't think any two people are chasing the exact same rainbow. To think you could homogenize, standardize, and commoditize this hobby suggests you don't really understand it AT ALL. And that's weird, because whatever you can say about Mike Kennedy, he's been around the scene for a very long time. He should know how personal we take our games and hardware. So just like we apparently didn't know him as well as we'd thought, he didn't know us as well as he'd thought.

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No single company is "cornering the retro market," of course ... except maybe eBay, which likely moves the VAST majority of classic games.

 

Also of note

Nintendo, who respects game publishers with its Virtual Console

AtGames, who makes throwback hardware packed with games

Code Mystics, Backbone Entertainment, and other commercial emulation joints

Hyperkin and Retrobit, with their clone systems

All the home-brew developers out there

MAME, LibRetro, Retropie and other free emulation projects

Google Play, who allows emulators to exist and thrive in their app store gardens

Retro Gamer, the main real retro magazine who can publish on time without panhandling

 

We're really quite well served. No matter what you like, there's someone trying to bring you good old games to play. We didn't need someone asking for TWO MILLION DOLLARS just for having the idea that a cartridge should last fifty years.

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ToysRUs had those little paper cards you brought to the register, and at check out, the clerk took it to customer service to remove said game out of the lock box. At least that's how I remember it was in the late 80s / early 90s... :P

 

That's exactly how it was.

 

Other places used the actual empty boxes, and when you purchased it they went in back and put the item back into the box you just pulled from the shelf. No matter - all the same concept.

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Our Toy Store went from being 3 Wishes, to Circus World, to Kay Bee Toys...

 

And they had the games in boxes either behind the counter or in a big glass case where an employee handed you the game you wanted, although I can remember Atari and Colecovision games being on closeout sales and being on a table up front. It still seems like we were limited in that we selected a few games to look at the back of the boxes (maybe 4 or 5 on a good day) and then bought 1 game or maybe 2...Returns from the toy store were for the same game only and it had to be unopened (unless it was broke).

 

It wasn't until Electronics Boutique came in that you could return a game just because it sucked...And about the time of the Dreamcast they quit doing that because everyone was abusing the policy...Everyone but me evidently. I was a good kid, and if I liked a game I held onto it. I never saw beating a game as a valid reason to return it.

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The only real way to make a "new retro console" that I can think of is to have it be like the Retron 5 or the Retro Freak but with an SD card slot for "new" games released at retail. The problem I saw with the Chameleon was how it would support other consoles. Adapters for different cartridge formats seems like it would segment/fragment your audience. I think.

I may not be thinking it all the way through.

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Nah, Switch is more like Vectrex!

But where's the "tube" ? :rolling:

 

 

 

I was really thinking the same. That I don't know if there's enough "me"s out there...etc.

 

And small though it surely would have been, I think if there's a market for Homebrews, there could have been a market for this. I don't think it ever would have been more than a small niche audience, however. And it would have needed to have been done right.

 

Obviously A) It would need to exist and B) It would have had to be a Labor of Love ...

 

The idea that anybody was going to "Corner the Retro Market" would have to be thrown out and replaced with a passion for producing a console in small numbers to a please a, hopefully enthusiastic, "cult" crowd.

Like I dunno, Kevtris? :grin:

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ToysRUs had those little paper cards you brought to the register, and at check out, the clerk took it to customer service to remove said game out of the lock box. At least that's how I remember it was in the late 80s / early 90s... icon_razz.gif

 

The Toys "R" Us I went to back then still exists. Now the video game section is in a tiny sectioned off corner with everything all locked up Walmart style but in the late 80s' / early 90's they had an entire row of games out in the open. Like you could walk by one row and see all pink from dolls and such, walk by another with all action figures, and then walk by another and see video game heaven all they way down on both sides of the long row. NES, Super NES, Genesis, Atari 2600, Atari Lynx, etc. all together at the same time as if the crash and console generations never existed. I remember buying TAZ for the Atari 2600 there when everything was mostly red boxed and if I wanted to I could open the box to take out the cart, then walk to the SEGA section and do the same with a Genesis game, and then walk to the Nintendo section and do the same with a Super NES and/or NES game. I don't meant I could do it and not get in trouble for it. I just mean there was nothing but the rules preventing me from doing so. Back then that Toys "R" Us was located in an area so nice that extra security measures like hard cases around games would have looked excessive. Excessive like they would be losing more money on the extra security measures than they would be saving on preventing theft. Now that area is so ghetto that it looks more like a third world country to an extent that it makes me sad to drive through that area because it makes me feel like I'm in some kind of dystopian future novel. In another 30 years, I wouldn't be surprised to see Robocop patrolling the area. Remember when...

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ToysRUs had those little paper cards you brought to the register, and at check out, the clerk took it to customer service to remove said game out of the lock box. At least that's how I remember it was in the late 80s / early 90s... :P

 

Yep. And if it was a ticket for a large item like a Castle Grayskull playset or something, you had to go to the counter by the store to the stock room.

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Yep. And if it was a ticket for a large item like a Castle Grayskull playset or something, you had to go to the counter by the store to the stock room.

Funny recently here they started ticketing the baby formula. I guess too many cans and cases went missing. The games section though is like Walmart all locked up with no one watching and no one with a key about. But be damned if you pocket some cans of formula I guess.

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Funny recently here they started ticketing the baby formula. I guess too many cans and cases went missing. The games section though is like Walmart all locked up with no one watching and no one with a key about. But be damned if you pocket some cans of formula I guess.

 

I'm not surprised. I worked in retail for 13 years. When I got up into management, I remember being told that Baby Formula was becoming one of the most highly shoplifted items. We didn't keep more than one or two of each variety on the shelf at any given time. Just enough to show we had them in stock. If a customer wanted more they had to ask, and we would get it from "the cage" in the stock room.

This article is from 3 years after I left retail, showing it to still be a huge problem in the U.S.:

http://www.vocativ.com/underworld/crime/black-market-stolen-baby-formula/

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This is the first I can recall reading about this baby formula shoplifting phenomenon. So, I'm struggling to imagine why it would be the case. If my wife and I had a baby and I was staring at the expensive prices then my mind wouldn't be starting to wonder in the direction of shoplifting, buying from the black market, etc. I would think about the problem and have the solution in microseconds,"Honey, I got it! The most premium high quality uncut baby formula that exists is in this store but not on the shelves! Eons of evolution has made it possible for you to produce it! Remember when. Breastfeed again. Simple as that."

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Wow. I've been away from this thread for a while, only to come back to see people talking about baby food!

 

But while we're on the subject: have any of you ever actually tried baby food ... I mean, as an adult? I made that mistake once. I don't remember what flavor it was supposed to be, but even though it was "fresh," it tasted like death. No wonder babies gag on the stuff.

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