If can’t read, this article is read out here, feel free to listen to it in the background or watch it as I go through the links!

Here is my analysis about the unfortunate turn of events of the Retro VGS/Coleco Chameleon
Here are my thoughts, not about what happened with the fake prototypes etc but about the hardware and game cartridges.

My background: I was excited about the Ouya when it was kickstarted, but decided to wait for the retail units, I’ve glad I did because the hardware was disappointing, I eventually got a Madcatz Mojo and was excited about it, now the ShieldTV is taking the glory from the hard work of former microconsoles.
I am also an original Net Yaroze Member since 1998.
I’m not some much a game player these days, instead I enjoy the craft of good gamedev, and I don’t mean AAA, stunning graphics.

About the Retro VGS/Coleco Chameleon

The Retro League Podcast EP:328 @9:55 has a good and logical explanation about it.

Basically, it’s a canceled cartridge based game console which used the Coleco brand name.
The hardware was to use FPGA) which allowed games programmed for any retro gaming hardware ie (Coleco, NES, SNES, atari 2600, etc) to run via HDL, this is explained well in their RetroVGS FAQ:

“If a developer wants to make a Neo Geo game, they would include an HDL (Hardware Description Language) file that configures the FPGA to operate like a Neo Geo.
The developer would code their game to run against the Neo Geo platform.
This HDL code along with the actual Neo Geo game will be on the cartridge.
Once that cartridge is placed in the RETRO VGS, it will become a Neo Geo and play that game.
So in this case, the language is: 68000 and Z80 code.

If you wanted to do a new Atari 2600 styled game, you’d include a 2600 HDL file that configures the FPGA to replicate the logic of the original 2600 hardware and then you’d include your new 2600 game on that cartridge too.
These two files are then paired up on the cartridge and when plugged into the RETRO VGS, will turn the console into a 2600.
So the language that would be used in this case is: 6507 (6502 with less address space). “

They didn’t mention old 8bit micros (Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Apple II), nor PC-DOS, Linux, OpenGL, DirectX, PS-X, N64, etc but I imagine it would have worked as all these systems are well emulated and reverse engineered.

Update: In this interview Mike says the HDL files would be licensed from the HDL developers and would have been included and provided to the game developers.

So, basically game developers didn’t have to make much effort to convert their existing game (and working on original hardware (NES, SNES,etc)) to the Coleco Chameleon/RetroVGS.
Not only is the hardware ‘configurable’ it also has an ARM chip, if it’s a System On a Chip (SoC) chip it opens up even more possibilities.

“Oh and we’ll have a nice little ARM chip for some more fun stuff.”

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