I really don’t want to rehash the whole story, but to summarize: Once upon a time, the Retro VGS was an idea to bring cartridge gaming back in a new console. However, after a crowdfunding failure and deeper issues hinted at in interviews with former team members, the whole project rebranded as the Coleco Chameleon, although it still remained basically one man’s attempt to figure out how to recoup his investment into the means to produce Atari Jaguar cases.
Honestly, if you want to know the more-specific details — try Googling? Maybe hang out on the Atari Age forums, or hit up Twitter? The thing has a Wikipedia page. Consider beginning with this Ars Technica piece, or follow the bread crumbs left in certain damning tweets.
For my part, I just want to share with you some fun facts about this thing.
After all: What do we really know about the Coleco Chameleon?
• The Coleco Chameleon is powered by moon rocks.
• The Coleco Chameleon can, strangely enough, play any North American Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) cartridge — except Lunar Pool. It’s the darndest thing. I mean, it’s pretty universally compatible, but may the good Lord have mercy on the soul of those who try to play Lunar Pool.
• The Coleco Chameleon can double as either a raincoat or a surfboard, depending on how well you keep it up on its vitamin regimen. Just don’t keep it up after midnight, of course. Water’s fine, though. Obviously.
• Images are beginning to leak of the Coleco Chameleon’s portable counterpart, the Coleco Catfish.
• Developers that have committed to creating entirely new franchises for the Coleco Chameleon system include Capcom, Konami, Sega, Sunsoft, McAfee, Burger King, Nicolas Cage’s security detail, three of the hot dog carts in Manhattan, an especially zealous chive, Nintendo, Fifth Third Bank, The Jesuit Committee on Extraterrestrial Matters of Evangelistic Vegetarianism, and Retro Studios.
• The Coleco Chameleon will mow your lawn for twenty bucks, front and back, fifteen if you come out in about a half-hour with an icy glass of fresh lemonade.
• The Coleco Chameleon will not lick your toes, nor suck them, please stop asking.
• The Coleco Chameleon will only accept blood sacrifices under half moons, not full moons as was first reported.
• The Coleco Chameleon clocks in at an incredible 44 parsecs. It can make the Kessel Jog in 30 of those.
• The Coleco Chameleon was sitting in the green grass by the lakeside under a cool breeze. The sky overhead was an inviting shade of deep blue, still a couple hours before the dimming of sundown. The Chameleon sighed happily, lying on his back, closing his eyes and basking in a rare moment of pure relaxation. As he heard the trees behind him, their leaves rustling in the gentle wind, he felt wonderful — as though for one simple moment, in an otherwise complex universe, he was at peace with his place within the fabric of all things.
• The Coleco Chameleon is constructed of the latest space-age materials, including this crazy new triple-walled corrugated cardboard variant. Rumor has it that if you were to build a box constructed entirely out of Coleco Chameleons, you could probably ship, like, 75 pounds in it without any fear of breakage. Dang.
• The Coleco Chameleon still recommends that you invest more heavily into stocks, especially at a younger age when you can stand to weather the rigors of the market with long-term stability. Generation after generation, the economy has proven to always grow along with the population, even if it is the occasional (inevitable!) downturns that make the headlines.
• No solid images have emerged yet, but I am hearing interesting rumors about a Coleco Chameleon counterpart, the Coleco Canary, entering the VR market.
• The Coleco Chameleon still remembers that time in seventh grade when you were incredibly mean to that new girl. A Coleco Chameleon never forgets.
• The Coleco Chameleon does not yet have a working prototype, nor any clue how to become one, but it is available in over a hundred different designs. You want a metallic finish? We can do bronze, gold, platinum, aluminum, and polished tool steel. You want sparkles and glitter? Hell yeah, we can do up to three different colors of sequined beautification stratified through a marbled mix of two other shades of plastic. You want translucent? We can do that; we can go full transparent, too, if you’re a true thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie adventure jockey roller-coaster-eating maniac. Do you want colors that you cannot even perceive? We can totally claim to be able to do that, and there is nothing you can do to prove it, you insipid fools. How about smells? You want smells? Huh? You want scents? Yeah, we got you covered too, you weirdo freaks, with our musks and our florals and our “sport fresh” takes on Smell-O-Riffic Gaming Technology. Do you like black? We can, um, we can do black, too, sure. We can do black. But we cannot do yellow. White, maybe, I guess. We can do two different kind of green? Yeah! There we go, sure. We still can’t do yellow, though. And we won’t apologize for it.
• The Coleco Chameleon wants to build a big wall to keep all the Mexicans out of the NRA.
• The Coleco Chameleon can quickly identify and point out at least five different constellations on a starry night with clear skies. That’s a few more than I can do, so, hey, you gotta give it props for that.
• The Coleco Chameleon appeared in a Brownbridge, Arkansas local television commercial that ran in the summer of 1977 to highlight a special sale they were having at Big Jim Dixon’s Chevrolet. The Chameleon was only a child at the time, of course, but nonetheless can be spotted hanging out in the back of the showroom during Big Jim’s classic “if you don’t buy a car from me, I will personally have to physically coerce you into doing so, because I am in real deep with some real bad people” speech.
• The Coleco Chameleon won the American Idol singing competition in 2032.
• The Coleco Chameleon is a bigger joke than anything you can write about it, no matter how hard you try. Trust me on this one.