Today a lot of next generation consoles and game developers are abandoning physical releases of their games. Everything is moving towards a non-physical world where all the games are downloaded online. A team in the US have decided to go against this trend and release a brand new console that will have cartridge based games again! The project is called Retro VGS (which stands for Video Game System).
The last cartridge based console released was the Nintendo 64, about 20 years ago. Since then the trend has been to chase media that can store larger and larger amounts of data to make bigger and better games, from CD to DVD and now SD cards and hard drives. With larger hard drives and faster internet the online distribution is the easiest and cheapest way. The negative thing about digital distribution is that you won’t be able to play your games in 20-30 years. If the servers are closed down you won’t be able to download your purchased copies anymore, and in some cases you won’t be able to play a game that you have on your hard drive, like Destiny for example, which is completely dependent on online connectivity.
You can find vintage cartridges for Atari 2600 today that are almost 40 years old, and they still work just as well as they used to when you connect the old console to an old TV. I can understand the vision behind Retro VGS, for us collectors the games get a larger value on cartridge compared to the latest Xbox One CDs that actually just contain a key that allows you to download a copy of the game. Though these cartridges will of course not have as much space for memory, thereby limiting the graphics of the games.
However, today we see a trend in old 8-bit, 16-bit and 2D games on the market. New games such as Shovel Knight, Hotline Miami, Axiom Verge and Retro City Rampage etc are all inspired by the 80’s and 90’s graphics and could just as well have been released on a cartridge.
Retro VGS wants to revive the old classic cartridge format for the modern era with a whole new console. The console will focus on 16-bit graphics. The system will be given USB controllers with double joysticks and outputs for the classic 9-pin controller standard used by Atari and Sega. The system will also have output for HDMI, S-video and composite so you can use it with both modern TVs and old CRTs.
The team behind Retro VGS have already been in touch with a manufacturer of the cases to the old Atari Jaguar consoles, which are still being produced for other purposes. Through re-using an already existing design they will save a lot of investments compared to designing something new. Therefore the Retro VGS will most likely resemble the old Atari Jaguar in its shape.
The team have also been in touch with various indie developers who have already expressed interest in developing games for the system. Even a few larger game developing companies from the 90s have shown interest in making sequels to some old classics.
The project has been getting a lot of backing from retro gamers around the world through their facebook page, but not until their kickstarter campaign launches will we see whether or not there is an actual demand for a new cartridge based system. I myself am intrigued and will most likely back the project!
What are your opinions? Would you like to see a new console with games released on cartridges?
7 thoughts on “Retro VGS – a new “retro” console”
Not excited about the way the company does business. Companies that repeatedly rely on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to fund just about everything they do are high-risk companies to get involved with. They would love to make their money before the system is created, while simultaneously shifting all risks to the consumer. They then plan to charge up to $180 per console. The biggest red flag is the fact that they have released very little info about the system itself, yet proudly advertise a variety of colored console shells that will be available.
You have a point there..
This is one of those things where it really depends on what they do with what they have here. The beauty in the retro revival going on in the online market and making its way to Steam and other platforms is that you can play these games on vastly superior hardware, record them, and a lot more. If they want to get developers to make games ONLY for them, I think it’s going to have a more limited appeal, especially with entry prices and all of that too.
We will see where the chips fall here, I suppose.
That’s true, I’m not sure that they’re aiming towards the “new” retro scene of Steam players and what not, I would think that they’re aiming this towards the collectors that are still hunting down old physical cartridges, but in that case they have a very limited market ;D haha
Ah, so is this designed to play older games, and not just retro-themed stuff? But, if so, then the problem is, there are already tons of devices like the Retron 5 that have playback for a wide variety of old carts. They could use the cartridge interface as a flash cart, but then there are lots of other devices that can do that too =/
No I don’t think it’s designed to play old cartridges, I meant more like for those types of people, those who prefer physical copies of games to digital ones. Because we are heading towards a digital-only age, and especially retro game collectors (as myself ^^) can feel a bit sad to not being able to buy something physical to play anymore. I think the value of a system that would make only physical copies of a game in the coming age would gain more value over time, than an old digital copy of let’s say The Binding of Isaac or some other Steam game. Don’t you think?
I think so to a degree. Ultimately, it really depends. I think if the system allows for larger flash carts so memory is less of a problem and you can really push things more, that would be even better. I sometimes with some games came with physical disc media, like when Capcom put out Mega Man 9 and MM10 – those games screamed that they should have been put on a flash cart to play!