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?