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Possible New Game System: The Retro VGS


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The RETRO VGS  

8 members have voted

  1. 1. Viable idea or lost cause?

    • Great idea - I'm in!
      1
    • I'll be checking out the Kickstarter.
      3
    • Bad idea - I'm out!
      4


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Hi everyone,

I've been following the news about the RETRO VGS for several months now. It's a new cartridge-based console aimed directly at the retro gaming crowd. If you missed it, here's a quick rundown.

The RETRO VGS


Yes, it looks like an Atari Jaguar. But no, it isn't an Atari Jaguar.
The rights, design, and original manufacturing equipment for both the Jaguar system & cartridge molds were purchased by the RETRO VGS team to eliminate the cost & time associated with design and tooling. The bundled controller should look familiar as well - it's basically a retooled version of Interact's Wii U controller. It's this "off-the-shelf" mindset that has allowed the development to get this far, as most of the time and investment has been with the original, internal hardware. The system is actually built with modern-day tech - FPGA chipset, 32-bit ARM processor, etc - but is designed to play retro-style games.

It'll play its own retro-inspired games.
The RETRO VGS will have it's own set of design tools so new, retro-inspired games can be developed for the system directly. The system itself doubles as a development kit.

It'll play games developed for authentic, retro systems, released on RVGS cart.
Via the system's FPGA chipset, games developed for authentic retro hardware - but released in a RVGS cartridge - will be compatible with the system. Basically, RETRO VGS carts will contain both the game ROM and a "core" responsible for programming the FPGA chipset to act like the necessary retro system. So a developer could conceivably release their game on the RVGS by simply providing their ROM to the RVGS cart manufacturer - no actual porting necessary. I imagine this will be something of a godsend for homebrew developers and established developers/publishers looking to leverage existing retro IP.

It'll play newer, indie, retro-inspired games released on RVGS cart.
Many of those fantastic, digital-only retro homage titles will finally have an outlet for a physical release. :) The system will apparently be equipped with an ARM processor capable of running today's modern retro-inspired games so ports shouldn't be much of a problem. A few titles have already been announced, others are being negotiated or waiting to see how the Kickstarter turns out. They've been talking to WayForward, Yacht Club, and others.

It'll play original retro cartridges via adapter.
Announced only recently, the system will also play original retro game cartridges via adapter. The adapters themselves program the system's FPGA with the core, so again, if a core exists, an adapter should also be able to exist. The dev team is guesstimating $20-30 per adapter.

It's plug-and-play - plug in the cart, turn it on, and play the game.
No system or game updates to worry about. The system won't have Internet connectivity of any kind, actually. You buy a copy of the game, you plug it in, turn the system on, and play it. The entire game is on the cart - no DLC, no micro-transactions. How refreshing. :)

It'll likely support a wide range of inputs and outputs.
9-pin and USB controller ports; HDMI, S-Video, and Composite outputs. A couple extra USB ports backside, etc. This doesn't appear to be final at the moment but I very much hope they keep both HDMI and composite out.

All the retro love comes at a price.
The cost of the system is expected to fall somewhere in the $300-400 range. Ouch.

Expect lots of coverage in RETRO magazine.
Mike Kennedy - publisher of RETRO magazine - is also responsible for the RETRO VGS. He has already stated a number of pages of dedicated coverage will be added to the magazine once the system is underway.

The Kickstarter is scheduled for September 14th, 2015.
While the system has been in early development for roughly a year or so, the official Kickstarter is scheduled to kick off soon. Looks like they need to sell at least 7000 systems via the Kickstarter in order to be successful.

So there you have it.

Personally, I like the idea of the system. Despite the sticker shock, I feel the concept and mindset is very pro-consumer compared to modern day gaming systems. I appreciate actually owning a copy of a game - something I can keep or trade or sell or give away. It's one reason why I enjoy retro gaming so much, actually. Today's console software - digital downloads, DLC, even updates & patches applied to physical games - you don't have that option thanks to overbearing DRM.

The price is steep and I'm sure that'll limit initial buy-ins, but like all game systems, it'll ultimately come down to the software. I've found the worth of a system is directly related to the appeal of the games. :)

The RVGS still has some hurdles - the lifespan of the cart media, cores for 16-bit systems, etc. But I'm looking forward to the Kickstarter to learn more and maybe even pitch in. I don't know if I'm willing to back enough to score a system but the consumer-friendliness alone is worth something, imo.

As I understand it, if the Kickstarter is successful, they'll be offering system pre-orders leading up to the system's release. So that helps.

So what do you think? Viable idea or lost cause? I'm optimistic despite the price. Mike Kennedy did a great job assembling a staff for RETRO magazine and it looks like he's done the same for the RETRO VGS - some true design veterans are on board.

Edited by RetroDefense
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  • Retromags Curator

That's really expensive for a system that plays retro games, and only plays them with additional adapters.

I love Retro magazine, and I love the Atari Jaguar shape of the system, but with things like the RetroN 5 being able to play eight different platforms out of the box for about $130, this is a hard sell. I realize the focus is on new indie games, but it's a gamble without proven indie developers stating they are interested in putting their stuff on here. And when people think retro gaming, they think of the games that came out years ago, not new games made in a retro style.

If it turns out to be cheaper, then it's definitely got me interested. It already has me interested because the system looks great. But at that potential price, I will sit on the side,ones and wish them the best!

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I think the RETRO VGS is a great idea. I've bought reproduction carts of classic games for the past 3 years, as well as homebrew games. I love buying old NES, SNES, or Sega Genesis games that never got an English translation and then finding new life in a repro cart complete with box, manual, and poster fully in English. I believe the RETRO VGS will be more than just a system for indie titles. It could be a home for old classics receiving HD Remasters, a breath of fresh air for budding game developers to achieve their dream of developing for a classic system like the SNES, Genesis, or even the Neo Geo, and you can even develop new games that take advantage of the full capabilities of the RETRO VGS.

Just imagine Square Enix, Konami, and Capcom jumping on board to revive their classic Secret of Mana & Final Fantasy titles, Castlevania, or even Mega Man? If they find the HD Remasters working out, maybe they will even develop original content.

Frankly, I'm tired of the "digital revolution," where everything is downloadable to your hard drive. Sure, it's convenient. But I WANT a physical instruction manual, collectible maps & posters, and decent artwork on my game box. Mike Kennedy knows his RETRO business because he is developing a console that is striving to stay away from the digital world (no internet connection for updates and such). 20 years from now, I want the RETRO VGS to still function without needing some patch from the Internet, unlike the Xbox One where it tries to connect to the Internet for every little thing. I can't even play Killer Instinct on Xbox One without it saying, "The Console needs to go online for a game update." You can't even save the game without the update?!?

I haven't heard anything about the system's price yet until the Kickstarter next week. I wouldn't judge its price just yet until the official announcement. Please support the RETRO VGS if you can. I think it will make a statement to the mainstream console manufacturers.

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Update: From their Facebook page about the console's price:

We have been boiling down all the discussions on a variety of forums and here on Facebook and taking a hard look at our cost vs. selling price vs. capability. Originally, over a year ago this was going to be a system based largely around the architecture of the Beaglebone Black. At this time we had discussed pricing in the $150-$180 range.

That doesn't sound too bad if it's at $150 or so. I'll definitely invest at the Kickstarter if they post that price range.

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That doesn't sound too bad if it's at $150 or so. I'll definitely invest at the Kickstarter if they post that price range.

This price range was thrown around early on when the scope of the system was more limited. With expanding the system to accommodate the FPGA chipset (which I think has the possibility of blowing everyone's minds) and ARM processor, the price has jumped quite a bit, unfortunately.

At a recent game convention panel, Mike suggested "north of three hundred." Which was shocking news to gamers interested in the system and caused quite an uproar on Facebook, I might add.

I hope they can get the cost down. They were planning to include two controllers and a pack-in game. Personally, I'd rather have the system with no pack-in and one controller - or even no controller if the system will truly be compatible with USB and retro controllers - if it means making it more affordable. I'd rather they take these type of "shortcuts" instead of short cutting the actual hardware somehow.

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That's really expensive for a system that plays retro games, and only plays them with additional adapters.

I love Retro magazine, and I love the Atari Jaguar shape of the system, but with things like the RetroN 5 being able to play eight different platforms out of the box for about $130, this is a hard sell. I realize the focus is on new indie games, but it's a gamble without proven indie developers stating they are interested in putting their stuff on here. And when people think retro gaming, they think of the games that came out years ago, not new games made in a retro style.

If it turns out to be cheaper, then it's definitely got me interested. It already has me interested because the system looks great. But at that potential price, I will sit on the side,ones and wish them the best!

The adapters have their pros and cons, I agree with ya there. It sounds like each will be available separately so it could get even more expensive. But I do like the idea of how flexible the RETRO VGS is with its legacy system support. They've suggested a Game Gear adapter is possible. Also the Atari 2600, Colecovision, Intellivision - even an Amiga computer with USB keyboard support. So it may support adapters for systems the Retron 5 isn't capable of.

This is why I'm most excited about the FPGA chipset. Along with the adapters, the RVGS will also play legacy games re-released in RVGS carts. So imagine WayForward re-releasing GBC Shantae, or Sega re-releasing SMS Golden Axe Warrior, or Capcom finally releasing Mega Man: The Wily Wars officially in the states. Games that are difficult to find or were never released. I think it'll take some convincing to get these larger publishers and developers on board, but if the process really doesn't amount to much more than providing an original ROM, it's an almost no-risk, no-cost proposition for these companies. For homebrewers and smaller developers, it's essentially a no-brainer.

I know they have at least one Neo Geo developer on board - if you like Neo Geo games, a RETRO VGS would likely pay for itself after only one or two games.

So yeah, for myself, it's the FPGA that'll likely make or break the sale. The newer, retro-homage titles are great and all, but I'm all for games that feel like they were designed for authentic retro systems.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update from the RETRO VGS Facebook:

RETRO VGS added 2 new photos.
September 14 at 8:39pm ·

Will YOU be one of the first 500 backers to score an Early Bird Black Retro VGS for $299? Or go for one of the exclusive colors for $349? Decisions that will need to be made in the coming days! The countdown has officially begun.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/RETROVGS/

So, the official price is $299 for the first 500 backers on Kickstarter and $349 for everybody else. Of course, the $299 is for the Black system, while the $349 folks will get to choose from many colors, including the purple one shown in the Facebook post. After the console launches, only the Black system will be available. A bit pricey, isn't it? It costs almost as much as a modern console. Xbox One and PS4 are at $350 ($400 for the 1 TB version) and $400, respectively. It's the same price as the Wii U at $299.

The price is higher than first thought, but I'll still contribute to this console. I'll just hold off buying an Xbox One and PS4 for another year. :-) I already have a Wii U so I'm cool with that.

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Hey guys,


RETRO VGS has launched their crowd funding campaign. They have switched over to Indiegogo instead. Read all about it here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/retro-vgs#/story


I have contributed with the Elite Backer Edition, which is the highest tier. I do a lot of investing on various projects over the years like indie movies (example: AVGN Movie ) and magazines (NF Magazine & RETRO Mag). Investing in a console that pretty much describes my personality is on top of my list of priorities. :-) If this funding goes through, I'll update you guys on its progress and my personal review of the system when it ships.

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  • 2 weeks later...
The current Indiegogo crowd funding for the RETRO VGS has been cancelled due to lack of funding (slow progress). They are not giving up but have regrouped to make a working prototype, as well as a nice demo to show off on their next crowd funding adventure on Kickstarter next time around. Below is their update to all investors and potential RETRO VGS fans. FYI, the Indigogo campaign only reached a little over $63,000 in the past week, which is only 3% of the $1.9 Million total.
I'm not upset by this but rather relieved that they are not giving up. I only wish them the best on their next venture, and thus I will return to invest again.

Hey Everyone! It’s clear, in its current state the RETRO VGS Indiegogo campaign is dead in the water and thusly will be shut down early. Once the Indiegogo team explains to us how we can do this, the plug will be pulled and all of you who have contributed will receive a refund post haste. Or you can go in and request a refund from Indiegogo right now.
The good news is we aren’t giving up and have made some adjustments to our hardware team, which includes the involvement of other hardware gurus who were part of our venture in the very beginning. We will also be lowering the price while maintaining most of the cool features you all want.
We will be back in the near future with a prototype RETRO VGS system, front-and-center playing our games on our cartridges and with our USB controller. Sit tight, be patient and RETRO VGS will return.
Thanks again for your support, patience and understanding while we regroup and prepare for the relaunch of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm concerned that most of what we have seen is renders, no prototype in sight for something that costs so much. And really, something like the Retron5 or the japanese machine that also plays HuCards is my goto for an all in one retro console.

They have been working on the prototype for the past couple of months. In doing so, they will also be reducing the price for their next Kickstarter launch--probably early next year. You can check out their Facebook page for the latest updates: http://www.facebook.com/retrovgs

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They have been working on the prototype for the past couple of months. In doing so, they will also be reducing the price for their next Kickstarter launch--probably early next year. You can check out their Facebook page for the latest updates: http://www.facebook.com/retrovgs

I checked their facebook page earier, as well as their twitter. Unfortunately, I saw them attacking a critic of their console instead of defending their decisions. Calling the critics "drunks" instead of addressing their concerns put a bad taste in my mouth about the whole thing.

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