Retro VGS Aims to Bring Back Cartridge Based Gaming

Monday, September 21st, 2015

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Retro VGS Console

Who remembers the Atari Jaguar? Anyone? While the Atari Jaguar is not making a comeback, there is a new video game console in the works with similar looks and is inspired by the old Jaguar. There is an indiegogo page for the Retro VGS or Retro Video Game System. The system will be a cartridge based system just like the good old days. According to the page, the idea for the Retro VGS was born in response to the frustrations players face with the current generation of consoles such as patches and updates. The page has a goal of under 2 million dollars and as of this article is 3% funded with 43 days left for the campaign. The system will have both analog and digital connections as well as 9 pin and USB ports for the system’s controllers.

Retro VGS Controller

What games are planned for the Retro VGS? Currently, the console will launch with Gunlord, Adventures in the Towers of Flight, Read Only Memories, Knight’s Chance, Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death, and Songbringer. There are other games currently in pending for the system such as Double Dragon Trilogy and Pier Solar. The Retro VGS has already received a key endorsement from Wayforward Director, Matt Bozon. He released the following statement:

Retro VGS Wayforward Statement

Image from the Retro VGS Indiegogo page.

The biggest challenge for the Retro VGS is obtaining enough funds to produce the system and to make it a viable and profitable venture as cartridges are more expensive to produce. Are you interested in the Retro VGS? Do you plan to fund the console? Is Wayforward’s endorsement of the Retro VGS important? Do you believe there is a viable market for the Retro VGS or do you believe the market is not big enough? Share us your thoughts and comments below.

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  • Vanadise

    That’s cool and all, but the *only* thing cartridges have going for them is nostalgia value. Optical media is much cheaper to produce, and it’s considerably faster unless your “cartridge” is SSD-based, which is going to make them very expensive. DRM-free downloads are faster, can’t be accidentally destroyed or loss, take up zero space, and are less wasteful.

    Their design goals seem to hearken back to an idyllic past that never existed. No patches or updates means that you’re stuck forever with any glitches and bugs you have at the time of release, and it means you can’t add any new features in the future. Are you enjoying your free “Plague of Shadows” DLC for Shovel Knight? Because that kind of thing would be impossible with this system.

    Best of luck to them, I guess, but it seems like their target market is people who loved the Ouya but wanted to also have a big stack of cartridges to go with it… and I don’t think that market really exists.

  • Ragunaxl

    Gunlord is a great Indie title, maybe one of the best. Good luck finding a dreamcast copy let alone the terrible price. They are one of the companies that aren’t as well known because they don’t rely on steam or other digital releases. Wayforward’s endorsement is good somewhat. The console is on their radar but it would have to prove profitable for them to incorporate it in their business. Unlike the other hobby developers they are legit professionals.

  • Superr Mann

    Yes please make it happen. NOW!!!

  • Melody

    There’s a lot of controversy about this console. After some digging around I figured out that the people behind this console have no clue what they are doing. This thing will most likely fail the indiegogo campaign. And speaking of, they went with Indiegogo because they don’t have a prototype available, which apparently Kickstarter requires or at least seriously considers when choosing to allow a KS campaign. The thing is, they could have had a prototype months ago. the developer kevtris noted that their bill of materials kept climbing as they have added more and more things they don’t need, and ultimately the cost has gone up as well. They even went crazy on the cartridges. kevtris advised them to go with standard catridges that would last around 30 years because if the system was good then those cartridges could be repaired easily. But instead they wanted cartridges that would last 100 years, even though the cost would skyrocket. I would urge anybody considering buying this to read this thread at AtariAge http://atariage.com/forums/topic/235430-how-has-this-not-been-posted-yet-retro-vgs/ I started reading from page 62 and it’s been a good read if I do say so myself.

    Even without all of that information, it is my opinion that this project undermines itself. Like, it considers no patches to be a good thing. I can understand the desire to go back to the days when games just worked. But there is a lot of naivety and nostalgia blindness. Nobody is perfect, there WILL be bugs. When asked about that problem, RVGS team stated that “Developers will be instructed to give bug free games.” I guess all of the bugs we have today are the result of them not getting that instruction huh. I guess companies like Nintendo and Valve are like “Go ahead. Release buggy games.” There’s more. They state that they will bug test all games from beginning to end. They also state that in the event that there are bugs they will essentially recall all copies, even ones bought. That’s going to prove expensive in my and others opinion. They never did state just who would pay shipping on it. I think I would be furious if I paid $50 on a game and had to pay shipping both ways just to play it.

    What’s more, is that the costs of cartridges are what in the past kept out smaller developers. As was stated on this page http://savygamer.co.uk/2015/09/21/please-do-not-give-retro-vgs-any-of-your-money/

    “Having to pay up front for inventory and then hope you are able to sell
    it with a decent margin on top is a return to the dark ages. These kind
    of market conditions are the exact reason that the early Sega and
    Nintendo consoles shut out so many of the smaller developers. Developers
    that today are making the kind of games Retro VGS are alluding to would
    have been unable to exist within the market conditions they are
    attempting to resurrect. The very reason we have so many small studios
    independently creating and releasing games with a retro aesthetic and
    design is because of the democratizing effect of digital distribution,
    because of a wide variety of easily accessible tools with broad industry
    support, because of the scale of the install base and userbase of
    today’s network capable platforms and marketplaces. I can’t see many
    developers even being curious enough to buy the hardware to test/develop
    their game in the first place, never mind investing in a physical
    release for a platform with a tiny install base.”

    The cartridge system also raises the cost of games. RVGS team state that games will cost anywhere from around 20 to 50 dollars. The kind of games you can expect on the RVGS you can get elsewhere, it’s just not worth it to make a game exclusive to the system, and that’s what it would actually need, a lot of exclusives. But games are not going to do well if they are much more expensive than on other platforms. If I can get some game for 5 dollars on one platform or 20 on another, I will probably get it cheaper.

    In my opinion, your money is better spent elsewhere. Even an Ouya is better. You can plug in a usb controller and play whatever retro games you want at a fraction of the cost. These guys know so little about the market it wouldn’t surprise me to see the console on some top ten worst console list in the future. And that’s if this campaign succeeds and something actually comes to fruition. All the evidence seems to suggest these people are going to blow through the money like no tomorrow and backers will have nothing to show for it.

    There probably is a place for a cartridge based console in today’s market, and if the campaign succeeds and nothing comes of it, people will probably lose trust that such a console can be made or is a good idea. the RVGS team could have made something great, but lack of market wisdom despite all of the “decades of experience” they throw around has pretty much made this DOA. The whole project implodes on itself. For instance, they could do a cartridge based system and use something like sd cards for patches. One thing I feel is missing is the lack of other features. The 300 dollar price tag definitely demands more than playing cartridge games. I know consoles have frequently been expensive in the past, but that is not an excuse for it today. I could pay 300 for a RVGS (assuming it actually came out) that plays a few games, or I could use that money for a Wii U (I already have one, just saying) that plays wii u games, wii games, games from the eshop, wii shop, and can do homebrew in it’s wii mode, and there’s a pretty good web browser on it as well. OR I can put that money toward a ps4/xb1 (for me the ps4) and can play ps4 games, psn games, can listen to music, play videos, that kind of thing.

    I get that maybe my price is too low, but I might get an RVGS for $50. It’s probably low for the hardware, but that is a testament to the lack of software. From what I’ve seen, it has the hardware to do things like emulators and multimedia. If it had those features in it as well, then 300 might not be as hard of a sting. Personally though I feel that 200 is probably the max even then. 300 is probably overkill for what it will be used for. Somebody likened it to them trying to release the RVGS 2 before the first iteration. The smarter thing to do would have been to release something more realistic now, and years down the line release a new version that was compatible with the old games. That way, the cost of parts would be cheaper. Trying to future proof a system this way drives up the cost and pretty much kills it before it could live. In other words, it’s too ambitious.

    • Chris Stollings

      This really sums up a lot of my thoughts on the matter.

      I wasn’t impressed with the concept when I first heard of it several months ago, but now that so much information has come to light just further cements that it would not be a project I would be willing to back.

  • Firion Hope

    I like the idea in theory, but there simply won’t be enough developers making decent games no matter what. It’s going to have a bunch of indie shovelware and very little else which is a pretty niche market. Also that price is absurdly expensive, you can get a Wii U for less than that, or a PS4 on sale. Should be $50-100.

  • Wesley Avrett

    So, no one remembers that there’s a thing called, Retron? I have a Retron 3 in the other room. It plays NES, SNES, and SEGA Genesis. The Retron 4 handles all of Nintendo’s older hand held games on top of that.

    Good luck, new company.