What will the RETRO VGS cost?
$299 (Limited to 500) Early bird, black Retro VGS retail package - Console, Controller, Pack-In Game, Cables and Power.
$349 will be the base price during the campaign and will also include your choice of campaign exclusive Legend Series OR Jewel Series colors.
When is the Indiegogo Campaign Happening?
We are launching the RETRO VGS via Indiegogo the week of September 14, 2015.
How many controller ports will be on the RETRO VGS? What controller are you using?
The RETRO VGS will use a combination of four controller ports. Two each for USB and 9-Pin. We are contracting with Interworks Unlimited to create a branded and exclusive USB controller based on the design of their Pro-U Wii controller. In addition to our "Factory Controllers" you will be able to utilize any other of your favorite USB devices, controllers, keyboards, mouse, etc. We will also be supplying two old-school 9-pin controller ports compatible with your favorite classic gaming controllers (Atari, Sega, etc.).
Why does the RETRO VGS look like an Atari Jaguar?
In a move that saved us nearly $500,000 in start-up costs we acquired the original tooling Atari used to manufacture their Atari Jaguar video game system in the 1990's. Our purchase included the tooling for both the console and cartridge shells.
What can you tell us about the cartridges and couldn't you do the same thing with an SD card or USB stick?
(John Carlsen) No. Secure Digital (SD) cards and USB sticks are great for storing large amounts of data cheaply, but they are not reliable for long-term storage. If you look closely at the packages from better brands of SD cards and USB sticks, they will warn you that those products are for short-term storage only.
RETRO VGS uses a special new type of memory device. Unlike conventional flash EEPROMs, ours are rated to retain data for 100 years. This allows RETRO VGS games to be published more economically than with the masked ROMs used on previous cartridge-based systems, making a wider variety of games available through small-quantity publishing, while better avoiding the “bit rot” that plagues other types of memory devices.
The RETRO VGS cartridge interface supports many different configurations, including cartridges that temporarily reconfigure the FPGA inside the RETRO VGS console, enabling hardware optimization for kinds of games we haven’t yet even imagined.
Will there be a dust flap cover for the cartridge interface?
Keeping a cartridge in the slot will serve as an effective shield against dust affecting the pins. Any change to the original tooling adds significantly to the cost of the console, so at this point, we’re not inclined to add the extra cost of a dust flap cover.
Are you retaining the “Jag” handle on the cartridges?
Yes, for a couple of reasons: One, the handle provides functionality needed to properly seat the pins into the console; two, the cost of retooling to remove the handles would be added to the cost of the console. Many collectors prefer to put carts in a display case — the clamshell plastic case housing the cartridge (and instruction manual) will have a spine with the game’s name on it. We will likely have end labels on the cartridges as well.
What’s going on under the hood?
(Steve Woita) Think of it as hardware that is reconfigurable by the cartridge. The RETRO VGS will have its own cool configurations (ways to make a game), and it can also be hardware-configured to be other old-school architectures that a lot of developers are used to developing for. Specifically, and at this current time, it’s an FPGA and ARM system. If a developer wants to make a Neo Geo game, they would include an HDL (Hardware Description Language) file that configures the FPGA to operate like a Neo Geo. The developer would code their game to run against the Neo Geo platform. This HDL code along with the actual Neo Geo game will be on the cartridge. Once that cartridge is placed in the RETRO VGS, it will become a Neo Geo and play that game. So in this case, the language is: 68000 and Z80 code. If you wanted to do a new Atari 2600 styled game, you'd include a 2600 HDL file that configures the FPGA to replicate the logic of the original 2600 hardware and then you'd include your new 2600 game on that cartridge too. These two files are then paired up on the cartridge and when plugged into the RETRO VGS, will turn the console into a 2600. So the language that would be used in this case is: 6507 (6502 with less address space). Does that help explain things a little "bit" more? Oh and we’ll have a nice little ARM chip for some more fun stuff. We'll be supplying the validated cores for developers to choose from and you don't have to know how to program an FPGA to make a game, it just gives us a lot of hardware flexibility, I didn't want to lock us in to a specific ASIC design.
The indie developer would use a regular RETRO VGS out of the box, with a USB cable & free downloadable software that could be downloaded from the RETRO VGS's website. The plan has always been from day one to support indie game development and what I mean by that is that if you're a game developer you'd have as much info, tools and help as possible and not be closed out of the system. This is not a closed console, meaning If you make a game for the RETRO VGS, and you wanted to order 50 copies of your own game to take to PAX and sell them on your own, you could! The plan is to be able to submit your box, cartridge & manual artwork, game code (for the cartridge), instructions and how many you'd like to order and you'd get your 50 shrink wrapped plastic cases with your awesome game cartridges all professionally packaged and sent to you. That still is the plan.
There is no firmware to upgrade. We're making this system in such a way that in 30 years from now when you plug in a game, the system won't have to rely on a bunch of garbage updates from servers that won't even be there! Most next gen games have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years because they need to ping a server for some kind of crap reason. This will be totally self contained and not have to rely on updates.
Is the RETRO VGS updatable? Will there be patches?
(Steve Woita) We wanted to avoid any architecture that would need internet connection for updates. We want the whole system to be update free and not dependent on a server being around 30 years from now.
Will the RETRO VGS be available internationally?
(John Carlsen) Yes, of course! We recognize that people all over the world want to play (and develop) great games. Those unable to use analog NTSC video (typically in regions outside North America or Japan) should use the digital video output via the HDMI connector.
What are the output specifications?
(John Carlsen) RETRO VGS is a premium game console that outputs high-quality audio and video simultaneously in digital and analog formats. It can connect to televisions anywhere in the world via HDMI 1.3 and allows easy recording of sound and NTSC composite video (or Y/C S-Video via mini-DIN), even while playing in high definition.
As the first game console with a field-programmable gate array (FPGA), RETRO VGS allows game developers to form complex modern sound and graphics circuits to express their creative visions in ways never before possible. The FPGA can generate video at up to 720p/60 or 1080p/30, which the CPU can mix with its images to output up to 1080p/60, all with a palette of more than 16.7 million colors (24-bit true color). RETRO VGS outputs line-level mono or stereo audio that can meet or exceed CD-quality.
Game developers may choose to compress their memory requirements by using indexed color modes (choosing a smaller number of any of the available colors) and/or lower video and audio resolutions, giving game sounds and images a distinctive “retro” style, which can then be upscaled and/or mixed in creative and fun ways.
Is this like the Ouya?
No. The OUYA is an "Android" system meant to bring mobile games into the living room on televisions. It is required to be connected to the internet to download games and network updates.
Is this like the RETRON 5?
No. RETRON 5 is a console that plays old games on old game cartridges. The RETRO VGS is for playing NEW RETRO style games on cartridges moving forward.
What color is the base retail unit? Will there be other colors?
The standard retail version will be black. We will produce a limited run of Kickstarter only colors including The Legend Series, The Treasure Series and The Jewel Series.
Will the system price include a pack-in game?
Yes. The pack-in game is called Adventures of Tiny Knight. It is being developed by CollectorVision. Adventures of Tiny Knight is inspired by the RPG Platformer Wonder Boy series.
How can I buy a console and games when they’re available?
The RETRO VGS will be sold initially via a Summer 2015 Indiegogo campaign. At the conclusion of the campaign we will continue to take pre-orders on our website and on FunStock.co.uk. More retail options to be announced. Finished consoles will be delivering in the order purchased beginning mid 2016.
Indiegogo backers will be able to choose from Exclusive campaign ONLY console colors. These will only be available one time, during this campaign and never again!
Choose from the LEGEND Series which pays homage to your favorite Video Game Characters. Or choose from the TREASURE Series featuring Gold, Silver and Bronze console shells. And finally, the Transluscent JEWEL Series is sure to take you back to the days when console manufacturers had fun with their products.
Which will YOU choose?