The Return of the Cartridge

Image courtesy Retro VGS.

Image courtesy Retro VGS.

It’s all the rage for DIY arcade game lovers (Paging Will Collier! Paging Matt Traylor!) to build their own arcade cabinets and controllers, then fill the insides with a modern screen and a PC running the MAME arcade game emulator.

But what about building your own cartridge-based home video game console and selling it? That’s exactly what Retro VGS is setting out to do:

To be clear, this isn’t a new system to run your old cartridges, a la the Retron 5 or countless cheapo “famiclones.” This is a brand new system being designed to play newly made, retro-inspired games on removable cartridges.

Why return to cartridges? In a recent interview with VentureBeat, Kennedy said that, besides the obvious nostalgia, cartridges also provide a durability and longevity that just can’t be matched by modern consoles. The Retro VGS’ solid-state design and flash-based carts should be able to last for at least 40 to 50 years, Kennedy said.

“You can still find Ataris at the swap meet, cartridges, 30 years later, plug them in and it all works,” Kennedy told Venturebeat. “To me that’s the coolest technology out there, with that longevity. A lot of us grew up with it. The kids these days are going to miss out on that. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a working original Xbox in 25 years. I just think that’s terrible for the kids these days. I don’t know if they realize that.”

If it looks like an old Atari Jaguar, that’s because Mike Kennedy got hold of Atari’s old tooling, dirt cheap. And check out those gorgeous Atari 9-pin joystick ports on the front, although it will accept modern USB controllers, too.

I never play XBOX with my sons because the games they like are just too involved for casual play, and it’s just impossible to find the time to get good enough to enjoy playing them.

But it’s much easier for me to imagine plugging in a cartridge for some 16-bit style madness — how about you?