We have seen many retro game-playing devices come and go over the years. Devices like the RetroN 5 promised the world and delivered reasonably well, but were limited a bit by physical hardware constraints. Today, Retroblox was announced and seems to offer up a fantastic solution the lack of expandable consoles within these all-in-one consoles – a modular design. This design allows you to swap out various console cartridge slots while also using an optical disc drive capable of playing Sega CD, Turbo CD, and even PlayStation 1 games. Each console’s slot will be sold separately – which could be a hurdle for the device depending on how things are priced.
The device also offers up modern-day features like Twitch sharing and screenshot-sharing, and its usage of a more modern UI for the game lineup evokes a variety of gaming frontends. Given that it doesn’t mention using original hardware, it seems like this could be a device running on an emulator-based Android setup, which should allow for a high level of compatibility for everything up to the PS1 era. The device does seem to have some kind of working protoypes given its many real-world image on the site, but won’t be hitting crowdfunding sites just yet. it looks like they’re trying to build up a bit of interest beforehand to better ensure that it meets its goals.
The idea behind this device is certainly sound – it is nice to have a single thing that can play almost any real game you have in your collection, or an Everdrive. The big key is going to be pricing and overall design. If it’s well-made, but looks like garbage, it’s going to have a hard time selling to a niche market – let alone any kind of mass market in a retail store. Right now, it looks like they’re going to start small with crowdfunding – but that can be risky if they don’t have anything to actually show for it. The Retro VGS/Colecovision Chameleon was doomed by not having anything to prove its worth – and it led to not only the console’s demise, but also the end of Retro Magazine. Hopefully, a lot of lessons have been learned from that device’s failure and we don’t see history repeat itself. Modular gaming devices are a new idea, but a sound one and if it’s done well, this concept could have some legs to it.