A month later the boss of the suspicious Coleco Chameleon console project has come forward and given his version of events. Mike Kennedy, in a long post on the AtariAge forum, announced, "I am officially tabling the console venture for good."

Kennedy also confirmed that the two Coleco Chameleon prototypes - one accused of housing SNES innards, the other of housing a common PC DVR capture card - were "essentially two fake prototypes". But Kennedy said he was misled about them - swindled, even, by the person who made them.

I won't name that person here because this is only Kennedy's version of events, but here is how the story goes:

"It was a day before I was travelling to [Toy Fair] that [the person] came over to my house with the Toy Fair Prototype, with his instructions to NOT SHOW the back of the unit no matter what. But without any specific information as to why I shouldn't show it ... I believed him and went to the show with that unit.

prototype
'He even joked about how people online were trying to identify the board in our shell...'

"During the show we were accused of not having that system even plugged in so I made the decision to take a photo of the back of the unit showing it was clearly plugged in ... I didn't feel we had anything to hide. Then all hell broke loose and it was identified that SNES Mini parts or the whole PCB from a SNES Mini was inside the console shell.

"I was left in a terrible spot at this point and I had a decision to make that evening at the hotel. Do I take this thing apart and see what was in it and quit the show or continue on with the show ... Right or wrong, I continued on with Toy Fair and it continued to impress people and the games were very favourably liked."

When challenged, the person who built the prototype insisted that despite the SNES parts used, it was his software the console was running on. "Again, I believed him," Kennedy said, "and we moved forward."

The person was then given "explicit" instructions to show Coleco Chameleon's circuit board (PCB) inside a clear console casing so Kennedy could show a "real" prototype to the community on Facebook.

"When he first emailed me the images, he indicated this was our prototype 100 per cent," Kennedy said. "[He] even joked about how people online were trying to identify the board in our shell, laughing and telling me they won't find it because it's our original work ... Again, I believed him."

Kennedy didn't mention when he realised this prototype to be a fake - apparently the person who built it said "we had chips located underneath the board ... and assured me that the cartridge was also plugged into our cartridge connector" - but when he did, he withdrew the impending Kickstarter campaign to "re-evaluate this venture".

It doesn't sound like Kennedy has heard from this other person since. They never met face to face and Kennedy has no idea where this other person lives, which seems like a bizarre business relationship to me. Kennedy went on to accuse the other person of a chequered background which I won't go into here.

Kennedy's post on the AtariAge forum was met with scepticism. Why, for instance, would a man leading a hardware project apparently have no idea about the product he was trying to sell?

atariage
They don't believe you.

Kennedy apologised for his silence in recent weeks and said it was while he "put the pieces of this train wreck together and worked with my attorney to define my moves".

In closing, he wrote: "There was never any intention to deceive or pull the wool over any of your eyes. These past few months with these fake prototypes was inexcusable and I hope you can all understand a bit more about how this all happened and why I have remained silent the past few weeks.

"It is not in my nature to trick people into anything. My end game has always been to give back to this hobby that I love and respect and to make and do things that people will enjoy. I've never taken one penny from anyone that wasn't genuinely earned!"

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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