Sunday, January 29, 2023

Hemrawc - Gamster81 Interview at ATC Expo 2023


The following is an interview of John Lester, better known as Gamester81, on January 21st, 2023 at ATG Expo in Waco, TX.  The prompts and questions as well as responses have been modified for brevity and clarity.

Gamester 81 of Collectorvision Games

John would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about CollectorVision Games.

John: I am John Lester, co-owner of CollectorVision Games.  CollectorVision Games was founded in 2008 and I joined them in 2015.

Does Collectorvision Games publish, develop, and/or manufacture games?

John: We do all three.

Does CollectorVision Games work with 3rd party developers or is everything in-house?

John: We work with 3rd party developers.  We have worked with Limited Run Games and similar companies.  It’s a big part of what we do.

For which systems does CollectorVision Games publish and develop?

John: Quite a spectrum.  Mainly for the ColecoVision (our namesake), but also for the Atari 2600, Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, as well as modern platforms such as Switch, Xbox, Playstation, etc.

How many games does CollectorVision plan to release in 2023?

John: Probably over a dozen or so, mainly for the ColecoVision.  We are hoping to release our second Super Nintendo game this year, Justice Beaver, which has been in development for quite some time.  However, development for the title is finally wrapping up. 

images from collectorvision

Is there a CollectorVision game that you are most excited for this year?

John: Definitely, Justice Beaver, which is a platformer.  Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan, which is a game we have released on the Switch and Steam and is slated to be released for the PS4, PS5, and Xbox this year.  I am pretty excited about that as well.

Justice Beaver collector vision

Sydney Hunter collector vision

Any other potential releases for Steam or Switch this year? 

John: We are porting over a game called Dead Tomb, which is a point-and-click 8-bit adventure title that we have released on the NES.  We are working with 8Bit Legit to publish that to the Switch and other modern platforms.

Has CollectorVision given any thought to an Evercade release?

John: It’s funny you mention that; we just signed a deal with them.  We are creating an Evercade cartridge that will include 3 different versions of Sydney Hunter: Caverns of Death for the Super Nintendo, Sacred Tribe for the Sega Master System, and I think the third one is the Intellivision version.  Another game included is Jester, which is a maze-like game similar to Pac-Man.  There will be four games in total with a projected release date sometime in mid-2023.

collector vision

Are there other Evercade releases in the future?

John: Right now it’s just this one cartridge.  Hopefully, if this goes well we can release other games.  The Evercade guys are really cool and I love their platform too.  I like that they are supporting indie game companies as well.

Can you tell us more about the Phoenix Video Game System.  Is it available for purchase?  Will more units be made?

John: The Phoenix is an FPGA ColecoVision console, but can also play Atari 2600 titles through the SD card slot.  Eventually, we will expand this feature and allow NES games and other similar systems to be played on the Phoenix.  It is not currently available for purchase.  We had two manufacturing runs.  It’s frankly a lot of money and a lot of work.  My partner Toby was literally hand assembling these machines, which takes a significant amount of time.  We all have day jobs, so this was done on the side.  Our hopes is to partner with someone where we can license the Phoenix and have another company handle the production.  But our plan right now is not to produce any more units in house.  We are aware that there is a high demand.  Our website crashed both times we released new Phoenix consoles.

phoenix consoles collector vision

Is this potential licensing agreement for the Phoenix Video Game System something that may happen this year?

John: It’s hard to put a timetable on it.  We are working on it right now.  It’s difficult with chips, manufacturing, and supply chain.  The production costs are much more now compared to a couple of years ago.  Hopefully, we can work with our partner and come up with something by the 4th quarter of this year or early next year.

For years we have had 3-in-1 clone systems that include the NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis.  Why have we not seen a 3-in-1 clone of Atari 2600, Intellivision, and ColecoVision?

John: That’s a good question.  I think the Phoenix could very well be that console.  Now the Phoenix will not be able to play carts outside the ColecoVision, but through the SD Card slot it will play other systems.  I’m not sure why we haven’t seen something like that.  It would be kinda of cool though.

Where is the best place to find information about CollectorVision products and where can we purchase said products?

John: is probably the number one place to go.  Then follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  We are always announcing stuff we are working on.  It’s a lot of fun.

What brought you all the way to ATG Expo?

John: My good friend Hal is one of the guys who runs the show; he’s one of the founders of ATG Expo.  He helps out with a show I run in Phoenix, Arizona called Game On Expo.  I have known him for years.  He’s a really good guy and I’m excited to be here.

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