Saying Hello To the Potentially Amazing Amico

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I’ve seen console ideas come and go. But those that are outside of the “Big 3” end up failing somehow. Since starting here at GiN we have witnessed many console ideas that never came out, such as the Indrema and the Infinium Labs Phantom. Then there were those that were announced at events like E3 and crashed upon launch such as the Gizmondo. Others were crowdfunded on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, such as the Ouya. I’m sure you all remember how positive I was about the Ouya coming out, thinking I would be able to play all the games that were on my Google Play account, only to find it was only linked to its online store, and in the end just became an adequate emulation station. Yes, I knew that games could be “side-loaded” on the Ouya, but it wasn’t what I was expecting from the system.

Most recently we’ve seen attempts of a retro based gaming consoles come out on crowdfunding sites. First, we had the debacle that was the Retro VGS, later known as the Coleco Chameleon. Then we had the AtariBox, aka the Atari VCS (which is still a confusing name when you consider that was the original name for the Atari 2600.) However, none of those systems had any major appeal to me and I felt like they would end up failing. Actually the Coleco Chameleon already failed and we haven’t heard anything from the Atari VCS since the “Tempest 4000 PC” fiasco.

However the latest venture into a classic based gaming console has my interest. I’m sure a lot of you out there know who Tommy Tallarico is. For those who don’t, he’s a legendary video game music composer. Most of his work that you might be familiar with was with Virgin Games, more so on the Sega Genesis, with some of his best known soundtracks being for Global Gladiators, Aladdin, Robocop vs. Terminator, Cool Spot, Earthworm Jim, and one of the best game soundtracks to ever come out, Terminator for the Sega CD. He also co-hosted Electric Playground before spearheading the very successful Video Games Live concerts, which he talks about in a panel I recorded almost five years ago:

Back in May, Tommy announced that he would become the President of Intellivision Entertainment with the intent of developing a new “family friendly” game console, and last week at the Portland Retro Game Expo, that console was announced: the Amico. Being the Italian word for “friend” or “buddy,” it is meant to be just that, a family-friendly console in contrast to the more hardcore style consoles we have today with the big three consoles and of course PC gaming through sites like Steam.

GiN covered the big press announcement, which you can see here. But I wanted to give you my thoughts on why I think the Amico could actually find success where so many others have failed.

PRICE RANGE (RETAIL) – US $149-179

This is not a bad price point at all, considering the current consoles on the market start at $299. Even the lowest price point of the Atari VCS Onyx Edition is higher at $239.

NORTH AMERICAN, UNITED KINGDOM AND EUROPEAN RELEASE DATE – October 10, 2020

Also known as “1010 2020” on the Intellivision website, having it come out this far ahead in time does help get the system perfected instead of rushing it out the door, which is a mistake I’ve seen other systems do.

ALL GAMES ARE FAMILY FRIENDLY AND RATED “E FOR EVERYONE” OR “E10+”

I know some are going to scoff at the idea of no T or M rated games on the Amico, but again, this is designed as more of a family friendly console. It makes sense that it would stick to E10+ at the highest.

EVERY GAME VERSION IS EXCLUSIVE

While multi-platform games work well on the other consoles, I know it would not have worked well on Amico. Making all the games exclusive to the Amico will help draw more interest and could help increase sales.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY! ALL GAMES MUST PASS A STRICT QUALITY CONTROL SEAL OF APPROVAL!

This could go one of two ways. Either it could go the way of Nintendo which mostly resulted in quality games coming out, or it could go the way Sega did with the Saturn where a lot of good games were rejected for US release. I’m really hoping for the former.

BALANCED GAMEPLAY AND DESIGN FOR “EQUAL OPPORTUNITY GAMING” FOR ALL.

I’m curious about this. As you all know I rarely play online because there are too many hacks and cheats out there, not to mention matchmaking systems do tend to be very skewed and entry level players don’t even get a chance to compete. Hopefully Amico will resolve those problems.

ALL GAMES ARE DOWNLOADABLE AND BETWEEN $2.99 AND $7.99

Sorry physical disc fans, but these days it is digital sales that are on the rise. The price range also seems very tempting. I’m sure there are going to be those who claim that these are equivalent to cell phone games and will result in a lot of “pay to win” games, but…

NO COSTLY DLC ADD-ONS OR “IN-APP PURCHASES!”

In other words…NO MICROTRANSACTIONS! Thank you!

LAUNCH TO INCLUDE SEVERAL BUILT-IN REIMAGINED INTELLIVISION CLASSICS (PRE-INSTALLED ON EVERY CONSOLE)

Pack in games are not common these days either, unless you buy a specific console bundle. I’m glad to see Intellivision adding them as well.

As for the console itself, they have decided to go with a 2D based architecture which I’ve greatly missed since the rise of 3D gaming. In addition those who are familiar with the classic Intellivision controllers will be happy to see that the Amico’s controllers carry on the tradition of the original’s disc. However I am not sure if it’s the original “16 direction” design or if it’s a full analog disc. (The press release says it’s a “pioneering tilting positional disc.” As for the original keypad, it is now replaced with a 3.5 inch color touchscreen. Additional controller features include horizontal usage for left and right handed gamers, gyroscope, accelerometer, microphone internal speaker, and Qi wireless charging. In addition, a free app will allow cell phones to be used as controllers for up to eight players.

Amico’s online looks like it will follow that of Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, offering multiplayer gaming, leaderboards and trophies/achievements. However, I do not know if it will be free or a paid service.

Lastly, we have the games, and from what I’m reading, it looks like they are starting off with reimagined classics from Intellivision (B-17 BOMBER!,) Atari, Imagic, Data East, Electronic Arts, and even Sega, all of which will be Amico exclusives.

I’ll have to say, despite my previous complaints of retro consoles coming out, the Amico has a lot of potential. I wish Tommy success in this venture, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I get one come October 2020. In the meantime, keep an eye out on www.intelllivisionentertainment.com for more information.

Currently Playing: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Xbox One X)

Waiting For: Red Dead Redemption II (Xbox One X – despite claims that it’s a PlayStation 4 exclusive)

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