E3 2021: The Return of Intellivision

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By Josh Nichols on June 17th, 2021

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Intellivision originally emerged as the first 16-bit home system in 1979 and was a key player in the evolution of video games until it started to fade away in the mid ’80s — until now. Industry veteran Tommy Tallarico, who has worked on everything from Spider-Man (2000) to Metroid Prime, secured the rights to the Intellivision brand and games to bring back the feeling of playing games on the family couch. Tallarico hosted Intellivision Entertainment’s succinct but detailed E3 showcase to tell the world what’s in store for the future of Intellivision.

Intellivision’s new system is called Intellivision Amico and it’s built around friendship, which is part of where its name comes from. Amico (pronounced a’miko) means friend in Italian, and it’s at the core of the system’s existence and purpose. Tallarico points out the system isn’t competing with the high-tech and advanced consoles showing off the latest and greatest games during the rest of E3. Instead, he says the system is something you’d also play on, in addition to the other stuff. This isn’t meant to replace the way you already play games. The Amico is meant to provide players with another way to play and enjoy video games. The system is meant to be a centerpiece to social events, weekend family nights, and parties. Whatever you’re doing with friends and family, Intellivision wants to be a part of it and the Amico’s aiming to make it fun and easy.

Intellivision Lives! — Again

In the Intellivision E3 presentation, Tallarico shares details on some of the games that will be available and the system’s features. Intellivision’s goals seem defined well and the Amico has the potential to be successful as long as it finds its audience.

The Intellivision Amico comes with two easy-to-use wireless Bluetooth controllers. Battery life was not mentioned but the controllers charge by resting on top of the system, which is a charge/sync dock. Controllers can be purchased separately in packs of two, and they contain a separate charging dock. You can also download a free app on your smartphone and use your phone as a controller, which is pretty cool. The system can have eight controllers connected at the same time, which means we better get a Bomberman game because this would be the perfect way to play it with a group of friends. Controllers have LED lights, along with the system itself. Game uses weren’t stated but it seems like they will be using it for communicating information to the player or displaying quick data. The controllers also have motion controls, but the presentation didn’t seem to focus heavily on motion controls. It seems like there will be a good balance between button input and movement. I am definitely looking forward to rolling dice with the controller though. Rolling digital dice is always fun.

Games for the Amico will have a family/party focus to bring back the old days of having fun on the couch with family and friends. There won’t be any loot boxes or in-app purchases, or even downloadable content in the system’s games. The Amico supports digital and physical games. Physical game prices start at $19.99 USD and digital games will typically be priced around $9.99 or less. Intellivision is aiming to have a variety of experiences available for players of different skill levels, including party games, board games, action-arcade titles, story adventures, and motion-controlled recreation sports, like pool. Intellivision Amico will also be the only place with remakes of classic Atari and Intellivision games, which is a huge selling point for me. I didn’t play a lot of these growing up. My first game system was an NES so being able to enjoy some of the classic favorites from before then but with a new coat of paint sounds cool. Break Out, Tempest, Burger Time, and Night Stalker were a few of the remakes that were mentioned and shown during the presentation. A few exclusives that are being developed for the Amico were mentioned but release dates and pricing were not given. These titles include Finnegan Fox, Bomb Squad, Flying Tiger, and Dolphin Quest. Tallarico also mentioned Dolphin Quest is being made by people that worked on the original Ecco the Dolphin that was released for the Sega Genesis. As someone who finished that game, I am both intrigued and frightened of Dolphin Quest.

The website indicates that games rated E or E10 will be the only ones allowed on the system, as part of the console’s family focus. I personally kind of wish they would just section stuff off because if T and M-rated games were allowed then we could probably see some really cool Metroidvania games come to the system. I understand their overall goal is to bring families together though. I just hope the system secures an audience that can sustain the platform. I was really excited about the Ouya and it was a good idea. It just didn’t do well enough to really make it for a number of reasons. Intellivision Entertainment seems dedicated though so we’ll see. The system looks like it could be really exciting if it takes off.

Intellivision Amico is releasing October 10, 2021, at $249.99 with a few different color variants. You can pre-order now and only have to put down $100 today. The price tag feels a little high but the games on the way look fun and will all cost around $10. I think the biggest thing on most people’s minds will be the games available at launch. I’m hoping Intellivision shows off some more games soon to build more confidence in the system.

Josh really likes video games. Horror is their favorite but they also like other stuff.

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