A Lot Has Changed in 24-Months
As we approach the tail end of the year, it’s a pretty safe assessment that nobody could have predicted just how brutally rough and tumble 2020 would prove to be. Yet for the video game industry, somehow, things are very prosperous. We’re less than a month away from entering the 9th Generation of home video game consoles and, had things gone according to plan, a third contender should have been vying for players’ dollars and attention – The Intellivision Amico.
Delays and MSRP
When announced back in 2018, the Amico was slated for a 10/10/2020 release; a date that sadly came and went recently without so much as playable media units available much less retail units but backers of the project and the individuals involved in production remain optimistic that these delays will come to an end sometime around mid-April of 2021.
The reason for the delay? Intellivision’s CEO Tommy Tallarico stated in an online press event back in early August that pandemic-induced global parts sourcing would have resulted in compromised quality assurance of the finished product. “Ultimately our date is going to be determined by specific quality criteria that the team has defined and not a moment before,” he added.
While the news comes as a disappointment to those who have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the unit, quite a bit has changed in the two-years since its initial announcement. Some of these things have been encouraging, others not so much.
Since having reported on it back in October of 2018, the price of the unit has been solidified at quite a bit higher than initially anticipated. The company was aiming for between $150 – $180 price point at the time but ended up at $249.99 for either the black or white models or $299.99 for the GameStop Limited edition purple version. $299.99 literally puts the unit in direct contention with Microsoft’s forthcoming XBox Series S and $100 below Sony’s PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. However, unlike either of those, the Amico does come bundled with two wireless rechargeable controllers out of the box.
An additional perk to Amico ownership is that the system will come bundled with titles so that playing immediately requires no further investment from the buyer; Astrosmash, Shark! Shark!, Skiing, Farkle (dice) and Cornhole come preinstalled.
The price and hardware delay may be a disappointment but there have been some promising updates where the game library is concerned. At present 80 titles have been announced for the Amico and among these some promising-looking exclusives. Interplay will be bringing Earthworm Jim 4 exclusively to the platform in all of its 2D glory. Bonus Level Entertainment, known for an 8th gen platfomer called Fox N Forests is working on a very solid looking 2D Amico-exclusive spin off title called Finnigan Fox. Additionally cool is that properties formerly distributed by Sega will be receiving some Amico exclusivity and modernization such as Ecco the Dolphin and Toejam & Earl.
It looks like Intellivision has managed to secure some outside licensing for several forthcoming games as well; a racing game based on the Hot Wheels brand, an action title based on Tron and a 2D platformer starring the Care Bears.
As expected, many games that were big in the early 80s (some originally developed for the original Intellivison) are getting some modernized treatment for the Amico: Warlords, Lode Runner, Lock ‘N’ Chase, Asteroids, Frogger, Spelunker, Missile Command, Miner 2049er and Beauty and the Beast to mention a few.
The complete listing of announced games to date is as follows:
10 Yard Fight
Back Talk Party
Beauty and the Beast
Earthworm Jim 4
Ecco the Dolphin
Hot Wheels SideSwipers
Incan Gold / Diamont
Lock ‘N’ Chase
MLB Baseball Sports
Moon Patrol: The Milky Way Chronicles
Pool & Billiards
Rigid Force Redux Enhanced
Sesame Street Math Fun
Toejam & Earl
Tron Deadly Discs
Initially it was announced that games would strictly use a digital distribution model and cost between $2.99 – $7.99 per title. These days they are blanketing the price at $9.99 and under through the Amico Game Shop but this cost is to own the entire game/ no further DLC, microtransactions or loot crate nonsense. Additionally they have since announced that physical editions of games will also be available at retail for approximately $20 to $30.
According to Tallarico, the hardware runs the Android OS atop a Linux kernel; which, by definition is precisely what Android is – a mobile operating system based on a modified version of the Linux kernel. What we imagine this to mean is at its core, the Amico is a Linux box but all of the touch-screen interaction and functionality from the controllers (synced mobile phones and tablets with an installed free app can also be used in-lieu of controllers) will be accomplished thanks to Android.
While not much of a consolation to eager backers hungry for some gameplay, the missed 10/10/2020 release date instead saw some new Youtube videos from Intellivision showing off play as well as shedding a lot more light on the hardware itself (pun intended).
The console features Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, RFID, HDMI out, a microSD card slot, a charging cradle for two Amico controllers on the top, passive cooling, and one USB-C port on the back for accessories/ expansions. The big revelation was in that the body will also feature an LED ambient lighting system with 40 independently controlled LEDs capable of changing pattern and color in response to gameplay, a system known as Interactive Guidance Lighting.
The ambidextrous controllers (right or left handed preference by flipping them over) charge wirelessly when placed into the cradle atop the console though they can also be charged up using a wired USB-C connection. They feature Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, RFID, speakers, a microphone, an accelerometer, haptic force feedback, and a gyroscope. Perhaps their best known attribute, however, is the inclusion of 3.2 in (81.28 mm) full-color interactive touch screen, a home button and a 64-way pressure-sensitive directional disc. Four oversized buttons are placed as two shoulder buttons depending on whether playing in left or right handed position and LED lighting illuminates each shoulder button and the disc itself is surrounded by a ring of twelve more LEDs.
We have also since learned that the heart of the Amico will be a Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile CPU. And on September 16, 2020 it was announced that Chinese manufacturer Ark Electronics was awarded the contract to produce the Intellivision Amico hardware.
Intellivision offered 2,600 special Founder’s Edition vintage wood-grain bundles for pre-order and managed to move them all within five hours. The company opened another round of VIP pre-orders in late March and in a few days span, over 10,000 additional ($279) units were pre-ordered.
They offer the hardware in four other configurations as well: Glacier White, Graphite Black, Gloss Red ($249 each) or the GameStop exclusive Galaxy Purple for $299.
Preorders are being taken here.