Intellivision’s Amico wants to be a Nintendo-style “family console”
You might have missed it in amongst the AAA titles and studio acquisitions, but Intellivision’s presentation during E3 showed off the upcoming Amico as a very Nintendo-like “family console.” It looks pretty interesting, if unusual, for something shown off at E3.
Nestled in-between Microsoft handing out new Xbox Game Pass titles like candy and Nintendo’s time-tweaking Breath of the Wild sequel, this year’s all-digital E3 managed to find 10 minutes to talk about the Intellivision Amico, a home console featuring mostly 2D and 2.5D arcade-like games and seemingly aimed at the family-friendly market that has been the home turf of Nintendo’s consoles for decades.
Possibly the most interesting feature of the Amico are the controllers; the console comes with two of them, styled after those of the original Intellivision console, albeit with a small touchscreen replacing the numerical keypad, and with the presentation emphasizing the uses of each player having their own separate screen.
The controllers are also equipped with motion controls akin to those of the Wii remote and Switch Joy-Cons, and the console can link smartphones to get more players involved.
There’s not much to say about the console itself, beyond its indent at the top for holding and charging its controllers, although its RFID capability was pointed to as a selling point for contactless-payment-like loading of gift cards. Beyond that, there’s also the inclusion of interactive lights in both the base console and controllers, a little puzzling given the focus on the family market; the Amico’s likely to go to children or grandparents, rather than the core gamer audience that tend to appreciate flashy LEDs in their peripherals the most.
The Amico’s tentpole games are Earthworm Jim 4 and a spiritual successor to Ecco the Dolphin, both names approaching their 30th birthday. Intellivision painted haptic feedback and drop-in multiplayer as a headline feature, decrying loot boxes and paid DLC before putting forward an online leaderboard as a substitute — one that that offers emailed certificates for doing well in.
Company president Tommy Tallarico opened citing his voicing of the Roblox “OOF!” amongst his lifetime achievements in the gaming industry, and ended it with a giveaway for three signed Earthworm Jim prints that you could enter by sending in the word “Groovy!”, once again via email. The entire thing felt a little surreal.
That’s not to say that the market for a family console doesn’t exist. After all, Nintendo have made it their home ever since they quit competing with Sony and Microsoft in raw graphical prowess in the early 2000s, but Intellivision seems to have taken that to mean that their titles should all play like refreshed versions of 80s arcade games. In some cases, that’s what they are.
Similarly, in a world where the Jackbox Party Packs and Among Us have seen explosive success, showing off digitized versions of Cornhole and Spades as the Amico’s social games feels a little behind-the-times, and very detached from some of the console’s genuinely interesting features like being able to bring games across to other consoles with your own controller.
It would be great to see something to shake up the more casual, family-oriented end of the gaming market, and Intellivision $10 games (or $20 for physical copies) might be easier to sell than the pricey software and services from the other big names.
But the console itself is still going to be priced at a cool $249, not far off the Switch and its extensive library of household names, and this odd, dated-feeling presentation may not have been the most convincing to prospective buyers.
We’ll have to wait until October 10 for the release of the Amico to see how it all pans out.