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Intellivision Entertainment showed off the hardware design of its Amico retro game console today, complete with a new Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The curvy, wedge-like console’s design is supposed to be friendly and accessible, Intellivision CEO Tommy Tallarico said in a video presentation. They intend for the console to be something you can use right off the bat, and it isn’t aimed at the more limited audience of hardcore gamers.
“We’re all about family play,” Tallarico said. “We wanted to create something that personified Intellivision and what our mission was all about.”
A glitchy start
Tallarico had originally wanted to launch the console today, on 10/10/20 at 10:10 a.m. But pandemic-induced delays have postponed the launch until April. This has given the company more time to get everything ready, including 30 games that are coming for the machine. Still, Tallarico made the hardware design announcement on the date, which coincides with his deceased sister’s birthday. The stream started out glitchy, and Tallarico apologized as he tried to fix it.
Intellivision also announced its Moon Control competition, in which the highest-scoring player will win an original Moon Patrol light-up cabinet top/marquee signed by original producer Scott Tamura. And the company showed its new user interface and a demo of Breakout, a remake of the original for the Amico.
Tallarico didn’t say which Snapdragon model the machine would use, although that important detail will shed light on the device’s performance. “That’s the heart and soul, the thing that powers the Amico,” he said.
The original Intellivision was a game console from Mattel that gave Atari a run for its money in the early 1980s. It was more advanced than the Atari 2600, with better graphics, and it even had simple voices in some games. Tallarico, who created the Video Games Live concert series, announced in 2018 that he had acquired the rights to the console and its original games and planned to relaunch Intellivision as a retro brand.
Designing the console
Tallarico said he learned while touring how important lighting is to an entertainment experience. So the designers took the Amico through dozens of iterations. They added 40 independently controlled LEDs on the console base and 12 LEDs on each console controller, for a total of 64, product development director Todd Linthicum said. That provides for an endless amount of expression through lighting, he explained.
Some games will correlate colors on the controller’s lights with gameplay. The console’s wedge shape enables you to see the lights from all angles, and you can adjust the brightness of the LEDs or turn them off. The controllers can charge in 2 hours, and batteries last 4-6 hours.
The controllers have color capacitive touch screens, gyroscopes, force feedback, speakers, microphones, and wireless contact charging. Two controllers nest inside the console base, which enables them to charge. You can also charge a controller with a USB-C cable. The controllers have four shoulder buttons and a touch wheel with a button. A Home button lets you pause or exit a game easily.
The Amico has an HDMI out port, a USB-C connector, a power connection, and a microSD expansion slot for more memory. You can store up to 50 games on the device. Radio frequency identification (RFID) connectivity offers a new way to unlock features in games or to interact with the console. You can simply take an object and tap it on the console to unlock something. The console’s cooling is passive, meaning it can naturally dissipate heat without a fan, Linthicum said.
Ark Electronics is making the machine at a factory in China. The company manufactures many controllers and other devices, said Ark CEO E.J. Constantine. The machine and the controllers will come in black or white, while the special editions come in purple, red, or woodgrain.
Tallarico also talked about the company’s new partners, including PlayDate Digital, which makes educational titles for children. The first title will star the Care Bears. Intellivision is partnering again with Tozai Games (for a Lode Runner game) and Data East (Lock and Chase, Burger Time, and other titles).
Amico will be available at Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, EB Games (in Canada), GameStop, and direct from Intellivision.
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