Intellivision’s Amico wants to be a Nintendo-style “family console”
Recap: 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.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is coming to the TurboDuo in English for the first time
In brief: Limited Run Games is working on a physical retro release of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, an earlier entry in the Castlevania series that never got an English release in its original format.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood launched in Japan on October 29, 1993, for the PC Engine’s CD-ROM add-on. The game casts players in the role of protagonist Richter Belmont as he sets out to save his lover from Dracula.
Rondo of Blood was remade for the Super Nintendo and launched a couple of years later under the title Castlevania: Dracula X. While very similar, it wasn’t technically the same game. Another port, called Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, arrived on the PlayStation Portable in 2007. The original Japanese version, Akumajō Dracula X Chi no Rondo, is also available on the TurboGrafx-16 Mini that Konami launched last year.
— Limited Run Games (@LimitedRunGames) June 14, 2021
Limited Run Games teased the pending release on Twitter, noting that the game would be released on the TurboDuo. And unfortunately, that’s really all we know about it at this hour.
The timing is a bit interesting considering Analogue is still planning to launch its gorgeous TurboGrafx console sometime this year. The all-in-one system is designed to play TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine, SuperGrafx, TurboGrafx CD, PC Engine CD-ROM and Super Arcade CD-ROM games, and will do so without emulation.
Image courtesy Reddit user RickyBooo
Atari will finally launch the VCS at retail this month
The big picture: Atari has finally set a retail launch date for its Atari VCS home console following numerous delays and uncertainty that led some to wonder whether or not the system would ever materialize. While finally here, it’s likely going to struggle considerably given its high price tag compared leading modern consoles.
Public confirmation of Atari’s interest in getting back into the hardware business came in mid-2017, but it’d be another full year before the firm launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Atari VCS. Multiple delays followed, and at one point, the entire project appeared to be compromised after the system’s lead architect quit.
Atari eventually started shipping orders to early backers, and now it seems that they are ready for a retail launch.
The Atari VCS will be available starting June 15, 2021, from GameStop, Best Buy, Micro Center and directly from Atari via its website. The VCS Onyx Base system starts at $299.99, while the VCS Black Walnut and Onyx All-In bundles, which add in the classic joystick and modern controller, will command $399.99.
Diehards are probably going to pick it up regardless of cost, but at such a high price, it’s almost certainly going to be passed over by casual and mainstream gamers.
Each retailer will reportedly offer unique launch-day promotions, although Atari didn’t detail them in its announcement.
Sega is bundling five classic Sonic the Hedgehog games into a new compilation called Sonic Origins
Something to look forward to: Sega as part of its 30th anniversary celebration of Sonic the Hedgehog announced a new compilation that bundles several of the franchise’s early adventures into a single package. Sonic Origins, due out sometime next year, will include Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. If you missed the opportunity to play these classics in the 90s or want to relive them on modern systems, this is your shot.
Sega’s fuzzy blue mascot was instrumental in helping the company compete with rival Nintendo in the 16-bit console era. The speedy hedgehog raced onto the scene in mid-1991, wowing gamers with fast-paced gameplay, the likes of which still impress to this very day. Sonic 2 was more of the same, mixing in an excellent soundtrack on top of polished graphics and refined controls.
Sonic CD came next, in late 1993, for the Sega CD, an add-on peripheral for the Genesis. It was similar to the first game in the series, but featured a unique time travel element. Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were originally meant to be a single game, but got split up due to time and financial constraints.
Sega’s “Sonic Central” presentation also revealed a remaster of Sonic Colors called Sonic Colors: Ultimate that’s due out on September 7.
We’re told that Sonic Origins will feature added content and be available on the latest platforms, and that more information will be shared later this year.
Sonic’s next adventure on the big screen, meanwhile, is scheduled to hit theaters on April 8, 2022, and will feature sidekicks Tails and Knuckles.
Sega might bring back classics including Crazy Taxi, Panzer Dragoon and Virtua Fighter
In brief: Sega laid out three possible paths for reviving old games: remastering past titles to include HD animation, remaking games by adding new features while maintaining the gameplay of the original, or a full reboot in which a new game is constructed based on the look and feel of the IP.
Sega in its results presentation for the fiscal year ending March 2021 shared some interesting slides regarding the company’s future direction.
On page 52 of the presentation, Sega notes that it holds a large number of globally recognized IP and even mentions utilizing them “after careful examination.” Examples presented include Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, Panzer Dragoon, Virtua Fighter, Rez, Shinobi and Streets of Rage, among others.
Sega also referenced the creation of a “Super Game” that it hopes to have ready by fiscal year 2026.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what exactly Sega means by that phrase, but the company did mention a “focused investment” in the project, adding that profitability could be low at first because it is a new IP but it could have high growth potential because it would be a global title.
16-bit classics Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol are getting modern re-releases
What just happened? Two classics from the 16-bit era are making a comeback this summer, and you’ll be able to play them on a variety of platforms. Zombies Ate My Neighbors and its sequel, Ghoul Patrol, are being re-released through a coordinated effort between Disney, Lucasfilm Games and developer Dotemu.
Zombies first arrived on the Super Nintendo in September 1993 before finding its way to the Sega Genesis a couple of months later. In it, players controlled protagonists Julie and Zeke as they attempted to rescue their neighbors from characters typically featured in horror movies.
Ghoul Patrol, the lesser-known sequel, came out the following year. This time around, it was up to Julie and Zeke to protect their town from a horror exhibit that magically came to life.
Enhanced versions of the two titles will include a modern save system as well as a museum feature containing a video interview with one of the original developers, previously unseen concept art, marketing assets and more. Achievements are also on the docket, as well as two-player mode and a soundtrack browser.
The games will arrive as a $14.99 digital bundle for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. Limited Run Games is also reportedly working on a physical release, we’re told, but details on this collaboration haven’t been revealed yet. Look for the bundle to launch on June 29, 2021.