Ahh, the Intellivision Amico.
What a wild ride this has been, right?
In case you hadn’t heard, it’s the year 2022. According to the people in charge, this is the year the Amico will be unleashed on the world. According to the people who have been watching, this is also the year where if it doesn’t launch, it likely never will.
So what’s going on with this thing?
How did we get here?
Back in 2020, my co-host Dan and I interviewed Tommy Tallarico about the Amico on the Stone Age Gamer Podcast. It was a remarkably long conversation with the final edit of the episode clocking in at nearly 4 hours, which is pretty lengthy even for us. The conversation was quite fascinating, and it left us somewhat optimistic about the console’s chances of making it in the modern world.
“Somewhat” being the operative word here though, as Tommy didn’t really manage to convert Dan and myself to his way of thinking in terms of why the Amico is going to fill the Wii shaped hole in the gaming world’s heart. In particular, Dan and I didn’t really feel that hole actually exists.
This was a primary conceit of the console when it was announced what feels like 35 years ago now. The idea was that after simple games like Wii Sports took the world by storm, Nintendo failed to capitalize on them, and instead went right back to making Nintendo games, and those gamers never bought another system after the Wii because there weren’t any new games that followed in Wii Sports’ footsteps.
I argued with Tommy that the reason those people didn’t move on to buy the Wii U or any other game consoles was because they already had a Wii. The people who bought the Wii to play Wii Sports did exactly that, and Wii Sports still works just fine. They didn’t buy another console because they already have the one that plays Wii Sports. They also bought Wii Sports Resort, Wii Play, Mario Kart Wii, Just Dance, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Carnival Games, and Wii Fit in droves, and that’s all they needed. Nintendo did an admirable job of converting some of those folks into continuing gamers with some great bridge games like Big Brain Academy, but that audience wasn’t in the market for new games. They had exactly what they wanted in the Wii.
If my theory is right, then the Amico isn’t going to sell to that Wii Sports crowd, especially with the game lineup that’s currently being shown off. Finnegan Fox is no New Super Mario Bros, and Cornhole is certainly no Wii Sports Bowling.
Who is this for?
More interesting than that was the way Tommy talked about how he was planning on marketing the platform, and in particular who he was marketing it to. The concept here was that he was going after Moms, specifically ones who belonged to religious groups. The theory here being that since the Amico features heavily curated content that doesn’t allow sex or violence in any way, it would be an easy sell to moms who are concerned that their kids can play games like Doom and Hentai vs. Evil on their “kid-friendly” Nintendo Switch.
This assumes that there are parents out there who have that concern, which I would venture a guess isn’t a thing, or at least not before being told that other parents out there are already concerned about it, which again, I don’t think is really a thing. Of course, we argued that those same parents aren’t out there boycotting their Blu Ray players because they can play porn movies, but for Tommy it all came down to perception.
In that respect, we sort of understood how it might be possible to think that he may be able to create a potential audience for this thing, even if the concerns and selling points aren’t exactly based in reality. That, and the percentage of folks out there that he’s trying to reach who will be willing to spend money buying a game system for their kids that they specifically didn’t ask for is likely much smaller than he thinks. He also seemed to have some talking points ready about statistics relating to how Moms spend their money, but he brought them up by making some hilariously incorrect and frankly sexist assumptions about our wives, our childhoods, and our kids which resulted in a rather amusingly awkward bit of conversation.
Hope for the future?
But perhaps the most damning thing of all about the Amico is the lack of any sort of long term strategy. Up until recently, I really was rooting for the thing, even if I had no intention of actually purchasing one at the asking price. But I never once thought the system was any sort of scam. Misguided? Sure. But an actual scam? No way.
Now though, a couple of factors have made me change my mind on that front. First is just how many times they’ve gone back to the crowdfunding well, and how many important pieces of information they’ve left out of some of those crowdfunding posts, including the names of people actively involved in the project, and how far along development actually is.
But back to what I said a second ago, the lack of any long term plan is what really puts this thing in a bad light. It looks like the games they have in the works now are really all there is, and the ones we’ve seen don’t seem all that finished to begin with. It really does look like they’re making this system with the cheapest parts they can find so the console itself turns a profit with every unit sold, and they’re going to push out the minimum number required so they can say it officially launched, and then walk away once they’ve made their money.
Just look at their recent UI video. They’ve shown that the console’s home screen won't just show the games you own, but every game released for the console so you can be constantly reminded of what you don't already own and hopefully be convinced to buy them all. But how realistic is that for a console with any kind of future? It’s a pretty terrible idea on its own, but if there were supposed to be more games coming in the next year or two, how cluttered with weird spinny orbs is your home screen going to be? How difficult will it be to actually turn the thing on and just play a quick game of Astroblast?
I’ll finish with this. There was exactly one game announced for Amico that made me consider purchasing the platform, and that’s Breakout by Choice Provisions. That game looked insane, but it’s been dead silent for ages now. They’ve been doing highlight videos on all sorts of games that look varying levels of unfinished/undercooked, but Breakout hasn’t been seen or heard from in almost a year. This game looked darn near finished when it was shown off, and it looked a heck of alot better than anything else that’s been shown off since. So what’s the deal?
The Amico will probably launch in some capacity or another in the not too distant future. They said before the holidays that some units were maybe going to get out to some backers before the new year, but that doesn't seem to have happened. Whether or not it’s still a topic of conversation a year from now is anyone’s guess. Mine is, the Amico’s future is as non-existent as Earthworm Jim 4.