What the Hell Is the New Intellivision Console?

The Intellivision used to be Atari’s main competitor back in the early days of home consoles but, a few years after its 1980 introduction, it became irrelevant.

Now, a new Intellivision console is coming and it’s nothing like the classic re-editions of the NES, SNES, Megadrive or Playstation. In fact, I don’t really know what the hell it is.

Credit: Intellivsion

(Image credit: Intellivsion)

Unlike the miniaturized classics from Nintendo, Sega, and Sony, the Intellivision Amico (Italian for friend) is a console that has been completely redesigned.

It’s not just an emulator in a chip, it’s a completely new architecture with — according to the company’s press release — “a 21st century 2D chip” specifically designed to handle a lot more than the General Instruments CP1610 chipset, which could only handle a few primitive color sprites at a time.

The company claims that this system will offer people the possibility to download classic games with a price range that goes from $2.99 to $7.99. But the strange thing is that all these games have been completely revamped to take advantage of the new processors 2D graphics processing capabilities, even adding multiplayer capabilities and new levels in some cases y addition to new flashy sprites and art.

The list includes all  Intellivision classics and games from Atari, Imagic, and other manufacturers. There’s Pong, Asteroids, Breakout, Super Burgertime, R-Type, and Kung-Fu Master, for example.

Credit: Intellivsion

(Image credit: Intellivsion)

That alone is weird, since the nostalgia factor is going to be quickly replaced by head scratching as people look at this remastered games. But it doesn’t stop there: the Amico will also offer new games that nobody has heard about before and will be exclusive to the console.

The console will also come with new versions of the original weird gamepads: two wireless controls with 16-direction circular pads, with a color touchscreen on top instead of the old numerical keypad (you can connect up to 8 gamepads via Bluetooth). The gamepads are also equipped with gyroscopes and accelerometers, plus force feedback, speaker, and microphone. It sounds a bit like a Wii to me.

Oh, and it glows in the dark in sync with the games, the company says, which could be absolute genius or absolute idiocy.

MORE: SNES Classic vs. NES Classic: Which Retro Console Is For You?

Clearly, this new console —which also has Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB ports, HDMI output, and some sort of System Expansion Interface — could be the biggest flop in the history of gaming. Or perhaps it is a sleeper and it will take the world by storm.

The company — which has some big names in the industry that come from big videogame labels and companies like Nintendo — seems to be quite serious about it. It wants the Amico to be a family-oriented device, with all games being rated E for everyone or everyone over 10.

Intellivision also claims that the console will be released in October 2020 (which seems like quite a long shot) with a price tag that will range from $149 to $179.

I can’t help but to think about the Amico as the weirdest ovepowered and unnecessary retro nostalgia trip that anyone could have ever imagined. Yet I can’t help but be intrigued by the entire thing.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.