Interview: Tommy Tallarico Talks Amico

Tommy Tallarico needs no introduction.

But let’s do it anyway, just for fun.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Tommy has worked on the soundtracks and audio design of more than 300 video games. If you ever played games likeTony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Metroid Prime, or Guitar Hero, you’ve heard his work.

From 1997 to 2006, he co-hosted The Electric Playground and Reviews on the Run, wildly popular video game news and review television shows. As an accomplished musician, he created Video Games Live in 2002. Since then, the video game music concert has toured the world and continuously grown in popularity (in August 2015, 752,000 people saw the show live in China). Also in 2002, he founded the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.), an organization whose mission is to raise awareness about audio in interactive entertainment. And the last time I checked, he holds five Guinness World Records, including one as the person who has worked on the most games in their career and one for the largest symphony show ever seen live.

That’s just a quick sample. To properly detail all of his achievements would take more than one article. It goes without saying that Tommy Tallarico is an industry icon.

Since 2018, Tommy also happens to be the CEO and President of Intellivision.

So, what more can be done? Well, how about launching a new console?

Intellivision Presents: Amico

Intellivision Amico

Yesterday, Tommy presented Intellivision’s new console, Amico, at E3. Shortly after the presentation, I sat down with him to talk a little bit more about Amico and the experience of working on a new console.

“Even though the greater part of my life has revolved around my video game career, when I think of video games, the first thing I think of is being in the living room playing games with my mom and dad.”

Therein lies the genesis (not the Sega Genesis, as Tommy points out) of Amico. Intellivision’s mission is simple: bring back family gaming and couch co-op. To that end, the console’s focus is on games that are easy to pick up and play. Games with content suitable for every member of a family. More importantly, games that ship complete, with no paid add-ons, loot boxes, memberships, or live-service components.

But in a market dominated by Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and mobile gaming, you wouldn’t be faulted for wondering where Intellivision intends to position the Amico. “Think of us somewhere between mobile and the Nintendo Switch,” Tommy explains. “There’s a huge gap between the Switch and mobile gaming, and that’s where we want to live.”

Let’s Be Amicos

Amico is the Italian word for “friend”, and there likely isn’t a better word to describe the console. In my conversation with Tommy, and in the console’s marketing, it’s clear that Intellivision isn’t interested in competition.

“We don’t have to compete with Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft to do what we want to do,” Tommy says. “We’re coming at everything with a very unique perspective.”

And that unique perspective could pay off in spades. Amico isn’t about jaw-dropping graphics, teraflops, lightning-fast SSDs, or any other technical jargon.

Amico, at its core, is about the democratization of gaming.

It’s about giving everybody a chance to enjoy the medium, regardless of their age, their skill level, or their experience with gaming. It’s about gathering with friends and family on a couch and having fun together.

And sure, games for casual players do exist on consoles, but think about it this way. “Even games that are considered casual by hardcore gamers, games like Overcooked and Animal Crossing” have an inherent barrier to them. “Try putting a PS4 controller in your mom’s hands and have her play Overcooked.”

That’s where the Amico’s controller comes into play. A pair is bundled with each console and features Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, RFID, a microphone, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and haptic force feedback. To round out the controller’s features, it also has a 3.2 inch colour touch screen and a 64-way pressure sensitive DPad. The controller even sports a design that hearkens back to the original Intellivision from 1979.

And yet, Tommy harbours no illusions of swaying the more hardcore group of players towards Amico, despite the fact that a lot of its games offer something for everyone. “Do I think hardcore gamers are going to like some of the stuff we’re doing? Absolutely. Are they going to buy us instead of a PlayStation 5? Hell no!”

Every System Needs Games

Of course, a console can’t survive on its name and legacy alone. So it was important for me to ask how developers have received the Amico.

“We literally have hundreds of people who want to develop for Intellivision. We curate all of our games, so we only have so much capacity, but it’s a good problem to have.”

However, the appeal for developers isn’t just about working with one of the industry’s most iconic brands, it’s also about the ease of developing for the console. Because Amico uses “an ARM-based processor”, it shares a lot in common with other consumer electronics such as smartphones and tablets. As Tommy puts it, “if you’ve ever done a game on mobile or a game in Unity, the hard work is done.”

Given that information, it’s not surprising to know that every Amico comes bundled with six premium games. At launch, owners will be able to purchase games from a selection of 30 titles. New launches, estimated to occur every 7 to 10 days, will keep adding to the Amico’s library of games.

It’s worthwhile to note that Amico will have a new Earthworm Jim game created exclusively for it. In fact, the original team behind the beloved 90’s games is back together and working on the new title.

Amico In A Nutshell

Nestled in the gap between mobile gaming and the Nintendo Switch, Amico aims to make gaming accessible to everybody. At $249, with six premium games included, that accessibility extends to its pricing as well.

The plan is for production on the Amico to begin in July, with the console officially launching in October.

In the meantime, you can find out more about the console here:

Official Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

YouTube

And, of course, you can pre-order yours right now.

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