The Intellivision Amico, a proposed console whose pitch never made any sense but that managed to raise over $15,000,000 and never got to market, has been an obsession of mine for years now. I'm an old school gamer and I miss the old days of strange and misguided hardware, like the Virtual Boy or the 32X. Amico promised to bring that back by providing an incredibly underpowered system with complex and expensive controllers that never had a use case that made them seem like anything but an albatross around the system's neck. The comedy factor was amplified by Tommy Tallarico, a somewhat famous 90s game composer (or, more accurately, seller of music made by other composers who worked for him) and TV host who headed up the project. He spent much of his time arguing with critics on Internet message boards (and yes I realize the irony of my shading others for posting on message boards, but this is just a hobby for me) and appearing on Youtube shows with miniscule audiences to "promote" the machine. He made grandiose boasts and predictions and cultivated a group of 40-60 year old fanboys, ranging from the hopelessly naive to the seriously unsavory, who acted like a cult, praising everything he did and viciously attacking his critics. Intellivision spent lavishly on unnecessary office space and other frills while they constantly pushed off their ship date and Tommy continued to make grandiose boasts about how every game would be an NFT and they had tens of millions of dollars in manufacturing credit. They even sold game boxes with no games in them, in a truly hilarious example of focusing on all the wrong things. Meanwhile the ship date of the system got pushed back further and further until it became clear that we're never actually going to see the thing beyond a few prototype units sent to small time Youtubers for "testing."
Tallarico has long ago stepped back from the company and we are no longer getting hilarious comedy like "deep dive" videos that have to be re-edited four times because of repeated use of stolen assets. Instead the company has shifted into a maintenance mode where it occasionally releases statements or makes small moves to indicate that it is still a going concern, albeit with a tiny fraction of the staff and resources that it once commanded to achieve...basically nothing. If Tommy Tallarico was a brash romance scammer trying to blind the objects of his affection with grandiose, obviously false, claims and declarations then new CEO Phil Adam is more like an absent husband, spending all his time at work or with his girlfriend on the side and occasionally offering platitudes about how he'll be cutting back on work and home more soon. He made a lot of promises of statements and plans to be announced in the near future and then regularly blew through his own deadlines without saying anything more. Anyone who believed him was left looking like Charlie Brown repeatedly trying to kick the football Lucy was holding for him.
Despite these repeated failed promises the last few months have seen some actual movement. Intellivision sold off some of its games and IP to a company that had previously been one of its developers, leading to the publication on Steam and other platforms of Shark! Shark! and Astrosmash (Along with BBG's own Dynablaster) to the resounding sound of crickets. Now they've finally released the long ago promised "Amico Home" application, a cellphone app that is intended to act as a storefront for people to buy Amico games to play on their phones, because just selling the games as individual apps like they are on console and PC would be far too simple.
Amico Home should be hilarious. Fo one thing this is an Android app despite the fact that Tommy Tallarico repeatedly stressed that Amico games could not be played on a cell phone. To be fair, he was correct in that. They require two or more cell phones. Amico Home turns one phone or other Android device into a home base that interlinks with a display and at least one other device, which acts as a controller. There is no way to play the games on a single phone. In 2023 this is truly a deranged idea, though to be fair it's a result of lazily porting the Android app that ran the console on the original Amico to work on a normal phone and attach other phones to control them (the original Amico could also use phones as extra controllers.) You also need to download a separate app to use a phone as a controller, and that app launched a few days after the core Home app, meaning that it was utterly useless (except for some emulation work around shenanigans) for that period. Some might say that it is still utterly useless today. Also apparently you can make your fake console "grandpa brown" because all the colors need to start with g. We're dealing with some real big brained development here.
All of this should be hilarious but the thrill is gone, at least for me. What once was a glitzy start up bragging about its juice bar and trumpeting an Earthworm Jim revival and the hiring of J Allard is now selling its core IP and putting out bottom of the barrel mobile apps. And that's after its flamboyant former president was sued personally because a furniture loan he personally guaranteed never got repaid.
I understand why some people can still revel in schadenfreude here. This company and these people fleeced millions from small time investors with a series of lies and misrepresentations. The house of cards may not be fully collapsed but it's close, and nobody deserves it more.
But for me its gotten so pathetic that it's not amusing anymore. I can't look away because of all the time I've already invested, but I can't laugh either. Why is this still happening? Delusion? Some sort of weird pride? An attempt to stave off law suits or investigations by claiming that work is still being done? Who knows. But apparently Intelliision is going to keep playing out the string, running around like a beheaded chicken in a state of doomed semi-animation. And I can't look away. At least not yet.