Intellivision, the console from the late 70s, is making a comeback with game industry veteran Tommy Tallarico at the helm, but what exactly is in store for fans of Atari’s biggest rival from the 80s? Well, n3rdabl3 has heard from the man himself, and it sounds… interesting.
Details of Intellivision‘s comeback have been thin, at best. The company announced that they’ll be bringing a new console to players, with a full unveiling coming in October. However with Atari currently stealing the limelight (not in the best way, I might add), is the console war from the 80s between Atari and Intellivision making a comeback itself?
On the latest episode of The n3rdabl3 Podcast, Tallarico talked about the company’s ideals, how they’re a completely transparent and open book, and that they’re happy to answer any and all questions they can. He also revealed to n3rdabl3 exclusively when they plan to unveil the console.
“We want to be a complete open book, because y’know, the reality is, is that there’s been a lot of controversy around Atari right now, but other systems that have tried to come out like the OUYA, and the Chameleon and stuff, so I think that it’s really important tfor us as a company to be as transparent as we possibly can and answer all the questions that we can,” he said.
“We’re going to have the keynote address at the Portland Retro Game Expo at the end of October in Portland Oregon, there’s over 30,000 people that go to this thing and we thought that would be a really great place to reveal all that we’re going to reveal, including what the console looks like, what the name of the new console is, all of the developers, publishers, licenses, some really key members of our team, a little bit of the tech, and all that stuff, and what the controllers look like, so there’ll be a big, big reveal in October.”
“Intellivision is not Crowdfunded”
For many that have followed consoles like the OUYA, the Atari VCS, and even the Coleco Chameleon and seeing the varied success from crowdfunded consoles, they might be pleased to know that the Intellivision console will not be crowdfunded.
“In regards to our mission, there’s a bunch of things, because the first thing that happens is people compare us to Atari and OUYA and ‘if they failed why do you think you’re going to be successful, because Intellivision isn’t even as big of a name as Atari is’, which is true. And we’re going to change that for sure.
“So if I could go over a few of the differences; first of all Intellivision is not Crowdfunded, that’s one of the things that OUYA did, the Calico Chameleon did, and Atari’s doing now – which I think might even be wrapped up, but we’re not crowdfunding, we don’t want to take people’s money before they have a chance to see our system and play the game. Geez, imagine that, what a concept!”
As for games, Intellivision‘s upcoming console won’t just be tossing classic games with a new lick of paint. In fact, Tallarico revealed that the console will feature all exclusive games and have put plenty of money aside to pay developers and publishers to do this.
“The other thing for us which differentiates us from every single gaming platform out there is that every single game that’s going to be on our system, every single game, is going to be an exclusive. So that’s again, a big differentiator, and if people are going to say ‘well how are you going to get so many developers to come on your platform then? How are you going to get people to develop games if you have a zero install base. Why would anyone create a game for you exclusively’, well I’ll give you this simple reason… Money.
“We are paying people, very talented people, we have big publishers, huge publishers, mid-size publishers, we’ve got big developers, we’ve got small developers, medium developers, and if there’s a concept that they bring to us, then we’re going to take all of the risk away from them, financial risk as well, and we’ll front-load all of the royalties.
He later adds: “Every single game on our platform is exclusive, every single game will be family friendly. Our four pillars of our company are very simple, it’s: Simple, Family, Fun, and Affordable. Those are our four focuses and for me, I see a huge hole in the gaming industry right now, especially for three of those, which is affordable, family, and simplicity. Those three things right there, no other console is focusing on.”
“The controller itself, we’re bringing back the disc”
One thing that many might remember about the Intellivision and even the Intellivision 2 was the controller which offered a disc for controlling the game’s cursor or characters and the light-up number pad which was used for a very unique way of inputting controls to the game. According to Tallarico, that style of control isn’t going a way, in fact the disc will be returning, but with some improvements.
“The controller itself, we’re bringing back the disc. The Intellivision disc was really cool in that it’s very easy, it’s flat and it’s simple. Where the old Intellivision disc sucked is that, it wasn’t the disc itself, but it was actually the ridge, the hard raised ridge around it. So when you played Intellivision games for a long time, it was your thumb and your nail that went into that hard ridge and so after you’ve played after a while, it started to hurt.
“So we’re going to get rid of that ridge, right? So we’re bringing across the disc which is very simple. So you can hand your mom or grandparent a control with a disc on it, and it’s like a mouse, when you move it around you see something on screen move around. Same thing with the disc, you give somebody a flat, round disc and they can push down and the thing goes down, you push up and it goes up, you can’t get more simple than that.
“That keypad that I was talking about, we want to keep that concept of being able to touch and have something light up, something happen, but I can’t say 100% because I have to save it for October when you see it, but I’m sure that you can imagine what the hell I’m talking about, without me saying it and getting in trouble by our PR people. Imagine if… Yeah, I’m already getting myself in trouble.
It may or may not have a touch screen we said jokingly to which he excitedly replied:
“Eehh… Hey, you said it, I didn’t say anything, you said it!”
Finally, when asked about the release date, Tallarico revealed that while they have a release date in-house, they weren’t going to tell n3rdabl3 what it is, in fact, come October they won’t tell anyone what that date is. The reason for this is simply to avoid disappointment.
“It’s not this Christmas and it’s not next Christmas, okay? And the reason, by the way just to let you know, I’m not trying to be coy or anything, or be squirrelly in that answer. The reason why I’m not giving a date for when the console comes out, and by the way I’m not giving that date in October either, and the reason for that is that we are not going to release this system unless we have those killer games on day-one. Because in this current climate it’s not like the old Genesis days where the Genesis comes out and then a year later Sonic comes out and it blows up. We do not want to soft-launch this project, because in this day and age with all the crap that’s been out there in the past, and all the many times where gamers have been disappointed because of launches, we’re not putting ourselves in that position.
“So that’s why I don’t want to tell you. We have an internal date that we are absolutely 100% shooting for, and I say we’re 95% there, but I don’t want to give a date and let people down and disappoint them because we made the decision ‘you know what, let’s hold the hardware another six months so we can polish all these games and make them even that much better’.
He later added: “It’s so important to me that the games are the most important thing, not timelines, and by the way we have the money to do it, we have the money to hold back up to a year if we have to, but again we don’t think that’s going to be the case, and again if people want to put two and two together, it’s not this Christmas and it’s not next Christmas… from there, figure it out.”