Intellivision launched their Amico Club app for Android and iOS recently. I gave it a try, and got to experience… well, I’m not quite sure what I experienced. Let’s talk about it.
The app, at least so far, seems like a teaser advertisement for the Amico console. It gives a 15-second demo of a re-vamped Moon Patrol, which was a well-received game in arcades in 1982, and a game I liked to play back in the day. This version provides nicer graphics, some better jumping physics, and a power-up that gives the player more firepower.
The original was a game that is notable for being one of the first to employ a parallax scrolling background to create an illusion of depth, one of the first games to feature a full background music soundtrack, and was essentially an endless runner before there was such a genre named.
With such a brief glimpse at the game, I don’t want to jump to a premature conclusion, but so far I am not quite impressed yet.
Since this game is running on my smartphone, I have no idea what it’ll actually be like running on real Amico hardware. Presumably it should offer an even better experience. I would expect that the real Amico controller provide a far better experience than the provided touchscreen controls possibly could, but I can’t really guess how I will respond to an Amico controller until I’m holding one in my hands.
The actual gameplay was OK. I don’t think there’s really a whole lot to Moon Patrol. It’s jump, shoot, and not much else. You have to watch above your moon buggy for alien saucers that will try to bomb you, and ahead of you for craters to jump and boulders to shoot or jump over. You can slow down or accelerate, but there’s no stopping. It looks like there’s possibly some novel twists that they could add to the game to reinvigorate it, but from what I see so far, I’m not quite sold yet.
Hey everybody, remember Breakout?
Yes, Breakout, the mid-1970s game about bouncing a ball against a brick wall with a paddle because there’s no one around to play Pong with, remember? It’s back.
And, well, it brings some enhanced visuals, and some power-ups… nothing that wasn’t possible 20-25 years ago. If you remember Arkanoid, you’ll see a lot of the “enhancements” aren’t really new ideas, either. But it’s sideways. Because a 16×9 screen would be sadistic to bounce against in a vertical orientation.
And, I mean, this looks decent. I’m not sure that it’s going to light the world on fire… pretty sure it’s not, actually, but hey. If you like Breakout, now you have another version you could play, if you wanted to.
So far, what I see is that Intellivision is delivering, and that they are staying true to their word that they will be publishing simple games that are easy for casual gamers of all ages to pick up and play without having to invest a lot of time in getting to know characters, learn a background story, getting deep into the worldbuilding lore, or figure out controls on a 13-button gamepad. And I think that if they can deliver that, with published games in the $8 per title price point that they had announced a little over a year ago, this could be a fun system.
At least it has evidence of actually existing. It’s nice to see the INTV guys actually doing something and showing tangible progress on developing their product, in contrast to the AtariBox “effort” that has shown little beyond some conceptual artwork and pre-production prototypes of the hardware with nothing at all mentioned or shown when it comes to exclusive new games to be released for the platform.