Intellivision’s Tommy Tallarico Wants To Follow In Nintendo’s Footsteps, But Will He Get His Chance? – Feature

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Tommy Tallarico is a name that should be instantly familiar to a lot of video gamers. He’s worked on over 300 video games during his long career (his company was involved in the sound design on Metroid Prime) and he’s been part of video game-related shows such as Electric Playground, Mega64 and Reviews on the Run. Tallarico also created the record-breaking concert series Video Games Live, which has performed over 420 shows internationally. He’s also the guy behind the ‘oof!’ sound in Roblox.

However, despite his glittering career in the realm of video games, Tallarico’s latest venture might be his most challenging yet. He’s the head of the now-revived Intellivision brand and is currently preparing to launch the Amico, a surprisingly Wii-like games console that is already a year behind schedule and has made headlines recently for all of the wrong reasons.

Last week, Ars Technica published a post that pulled apart documents found in the Intellivision developer portal, which was publicly available online with no password required for access. This has since been remedied, but the damage has arguably been done – although Tallarico himself feels that Ars Technica’s report is full of misinformation and the console has been treated rather unfairly in the coverage.

Full disclosure: prior to Ars Technica’s piece going live, we were invited to speak to Tallarico via a video call and receive a live demonstration of the Amico. While the dev unit’s wireless controllers occasionally refused to play ball due to battery issues and the UI was in an unfinished state, the system did work as advertised, so we can at least put to bed one of the more common accusations regarding the Amico – it exists and there’s no noticeable lag between controller inputs and the on-screen action.

However, there are clearly a lot of other issues mentioned in the Ars Technica report which are worth addressing. The price of games. The use of stock images for promotional purposes. The lack of post-launch patches for software. The use of a seemingly outdated chipset found in Android devices costing $100 in 2016. And, perhaps most pressing of all, the fact that much of the software looks like it belongs on a smartphone rather than a home console which costs over $200. In a situation that’s depressingly similar to that of the also-delayed Polymega, it would seem that the tide is turning against the Amico and the goodwill the product engendered when it was first revealed back in 2019 is slowly ebbing away.

Given that Tallarico had already kindly answered an initial batch of questions and taken time out from his vacation to show us the machine in action, we decided to give him the right to address Ars Technica’s more recent comments – as well as talk a little more about the Amico, its Nintendo heritage and more besides.

Via Video Games Live, Tommy (shown here on lead guitar) has highlighted the quality of gaming soundtracks all over the world
Via Video Games Live, Tommy (shown here on lead guitar) has highlighted the quality of gaming soundtracks all over the world (Image: Tommy Tallarico)

Nintendo Life: You’ve stated that the Ars Technica piece is full of misinformation – could you elaborate on that?

Tommy Tallarico: To give a little context, [the Ars Technica] writer earlier in the week tweeted that we were somehow being disingenuous by using stock photos of families holding Amico controllers. Using stock photos for your project (especially small businesses and especially during COVID) is a very common practice and the reason stock photos even exist. Yet he recommended that people might want to report us to the FTC and he also encouraged people to make fun of us by photoshopping Amico controllers to make us look bad.

Here was the frustrating thing for us. I asked the writer earlier in the week if he would like to do an interview or ask me questions and he refused. His response was to just send him a console. He wanted me to keep engaging with him on Twitter. Again, not something I feel is professional or wanted to do. So instead, he got his information from a very small 200-member Amico subreddit page whose only goal is to bash the system while spreading as much misinformation as possible in hopes that we will fail.

There’s nothing in those documents that is damning or embarrassing in any way. We’ve said from the beginning that Amico isn’t about fast processors, it’s about having fun

But hey, if people don’t like us and the system or the company… that’s totally fine. We know we’re not going to be for everyone. Just like PlayStation isn’t appealing for everyone. But the biggest issue we had with the article is that he used copyrighted Confidential information which was clearly labelled as such with the addition of “Not For Public Dissemination” on the documents. These documents were “leaked” (as they even admitted in the piece) due to a hole in our security and a breach of our developer portal. The images had cropped out the warnings and confidential and “not for public” parts but they decided to post them anyway.

There’s nothing in those documents that is damning or embarrassing in any way. We’ve said from the beginning that Amico isn’t about fast processors, it’s about having fun. But it was the principle that they would post leaked and confidential copyrighted documents while cropping that part of the document out. After I called it out on Twitter and a letter was written by our team, they decided to immediately take down the leaked and confidential materials. I believe they understood that what they had done wasn’t correct, yet we never received a public apology… only online hatred by a lot of folks not understanding the situation. In hindsight, I made a mistake by calling them out publicly. I shouldn’t have done that. I got caught up in the heat of the moment and decided immediately to delete the tweets. I’m human and I make mistakes… and when you’re in the public eye and putting yourself out there as much as I do with a lot of passion for the project and for the people you work with, you tend to make multiple ones. Avoiding drama on Twitter is something I need to get better at.




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