It’s been an extremely long time since Intellivision has been in the news, but Tommy Tallarico is looking to change that. The veteran video game music composer and television personality surprised fans of classic gaming with the news that he's intending to release a revived version of the classic console, which was a competitor to Atari back in the 80s. Considering that Atari recently made known its plans to move forward with their own classic console re-release, similarly modeled to Nintendo’s massive success with the concept, a new Intellivision product seems like a strong option for retro gaming fans.
The Intellivision was originally produced and manufactured by Mattel Electronics, a company most well-known for He-Man and Barbie at the time, with a wide release in 1980. At the time of development, its main competitor was Atari, whose cartridge-based Atari 2600 was a huge hit, and the follow-up to their ubiquitous Pong console.
Still, the system was much more than an up-and-coming competitor, and Tallarico chose to purchase a stake in Intellivision, whose former owner and founder Keith Robinson passed away last year. With a launch schedule brewing, including upcoming details to be revealed on October 1, Tallarico is prepping a strong push designed to serve both retro gaming connoisseurs and family-oriented gamers, targeting an interesting niche of the gaming market that avoids direct competition with Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo.
Intellivision was the first legitimate 16-bit game console (technically, it utilized a 16-bit microprocessor CPU), well in advance of other systems which would release in later generations. Novel input concepts provided historic hardware, like a D-Pad with sixteen directions, and it even pioneered professional sports licensing for games featuring baseball, football, and hockey. For cross-platform owners, the console even marketed a device which allowed Atari 2600 games to be played on the system.
Tallarico’s upcoming revamp of the console is further empowered by modern conveniences gamers have come to expect, with Wi-Fi capability and SD memory card storage options, but it’s the pick-up-and-play potential that seems most relevant to this new product. Referring to the complexities inherent in modern gaming, Tallarico remarks on the ease of sitting with the Intellivision on its first release, and the fact that, when playing with his family, he “didn’t have to read a manual or play 50 hours to finish a game.”
Luckily, he’s not undertaking this venture alone, with Intellivision veterans joining in the launch to lead product development and licensing responsibilities. In a surprising but welcome appreciation of classic gaming history, Tallarico wants to combine the new lifestyles and expectations of modern gamers with the appreciated treasures available in a formative part of gaming’s history. Save a spot in your entertainment center for a new piece of hardware: Intellivision is coming back in style.