Thursday, April 29, 2021

SAMPLE PAGES! - Excerpts from The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Volume 2 (M-Z)

Hey, fellow gamers and readers, I’ve uploaded several samples pages from my forthcoming book, The NES Omnibus Vol. 2 (M-Z). Click HERE to read pages on Super Mario Bros., Popeye, R.C. Pro-Am II, and Tetris 2. ENJOY!

Here’s a little backstory on The NES Omnibus project:

The SNES Omnibus was a resounding success. Not only have both volumes sold well, they have received rave reviews, and Schiffer Publishing was willing to listen to my pitch for another two-volume set for a major console. The company readily agreed, so I got busy on it. And then it occurred to me that before doing another two-volume set, I could write a single-volume Omnibus to give readers a break on their bank accounts before asking them to shell out for two more books.

As such, The NES Omnibus was conceived, and I put the prospective two-volume Omnibus project on hold. I’ve been a huge fan of the Nintendo Entertainment System ever since I got my original console for Christmas in 1987 (which you can read about in my preface to The NES Omnibus Vol. 1), and I was delighted at the prospect of writing a big, beautiful, single-edition hardcover book about one of my favorite game systems.

But then reality set in. Once I got to work on The NES Omnibus, I couldn’t control myself. I simply stuffed too much information and too many photos on each page for the book to be readable with most of the games only getting half a page each. Plus, I wanted to include vintage ads for many of the games and more nostalgic stories from contributing writers. The latter is what so many of you like the most about the Omnibus books, so those were a top priority. And, to be perfectly honest, they’re my favorite aspect of the books as well—it’s super fun to read and edit the stories and share them with you.

Said stories in this book, which I call “Insider Insights,” are awesome. Popular YouTuber “The Immortal” John Hancock reveals what it was like renting games with his family when he was a kid. Legendary programmer David Warhol gives behind-the-scenes info on developing Maniac Mansion and Monster Truck Rally. Noted authors Ken Horowitz and Patrick Hickey Jr. share their love of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Tecmo Bowl respectively. Krystle Tiedeman, the producer of The King of Arcades, wrote a hilarious story about playing Taboo with friends. And you’ve simply got to read YouTuber Christopher Pico’s epic saga of playing Mad Max as a young game tester back in the day. If you like video game culture and nostalgia, you’re going to love this trip back through time to the ’80s and early ’90s from a variety of perspectives.

As for my memories in the book, I wax nostalgic about a bunch of NES titles, including such personal favorites as Mario Bros., Popeye, Super Mario Bros., Super Sprint, and even Trog!, a hidden gem for the console. I trash some terribly disappointing games as well, such as Superman and Super Pitfall. And, of course, I wrote a synopsis for each game.

In addition to stories, reviews, and synopses, The NES OmnibusVol. 2 (M-Z) features box art, screenshots, developer and publisher info, and historical data, along with quotes from vintage magazines and respected websites to give readers a well-rounded look at each game. I even quote other books as this is a scholarly, research-heavy effort as well as a book that is meant to entertain. At the back of the book you’ll find listings for foreign NES releases and miscellaneous titles, as well as a pair of super insightful essays (by Shane Stein and Patrick Hickey Jr.) about specific aspects of the console.

As always, thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered the book or backed it on Kickstarter.

Nostalgic Super Mario Bros. 2 Story - Nintendo NES Game


You hear a lot about video games being a waste of time—that you should be fishing or something instead of playing them. You also hear that video games are isolating and unhealthy for interpersonal relationships. What you hear far less about—at least in the mainstream press—is how video games often create lifelong bonds between friends and family members. Below is a story by writer and former GameStop associate Raymond Fix where he describes just that. It is just one of many nostalgic essays from my forthcoming book, The NES Omnibus Vol. 2 (M-Z), which is NOW ON KICKSTARTER.

Insider Insight: When I was growing up, my Uncle Peter on my mom’s side of the family came over quite often. He only lived a town away, and he seemed to enjoy having a nephew who lived so close. At the time, he and his wife Eileen didn’t have kids of their own. When the NES began gaining momentum, he bought the console and Super Mario Bros. 2. This is when our bond started to form.

On the weekends, Uncle Peter would come by, pick me up, and take me to his house so we could have a good time chomping snacks while we played Super Mario Bros. 2. We would play it all day—this was a highlight of my childhood because he always wanted to spend time with me. He showed me all the secrets he learned. He was fascinated with Peach’s floating ability and claimed she was the best. I would argue and claim Luigi was better because he jumped the highest. We had these kinds of conversations often.

I wasn’t very good at the game, so he would play the hard levels for me. Most of the time he would get all the way to Wart, which is the last boss of the game, and he would switch it to Luigi so I could battle the final boss and claim that I had beaten the entire game.

Uncle Peter passed away a few years ago. Every time I look at my collection and see that light blue end label with a red printed “Super Mario Bros. 2” written on it, I think of him and all the great times we had and how much I miss him. I don’t think I’ve played the game since he passed, but I hope my children will ask me about it someday and want to play so I can relive that part of my childhood. - Raymond Fix, former GameStop associate and blogger of raysbacklogblog.wordpress.com

Please consider backing The NES Omnibus Vol. 2 (M-Z) on Kickstarter. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Yoshi's Cookie for the Nintendo NES Influenced the Roller Coaster Tycoon Franchise!

Did you know that Yoshi’s Cookie influenced the RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise? Neither did I until I read developer Matt Raithel’s Insider Insight for my forthcoming book, The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Volume 2 (M-Z), which is NOW ON KICKSTARTER. The book features reviews, history, nostalgic stories, box art, screenshots, quotes from vintage magazines, and much more. If you like retro gaming, please consider backing the book. If you don’t do Kickstarter, US residents can pre-order a signed copy direct from me HERE.

Here’s the Yoshi’s Cookie entry for the book, with Matt’s development story at the end. Of course, the page in the book will have a much cooler design. You can check out sample pages on Kickstarter, as well as get more info. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support!

Yoshi’s Cookie

PUBLISHER: Nintendo.

DEVELOPER: Bullet-Proof Software.

GAME TYPE: Action Puzzle, 1 or 2 players (simultaneous).

YEAR: 1993.

In Yoshi’s Cookie, you use a cursor to shift horizontal rows and vertical columns of randomly sequenced cookies in a square bin. When all the cookies in a line are of the same type (heart, flower, diamond, check, circle, or Yoshi), that row or column will disappear. As play goes on, more cookies will enter the playfield from the top and the side. In one-player mode, Yoshi-shaped cookies act as wild cards, meaning they can be matched with other cookie types. In two-player split-screen mode, when you line up five Yoshis in a row, it sabotages your opponent, such as scrambling their cookies, controlling their cursor, blocking their screen, adding to your point total, or subtracting from their point total. The action moves quickly, so you’ll often pull off combos by sheer luck. Gamers can play as Mario, Yoshi, the Princess, or Bowser. With more than 100 levels (including an expert's game) in the one-player mode and an entertaining, highly competitive two-player mode, which is a race for points, Yoshi's Cookie is a solid entry in the action puzzle genre.

Notable Quotable: “Visuals are simple and clear…The music is an ever-repeating tune that can get a little annoying, but one that gets stuck in your head nonetheless. You'll find yourself whistling it at random moments. Controls are excellent…topnotch versus mode…accessible, yet challenging, addictive, and fun.” - Tom Lenting (www.defunctgames.com)

Notable Quotable: “The design may sound a bit confusing, and compared to more immediately understandable puzzlers like Tetris it does take a bit of a mental shift to wrap your head around—but you pick it up quickly after the first few rounds of play. The only real downfall to how Yoshi's Cookie is designed is that you'll often find yourself left with only one or two cookies in your stack, and you'll have to wait around for the game to spawn new pieces for you, and hope that it gives you the right ones to be able to make a match and clear the stage. That waiting period can last a while…fairly fun, but its appeal has never eclipsed those more traditional ‘falling block’ puzzlers like Tetris, Dr. Mario, or Puyo Puyo…fair and favorable…Give it a look if you're a fan of the genre looking for something that’s just a bit different.” - Lucas M. Thomas (www.ign.com), playing the NES game downloaded to the Wii

Insider Insight: I first played Yoshi’s Cookie at my cousin’s house during a family event and was immediately engaged by the unique puzzle mechanics. I connected with the fact that player movements controlled entire rows of pieces, as opposed to moving one by one. This created cascades of matches that were fun to watch and could turn a potential loss into a victory if you planned correctly.

Decades later, my team at Graphite Lab was tasked with designing a puzzle game featuring the RollerCoaster Tycoon brand for Atari. Our challenge was finding ways to make roller coaster rails a meaningful puzzle element. Reflecting on the mechanics of Yoshi’s Cookie, we imagined puzzle pieces moving a full row at a time. We evolved this approach by placing the puzzle pieces of our game on roller coaster rails. Players could drag various pieces throughout the game board in effort to make matches in a fun and unique way. Yoshi’s Cookie inspirations can now be seen through our “rail match system” found in the mobile game, RollerCoaster Tycoon Story. - Matt Raithel, Studio Director, Graphite Lab; Professor of Practice of Game Design, Maryville University


Sunday, April 25, 2021

KICKSTARTER UPDATE - The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Volume 2 (M-Z)

I’m super excited that the Kickstarter for my forthcoming book, The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Volume 2 (M-Z), is getting close to $15,000. And we’ve still got 25 days to go! You can back it on Kickstarter HERE. The book, which of course is the sequel to The NES Omnibus Vol. 1 (A-L), will begin shipping October 28.

Here's an update: I’m getting ready to turn in the text edits for the book to my publisher, Schiffer, and then they will send me back the pages with the photos included in a few weeks, and I will go over those pages to edit. (I supplied the images, and the publisher is designing the pages. Mobygames was a big help in this regard.) Yeah, it’s a long, laborious process—I began the book well over a year ago—but it’s been a lot of fun. Plus, I’ve got a great team of writers, including YouTubers, authors, and programmers, providing nostalgic stories for many of the titles featured in the book.

Contributing authors include "8-Bit" Eric, Chris "The Irate Gamer" Bores, and John "Gamester81" Lester, Tyler Esposito (My Retro Life), Jon Balofsky, Jason Breininger, Matt Daley, Blair Farrell, Raymond Fix, Zachary Gasiorowski, Matt Henzel, Patrick Hickey Jr., Ken Horowitz, Michelle Ireland, Steve Juon, Chris Leathco, Brian Lesyk, Danny Mattice, Stevan Mena, Kale Menges, Matt Miller, Joshua L. Olson, Papa Pete, Christopher Pico (The Old Ass Retro Gamer), Kris Randazzo, Anthony L Restivo, Dan Ryan, Jon Sakura, Greg Sewart, Andy Slaven, Shane Stein, Rob Strangman, Michael Thomasson, Alex Thompson, Krystle Tiedeman, Sean Tiedeman, John Trenbeath, Mike Vito, David Warhol, and Steve Woita.

More than 360 games are featured in the book, including such iconic titles as Metroid, Super Mario Bros., and Tetris, as well as such hidden gems and cult classics as Mighty Final Fight, Trog!, and River City Ransom. In addition to thorough gameplay descriptions, the book includes box art, screenshots, reviews, fun facts, historical data, memories from the author (that’s me), vintage magazine ads and quotes, and, as referenced above, personal anecdotes about many of the games.

Here's the anecdote for Mach Rider, a motorcycle racer:

Insider Insight: Back in college I worked at a GameStop when the company was originally phasing out the reselling of used 8-bit and 16-bit games. I took full advantage of my employee discount and snagged quite a few NES carts for a great price, one of which was Mach Rider, a game I hadn’t heard of before. Upon getting the cartridge home, though, I quickly discovered it was completely nonfunctional. My NES absolutely refused to recognize it. I tried every usual trick I knew of at that time, everything from the traditional “blowing” in the cartridge to rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs. Nothing seemed to work. Thus, Mach Rider became my first experience in “open cart surgery,” as YouTuber John Riggs calls it.

Luckily, the game was one of the “five-screw” carts from the initial run of black label titles, so I was able to open the shell with just a screwdriver. On inspection, the circuit board seemed intact, but I quickly noticed the amount of corrosion on the connector pins. I spent a few hours rummaging through our garage looking for a proper cleaning solvent (my dad was an auto mechanic back in the day) and something to scrub and scrape the connectors. I was determined to play this mysterious Nintendo game one way or another. I ended up spending a couple hours intricately cleaning the pins like an archaeologist carefully picking away in the dust to unearth some valuable ancient relic. I felt mighty proud of myself when the cartridge fired right up afterwards. - Kale Menges, Artist and Game Developer

***For those of you don’t do Kickstarter, US residents can pre-order an autographed book the old-fashioned way direct from me HERE.


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Foreword to The NES Omnibus Vol. 2 (M-Z) by Rob McCallum - ADVANCE LOOK!


Filmmaker Rob McCallum did a bang-up job writing the foreword to my forthcoming book, The NES OmnibusVol. 2 (M-Z), which is NOW ON KICKSTARTER. It’s a cool essay that truly shows his passion for the NES. Now, months ahead of the book’s release, you can read said foreword. Enjoy!

Let’s be absolutely clear: the Nintendo Entertainment System is the best video game system of all time. No, this isn’t a fanboy nostalgic discourse about my toy being better than yours because I grew up with it and my era is better. No offense to the gamers of other generations or the ones from my generation that disagree with my statement, but I’m right and you’re wrong. If you don’t want to take my word for it, let’s quickly delve into the many reasons why the NES is the top gun of gaming consoles.

The NES came out at a time when technology existed that gave gamers many options that were closer to an arcade experience than earlier systems. NES players could consume game after game without suffering any graphical or auditory nausea while playing and see faithfulness in most of the arcade ports. But the NES didn’t necessarily need arcade ports to find its audience. Most of the console’s key memorable titles are exclusive to the library. A lot of these games are massive franchises today that have been ported to every possible device because they’re that good. The seeds of even the most recent release of those games are directly tied to the original NES versions.

No discussion about the NES is complete without delving into game design and gameplay. There’s is a delicate balance between making a game easy enough to pick up, lead the player through the experience, challenge them along the way, and do so with a compelling story that never deviates from the way in which you’ve taught the player to navigate the world before them. Whether it’s Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy, Double Dragon, or Mega Man, the mechanics of getting through each stage, level, world or game was done so well that anyone in the family could pick up a controller and play. You can see this same philosophy decades later with Nintendo’s introduction of the Wii. If everyone can play, enjoy, and have fun, it’s a good game. You didn’t have to be an expert or wizard to play the NES (although some titles were notoriously difficult to beat), you just needed to put some effort in because conceptually everything was there to succeed to some degree in the majority of games for the console.

The soundtracks, theme songs, and memorable audio effects of many NES games stay in our heads days after the console has been turned off. This has nothing to do with the fact that the game(s) came out in the ’80s, but everything to do with excellent composition, design, and ingenuity. The limited audio resources when creating for the NES pushed the artists and game developers to get something that was evergreen and could stand the test of time. There are certainly great soundtracks and sound design for many games today, but nothing seems as iconic and alluring as the soundscape one finds when playing through the NES library.

Speaking of the library, I think one would be hard pressed to find a better ratio of good or great games to cannon fodder than the NES library. In my estimation, there’s at least one good game for every six games. Even if you wanted to be conservative and say there’s only one good game for every eight, you’d still find yourself with almost a hundred quality games to play for hours on end. It’s increasingly rare for a stat like that to get duplicated. Sure, not as many games were being created when the NES was around, but it’s not about quantity, it’s all about quality, and the NES has quality in spades.

Now, let’s turn our attention to this most impressive reference guide written by longtime gamer, author, and historian Brett Weiss. It’s actually more of a tome or spell-book because it’s so thoroughly crafted and woven with copious amounts of detail that will simultaneously turn the gears in your head and create new thoughts you never considered. Each entry packs detailed information, box art, screenshots, and all the pertinent info that can turn anyone into an expert in a short period of time. It functions as an incredible resource for all things NES, at least concerning games M to Z.

With this book, which I hope you’ll keep on your coffee table for all to see, you can flip through the pages and discuss the games, then set out on an adventure to find and play them—which is a further testament to the console’s appeal. As evidenced by things like this book, the NES is a system that doesn’t die. People still love the console all these years later and not in a niche kind of way. With so many games creating so many memories, and with so many games spawning so many franchises, it has to be considered the best of the best. This book is a great testament to that and the perfect companion for any NES adventure.

- Game on,

          Rob McCallum

 Somewhere beyond the fifth dimension and usually in a pillow fort, Rob McCallum spends his time building elaborate story-driven worlds, playing with action figures, and air drumming to some favorite tunes. The Emmy-nominated and award-winning filmmaker has been featured on NBC, CBS, CBC Radio•One, WIRE, and Destructoid for his work that centers on fandom, pop culture, and everything in between. He’s conjured over $350K via crowdfunding, sold films to Netflix and broadcasters around the world, and frequently contributes to books and podcasts. He’s obsessed with all things Jim Henson, has a deep love of Masters of the Universe, and one day hopes to visit Duckburg.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

NEW NINTENDO BOOK! - NES Omnibus Vol. 2 (M-Z) - LIVE ON KICKSTARTER!



The Kickstarter for The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Volume 2 (M-Z), a gorgeous hardcover coffee table book, is now live! Check it out by clicking HERE.

Featuring an awesome foreword by filmmaker Rob McCallum (Nintendo Quest), The NES Omnibus Vol. 2 (M-Z) completes the two-volume set begun with The NES Omnibus Vol 1(A-L), which many of you have read and let me know you enjoyed--thank you!

Like the first volume, this one will be well over 400 pages and feature more than 2,000 full-color photos. It will consist of more than 235,000 words and boast the writing of numerous industry pros and personalities who tell their nostalgic stories (some funny, some poignant, all memorable) of playing games on the classic Nintendo console.

Featured contributing story writers include Chris "The Irate Gamer" Bores, "8-Bit" Eric Perez, John "Gamester81" Lester, "The Immortal" John Hancock, David Warhol (legendary Intellivision programmer), Steve Woita (noted Atari, Genesis, and PS1 programmer), Sean Tiedeman (director of The King of the Arcades), Greg Sewart (former Previews and Reviews Editor for Electronic Gaming Monthly), Shane Stein (the Executive Producer of The Game Chasers Movie), Patrick Hickey Jr. (voice actor and author of The Minds Behind the Games series), and Ken Horowitz (author of The Sega Arcade Revolution and Playing at the Next Level), among many other content creators.

This book takes a detailed look at EVERY U.S. release for the NES from M to Z, and each of the more than 350 games featured gets at least one full page of text and images, including gameplay synopses, history, reviews, box art, screenshots, release data, developer and publisher info, and quotes from vintage magazines. There are colorful ads from various classic magazines, and there are bonus chapters on specific aspects of the NES, as well as info on PAL, HES, and oddball miscellaneous releases. Plus, I share my memories of playing many of the games. I got my NES for Christmas in 1987 and have been playing it on a regular basis ever since!

While every game in the main section of the book is guaranteed at least one full page of coverage, a bunch of the more popular games, such as Metroid, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Zelda II, get two pages! And Super Mario Bros. is spread out over FOUR beautiful pages! Plus, the book will have a stunning centerfold featuring all your favorite NES characters by Old School Gamer Magazine illustrator Thor Thorvaldson. This is a big, durable, beautifully bound book with professional production values. Schiffer Publishing did a great job on my SNES Omnibus books and The NES Omnibus Vol. 1, and The NES Omnibus Vol. 2 is looking fantastic as well!

The Nintendo NES is one of the most iconic video game systems of all time, resurrecting the home console industry in North America during the mid-’80s and offering some of the most enjoyable and exciting gaming experiences ever created, from shooters to RPGs to platformers and beyond. This deluxe hardcover book pays considerable respect to the console many of you guys and gals grew up playing and still enjoy today. Every game, no matter how obscure or mainstream, gets the full treatment. The book is a walk down memory lane for older gamers and a great history lesson for younger folks. And it's entertaining for everyone!

In addition to writing an overview of every game in the book, I also provided a foreword detailing my history with the NES.

Every Kickstarter backer will get their name in the book as a special thank you, and there are other cool rewards for backers as well. Thanks for supporting me on this grand adventure! This is my 12th book, and I'm super excited about it!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Sony Update: Players Can Still Purchase Games on PS3 and PS Vita.

Update from Jim Ryan, President & CEO, Sony Interactive Entertainment:

"Recently, we notified players that PlayStation Store for PS3 and PS Vita devices was planned to end this summer.
Upon further reflection, however, it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here. So today I’m happy to say that we will be keeping the PlayStation Store operational for PS3 and PS Vita devices. PSP commerce functionality will retire on July 2, 2021 as planned.
When we initially came to the decision to end purchasing support for PS3 and PS Vita, it was born out of a number of factors, including commerce support challenges for older devices and the ability for us to focus more of our resources on newer devices where a majority of our gamers are playing on. We see now that many of you are incredibly passionate about being able to continue purchasing classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future, so I’m glad we were able to find a solution to continue operations.
I’m glad that we can keep this piece of our history alive for gamers to enjoy, while we continue to create cutting-edge new game worlds for PS4, PS5, and the next generation of VR.
Thank you for sharing your feedback with us – we’re always listening and appreciate the support from our PlayStation community."

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Intellivision Amico Event with Tommy Tallarico at the National Videogame Museum

INTELLIVISION AMICO EVENT AT THE NATIONAL VIDEOGAME MUSEUM 

I’ve mentioned here before how remarkable it is that small companies and homebrew developers are creating brand new video games for such ancient consoles as the Atari 2600, Intellivision, ColecoVision, and Nintendo NES. It never would have occurred to me in a million years back in the late ’80s and early ’90s that this would ever happen. Once a new generation of game systems came along, most people relegated their old stuff to the attic or the garage, or they got rid of them via garage sale or thrift store donation. Worse, they’d just throw them in the garbage, and no company in its right mind would make games for a dead console.

These days, however, thanks to nostalgia, the desire for simple pick-up-and-play games, and a certain sense of coolness on par with collecting vinyl records and vintage clothing, retro gaming has become extremely popular among players and collectors. An offshoot of the retro phenomenon, which began in earnest around a decade and a half or so ago, the homebrew scene is burgeoning like crazy, with hundreds of games being cranked out for vintage consoles, including such relatively obscure systems as the Vectrex and the Odyssey2. These games typically sell for around $30 to $60 each, not unlike new games for current consoles.

Another result of the retro gaming craze is the creation of brand-new consoles (loosely) patterned after the originals, such as the Atari VCS, which has been out for a few months, and the Intellivision Amico, which is due to hit store shelves October 28 (GameStop is currently taking pre-orders, as is Intellivision itself). A reimagining of Mattel’s Intellivision (1979), which was the Atari 2600’s more sophisticated (though less commercially successful) competitor, the Amico will feature revamped versions of such Intellivision staples as Astrosmash, Night Stalker, and Major League Baseball, as well as new takes on arcade classics like BurgerTime and Moon Patrol. Casual games will be heavily emphasized as well, such as card games, board games, and sports. One of the more highly anticipated games for the console is Earthworm Jim 4, an exclusive sequel to the popular platforming series.

Intellivision Entertainment is run by CEO and President Tommy Tallarico, a longtime veteran of the industry. Tallarico composes music for video games (along with other aspects of development) and is the guitarist and frontman for Video Games Live, a touring concert where orchestras and choirs perform as video game footage plays on a big screen. The cousin of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler (whose real name is still Steven Tallarico—he never had it legally changed), Tallarico holds five Guinness World Records, including working on more than 300 commercially released game titles and the largest symphony show ever seen live: more than 752,000 (at a concert in China).

I recently had an awesome experience with Tallarico and his latest brainchild, the aforementioned Amico (which means “friend” in Italian). Tommy, a friend of mine for more than a decade, invited me, along with several other journalists, YouTubers, and industry folks, to an unannounced event at the National Videogame Museum in Frisco, Texas for a hands-on preview of the forthcoming console. We played several games on this highly anticipated retro machine, including Skiing and Shark! Shark!, which are remakes of two Intellivision favorites. I played Shark! Shark!, where you start as a small fish and swim around gobbling smaller fish and avoiding a shark, against one of the programmers of the game (he beat me, of course), as well as against GameStop’s corporate Retro Game Buyer. It was but one highlight of what ended up being an all-day event, including a group dinner at a nearby pizza restaurant.

Intellivision Entertainment has been hyping the Amico, which has been delayed a couple of times thanks to the pandemic, as an all-ages console with an emphasis on local multi-player gaming (aka couch co-op), getting the family together in the living room, and simple games that even grandma can play. Every title will be rated E for Everyone or E10+, meaning parents of young kids don’t have to worry about such content as bad language, graphic violence, or anything overtly sexual in nature. Unlike certain games for other modern consoles (and handhelds), there will be no in-game ads, in-game purchases, or other such annoyances.

Critics of the console have cited its lack of online play, its simplistic visual output and lack of a disc drive, its relatively high price point ($250, packaged with two controllers), and its lack of such blockbuster multi-platform titles as Minecraft, Call of Duty, and Fortnite. As one of relatively few people who have gotten the chance to play the Amico, I can say that it was a lot of fun, especially with several players gaming at once. The controls for the games, despite the unorthodox nature of the controller, were intuitive and easy to learn. The disc on the controller, substituting for an analog stick, a d-pad, or standard buttons, was responsive and smooth, and the screen on the controller doubled nicely as a large action button.

The Amico certainly won’t appeal to all gamers, but as a retro enthusiast and fan of games where you don’t have to wander around looking for a sword for a half hour before you get into the action, I’m looking forward to getting mine on day one. Plus, in an era where each family member often goes to his or her corner of the house to play games solo on their device of choice, the console’s emphasis on local multiplayer action for gamers of all skill levels is refreshing. It could be the Wii all over again, but with an Intellivision vibe and branding.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I go play some NFL Football and some Tron: Deadly Discs on my OG Intellivision.