Groundbreaking launches in the weird and wonderful realm of new media offeringsNew Psygnosis game surfs on boardsport trend
Taking advantage of the kid-cool quotient of skateboarding and snowboarding, Psygnosis, a Foster City, California-based developer and publisher of entertainment software, is launching a rad new youth title based on boardsports for Sony’s PlayStation. Slated for November release in Europe, Japan and the U.S., Psybadek follows the stunt-riding adventures of Xako and Mia, a pair of street-smart toon characters born of the Manga Japanese style of animation, who zing through 3-D landscapes on flying boards called ‘hoverdeks’ and rescue their friends from the evil Kracken and his henchmen.
Inspired by a triad of alternative sports popular with teens, namely surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding, Psybadek is targeted to a demographic of danger junkies, a significant number of which are boys ages 10 to 16. ‘The graphic design is very colorful and cartoon-ish, and all eight of the game’s stunts are actual snowboard tricks, so we expect the game to appeal to kids who board,’ says Graham Sidwell, designer of the game.
To further capitalize on boardsport chic, Psygnosis has signed a partnership deal with Sante Fe Springs, California-based Vans Inc. to support the game’s launch. The 30-year-old manufacturer of boarding apparel will promote Psybadek both at its Triple Crown Series (U.S. competitions in surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding), and on its international Warped Tour (a teen festival that fuses live music and alternative sports). In return for the hype, Psybadek’s characters will sport Vans logo-laden gear.
Princess Di made the issue hot, but landmine awareness will hit the kids market soon in the form of a non-violent video game for ages 12 and up. The concept for Landmine Larry is being shopped around by Demilitarization for Democracy, a seven-year-old advocacy group dedicated to abolishing landmines and controlling arms sales.
The storyline for the game centers around a nefarious arms dealer of the same name who fuels global conflicts by supplying landmines and other weapons to duelling nations. Landmine Larry is chased by a group of U.N. ‘Super Troopers’ armed with mine clearance technology and non-lethal weapons like net launchers and pepper spray guns.
Scott Nathanson, acting director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization, says the vid game industry teaches kids to resolve conflict with violence. ‘Our game actually uses violence as a draw in order to teach kids about the negative effects of war and combat.’ For example, one idea that’s on the table is to show players gruesome pictures of real-life landmine victims when they step on a virtual mine in the game.
The two most serious bids for the development contract have been pitched by Toronto, Canada-based Arcanium Productions (US$220,000) and American Multimedia Inc. of Columbia, Missouri, and Nathanson expects the game to hit North American retail by spring of the year 2000.