As the rest of the world stocks up on canned goods and ammunition in preparation for a digital Armageddon, Warner Bros. On-line is celebrating Y2K by giving the Looney Tunes gang a much-needed 3-D cybermakeover.
‘Interactivity means bringing people into an escapist cartoon universe in which the characters look almost real,’ says Warner Bros.’ director of interactive entertainment Rob Sebastian. ‘While the two-dimensional Looney Tunes hold a nostalgic appeal for older generations, the all-important kids market has a higher expectation for cartoons, and is demanding 3-D quality updates.’
In a year-long interactive campaign, games featuring 3-D versions of Bugs et al. are frontrunning a studio-wide year 2000 initiative that’s been cleverly dubbed ‘Mill-Looney-Um.’
Sylvester the cat and his little yellow sidekick debuted the new high-tech look last November in Sylvester & Tweety: Twouble, a licensed Game Boy title published by San Jose, California-based Infogrames. Hitting retail shelves just in time for the holiday rush, the game’s 400,000-unit run sold out almost immediately, earning a gross revenue of US$16 million.
The rest of the Looney Tunes crew is featured in a whole whack of vidgames and CD-ROMs that Infogrames is releasing this year, leading up to the dawning of the next millennium. The 1999 slate kicked off with the January 15 launch of Bugs & Lola: Carrot Crazy for Game Boy, to be followed by Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time on April 15 (Sony PlayStation), Looney Tunes Space Race on May 1 (Nintendo 64), Taz Express and Duck Dogers on November 1 (Nintendo 64) and Looney Tunes Collector Game in the third quarter (Color Game Boy). The games all carry unifying packaging elements, the most prominent of which is a Year 2000 logo featuring Bugs and Daffy yukking it up with party hats and noisemakers.
But the celebration doesn’t stop there for the classic Tunes. A series of 15- to 30-second ‘Mill-Looney-Um Moments’ will start running on the WB Network in November, and top-secret Y2K plans are also brewing in WB’s consumer products, home video and licensing divisions.