Sony has unveiled blueprints for the much-anticipated sequel to its 50 million-unit-selling PlayStation console. Souped up with a 128-bit microprocessor (four times the power of its 32-bit predecessor), PlayStation II can render Toy Story-like 3-D images, connect users to the Internet via a PC hook-up, and play music and movies using CD-ROMs. The console crown prince is expected to launch in Japan by March 2000 and in North America later that fall. It will have to duke it out at retail with Sega’s 128-bit Dreamcast system, which makes its State-side debut this fall.
* Still soaring on US$300 million in gross box office revenues, Disney/Pixar’s blockbuster A Bug’s Life is branching out into the video game world next month with the 350 million-unit release of a same-name title produced by Santa Monica, California-based Activision for the Nintendo 64 console. Aimed at kids ages six to 17, the game puts players in the role of the movie’s ant hero Flik, who’s charged with saving his colony from an army of grasshoppers. The estimated street price for A Bug’s Life is US$59.95.
* Preschool vid game creator NewKidCo International has signed a multiyear distribution deal with The Learning Company that will see NewKidCo’s game slate, including titles based on popular licensed properties like Sesame Street’s Elmo, Tiny Toons and Hello Kitty, sold and distributed exclusively by TLC worldwide. As part of the deal, NewKidCo received a US$2-million development advance.
* Lego has added four PC titles to its 1999 slate, and plans to develop some of them across multiple game platforms. First up in June, PC game LEGOLAND retails for US$29.95 and lets kids six and up design, build and manage a theme park. For the same demo, LEGO Racers for the PC, Nintendo 64 and Sony’s PlayStation debuts in July and August for US$40 to US$60, depending on the platform, and LEGO Rock Raiders is scheduled for a September release on the PC and PlayStation, retailing for US$40 to US$45. Also slated for a September launch is LEGO Friends, the first Lego title for girls. At US$29.95, this PC game invites girls ages five to 10 to prepare the ultimate rock concert for a pop band called Tuff Stuff, complete with dance moves, music and special effects.
* Calabasas, California-based Sound Source Interactive has inked a two-year North American distribution deal with MacMillan Computer Publishing for its entire line of CD-ROMs. Prior to the agreement, distribution of Sound Source’s slate, which includes titles based on movie hits like American Tale, Land Before Time and the upcoming Warner Bros. release The King and I, was handled in-house.