Gearing up to do battle with rival summer blockbusters Wild Wild West and Star Wars-Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Disney is exhibiting a four-title interactive line based on its animated adventure flick Tarzan. Slated to hit retail shelves simultaneously with the movie debut on June 15 are: Disney’s Tarzan Action Game, a 3-D CD-ROM for ages eight and up in which players explore the jungle king’s exotic domain while avoiding pitfalls like quicksand, water snakes and elephant stampedes (US$29.99); Tarzan, a jointly produced Nintendo Game Boy version of the action game for ages six to 12 from Disney Interactive and Activision (US$29.95); Disney’s Activity Center Tarzan, a CD-ROM featuring cool play opps like karaoke, memory challenges, sticker-making and more than 60 levels of arcade games for kids ages four to eight (US$29.99); and Disney’s Print Studio, Tarzan, an all-ages PC title for creating greeting cards, calendars, party invitations and more (US$19.99). To support the lineup’s release, consumers will get a free kids movie ticket for Tarzan with the purchase of any of the three CD-ROMs, and packaging will feature a mail-in offer for a free copy of Disney/Pixar’s Print Studio, A Bug’s Life.
Disney Interactive is also unveiling a multiplatform game cluster based on Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 2. Both the movie and the games are slated to debut this holiday season. Featuring first-pic hero Buzz Lightyear and his innovative weapons arsenal that includes Moon-Spring Boots and Grappling Hook Utility Belt, the slate is comprised of a CD-ROM game for the eight and up crowd (US$29.99) and an Activision-produced video game title for six- to 12-year-olds, which will be available for Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo 64 platforms (US$49.95 and US$59.95 respectively).
SouthPeak Interactive is jumping into the summer blockbuster fray too. The Cary, North Carolina-based software company is staging the E3 launch of two games (one for the PC and one for Sony’s PlayStation) based on Warner Bros.’ new pic Wild Wild West, which stars Will Smith and hits theaters July 2. Targeted at ages eight and up, both games will roll out at retail in the fourth quarter. The action-adventure PC title, with an estimated street price of US$44.95, sends players on a mission to capture conspirators behind the Lincoln assassination, who are plotting to murder another U.S. president, Ulysses S. Grant. The PlayStation game will carry a price tag of roughly US$49.95, but plot lines were not available at press time.
Following on the heels of 1998′s successful Tonka Workshop and Star Wars Millennium Falcon CD-ROM Playsets, Hasbro Interactive is bringing two more to this year’s E3. The US$39.95 Easy Bake Oven CD-ROM Playset, primarily for girls ages three to six, fits onto PC keyboards to offer wee culinary artists hands-on virtual kitchen fun. The arcade-ish Nerf Jr. CD-ROM Playset (US$29.95) features innovative light pen attachments that lets kids ages five to eight zap on-screen bad guys from as far away from the computer terminal as five feet. Both Playsets are slated for a fall retail debut.
Building block giant LEGO is also jumping into the girls software market this year with LEGO Friends, the first in a series of girl-targeted CD-ROM titles which LEGO Media International will begin rolling out in September. Developed in association with Flipside, a London-based interactive design company, LEGO Friends lets girls ages five to 10 customize their own best friend (in terms of looks, likes and dislikes, etc.) and control the interactions of a clique of girl friends-who form a pop band called Tuff Stuff. In true Spice Girls form, players must organize a concert for the group, taking care of creative details from songwriting to costumes to choreography. Priced at US$29.95, the game’s retail rollout will be supported by the launch of a LEGO Friends Web site featuring follow-up content like interviews with the Tuff Stuff girls, as well as an area showcasing best compositions and dance routines.
After breaking new digital ground at last year’s E3 with the first-ever line of video games for preschoolers, NewKidCo International is testing another untried software market in 1999 with Hello Kitty’s Cube Frenzy, a PlayStation game title designed specifically for girls. Featuring funky incarnations of Sanrio’s 20-year-old feline character franchise (including Cowgirl Hello Kitty, Astronaut Hello Kitty and Snowboarding Hello Kitty), Cube Frenzy is best described as Tetris for girls ages eight to 13. The PlayStation game, which launched at retail last month with a US$39.95 price tag, will be followed in the fourth quarter by a version for the Color Game Boy platform (US$29.99).