Tokyo-based Bandai and NTT Mobile Communications Network are developing on-line video games for cell phones. Twenty Bandai titles will be modified to run on special cellular handsets called I-modes, enabling game downloading and on-line play. The I-mode launched February 22 in Japan only. On-line games will be available to the Japanese market in Q4 2000.
Sony Computer Entertainment plans to start original digital movie production and distribution for its PlayStation 2 console as early as 2002. The flicks will be sent over high-speed Internet connections to the console. PlayStation 2 is due to hit Japanese shelves in March 2000.
Nintendo’s next-gen Game Boy-a.ka. Game Boy Advance-will house a 32-bit RISC CPU, compatible with all Game Boy and Color Game Boy games. Equipped to access the Internet through cell phones, it is on the sked for an August 2000 release in Japan, and end of 2000 release in North America. SNK has also announced plans for a 32-bit handheld successor to its Neo Geo. On the game front, Nintendo is releasing its holiday star Donkey Kong 64 on November 22 for US$54.99. The ape icon hasn’t seen a reincarnation for five years.
Calabasas, California-based Sound Source Interactive has inked an exclusive, five-year, worldwide deal with Harvey Entertainment to publish and develop 3-D games and educational titles based on Casper the Friendly Ghost for Sony PlayStation. The deal also includes rights for PlayStation 2, CD-ROM and DVD versions. The first Casper title is slated to ship for Halloween 2000.
New York-based NewKidCo and Disney Interactive inked a multiyear, multiplatform deal to develop titles based on Disney characters for Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Color Game Boy for ages four to eight. Animated Storybook, Mulan will be the first title available in late Q4 `99. Titles based on Winnie the Pooh will follow in 2000.
Southpeak Interactive ships its 3-D Boombots to Sony PlayStation on November 8 for US$39.95. The latest combat title from the Cary, North Carolina-based company involves evil feline aliens versus robots, and is geared to ages 10 and up.
New York’s Take Two Interactive has acquired Edinburgh game prodco and studio DMA Design from Infogrames Entertainment for US$11 million. DMA created the game series Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto.
SurfMonkey.com, a kids Internet portal out of Campbell, California, has inked agreements with Bandai, Mindspring, Lycos and Family Network to provide those companies with its Kids Channel and Safe Navigation Bar.
Glen Cove, New York-based Acclaim Entertainment has an exclsuive agreement with the Olsen twins’ Dualstar Interactive division to ship two Mary-Kate and Ashley titles on American Thanksgiving Weekend. Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Dance Party of the Century and The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley for PCs and Color Game Boy will retail for US$29.99.