E3 2000: the new kid digitalia crop is tube-driven and gadget-laden

TLC puts a new twist on the trading card phenomenon
Mattel subsidiary The Learning Company is looking to cash in on the Pokémon trading card craze with PokéROMS, a debuting line of collectible mini card-shaped CD-ROMS, each of which features a...
May 1, 2000

TLC puts a new twist on the trading card phenomenon

Mattel subsidiary The Learning Company is looking to cash in on the Pokémon trading card craze with PokéROMS, a debuting line of collectible mini card-shaped CD-ROMS, each of which features a different Pokémon character and contains puzzles that unlock more Pocket Monster content. Designed for up to four players, kids can e-mail favorite characters to friends and trade with other enthusiasts over the Internet. The PokéROMS will be released gradually starting in June with a 10-CD starter pack for US$7.99. Another 10 will hit retail in August, followed by 30 new releases in time for the Christmas season on November 15.

TLC is also taking a unique approach in its digital treatment of Nelvana animated series Rescue Heroes. Fisher-Price Rescue Heroes Meteor Madness (working title) features an innovative headset that uses a microphone and Voice-Tech technology to let kids in the four to eight age range give simple verbal instructions (such as ‘up,’ ‘down,’ ‘left’ and ‘right’) to maneuver the Rescue Hero team on-screen as they save people, animals and the city from falling space meteors. It will be available this September with a price tag of US$39.95.

Barbie taps smart toy hook to conjure up more girl gamers

Interactive gadgetry like magic jewelry and a genie bottle-shaped control device figure in to Mattel Interactive’s latest digital offering for girls ages five and up. Using a special ring to manipulate the genie bottle computer attachment, Barbie Magic Genie Bottle and CD-ROM puts girls in charge of helping their fave fashion doll find enchanted power stones that have been stolen from her necklace. Slated for release in the fall, the PC title will retail for around US$39.99, and a Game Boy Color title (US$29.99) following the same story line is in the works for fall as well.

Nickelodeon and Mattel Interactive have reteamed to build on a digital photography line they started with last year’s Nick Click digicam. With a street price of US$39.99, fall-launching The Wild Thornberrys Safari So Good CD-ROM and Point Camera has kids over the age of eight helping the toons lure wild animals out of their hidey holes so they can take their pictures on-screen with camera attachments. The snapshots can then be assembled to create a streaming documentary.

Disney’s llama boy gets digitized

The Mouse House is gearing up for another multicategory blockbuster product launch this November in support of its new animated feature The Emperor’s New Groove, which stars a selfish young ruler who’s temporarily turned into a llama by a fed-up sorcerer. As per the Disney mandate, comical misadventures and gentle morality lessons ensue. Debuting simultaneously with the family-targeted flick on Thanksgiving Day (November 23) is The Emperor’s New Groove Activity Center, a US$29.99 CD-ROM for four- to eight-year-olds from Disney Interactive.

The title features an interactive sim farm component that charges players with planning and harvesting enough food to feed a small village; seeds for the agricultural activity can be purchased on-line via connection to a safe Web site on the Internet using points accumulated by playing the CD’s two arcade games-Yzmania and Twine Twister.

Muppets go multimedia

Following their entry into the interactive realm as stars of a 3-D Web series called MuppeToons on Henson’s new site in late March, the Muppets are starring in their first-ever video game this Halloween.

Psygnosis is working with

Liverpool-based software developer Magenta on Muppets Monster Adventure, a PlayStation game for the eight to 12 set that puts kids in the role of Kermit’s nerdy little nephew Robin. The wee amphibian must rescue his uncle and the other Muppets, who have been transformed into exaggerated monster versions of their cute and cuddly selves. The game, which will likely retail for around US$29.99, comes complete with a ghoulish soundtrack, courtesy of Henson.

Book world changelings take on software expansion

With Q-generating media extensions like a hit TV show airing on Nickelodeon and a best-selling book series with 32 million copies under its belt, the Animorphs property is due for a new gig. To spin the sci-fi literary phenomenon into game software, Scholastic is teaming up with GT Interactive for the August launch of Animorphs: Shattered Reality for PlayStation and Animorphs: Know the Secret for the PC.

Opening with the teenagers-cum-animal protagonists caught in a time warp, Shattered Reality charges players with gathering the shards of the Time Matrix Crystal in order to restabilize the passage of time. Know the Secret is more strategy-based in that players must use clues to figure out why the enemy Yeerks have slowed down their anti-Animorphs campaigns. Both games aim for the seven to 14 demo and will be priced in the US$40 to US$50 range.

Scholastic has turned to Ubi Soft to develop an Animorphs Game Boy title for release in September. Priced at US$29.99, this version sees the Animorphs using their supernatural powers to save humanity from an alien takeover.

THQ bones up on the supernatural

On the heels of launching a division Down Under in March, THQ is spinning Scooby-Doo and the gang onto PlayStation and Nintendo 64 for the first time. Geared towards kids and nostalgic fans ages eight and up, the as-yet-untitled action games are based on the classic animated mystery series Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? and will throw players right into the heart of the creepy crime-solving business. The titles will be available in fall 2000 with prices still to be determined.

THQ has also announced a deal with Fox Interactive to co-publish Game Boy Color titles based on several popular Fox entertainment properties, including TV shows The Simpsons and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as the Alien feature film franchise. Fox will release 3-D-heavy Buffy action games for Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation and PC platforms in the fourth quarter. Gamers ages 12 and up will take on the role of the ‘student by day, slayer by night,’ working with the Buffy crew to vanquish vampires using their keenly honed combat skills.

A gizmo-laden detective and tube beauties top Ubi Soft’s slate

Banking on a surge of popularity generated by last July’s Matthew Broderick-starring live-action Disney flick, Ubi Soft and Paris-based Light and Shadow Production are unveiling PlayStation and Game Boy Color Inspector Gadget games at this year’s market. Available in the third quarter and developed by Germany’s Vision Media (PSX) and Paris-based RFX Interactive (GBC) respectively, the console offerings will be based on the popular `80s animated series. The game puts players ages eight and up in control of Inspector Gadget-as well as all his high-tech gizmos, his clever niece Penny and her crafty canine Brain-to foil the MadKaktus, Dr. Claw’s latest evil invention.

Bodacious babes are likely to hook many a young teen boy when Ubi Soft releases a four-platform spate of games based on Pamela Anderson Lee’s campy TV series V.I.P. this November. Aimed at gamers 12 and up, the action title will be available on Dreamcast, PlayStation, Game Boy Color and CD-ROM, allowing players to jump into Lee’s character Vallery Irons and help protect the rich and famous of California by using martial arts and exotic weaponry.

Ever wanted to drop-kick a Furby?

In its latest bid to nab teen gamers, Acclaim Entertainment is coming to market with a new digital title developed by Liverpool-based Bizarre Creations that offers a commando twist to the cute and cuddly world of stuffed animals. Aimed at the 13 to 24 demo, Fur Fighters puts players in charge of an elite plush platoon that must defeat the evil General Viggo and his legions of teddy bear soldiers. To make the fluff really fly, the six-character troop is armed with an arsenal that would make Rambo weep, as well as finely honed individual combat skills that, when used in precise combination, translate into one bad-ass fuzzy fighting machine.

Hitting shelves in June for both the PC and Sega’s Dreamcast console (with price tags between US$45 and US$55), Fur Fighters will benefit from a pre-launch teaser campaign consisting of print ads in gaming, trade and lifestyle mags like Maxim and Stuff, targeted TV spots and a promotional Web site (

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