Disney and Squaresoft pair up for classic-original game character fusion
In a weird ‘old meets new’ scenario, Disney Interactive has partnered with Squaresoft on a PlayStation 2 game that has three new anime-esque characters interacting with Mouse House vets like Mickey, Goofy and Donald. Due out in Japan this winter and in North America and Europe for fall 2002, Kingdom Hearts tells the story of three teen friends who are flung to separate corners of the universe by a violent storm. They meet up with Disney Castle royal attachés, who are looking for their missing monarch King Mickey. Interestingly, Disney will retain ownership of the anime-style characters, which were created by Final Fantasy designer Tetsuya Nomura. Keep your eyes on this property, folks. The smell of screen spin-off potential is in the air.
THQ gets a leg up in wireless content production
Setting itself up as an early-bird wireless software provider in the U.S., Calabasas, California-based THQ has launched a new division dedicated to producing content for the burgeoning mobile phone entertainment market. Headed up by GM Doug Dyer and operating under the company’s projection that worldwide wireless gaming revenues will reach US$6 billion by 2005, THQ Wireless is currently hammering out deals with major cell phone operators and handset and mobile network equipment providers. The unit has already developed two licensed games for launch in Europe this fall-WWF: Mobile Madness in conjunction with Jakks Pacific and a Tetris title. THQ is currently looking to sign other game licenses for properties that have global mainstream appeal.
Mattel and Vivendi aim for younger girl gamers with Barbie’s little sister
Hoping to get even more digital mileage out of its Barbie franchise, Mattel has paired with Vivendi Universal Publishing to launch an interactive line for the doll icon’s little sister Kelly. Introduced as a spin-off toy line for younger girls in 1995, Kelly is the reigning number-one 16-inch-plus doll in the U.S. A Game Boy Color title and CD-ROM game will be the first Kelly Club video game products out of the gate this September, and both titles will be supported in a Kelly Club TV commercial airing this fall, as well as by a brand-wide gift-with-purchase promo. With the CD-ROM going after a core target of girls four to eight and the GBC aging up slightly for the five to eight set, both games are set in Kelly’s treehouse and incorporate a lot of dress-up play value.