Making futher tracks into the video game business, Toronto, Canada-based Decode Entertainment’s interactive division is using its creative clout to get in on the ground floor of Nintendo’s new DS handheld system. An initial North American run of 500,000 DS systems sold out within a week of launching in November, and worldwide sales were sitting at 1.2 million units at press time in late December. To capitalize on this early momentum, Decode has partnered with Toronto, Canada-based game developer Electron Jump to create an original gaming engine, which Decode could then use or license out for other games.
Electron Jump is one of the few game studios that received official approval from Nintendo to develop for the DS, says Decode’s VP of interactive, Dan Fill. And since Decode was already working on an idea for a DS game based on a new original property, Fill jumped at the chance to work with the Canadian gameco.
‘There hasn’t been a real-time strategy game for handheld yet because there’s never been multiplayer functionality before,’ says Fill. ‘This will be quite unique and very valuable.’ Real-time strategy games require players to monitor several characters at once, like in Atari’s popular Civilization PC game series. In the past, handheld screens have been too tiny for this type of play, but Fill says the second screen on the DS can be used as a map so players can monitor what’s happening and jump around in the game. While he’s keeping mum about the property, it will have a comedic spin and is being developed with an eye to a TV crossover.