Three months after its North American debut, the Xbox video game system launched in Japan on February 22, 2002. Bill Gates was on hand to present the first Xbox sold, and many gamers camped out overnight in the Shibuya District of Tokyo to make sure they were among the first in the country to get their hands on a console. Xbox is now on sale at thousands of Japanese retail outlets, and 12 game titles are available including PROJECT GOTHAM RACING, TENKU, JET SET RADIO FUTURE and DEAD OR ALIVE 3. A total of 22 titles are scheduled to be available in Japan by the end of March.
Cartoon Network will launch three pay-to-play games based on the SCOOBY-DOO cartoon series in early summer 2002, to coincide with the release of the SCOOBY DOO movie. Cartoon Network has partnered with mobile entertainment service provider Digital Bridges Ltd., to launch the Scooby mobile games and others based on Cartoon Network characters, throughout North America and Europe. The titles will encompass the entire range of current mobile gaming technologies available today including SMS, WAP, Java and BREW, allowing the vast majority of mobile handset owners the chance to enjoy the games.
EMI recording artist and virtual band Gorillaz has teamed with media company Static 2358 to develop interactive TV content. A new game called Zombie Kong, featuring all four of the animated band members, will debut to more than 5.7 million digital satellite homes in the U.K., Friday, February 22, 2002 on Static's interactive television channel PlayJam. Game play involves viewers using their TV remote to control Gorillaz band member Noodle and help her find her way through 12 different levels.
Kids videogame publisher THQ and Nickelodeon have an extensive videogame lineup for 2002 featuring popular Nickelodeon shows. In addition to games based on Nickelodeon's television series RUGRATS, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS and ROCKET POWER, THQ will also offer an interactive adaptation of Nickelodeon's upcoming theatrical release THE WILD THORNBERRYS and games based on the JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS movie and upcoming JIMMY NEUTRON television series.
One of Japan's top animation studios, Production I.G., has launched a new English-language Website as part of an international campaign aimed at raising people's awareness of anime, and introducing the works and history of Production I.G. The new site includes news, updates, detailed descriptions and pictures from past I.G. films as well current projects.
Thanks to THQ, STAR WARS fans will be able to play their Game Boys while waiting in line to buy tickets for EPISODE II, and not feel like theyre missing out on the action. THQ Inc. will be releasing STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES for Game Boy Advance in spring 2002 to coincide with the release of the Lucasfilm feature film. The game will be the only one that follows the story line of the new movie. Players will assume the role of three different characters: Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
NewKidCo International Inc. has signed a three-year agreement with Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P. to publish interactive entertainment software for next-generation gaming systems based on the classic characters and stories of Dr. Seuss. The games, targeted to children ages six and up, will be distributed to all major retail accounts throughout North America, with distribution into Europe, New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Rim planned as well. The first title, scheduled for release in fall of 2002, will be developed for Game Boy Advance.
Disney Interactive has launched a new publishing label called Plaid Banana Entertainment to create a complete line of software in the kid's adventure genre. Disney is teaming with Hulabee Entertainment, a digital media company established by Humongous Entertainment co-founders Shelley Day and Ron Gilbert. Under the agreement, Disney Interactive will handle all marketing and distribution for Plaid Banana Entertainment titles.
Twelve new Wallace and Gromit short films will soon be available on the Internet. Aardmans Nick Park is in production on the 1-minute films, each featuring a unique Wallace-created invention, demonstrated as usual by the ever-patient Gromit. The film series, entitled WALLACES WORKSHOP, was inspired by a similar series of photographic vignettes Park was commissioned to create for the U.S. magazine EXPLORE. The films will be available online beginning Fall 2002.
Video game publisher Activision will be adapting its successful property RETURN TO CASTLE WOLFENSTEIN for the PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox video game systems. The PC version of the game has shipped more than one million units and topped sales charts worldwide since its release in December 2001. Activision promises that the next generation version of the game will feature unique design and technical modifications that take full advantage of each platform's advanced technology.
The interactive division of Toronto-based DECODE Entertainment is going into production on two Websites based on animated series. In addition to creating a French-language version of UNDERGRADS Online, they will also be developing the interactive world of GIRLSTUFF BOYSTUFF. UNDERGRADS Online is the Website DECODE developed alongside the animated series that currently airs on MTV and Teletoon. Co-produced by DECODE and MTV Animation, UNDERGRADS follows four male friends as they attempt to maintain their camaraderie while struggling to survive their first year at different colleges.
Game developer THQ Inc. and Motorola, Inc. have teamed to develop a suite of games for Motorola's current and next-generation handsets. As a result of this agreement, the companies will introduce new wireless games for Motorola mobile phones with Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME) technology. The first four games, WWF MOBILE MADNESS, TETRIS, INTELLIVISION'S ASTROSMASH and MOTOGP will launch in North America in mid-January 2002 with worldwide distribution to follow throughout the year.
Microsoft Corp.s future-generation game console Xbox will go on sale at retail outlets throughout Japan on February 22, 2002 at a price of 34,800 yen (US$265). 50,000 Xbox Special Edition consoles designed exclusively for the Japanese market will also be available. The special console will be greenish-black with a translucent textured casing. The jewel portion of the box will have a silver logo with black lettering. A silver-plated key chain with an engraved serial number and Bill Gates signature will be included with the console as well.
Square Electronic Arts FINAL FANTASY X game for PlayStation 2 was number one in U.S. sales across all video game software categories in its first week of release, according to NPD Funworld Video Game Data. FINAL FANTASY X shipped to retailers nationwide on December 18, just in time for the Christmas holiday. In Japan, FINAL FANTASY X was released on July 19, 2001 and sold through 90% of the 2.14 million units it shipped in the first four days. It is the first PlayStation 2 title to reach the 2 million unit mark.
San Jose, California-based entertainment software developer BAM! Entertainment has reached an agreement with Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Consumer Products to publish video games based on the animated series SAMURAI JACK. BAM! Entertainment entered into a strategic relationship with Cartoon Network in 2000 to create video games based on the television shows THE POWERPUFF GIRLS, DEXTER'S LABORATORY and YOGI BEAR. SAMURAI JACK debuted on Cartoon Network in August 2001 and has attracted an audience of all ages.
Nintendo will showcase its GameCube video console at Milia 2002, weeks before its initial European launch. The video game set-top was released in the United States and Japan in 2001 and has sold nearly 1.5 million units in North America alone. Nintendo will preview GameCube along with 20 new games including LUIGIS MANSION, PIKMIN, STAR WARS ROGUE SQUADRON 2: ROGUE LEADER and SONIC ADVENTURE 2. Milia visitors will receive the exclusive European preview of GameCube at the Milia 2002 conference held February 48, 2002 at the Palais de Festivals in Cannes, France.
Previously available for PlayStation2 and Xbox, Electronic Arts THE SIMPSONS ROAD RAGE can now be played on the Nintendo GameCube. Developed by Radical Entertainment and co-published with Fox Interactive, THE SIMPSONS ROAD RAGE is a witty and wild arcade-style racing game set in the town of Springfield. Players can take the wheel as their favorite Simpsons character and wreak havoc through six expansive Springfield neighborhoods with the ultimate goal of buying back the Transit Corporation from the diabolical Mr. Burns.
The 2nd annual Sundance Online Film Festival featuring animation, live-action, documentary, interactive and new form shorts is available for viewing until January 20, 2002. Selected works of animation from the Online Film Festival will also screen on January 15 and January 19 at the Sundance Film Festival Animation Spotlight: Online on Screen. The screening will be a compilation of the online animated works shown on a big screen and will feature a Q&A with the filmmakers.
Thirty-five years after his animated classic HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS first aired, Chuck Jones has ventured back into holiday specials with his newest creation Thomas T. Wolf, producing a five-and-a-half minute Christmas special titled "Ohhh! Christmas Tree." The episode, part of Warner Bros. Online's new Flash-animated internet series CHUCK JONES' TIMBER WOLF, is now available for viewing exclusively at www.warnerbros.com. The series' main character is Thomas T. Wolf, a timber wolf with a problem: He is compelled to utter his middle name -- Timber!
Mike Reiss' Web series QUEER DUCK is returning to the Web and debuting on television thanks to the Showtime network. The series, which debuted in October 2000 on Icebox.com, will return to the Web beginning in January 2002, when 15 new episodes premiere exclusively online at Sho.com. The new episodes are produced by Reiss' company Queer Duck Productions, Inc. in association with Xeth Feinberg's Mishmash Media, Inc.
As part of Vivendi Universal Publishing's long-term deal with Tolkien Enterprises, Universal Interactive will publish games based on J.R.R. Tolkien's best-selling saga THE LORD OF THE RINGS. The company acquired the exclusive rights to develop interactive entertainment based on selected Tolkien literary works. Universal Interactive will create games for multiple next-generation and PC platforms with content derived from Tolkien's novels THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS and THE RETURN OF THE KING.
NDi Media and Canadian producer Cité-Amérique have launched wumpasworld.com, a Web convergence project featuring interactive games and other content designed for children three to five years old. The Website is based on characters from WUMPA'S WORLD, a 26 x 15 pre-school television series produced by Cité-Amérique, which features a unique combination of puppetry and animatronics. The television show currently airs on YTV's Treehouse TV.
Hoping the newly-released Xbox and GameCube game consoles create a game buying frenzy, Activision, Inc. has shipped all of its games for 2001 to retail outlets throughout North America.
Building on the popularity of the Kids' WB! animated series Jackie Chan Adventures, Activision has licensed the property to create Jackie Chan Adventures: Legend of the Dark Hand for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance now available at retail. The game chronicles the adventures of Jackie Chan as he faces-off against the nefarious forces of the Dark Hand on a quest to uncover ancient mystical scrolls. The game combines anime-style animation with fast-paced comedy.
Limited quantities of FINAL FANTASY X for the PlayStation 2 will start shipping to retail stores in the U.S. on December 26, 2001, instead of the originally scheduled January 2002. The game was released in Japan on July 19, 2001 and sold through 90% of the 2.14 million units it shipped in the first four days. To date, the FINAL FANTASY series has sold over 35 million units worldwide, making the franchise one of the best-selling series in the history of videogames. In FINAL FANTASY X, the main character, Tidus, is a star player of blitzball, a full contact sport.