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Monday August 9, 2004 11:36 am

JAKKS TV Games Interview


Posted by Hector Martinez Categories: Video Games


JAKKS TVGames

By now you've heard about JAKKS TVGames line of interactive entertainment products. You'll even find a review of their excellent Ms. Pac-Man TVGame right on our front page. Recently, Gear Live had a chance to speak with the great folks at the company for an inside scoop at how this product line came about, and what can we expect in the future. Click below to read the interview!



THE COMPANY

Describe your role at JakksTVGames.

Anne-Marie Feliciano: I am the Corporate Communications Manager handling product publicity, special events, investor relations and a host of other duties including handling publicity for TV Games, by far my favorite JAKKS product!

How did the idea of the Jakks TV Games line begin?

Anne-Marie: JAKKS is a highly acquisitive company and in 2001, we acquired Toymax Inc. At that time they were working on a product called TV Games - a plug and play controller that contains multiple retro-themed games. After the acquisition was completed we recognized a blockbuster hit in TV Games and worked further to develop the line before fully launching it to the public. For example, we made sure that TV Games based on retro titles were housed in authentic-looking controllers such as the Atari 2600.



Looks like Jakks Pacific is larger than just JakksTVGames. How big is the Company?

Anne-Marie: JAKKS has over 4700 SKUS of product, in over 15 brands and from all categories, including art activities to back-to-school, action figures to vehicles, and dolls to slumber bags. Our products are offered by retailers internationally and JAKKS employs over 300 people worldwide.

UPCOMING PRODUCTS

What else are you working on now? Any other arcade games, or other publishers, or titles from the 16-bit era?

Anne-Marie: We have some upcoming Fall titles from EA, plus Mortal Kombat and Spider-Man. Also check out our website at www.jakkstvgames.com! [Editor's Note: The EA classics NFL '95 and NHL '95 are both headed to stores this October, in one and two-player versions] We also have licensing agreements signed with Lucasfilm for Star Wars, Capcom, Midway and Marvel for upcoming 2005 TV Games titles.

Are there any plans with Nintendo or Sega?

Anne-Marie: JAKKS has many, many plans for the future of TV Games. We do not disclose details until we issue an official announcement.

How difficult was it to acquire the rights to reproduce these games?

Anne-Marie: Luckily, our licensors are just as excited about TV Games as we are! Licensing deals are lengthy processes but so far everyone has been on board!

Are there any games you haven't been able to license or get for your collections that you would like?

Anne-Marie: We're working on getting as many top gaming and entertainment properties as fast as we can! So far everyone is excited about TV Games.

Do you plan on releasing any game collections for the lesser known and failed systems of the late 80's and early 90's? Such as the Turbo Graphic 16 or Neo Geo?

Anne-Marie: Again, JAKKS has many, many plans for the future of TV Games. We do not disclose details until we issue an official announcement.

How about a Commodore 64 collection? Or a Colecovision Collection?
Anne-Marie: Same as above! Check out www.jakkstvgames.com for upcoming titles!

Would there be any plans for a steering wheel controller with only driving games? What about a lightgun?

Anne-Marie: JAKKS is exploring all top licenses and types of controllers for TV Games!



Why wasn't Kaboom licensed for use with the paddle controllers? Any chance of seeing the paddle re-released at a later date with it added?

Anne-Marie: We are constantly seeking rights for as many games as possible that fit in with TV Games. We'll keep you in the loop!

Can you give us any details on the Spiderman TV toy and when it might be released?

Anne-Marie: Now this I can talk about! Everyone's favorite web-slinger is back with Spider-Man TV Games. Players assume the role of the neighborhood crime fighter and battle sinister enemies including the Green Goblin, Rogue and more. Players skills as the web-slinging hero will be put to the ultimate test with 5 action packed games inside one controller.

An action-packed Spider-Man games in a single cool controller (see attached image for your use!)

5 games include: Streets of the City, Doc Ock Horror, Green Goblin's Escape, Venom's Vindication and Rogues Gallery

Spider-Man TV Games launches in October.



Going back to Mortal Kombat, what will the controller be like: arcade style or more like that of a console?

Anne-Marie: We're still in the process of finalizing the controller. I'm hoping to have a product image in a month.

DESIGN

What was the most challenging aspect of reproducing these games?

Petro Piaseckyj, JAKKS Senior Producer for TV Games: A couple of challenging aspects - taking the code that was done on different hardware and porting it to the current hardware; dealing with old code that no one has looked at a long time; and successfully communicating between the factory, developer, hardware provider and getting it all to work together and properly.

Do any of the classic games include extra features, like updates or unlockables?

Petro: We did a line by line port of the original games, if the original game had secrets and unlockables, then they're in the game. Our goal was to recreate exact replicas of the original game.

Were some games easier to convert than others?

Petro: They all have different challenges, none were specifically easier than others.

PURCHASING



What retail channels have you targeted for these products?

Anne-Marie: The best part about TV Games is that they appeal to such a wide demographic. You can find TV Games (and our preschool line of TV Games Kids) in traditional toy and electronic stores such as Toys R Us and Target, Circuit City and Best Buy, Game Stop and Electronics Boutique, as well as non-traditional outlets such as Musicland, Urban Outfitters, Bed Bath & Beyond and more.

What is the market you are targeting for the product?

Anne-Marie: TV Games can literally be played from ages 8-80 anyone who loves videogames but are sick of the violence and complexity of today's games, anyone who remembers the classic games from the past, men, women, old and young, there's literally a TV Games for everyone!

Are you surprised at how large the demand has become for your products?

Anne-Marie: We knew from the start that TV Games would be huge but yes, the speed and devotion that consumers and retailers have for the product was a happy suprise

Finally, which JAKKSTV Game is your personal favorite, and which are you looking forward to most?

Anne-Marie: I love SpongeBob SquarePants TV Games! I've always loved the character and the 5 SpongeBob games in the wacky-looking controller, such as "Bubble Pop" and "Super Chum Bucket" are so addicting! I can't wait for the release of World Poker Tour! Believe it or not, I love card games, especially Texas Hold 'Em. I also love watching the World Poker Series and Celebrity Poker on TV so I know I'll love WPT TV Games. I can even play with friends!


Many thanks to both Anne-Marie Feliciano and Petro Piaseckyj for their time and insights. Also, thanks go to our loyal readers for submitting their questions.

For more information on the JAKKS TV Games visit their website at www.jakkstvgames.com.

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