Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oddities: T&C Surf Designs

Another odd licensed NES game, Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage was published by the toy company LJN based on characters from the popular Town & Country t-shirt line, like Thrilla Gorilla. It was a fairly early NES release, and I remember picking it up around the time third-party games were starting to join Nintendo's own titles on the shelves, as the system grew in popularity and I began to realize my original plan of gradually buying all the NES releases was not going to work out.

I also remember being disappointed in the game, in part because it was repetitive and difficult for the wrong reasons, in part because LJN chose to feature concept screen shots on the back of the box that were NOT representative of the actual gameplay. In this case, the box depicted a 2-player mode which was not actually available in the game, and enemy characters that also failed to appear in the final game's obstacle course-style design. It was not the game I was promised, and I don't think I ever bought another LJN game, at least not new at retail. I seem to remember a news story about a kid filing a lawsuit over LJN's Major League Baseball for false advertising -- promising league tracking or some other feature that mysteriously went missing between prototype and release.

Acclaim later acquired LJN, presumably whipped their ethics policies into shape, and released a sequel, Town & Country II: Thrilla's Surfari, which I haven't played but no doubt is why I remember that character's name and have forgotten all of the others.

We won't be seeing a sequel, remake or Virtual Console release for this one, at least not any time soon. In the late 80's, according to cartoonist and creator Steve Nazar, T&C split into two companies -- one retaining the T&C name and clothing operations, the other snagging the rights to market the cartoon characters independently. Guess which one is still in business? That's right -- people are still buying the surf wear, but the characters have fallen into disuse. They never had compelling personalities to begin with, and without the T&C connection and constant free apparel exposure, they lost whatever hipness they were perceived to have in the freewheeling 1980's.

1 comment:

  1. There were some garbage games out there in the early days...makes me sort of glad I was a young pup with no money. I had to be choosy!