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Acclaim Entertainment

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Acclaim Entertainment was an American video game developer and publisher. It developed, published, marketed and distributed interactive entertainment software for a variety of hardware platforms, including Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, and Game Gear, Nintendo's NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, Sony's PlayStation and PlayStation 2, Microsoft's Xbox, and, to a lesser extent, personal computer systems and arcade games. It also released video games for the Sega Master System in Europe.

Since Acclaim Entertainment's 2004 demise, the Acclaim brand and logotype have been purchased by Acclaim Games and are now used by this unrelated company. Canadian video game publisher Throwback Entertainment acquired 150+ titles of Acclaim's video game library.

History

Founded in 1987 as a Delaware corporation, Acclaim maintained operations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, and Japan. In its first years, Acclaim was exclusively a video game publisher, either farming out the creation of its video games to external developers or localizing existing video games from overseas. But as it grew, it purchased some independent studios, including Iguana Entertainment of Austin, Texas, Probe Entertainment of London, England and Sculptured Software of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The name of the company was picked because it had to be alphabetically above the co-founder's former place of employment, Activision, and also had to be alphabetically above Accolade (another company formed by ex-Activision employees). This was a common formula for picking names of new companies that were founded by ex-Activision employees (the founders of Activision used this formula when they left Atari).

Many of Acclaim's products were licensed titles: games based on comics, television series (including wrestling shows and cartoons) and movies. They were also responsible for the ports of many of Midway's arcade games in the early-to-mid 1990s, including the Mortal Kombat series. They also published some games from other companies that at the time of publication didn't have an American branch, such as Technos Japan's Double Dragon II and Taito's Bust-A-Move series. Several games in the Acclaim catalog are frequently cited as among the worst of all time, a fact that has continued to earn it the derision of gamers and gaming media.

The waning of the arcade game industry, coupled with some poor sales and public enthusiasm from several key titles led to the eventual loss of many of their licenses. One result of this was their late refactoring of the Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX series. To add to that, their arcade game Batman Forever had poor sales also due to poor gameplay.

A less significant aspect of Acclaim's business was the development and publication of strategy guides relating to their software products and the issuance of "special edition" comic magazines, via Acclaim Comics, to support the more lucrative brand names.

During Acclaim's decline towards bankruptcy, Steve Perry, (former MD of Eddie Stobart Ltd & now IT guru - right hand man of Bill Gates) made several infamous business and marketing decisions. One example was a promise to UK gamers that a £500 prize would be awarded to up to five winners who would name their baby "Turok", to promote the release of Turok Evolution. Another was an attempt to buy advertising space on actual tombstones for a Shadowman game.

In 1995, they acquired Sculptured Software and Probe Entertainment.

The company also had a history of shady dealings with its employees. Roughly two years after its acquisition of the Salt Lake City-based Sculptured Software, during which it offered Sculptured Software employees what looked like iron-clad contracts and stock that would be vested over the course of the contracts, it abruptly laid off about half the company, violating its own contract terms. The lay-off, however, came so abruptly that the employees had to choose between taking a reasonable severance package (whose terms altered several times during the initial weeks after the layoff) and not suing, or taking a number after a number of other creditors to sue and losing the severance package. (Personal communication from Paul G. Webb, a mid-level manager caught in the lay-off.) Roughly ten years later, one of numerous class action suits filed on behalf of stockholders was won, allowing some of these employees the chance at least to realize a return on some of the stock that had been vested. Named in this particular suit were founder and CEO Greg Fishbach, Edmond Sanctis, James Scoroposki and Gerard Agoglia.

Acclaim also suffered multiple lawsuits, a portion of them with former partners. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen sued over unpaid royalties. In the last iteration of the BMX series, semi-nude, nude and porn content (e.g., full motion video of strippers and nude female riders) was added in hopes of boosting sales. However, like most of their other contemporary titles, BMX XXX sold poorly and was derided for its trashy content and poor gameplay. Dave Mirra himself publicly disowned the game, stating that he was not involved in the decision to include nudity, and he sued Acclaim for fear of being associated with BMX XXX. Another was from Acclaim's own investors, claiming that Acclaim management had published misleading financial reports.

In 2001, Probe Entertainment became Acclaim Cheltenham.

In May, 2002 Acclaim bought most of the assets of the Software Creations studio and established a new development company, known as Acclaim Studios Manchester.[2]

In December 2002, Acclaim closed its Salt Lake City studio (formerly veteran developer Sculptured Software).

Acclaim suffered severe financial problems in 2004, the result of most of their video and computer game titles (like Showdown: Legends of Wrestling) selling very poorly. This resulted in the closure of Acclaim Studios Cheltenham and Acclaim Studios Manchester in England and other places and their filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, leaving many employees unpaid. Amongst the titles under development at the UK studios were Emergency Mayhem, and Made Man.

On September 1, 2004, Acclaim filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of New York, which would virtually annihilate their company in liquidating all possible assets to pay off their enormous debt which reportedly tops USD$100 million.

An attempt to reopen the Cheltenham and Manchester studios in October 2004 (under the new name Exclaim) failed due to legal wrangling over IP, with both the US and UK administrators claiming rights.

In August 2005, former Activision executive Howard Marks purchased the name "Acclaim" for a reported $100,000. In the beginning of 2006, Marks formed a new company called Acclaim Games. According to a job listing for the company, Acclaim Games is aimed at the US and UK preteen multiplayer markets.

In 2006 Throwback Entertainment, a video game company that had once considered acquiring Acclaim Entertainment, announced that it had purchased 50+ of Acclaim's games, and vows to bring such titles as Re-Volt, Extreme-G, Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance, Vexx, Fur Fighters and many other franchises into the next generation and beyond.

Subsidiaries

Defunct Studios

  • Acclaim Comics in New York, New York, founded in 1989 as Valiant Comics, acquired in June 1994.
  • Acclaim Studios Austin, founded Sunnyvale, California as Iguana Entertainment on August 14, 1991, acquired 1995.
  • Acclaim Studios London in Croydon, England, founded as Probe Software in 1984, acquired October 10, 1995.
  • Acclaim Studios Salt Lake City, founded as Sculptured Software in 1984, acquired October 9, 1995.

Defunct Labels

  • Arena Entertainment, founded as Mirrorsoft, acquired in 1992, discontinued in 1994.
  • Acclaim Max Sports
  • Acclaim Sports
  • AKA Acclaim (Athletes Kick Ass)
  • Club Acclaim
  • Flying Edge in Glen Cove, NY, started in 1991, discontinued in 1994.
  • LJN, founded in 1970, acquired in 1988, closed in 1994. Brand briefly revived in 2000.

Game titles

Name Release Year Platform(s)
AFL Live 2004 2003 PC, PS2, Xbox
AFL Live Premiership Edition 2004 PC, PS2, Xbox
Alias 2004 PC, PS2, Xbox, Mobile
All-Star Baseball PS, PS2, N64, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube
ATV Quad Power Racing 2 2003 PS2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, GBA
Armorines: Project Swarm 1999 PS, N64, GBC
Aggressive Inline 2002 PS2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, GBA
Batman & Robin 1998 PlayStation
Batman Forever 1995

1996

Super NES, Sega Master System, Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Game Boy, PC
Blast Lacrosse 2001 PlayStation
BMX XXX 2002 Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2
Bubble Bobble/Rainbow Islands 1995 Sega Saturn, PlayStation
Burnout 2001 (PlayStation 2)

2002 (Nintendo GameCube/Xbox)

PlayStation 2/Nintendo GameCube/Xbox
Burnout 2: Point Of Impact 2002 (PlayStation 2)

2003 (Nintendo GameCube/Xbox)

PlayStation 2/Nintendo GameCube/Xbox
Bust a Move 2 1997 Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Nintendo 64
Constructor 1997 PC, PlayStation
Crazy Taxi 2001 PlayStation 2/Nintendo GameCube
D 1998 3DO, Sega Saturn, PS, PC
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2000 PlayStation, Dreamcast, Windows PC, Game Boy Color
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 2001 PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox, Game Boy Advance
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3 2002 Game Boy Advance
ECW Anarchy Rulz 1999 PS, Dreamcast
ECW Hardcore Revolution 1998 PS, N64, Dreamcast, GBC
18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker 2001 (PlayStation 2)

2002 (Nintendo GameCube)

PlayStation 2/Nintendo GameCube
Extreme-G 1997 N64
Extreme-G 2 1998 N64, PC
XG3: Extreme G Racing 2001 PS2, Nintendo GameCube
XGRA: Extreme-G Racing Association 2004 PS2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox
Fantastic Four 1997 PS
Forsaken 1998 ( )

1999 ()

Windows, PlayStation, Nintendo 64
Fur Fighters

(a.k.a. Fur Fighters in Viggo's Revenge)

2000 (Dreamcast, Windows)

2001 (PlayStation 2)

Dreamcast, Windows, PlayStation 2
Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance 2003 PS2, Xbox, PC
Iggy's Reckin' Balls 1998 N64
Juiced 2004 PC, PS2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube
Jupiter Strike 1995 PS
Legends of Wrestling 2001 (PS2)

2002 (Xbox, Nintendo GameCube)

PS2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube
Legends of Wrestling II 2002 PS2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube
Marvel's X-Men 1989 NES
Machines 1999 PC
Mortal Kombat 1991 GameBoy, Game Gear, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega CD, Sega 32X, SNES, PC
Mortal Kombat II 1992 GameBoy, Game Gear, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega 32X, SNES, PC
NBA Jam 1993 Sega Genesis, SNES
NBA Jam Extreme PS
NFL Quarterback Club 1994 PS, N64, GameBoy, Game Gear, Sega Genesis, Sega 32X, Sega Saturn, SNES
Othello

JP 1986


NA 1988

NES
Paris-Dakar Rally 2001 PC, PlayStation 2
Paris-Dakar 2: The World's Ultimate Rally 2003 PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube
Re-volt 1999 PS, N64, Dreamcast, PC
Revolution X 1995 Super NES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PlayStation
World Championship Rugby 2004 PC, PS2, Xbox
Shadowman 1999 N64, PS, PC, Dreamcast
Shadowman: 2econd Coming 2001 PS2
Showdown: Legends of Wrestling 2003 PS2, Xbox
Smash TV 1990 NES
South Park 1999 PS, N64, PC
South Park Rally 2000 PS, N64, PC, Dreamcast
South Park: Chef's Luv Shack 1999 PS, N64, PC, Dreamcast
Space Jam 1996 PS, Sega Saturn, PC
Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six 1992, 1993 NES, Master System, Game Gear
Spider-Man and the X-Men: Arcade's Revenge SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Gear, Game Boy
Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis
Spider-Man: The Animated Series 1993 SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis
Summer Heat Beach Volleyball 2001 PS2
The Simpsons: Bart & the Beanstalk 1994 GB
The Simpsons: Bart Meets Radioactive Man 1992 NES, Game Gear
The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants 1991–1992 NES, Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Gear
The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World 1991 NES, Master System, Game Gear
Bart vs. The Juggernauts 1992 GB
The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare

NA 1992


EU & JP 1993

SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis
The Simpsons: Virtual Bart 1994 SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis
Trickstyle 1999 Dreamcast, PC
Trog! 1991 NES
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter 1997 N64, PC, GameBoy
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil 1998 N64, GBC, PC
Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion 2000 N64, GBC
Turok: Rage Wars 1999 N64, GBC
Turok: Evolution 2002 PS2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, PC
Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety 1995 SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, PC
WWF In Your House 1996 PlayStation, Sega Saturn
WWF WrestleMania 1988 NES
WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game 1995 Arcade, SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PlayStation
WWF War Zone 1998 PS, N64, Sega Saturn (Cancelled)
WWF Attitude 1999 PS, N64, Dreamcast
Vexx 2003 PS2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube
Virtua Tennis 2 2002 PS2
X-Men: Children of the Atom 1997 Sega Saturn, PC, PlayStation

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