Marketing totally dismissed Shark! Shark! as an inconsequential kiddie game and was reluctant to release it. It had one of the smallest initial shipments of any Intellivision game -- only 5,600 copies in 1982 (compared to nearly 800,000 for the heavily advertised Star Strike). So, of course, there were almost no copies in the stores when Shark! Shark! went on to become one of the best reviewed Intellivision games ever ("Shark! Shark! is an original. A must cartridge for Intellivision owners...positively delightful...certainly one of the finest cartridges for this system." -- Videogaming Illustrated, June 1983).
An exciting new target shooting game specially designed for children. There are four different shooting ranges for one or two players. Hit the pass receiver. Shoot down the spinning spacecraft. Bomb Navy ships. Fire at the maze monsters. Challenging action for video game beginners.
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Programmers started playing the game for hours on end, trying to see how bad the bug was -- would the game crash? Marketing needed to know instantly if the game was releasable. Should they toss out tens of thousands of dollars worth of chips and lose at least three months time, or should they risk the bad publicity of sending out a bug-filled version?
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Night Stalker is a favorite of Blue Sky Ranger Steve Roney (, ). He plays the game with a controller in each hand -- one to run, one to shoot -- since buttons and disk cannot be used simultaneously on one controller.
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TRON Deadly Discs was in production at the same time as TRON, the Disney movie; the design for the game was based on storyboards and production stills from the film.
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Mattel Electronics bet a lot of dough that the movie would be a phenomenon. A state-of-the-art special effect film about video games, the hottest trend in the country -- how could it miss? Well, it did. The lukewarm reception the movie received did little to boost interest in the six TRON games Mattel released (four originals, two conversions). TRON Deadly Discs, though, was a strong enough game in its own right to garner good reviews and word-of-mouth; it went on to sell over 300,000 copies -- a respectable number, but only about a third what Marketing was hoping for. Ironically, the original production run was planned to be 350,000, but at the last minute it was increased to 800,000. "The reason for the increase," explained Marketing man Dick Baumbusch in a June 1, 1982 memo, "is due to the anticipated popularity of the Tron film and the fact that we will feature it in a commercial this Fall. Also, the international demand for Tron will limit any downside risk." It was this type of forecasting that put Intellivision where it is today.
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In answer to a frequent question, there was no connection between the production of Mattel's TRON video games and the arcade games TRON and Discs of TRON. A separate company had licensed the arcade rights to the movie and there was no communication between them and Mattel.
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After Night Stalker was finished, game cartridges began getting larger in size, so Steve proposed Ms. Night Stalker, a 12K sequel that would include the web and all the other features he had wanted, including multiple weapons (bazookas to blast through walls!), multiple scrolling mazes and smarter robots. Marketing shelved the idea and Steve was assigned to program instead, which may have been a contributing factor toward Steve leaving Mattel and the game industry not long after.