INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [#4438]
Based on the Konami arcade game
Program: Dan Bass
Track layouts: Dan Bass, Mark Buchignani
Graphics: Dan Bass, Joe Ferreira
Music/Sound Effects: Andy Sells
With Atari having most of the good arcade games sewn up, Mattel had to compete with other video game manufacturers for whatever was left over. Upon seeing the Konami arcade game Loco-Motion (one was moved into the Applications Software department in Summer 1982), the programmers and Marketing felt this was a great game for an Intellivision conversion -- it was fun, unique, and "doable" with our technology.
Marketing shelled out big cash to beat out some other bidders for the rights and Ray Kaestner was chosen to do the conversion. Ray was set to take two weeks of vacation in August, so he was scheduled to begin work on Loco-Motion upon his return.
But Dan Bass, who was working on the ECS game Wall Street at the time, became addicted to the Loco-Motion arcade machine and decided he had to do the Intellivision version. Not knowing that Ray had already been picked for the job, Dan set out to get it. In about a week, he secretly put together a demo of the game mechanism, then presented it to management.
Based on the quality of the demo, Dan was pulled off of Wall Street and given the higher-priority Loco-Motion. Ray Kaestner returned from vacation to find that he was off the game. VP Gabriel Baum and Director Don Daglow (Utopia) apologized to Ray and gave him a consolation prize: the job of converting the arcade game BurgerTime.
Everyone was excited about Loco-Motion and Marketing was prepared for a big advertising campaign. Then, just as Loco-Motion was going to ROM manufacturing (a three-month process), Activision released an Intellivision game called Happy Trails.
As far as most people at Konami and Mattel were concerned, Happy Trails was a blatant rip-off of Loco-Motion, actionably so. The programmers and Marketing personnel happily anticipated a lawsuit that would shut Activision down. But no lawsuit was ever filed. Why not?
A Mattel lawyer claimed the problem was that Konami and Mattel couldn't agree on who should file (and pay) for the suit. Mattel felt that since Konami owned the game, Konami should sue. Konami's position, according to the lawyer, was that essentially Mattel was the damaged party (Konami got a huge guaranteed royalty whether the game sold or not); it was Mattel's responsibility to sue.
So no one sued, and Activision got credit for their "originality" in the overwhelmingly good reviews Happy Trails received. Marketing dropped plans for the big push on Loco-Motion, and got rid of the large number of ROMs that had been ordered by discount pricing the cartridge.