Game: Freddi Fish in Kelp Seed Mystery
Developer: Mistic Software/ Humongous Entertainment
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
Experience: Played demo in childhood
Many of us remember the days of old, spending our afternoons sitting at the computer and playing adventure games, from Hero’s Quest to Sam and Max. One of the biggest names in adventure game development was Ron Gilbert, known for bringing out the worlds of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. However, in 1992, Gilbert and LucasArts producer Shelley Day left the company to form a new, child-focused adventure game company, Humungous Entertainment. It is from this company that Freddi Fish and her games emerged, as well as a number of other franchise characters such as Putt-Putt and Spy Fox.
Freddi Fish in Kelp Seed Mystery is actually a Wii port of the character’s debut title, Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds, which launched for PC in 1994. While Humungous was still active, Freddi Fish starred in four more adventure titles: Freddi Fish and the Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse (1996), Freddi Fish and the Case of the Stolen Conch Shell (1998), Freddi Fish: The Case of the Hogfish Rustlers of Briny Gulch (1999), and Freddi Fish: The Case of the Creature of Coral Cove (2001). Amid the PC adventures, two Junior Arcade titles starring Freddi and her friend Luther were released in 1996: Freddi Fish and Luther's Maze Madness, and Freddi Fish and Luther's Water Worries.
Humungous would ultimately undergo a myriad of purchases in the late 1990s. GT Interactive purchased Humungous Entertainment in 1996, and GT itself was purchased by Infogrames Entertainment SA shortly thereafter. After acquiring Hasboro Interactive, Infogrames would rename its publishing title to Atari. The original founders of Humongous would try to purchase back Humungous, but as the tech crash hit, the deal fell through. Instead, the founders and a number of ex-Humungous staff created Hulabee Interactive, producing five titles in the early 2000s, including Disney Interactive’s Piglet’s Big Game and Plaid Banana’s Moop and Dreadly in the Treasure on Bing Bong Island (oddly enough, Plaid Banana was founded by ex-Humungous members and would later become part of Disney).
However, the life of Hulabee Interactive would also be short, this time in the face of fraud. According to reports, in 2005 co-founder Shelley Day had been found to be forging Letters of Intent and other documents in order to obtain loans from multiple foreign banks. The funding was thought to be going into a potential acquisition from Activision or Disney, but when the loans were due and neither corporation knew of any deal, the banks called Day out on fraud, leading her to 30 months jailtime with five years probation. Her arrest would lead to the end of Hulabee.
Meanwhile, the original Humungous would undergo layoffs and eventually close in 2001. A few years later, however, Humungous, Inc. was formed by a small number of ex-employees, and it was acquired by Infogrames in 2005. The new Humungous mostly licenses out its IPs to other developers, as in this case. Besides its older adventure titles, Humungous, Inc. works on developing its Backyard Sports franchise.
The actual developer behind the three Wii ports is Mistic Software. Formed in 1997, this Montreal-based company started with game development for airplanes, and it became a part of Atari in 2000, where it worked on interactive television products. It would shift back to handheld and console development in 2002. Its first Wii products, which included the three Humungous ports, emerged in 2008. The company’s products up to Freddi Fish include Dual Masters, Duel Quest: Expeditions, Kid Paddle, and The Price is Right for DS.
Publisher Majesco Entertainment was formed in 1986, acting as a reissuer of old, abandoned titles for Nintendo and Sega systems. Majesco would later rerelease the Sega Genesis, dubbed the Genesis 3, while Sega worked on the Sega Saturn; the company also rereleased the Game Gear as the Game Gear Core System. In the following generation, Majesco would begin game development under Pipe-Dream Interactive, producing such titles as a Dreamcast port of Q*bert and a number of Game Boy Advance titles. More recently, Majesco has been known to work on a number of franchises with smaller developers. It worked with Terminal Reality on BloodRayne and BloodRayne 2, both of which were met with some success. However, in 2003, the company was met with great financial difficulty; Double Fine Production’s Psychonauts had failed despite a large marketing campaign, while GlyphX Games’s Advent Rising was panned critically and, ultimately, failed to do well in sales, too. Another unique IP in development, Taldren, Inc.’s Black9, was cancelled in the final stages of development, also hurting the company’s finances. Further large cancellations occurred in 2006: Terminal Reality’s Demonik and Taxi Driver (a sequel to the movie). The company was able to pull through the hard times, thankfully, when it began publishing casual games, specifically the DS hit Cooking Mama (developed by Office Create, now titled Cooking Mama Limited). Prior to its collaboration with Atari and Mistic Software, Majesco’s most recent unique project would be Major Minor’s Majestic March, developed by Parappa the Rapper creator NanaOn-Sha.