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Creator: LJN Toys

"Purple for putrid gameplay, blue for bad musical abominations, green for graphical farts and garlic, yellow for piss-poor lack of loyalty to source material, orange for 'Orange you a fucking idiot!', and red for high stress anger-inducing masochism. Put that all together, and you got all the colors of the shit rainbow. Hooray LJN."
One of many of the The Angry Video Game Nerd's well aimed shots at LJN

LJN Toys was founded in 1970 by Jack Friedman, who later founded THQ and Jakks Pacific. The name LJN came from the initials of Lewis J. Norman, the reverse of Norman J. Lewis, whose toy company had employed Friedman as a sales representative in the 1960s. Lewis initially backed the company financially, but later sold his interest to a Chinese investor.

In 1985, MCA, which had been actively acquiring companies in the mid-1980s, acquired LJN for $66 million or $67 million in an effort to retain more profits from the merchandising of its film properties.

In 1986, LJN started publishing video games, nearly all of them for the Nintendo Entertainment System, but its games have been notorious for having abysmal design flaws such as lack of recovery time, limited attack range, etc. Most of the studio's games were outsourced, sometimes to studios who mostly do top notch games like Atlus (Snowboard Kids, Just Before The End Shin Megami Tensei, Xexyz, etc.), Westone (the Wonder Boy studio) and Rare (Golden Eye 1997, Banjo-Kazooie, Conkers Bad Fur Day, etc.).

Also in 1986, LJN created a subsidiary, Entertech, to sell a new line of battery-powered water guns, as well as a home version of the Photon laser-tag game (which debuted at the same time Worlds of Wonder launched their "Lazer Tag" line). The Entertech water guns were heavily marketed for their realistic appearance (The Look! The Feel! The Sound! So Real! EN-TER-TECH!), and even put out a sub-line with a Rambo license, but it all backfired spectacularly when police officers mistook the toy guns for real weapons in several incidents, resulting in kids getting shot and killed by mistake. Despite remaking the guns in bright neon colors, Entertech never fully recovered, and found its market share waning in favor of less-realistic, but more powerful, water guns such as the Super Soaker line.

In 1990, MCA sold LJN to Acclaim Entertainment. Acclaim phased out the toy lines and liquidated the Entertech brand, so they could use the LJN brand to increase the number of games they could publish for the NES. Even after Nintendo dropped the publishing limitations, LJN continued to publish games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy as late as 1995, when the division was folded into Acclaim proper. For reasons unknown, Acclaim revived the brand in 2000 to publish one Sega Dreamcast title, Spirit of Speed '37. This is likely because they knew they had a bad game on their hands and figured they may as well put the LJN logo on it.

The company is probably best known today as a frequent target of The Angry Video Game Nerd's outrage (he's joked that the name must stand for "laughing joking numbnuts").


Games published by LJN:

Rare

Bits Studios

  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
    • Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six
    • The Amazing Spider-Man 3: Invasion of the Spider-Slayers
  • Alien³
  • Wolverine: Adamantium Rage

Sculptured Software

  • Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball
  • WWF Superstars 2

Beam Software

  • Back to the Future
    • Back to the Future Part II & III
  • The Punisher
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Game Boy Adventure: A Bogus Journey!
  • True Lies

Software Creations

  • Pictionary
  • Wolverine
    • Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge
    • Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage
  • The Incredible Crash Dummies

Grey Matter

  • The Incredible Crash Dummies
  • WWF King of the Ring

Atlus

  • Friday the 13th
  • Gotcha! The Sport!note 
  • Jawsnote 
  • The Karate Kid
  • Major League Baseball
  • NFL Football
  • Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage

Probe Entertainment

Rocket Science Productions

  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure

Broadsword Interactive

  • Spirit of Speed 1937

Unknown developer (could be either Both Tec or Pixel)

Toys and action figures made by LJN:


KennerToy Company IndexMattel
Donkey Kong CountryInternational CoproductionStar Fox 1
LittleWingVideo Game CompaniesLooking Glass Studios

alternative title(s): LJN Toys
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