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LJN

LJN was an American video game publisher that began publishing games in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  The publisher primarily focused on publishing licensed based games to capitalize on already successful franchises, a strategy that worked well for them in the toy industry.   They began publishing games based on movie franchises then branched out to acquire the rights to publish sports games using the MLB, NBA and WWF properties.

The publisher was a division of LJN Toys Ltd, an American toy company founded by Jack Friedman in 1970.  Friedman used the funds he made while working for his former employer, Norman J. Lewis Associates to start his own business.   When he registered his business, he used LJN, the initials of his former employer Norman J. Lewis in reverse.

Friedman was able to secure licensing agreements with a few television production companies in the mid 1970s and began manufacturing action figures based off various television shows.   In 1974 the toy manufacture began releasing action figures based on the television shows “The Rookies”, “Emergency!”, and “S.W.A.T.”.  After securing some revenue and building a name for themselves based off the release of their action figure line, the toy company began creating a line of small toy cars called “Road Stars”.   Their toy car line “Road Stars” recreated vehicles found in television shows, cartoons, and comic books.  

LJN Toys Ltd. Head Quarters
Type Subsidiary
Parent Company MCA Inc (1985-1990)
Acclaim Entertainment (1990-1995)
Location New York, NY
United States
Publisher LJN
Founded 1970
Defunct 1995

They once again secured licenses for already successful franchises to use in conjunction with their ability to manufacture toys instead of creating something original and having to market it from scratch themselves.   This method worked very well for the newly formed company and they continued this approach throughout the 1980s securing rights to popular properties such as E.T., Magnum P.I., Michael Jackson, Indiana Jones, Gremlins, and the WWF.

Their license deal to manufactured wrestlers based on WWF’s Superstars was their most successful toy line and outside of publishing video games is what the company is best known for.  They manufactured the Wrestling Superstars line from 1984 through 1989, releasing a series of unique wrestling figures each year for six consecutive years. 

In 1985, MCA Inc., a subsidiary of Universal City Studios, acquired L.J.N. Toys Ltd for approximately $67 million to strengthen their brand by expanding their portfolio.  By purchasing L.J.N. Toys Ltd they could make the toys based on their movies without having to contract a toy manufacture thus generating more revenue from the sale of merchandise of its film properties.  In 1987, LJN expanded beyond manufacturing toys and started publishing video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. 

The company never ventured into game development but focused on marketing and distribution of games that were mainly themed around licensed based properties.  Many of the games that they chose to publish sold fairly well based off of the successful properties the games were based on such as The Karate Kid, Friday the 13th, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, A Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. but the majority of the games were notoriously bad.  The games sold based off the license’s properties popularity rather then the games quality or reputation.

Entering into video game publishing in 1987 proved to be a successful strategy for the company.   The company continued toy manufacturing and released a new line of highly realistic looking water guns under the name Entertech.  The battery-powered motorized water guns were designed to resemble real firearms and even contained water in detachable magazines like their firearm counterparts.  The product line was the subject of controversy when incidents started to arise where law enforcement officers were accidently shooting and killing teenage kids after mistaken the water guns for actual firearms.  In addition, there were reports of criminals using the water guns in robberies and the controversy surrounding the Entertech guns was affecting the LJN brand and thus MCA’s reputation. 

Due to a mix of lower than expected revenue and the controversy surrounding the Entertech guns, MCA sold LJN in 1990 to Acclaim Entertainment.  After the acquisition Acclaim ceased all toy manufacturing and shut down LJN’s toy division to have the company focus solely on video game publishing.  Acclaim allowed LJN to continue forward with their strategy to published license-based games that had popular properties.  The company continued to publish Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy and Super Nintendo games until 1995 when Acclaim decided to dissolve the LJN brand.  For an unknown reason Acclaim decided to publish the Dreamcast version of Spirt of Speed 1937 under the LJN brand, 5 years after the company was dissolved and no longer existed.

Known For:

History of LJN with the Gaming Historian

 

The Gaming Historian

The Gaming Historian is a documentary series all about the history of video games.  The show is researched, written, edited, and created by Norman Caruso.

  • Games Published by LJN
  • Licensed Games

YearBoxTitlePlatformDeveloperGenre
1987The Karate Kid BoxThe Karate KidNintendo Entertainment SystemAtlusAction
1987Gotcha! The Sport! BoxGotcha! The SportNintendo Entertainment SystemSanritsuSports
Paintball
1987JawsNintendo Entertainment SystemWestoneAction
1988Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water RageNintendo Entertainment SystemAtlusSports
Skateboarding
Surfing
1988Major League BaseballNintendo Entertainment SystemAtlusSports
Baseball
1989Friday the 13th BoxFriday The 13thNintendo Entertainment SystemAtlusAction
1989NFLNintendo Entertainment SystemAtlusSports
Football
1989Back to the FutureNintendo Entertainment SystemBeam SoftwareAction
1989Who Framed Roger Rabbit BoxWho Framed Roger RabbitNintendo Entertainment SystemRareAdventure
1989The Uncanny X-MenNintendo Entertainment SystemN/AAction
1990The Amazing Spider-man BoxThe Amazing Spider-ManGame BoyRareAction
1990PictionaryNintendo Entertainment SystemSoftware CreationsBoard Game
1990Back to the Future II & IIINintendo Entertainment SystemBeam SoftwareAction
1990A Nightmare on Elm Street BoxA Nightmare on Elm StreetNintendo Entertainment SystemRareAction
1990The PunisherNintendo Entertainment SystemBeam SoftwareAction
1990WWF Wrestlemania Challenge BoxWWF WrestleMania ChallengeNintendo Entertainment SystemRareSports
Wrestling
1991NBA All-Star ChallengeGame Boy
Super Nintendo
Beam SoftwareSports
Basketball
1991WWF Superstars BoxWWF SuperstarsGame BoyRareSports
Wrestling
1991Beetlejuice BoxBeetlejuiceNintendo Entertainment SystemRareAction
1991The Punisher: The Ultimate PaybackGame BoyBeam SoftwareAction
1991Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game AdventureNintendo Entertainment SystemRocket Science ProductionsAction
1991Bill & Ted's Excellent Game Boy Adventure: A Bogus Journey!Game BoyBeam SoftwareAction
1991Roger Clemens' MVP BaseballNintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
Super Nintendo
Sculptured SoftwareSports
Baseball
1991WolverineNintendo Entertainment SystemSoftware CreationsAction
1992Terminator 2: Judgement DayGame BoyB.I.T.S.Action
1992Beetlejuice GB BoxBeetlejuiceGame BoyRareAction
1992Terminator 2: Judgement DayNintendo Entertainment SystemSoftware CreationsAction
1992Town & Country Surf Designs II: Thrilla's SurfariNintendo Entertainment SystemSculptured SoftwareSports
Skateboarding
Surfing
1992WWF Super WrestleManiaSuper NintendoSculptured SoftwareSports
Wrestling
1992NBA All-Star Challenge 2Game BoyBeam SoftwareSports
Basketball
1992WWF Superstars 2Game BoySculptured SoftwareSports
Wrestling
1992Spider-Man 2Game BoyB.I.T.S.Action
1992WWF WrestleMania: Steel Cage ChallengeNESSculptured SoftwareSports
Wrestling
1992T2: The Arcade GameGame Boy
Super Nintendo
Beam Software (GB)
Probe Software (SNES)
Action
1992Spider-Man & X-Men in Arcade's RevengeGame Boy
Super Nintendo
Software Creations (SNES)
Unexpected Development (GB)
Action
1992The Incredible Crash DummiesGame Boy
Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Nintendo
Software Creations (GB, NES)
Gray Matter Studios (SNES)
Action
1992Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister SixNintendo Entertainment SystemB.I.T.S.Action
1993Alien 3Game Boy
Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Nintendo
B.I.T.S. (GB)
Probe Software (NES, SNES)
Action
1993WWF Royal RumbleSuper NintendoSculptured SoftwareSports
Wrestling
1993NFL Quarterback ClubGame BoyBeam SoftwareSports
Football
1993Spider-Man 3: Invasion of the Spider-SlayersGame BoyB.I.T.S.Action
1993Terminator 2: Judgement DaySuper NintendoB.I.T.S.Action
1993WWF King of the RingNintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
Eastridge TechnologySports
Wrestling
1994Spider-Man and VenomSpider-Man and Venom: Maximum CarnageSuper NintendoSoftware CreationsAction
1994Wolverine: Adamantium RageSuper NintendoBits CorporationAction
1994WWF RawSuper Nintendo
Game Boy
Sculptured Software (SNES)
Realtime Associates (GB)
Sports
Wrestling
1994NFL Quarterback ClubSuper Nintendo
Game Boy
Iguana Entertainment (SNES)
Condor, Inc. (GB)
Sports
Football
1994WarlockSuper NintendoRealtime AssociatesAction
1995True LiesSuper Nintendo
Game Boy
Beam SoftwareAction
1995Spider-Man: The Animated SeriesSuper NintendoWestern Technologies IncorporatedAction
1995Revolution XSuper NintendoRage SoftwareShooting Gallery
1996Cutthroat IslandSuper NintendoSoftware CreationsAction
2000Spirit of Speed 1937DreamcastBroadsword InteractiveRacing

YearBoxTitlePlatformDeveloperGenre
1987The Karate Kid BoxThe Karate KidNintendo Entertainment SystemAtlusAction
1987JawsNintendo Entertainment SystemWestoneAction
1988Major League BaseballNintendo Entertainment SystemAtlusSports
Baseball
1989Friday the 13th BoxFriday The 13thNintendo Entertainment SystemAtlusAction
1989NFLNintendo Entertainment SystemAtlusSports
Football
1989Back to the FutureNintendo Entertainment SystemBeam SoftwareAction
1989Who Framed Roger Rabbit BoxWho Framed Roger RabbitNintendo Entertainment SystemRareAdventure
1989The Uncanny X-MenNintendo Entertainment SystemN/AAction
1990The Amazing Spider-man BoxThe Amazing Spider-ManGame BoyRareAction
1990Back to the Future II & IIINintendo Entertainment SystemBeam SoftwareAction
1990A Nightmare on Elm Street BoxA Nightmare on Elm StreetNintendo Entertainment SystemRareAction
1990The PunisherNintendo Entertainment SystemBeam SoftwareAction
1990WWF Wrestlemania Challenge BoxWWF WrestleMania ChallengeNintendo Entertainment SystemRareSports
Wrestling
1991NBA All-Star ChallengeGame Boy
Super Nintendo
Beam SoftwareSports
Basketball
1991WWF Superstars BoxWWF SuperstarsGame BoyRareSports
Wrestling
1991Beetlejuice BoxBeetlejuiceNintendo Entertainment SystemRareAction
1991The Punisher: The Ultimate PaybackGame BoyBeam SoftwareAction
1991Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game AdventureNintendo Entertainment SystemRocket Science ProductionsAction
1991Bill & Ted's Excellent Game Boy Adventure: A Bogus Journey!Game BoyBeam SoftwareAction
1991Roger Clemens' MVP BaseballNintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
Super Nintendo
Sculptured SoftwareSports
Baseball
1991WolverineNintendo Entertainment SystemSoftware CreationsAction
1992Terminator 2: Judgement DayGame BoyB.I.T.S.Action
1992Beetlejuice GB BoxBeetlejuiceGame BoyRareAction
1992Terminator 2: Judgement DayNintendo Entertainment SystemSoftware CreationsAction
1992WWF Super WrestleManiaSuper NintendoSculptured SoftwareSports
Wrestling
1992NBA All-Star Challenge 2Game BoyBeam SoftwareSports
Basketball
1992WWF Superstars 2Game BoySculptured SoftwareSports
Wrestling
1992Spider-Man 2Game BoyB.I.T.S.Action
1992WWF WrestleMania: Steel Cage ChallengeNESSculptured SoftwareSports
Wrestling
1992T2: The Arcade GameGame Boy
Super Nintendo
Beam Software (GB)
Probe Software (SNES)
Action
1992Spider-Man & X-Men in Arcade's RevengeGame Boy
Super Nintendo
Software Creations (SNES)
Unexpected Development (GB)
Action
1992Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister SixNintendo Entertainment SystemB.I.T.S.Action
1993Alien 3Game Boy
Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Nintendo
B.I.T.S. (GB)
Probe Software (NES, SNES)
Action
1993WWF Royal RumbleSuper NintendoSculptured SoftwareSports
Wrestling
1993NFL Quarterback ClubGame BoyBeam SoftwareSports
Football
1993Spider-Man 3: Invasion of the Spider-SlayersGame BoyB.I.T.S.Action
1993Terminator 2: Judgement DaySuper NintendoB.I.T.S.Action
1993WWF King of the RingNintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
Eastridge TechnologySports
Wrestling
1994Spider-Man and VenomSpider-Man and Venom: Maximum CarnageSuper NintendoSoftware CreationsAction
1994Wolverine: Adamantium RageSuper NintendoBits CorporationAction
1994WWF RawSuper Nintendo
Game Boy
Sculptured Software (SNES)
Realtime Associates (GB)
Sports
Wrestling
1994NFL Quarterback ClubSuper Nintendo
Game Boy
Iguana Entertainment (SNES)
Condor, Inc. (GB)
Sports
Football
1994WarlockSuper NintendoRealtime AssociatesAction
1995True LiesSuper Nintendo
Game Boy
Beam SoftwareAction
1995Spider-Man: The Animated SeriesSuper NintendoWestern Technologies IncorporatedAction
1995Revolution XSuper NintendoRage SoftwareShooting Gallery
1996Cutthroat IslandSuper NintendoSoftware CreationsAction