Among the many companies that would make up the Nintendo Ultra 64 Dream Team, Time Warner Interactive is among the shortest-lived and the most interesting for their inclusion.
Fans of old school gaming are probably familiar with the tale of Tengen, the home publishing division of Atari Games, a company which has quite the storied history in itself. They caused a fairly significant headache for Nintendo of America through their illegal circumvention of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s 10NES lockout chip, releasing a number of titles on distinct black cartridges following a brief stint as a licensed third-party. Suffice to say, Nintendo wasted no time in taking the company to court over the transgression, with the court ultimately siding in their favor.
In 1993, Time Warner would buy back Atari Games and wind up merging Tengen with their own publishing label, the just-founded Time Warner Interactive. It wouldn’t be long before things were consolidated further, with Time Warner Interactive being the primary label. With Atari’s properties in hand, Time Warner Interactive would go on to publish a number of games, including some noteworthy home and arcade titles such as Batman Returns for the SEGA CD, the prehistoric fighter Primal Rage, Virtua Racing for the SEGA Saturn, and the oft-reviled Rise of the Robots for pretty much anything that was available at the time.
All together, the Time Warner Interactive label was only around for little more than a cup of coffee. While the label had been signed on as a part of the Nintendo Ultra 64 Dream Team, the whole kit ‘n kaboodle would be sold off before Nintendo’s next big console could even launch (though the delays certainly helped make that possible). In April 1996, the company would be sold to WMS Industries — you know, these guys. They’d revive the Atari label in arcades for a short time before deciding that it would be less confusing to just rename it “Midway Games West” than to keep having two Ataris in the business, but Time Warner Interactive as a brand was effectively dead.
And if you read the previous article about Williams/Midway, then you probably know the ironic twist: That Warner Bros. Entertainment would buy Midway and fold its assets into its latest video game venture, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. They haven’t done too much with the inherited brands, though they did make new versions of Gauntlet for Steam and the PlayStation 4 a few years ago, and re-released the original alongside other titles such as Marble Madness, Rampart, and more under the Midway label in compilations such as Midway Arcade Origins and the Midway LEGO Dimensions pack.
But how long will Warner continue to buy and sell Atari in some form or another? Only the future knows…
Mr. Burns and Bobo reenact the ongoing state of Warner Bros. and Atari.