JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE
Publisher Acclaim Entertainment Developer Condor Format Mega Drive Release 1995
“While we were making NBA Jam, Jeff got married and decided to move the company to Texas. I didn’t want to move,
so I started my own development company, which I named Condor and which eventually became Blizzard North. I had connections from working at Iguana. I knew Acclaim, and I knew another company called Sunsoft, and through that we were able to get game contracts and have work right off the bat. I formed the company with two artists I’d met along the way, Max and Eric Schaefer.
Sunsoft was trying convince us that we should do the Aerosmith game [ Revolution X]. But we were sticking to our guns on this one, and wanted to do this DC Comics game called Justice League Task Force. It was on the Genesis and was basically a
Street Fighter clone, but you played as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. We knew very little about fighting games, but this was a real opportunity for us. We created this company, made all of our tools and technology – as well as a code base that we could use in the future – and started making Justice League. It was on time, on budget, and everything went well, but it was a new experience working with DC.
We would have to take our hand-drawn animation and sprites, then send the game, video and art assets to DC to be approved. This was kind of a new thing for DC, too – they hadn’t done many licensed products at the time, so they were learning as well. One of the batches we sent off while we were working on Superman came back and the notes said, ‘Superman can’t kick.’ Like, what? What does that even mean? You know this is a fighting game, right? There are two things you can do: punch, and kick… They’re like, ‘Superman doesn’t kick in the comics.’ We responded, saying, ‘Yeah, he does. Here’s a bunch of examples!’ But they just said, ‘We don’t care; he no longer kicks going forward.’
That was a harsh lesson about dealing with [others’] IP. It can be wonderful in that you get this audience and passion around a product, and you get to enter that world. But there are also a lot of restrictions to it, and sometimes they don’t make sense at all to you, because there is a person on the other end and it is their job to judge your product worthy or not. The inherent problem with this is the person doesn’t get in trouble for saying no, so they don’t have the motivation to say, ‘Oh, this is better for the game’ – their motivation is to make sure that their job is safe, and so they’re not taking the risks that they need to take. So we ended up with a game in which Superman doesn’t kick, he just punches down or up or whatever. It was weird at the time, because everyone else was kicking, but in hindsight it just doesn’t make any sense.
We were working on the Genesis version of the game, but when we showed up at CES – this was before E3 existed and all the developers would go to CES and sit next to the car stereos – lo and behold there’s a Super Nintendo version of the game there as well, being developed by a different development company. Neither of us knew about the other one, but the games were strangely similar. That’s how Blizzard met: they were Silicon & Synapse, and we were Condor. They became Blizzard, and we became Blizzard North – that game is responsible for Blizzard.”