The History of LJN

LJN, ruining children’s fun from 1987 all the way to the 90’s. You may have perished but your dark legacy lives on, you will never be forgotten…unfortunately. For those who don’t know who LJN is, it was a toy company that made toys for a number of licensed products like Dune, E.T., Gremlins, Indiana Jones, Roger Rabbit and even WWE (was WWF at the time).

When the NES was dominating America so LJN decided to hire developers to make games for the console; you have to remember that LJN published games, they never developed it. Developers like Westone Bit Entertainment, Atlus, Beam Software, Rare (Yep, that Rare), Software Creations, Sculptured Software, Probe, Rocket Science Games, Western Technologies, Bits Studios, Gray Matter Inc. and Eastridge Technology made games for LJN. The fact that apart from Atlus, all these developers don’t even exist anymore is a sign that LJN can destroy companies that could have lasted up until today.

What many people remember about LJN were the games, not because they were good but because they were poor, very poor. There was no love put into any of them, just make a flimsy piece of nonsense in the hope of sales. I understand that you got to make money from games but this was an example of bad games being sold knowing that kids were going to buy it. The games usually comprised of bad controls, bad graphics, poor level design, poor gameplay and sometimes having no idea what to do, any kid that brought an LJN game suffered badly. They even had their own console (kind of), LJN Video Art, it was a colouring book which of course, was a piss poor product.

LJN’s reputation as a toy company is…well they don’t really have one because whatever toys they had have been overshadowed by their bad games. We might not have cared about the company if it wasn’t for one raging internet game reviewer, The Angry Video Game Nerd, his first proper episode (not counting the pilots) was The Karate Kid, a game published by LJN.

He’s reviewed a number of LJN games, constantly raging at how bad they are and history was made. I assume that thanks to him, we know who LJN are and what they’ve done. So what do I think of LJN, well like everyone on the internet I thought they were the demonic rainbow of destruction that destroys the culture of video games.

Like I said, I thought, I watched a video from The Gaming Historian, it talks about the detailed history of LJN, from an idea made by one man to closing doors and fading away…for a while. Here’s the link:

I recommend watching it so you might change your mind about the company. Somehow I’m not so mad about them, even though they made bad games; they do have an interesting history even when it didn’t involve games. They’re pretty much like every other toy company in the 80’s and 90’s, so the next time you make a toy company only to also become a game publisher, make sure that what you’re making is actually good.

I was supposed to make a review of Back to the Future for the NES and I was going to write a short bit about LJN, only to type a whole page about the company. Only LJN can do something like this. I will review Back to the Future soon.



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