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CREATION INFORMATION
CREATED FEB.14.2001
UPDATED MAR.23.2003
CREDITS
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY
MARTIN NIELSEN

Special thanks to Richard Frick.

Picture credits: Ben Strobel, Jason Hahn, TheRedEye, Martin Nielen

Info source credits: STReport Online Magazine, Aztoré, various interviews, Digital Press, Grand NEStral Station.

ADITIONAL
PICTURES
AMERICAN GAMES CARTS INC.
THE STORY OF
I had a blast making the Aerican Video Entertainment article back in 2002 so why not make another, and to be honest I actually started collecting information for this one way before the AVE article was finished, but I never really got anything written down, mostly due to lazyness, but here it so, so enjoy! :)

American Video Game Cartridges Inc. was a subsidiary of a larger software-oriented holding company based in Chandler, Arizona, called ShareData Inc. In 1987 ShareData was having financial and liquidity problems, so a new president, Michael S. Williams, was hired by an outside investment group to correct this. By 1989 ShareData had been restructured and their adventures into the videogame business began.

Mid 1989 ShareData hired a guy called Richard C. Frick as vice president of product development in their consumer products division. Frick came from a job at Atari where he worked in a variety of capacities such as videogames, including the Tengen subsidary which had taken up development of unlicensed NES games by this time, business productivity software development and third-party relationships. At ShareData he would be responsible for the acquisition and development of new titles for the division's recreational software line.

ShareData released a good deal of Commodore64 quiz titles such as Classic Concentration, Family Feud, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and Wheel of Fortune second edition. They had also been releasing something they called "Load 'N Go" software for PC's years earlier. In 1989 they released their first non-quiz C64 game called Avoid the Noid, and yes this guy eventually also got his own NES game aswell, though not released by ShareData.

Anyway the idea to make low-budget NES games came into mind and ShareData contacted another company, Color Dreams, who already had their foor in the doorway to be making NES games using their own, unlicensed, cartridge. ShareData licensed the NES format from Color Dreams and bought a license to release Exidy games on the NES aswell. First game programmed was Chiller and a small production run was made using Color Dreams cartridge format with a label saying the game was released by ShareData. I don't think these were actually released though as American Game Cartrides Inc soon after was formed and the cartridge design to a much heavier one and the name ShareData removed from the game aswell as cartridge label.

Chiller was released with a suggested retail price of $29.95 and soon after 2 other games followed, Death Race, another Exidy title eventhough it didn't say so on the box unlike Chille, and ShockWave. It seems like the two later games were released at the same time as both manuals has the exact same offer for a American Game Carts Inc t-shirt, valid through December 1991, but all 3 games were most likely made in 1990 as they all are copyrighted that year.

As a publicity stunt, which I bet didn't attract that many buyers, a small piece of cardboard was included with the game and had this written on it: "Be one of the first 100 to make it to New York and WIN an Official Death Race Car!". All you had to do was take a picture of yourself standing next to your TV with the Death Race' Gauntlet Level "Congratulations Screen" for New York City shown.

The contest ended on June 1st 1991 and I'm sure those 100 radio controlled race cars are still in a warehouse somewhere, mainly because Death Race is one pain in the A** to play and I'm sure no one bothered to play long enough to reach the New York part of the game. As if that wasn't enough, you had to have the original receipt of purchase as well as cut off the top flap of the box and send it in along with the photho. Should you be one of the winners from this contest, MAIL ME! :)

In 1991 American Game Carts Inc finished their last NES game, Wally Bear and the NO! Gang. Richard Frick had left AGCI in February 1990 to form American Video Entertainment, a subsidary of the rom chip manufacturer Macronix, and ended up buying the rights to publish Wally Bear from AGCI, who then, about a year later, was put to rest by their mother company, ShareData. That year the ShareData president left the company, aswell as their controller. ShareData Inc filed for formal protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in December 1993.

The former president and controller of ShareData formed a new company the same month ShareData went belly-up, called Bulldog Investment Company, who today are owned by Aztoré Holdings Inc., which was a company started in May 1995 as an Arizona corporation to own the assets of ShareData Inc. In December 1995 the court approved ShareData's reorganizatio plan, and it merged with Aztoré. Pretty dry stuff to understand, but I hope it gives atleast a little meaning, pretty much that ShareData still exist in the shape of Aztoré, but no longer deals with software, but instead now an inventment company.

Anyway, American Game Carts' team of NES programmers and artists actually had more games planned, which unfortunately never saw the light of day, some never even went into development while others were cancelled while being developed, such as the much discussed Crossbow, which was advertised as the 3rd game to be released by AGCI, before ShockWave, but also mentioned on a subway train ad in the second level of Wally Bear and the NO! Gang.

The following were games planned by AGCI/ShareData and maybe even mentioned by the press:

Cheyenne, another Exidy arcade shooter released back in 1984, prequel to Chiller, western themed. Supposedly never even went into development.

Crossbow, an Exidy arcade game from 1983 which wrote the following on the original arcade flyer. "Each scene is begun by the player choosing the colored patch he wishes his party to follow. If the part survives, the player chooses where to go next by trial and error. The player must learn which colored path leads to which scene's unique element of danger. The adventure ends when all party members are killed." The game idea is similar to the Chiller but takes place in a Robin Hood themed world. The game was, besides the arcade game, released on PC, Atari 2600, Atari 7800 and Commodore64 (by Imagineering Inc.).

Married... With Children, supposedly one of the first NES game announcements made by ShareData. The price of the game was to be under $20 and would be a "adult only" game (Panesian anyone? :). Married... with Children would be based off the TV commedy and would be similar to Sierra's Liesure Suit Larry series. Something tells me they never even began working on this game, soon after Chiller was released and you've just read where things lead from there.

Warp Space, an action-simulation of outer-space combat. The solitary gamer, a recent graduate of the TerraFed Fleet Academy, rises through the fleet as he reaps the rewards that go to those who complete the dangerous missions. The wide variety of weapons and ship types, coupled with the large number of planets awaiting exploration, give Warp Space a high degree of playability." - VGCE March 1992 (pg 98).

Bad Boys B-Ball, could've been one of the later games planned, like Warp Space. No informatio is available about this tile, but judging from the title it could've been some sort of baseball game.

Knockout, another totally unknown release, but I'm sure it was meant to be a boxing game :)

ADITIONAL
PICTURES