'El Tigre' leads next wave of Nick games from THQ

'SpongeBob,' 'Avatar' back, too

Continuing its relationship with Nickelodeon, THQ on Monday unveiled a lineup of kids video games that feature popular characters from network shows including "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Avatar: The Last Airbender," "Zoey 101," "Drake and Josh" and "El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera."

"El Tigre," which targets ages 6-11, will be making its video game debut. All the games begin to hit retail this summer for Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance

Nickelodeon vp digital products Shaul Olmert said that "El Tigre" reflects the Latino culture through a combination of humor and superheroism and also offers kids the opportunity to connect with good-vs.-evil story lines with morals at the end of each episode.

THQ is bringing the characters from "El Tigre" to Nintendo DS in the fall and will expand on the show's themes through interactive adventures.

"This year's game is a great way to introduce 'El Tigre' into the video game universe by reinforcing what makes the show so appealing: El Tigre being torn between good (following in the footsteps of his superhero father White Pantera) and bad (following the example of his supervillain Grandpapi, Puma Loco)," said Bob Aniello, THQ senior vp worldwide marketing. "The game allows the player to make good or bad choices, which alter the outcome of the game."

Aniello said THQ is excited about the long-term potential of "El Tigre" as a series and a game franchise. The company has worked with Nickelodeon on Latina-themed games based on "Dora the Explorer," which targets ages 2-5.

"Properties such as 'El Tigre' offer Nick and THQ the opportunity to create a robust standalone gaming franchise," Olmert said. "The graphics, superhero themes and gameplay allow for a mass-market gaming experience, which is further complemented by having a TV show. The show lends itself to gaming so naturally that we expect it to appeal to a very broad audience."

Nickelodeon has sold more than 45 million Nickelodeon-based games over the years, including 20 million copies of "SpongeBob" titles. "SpongeBob's Atlantis SquarePantis" is scheduled to release for PS2, Wii, Nintendo DS, GBA and various mobile phone carriers in the fall.

Last year marked the game debut of "Avatar," which sold more than 1 million units and became THQ's top-selling Nickelodeon product of 2006. "Avatar: The Last Airbender -- The Burning Earth" ships for Xbox 360, PS2, Wii, Nintendo DS and GBA in the fall.

Also new from THQ is "Nicktoons: Robot Rampage," which features the largest selection of playable Nickelodeon characters from shows including "SpongeBob," "Danny Phantom" and "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius."

The relationship between THQ and Nickelodeon works both ways, bringing TV shows and films to game consoles and portables and vice versa. In a few months, the first example of this partnership will debut on Nickelodeon. "Tak and the Power of Juju" launched as a game franchise in 2003 and has spawned a successful sequel. Now Nickelodeon is bringing a CG-animated show based on these characters to its lineup in September.