Bungling in The Jungle

The name of the game in video is no small matter.   Disney sued Williams Electronics over Robotron.  MCA (the maker of Jaws) persuaded Apollo to retitle its Loch Jaw cartridge to Shark Attack.  Now Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., which owns the Tarzan rights, has convinced Taito America to delete the word "King" in its hot arcade property, Jungle King.  You may already know it as Jungle Hunt.

But Burroughs didn't stop there.  It also demanded changes in the game.  The original featured a Tarzan-like character who wore only

a loincloth and swung from vine to vine, giving out a good yell every so often.  Now, Jungle Hunt's main character is mute, swings on ropes and wears an outfit more suited for Dr. Living- stone.  "It's a new game," says Marv Weiss, a spokesman for Taito, "with the same play value as Jungle King."

In the past, copyright cases have established that the

Cartoon by John Holmstrom 1982

characteristics that make a story line unique can be copyrighted.  That's how a character like Superman, who is distinguished by his ability to fly, his X-ray vision, superstrength and weakness to kryptonite, can be protected.  Though Weiss insists Taito did not borrow from the Tarzan character and story line, he admits the company would have been in for a long fight had it not agreed to change the name and parts of the game.  The settlement with Burroughs does not require Taito to pull the existing Jungle King off the street, or even modify them.  Edgar, a gamer in the true sense of the word, would have preferred it that way.

-Kevin Johnson

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