- This article is about the 1997 video game. For the 2017 re-imagining, see Niz Chicoloco (2017 video game).
Niz Chicoloco (released in Japan as CharmingBoy: The Hero Master) is a 1997 platform video game developed by Gingo Interactive, published by Sony Computer Entertainment, and distributed by DreamWorks Interactive for the Sony PlayStation. It stars the title character, a young heroic boy named Niz, and is the first game in the Niz Chicoloco series. Originally released for the PlayStation on August 30, 1997, Niz Chicoloco was designed and directed by Geo G., the creator of Gabriel Garza. In fact, this was Geo G's first ever original video game. Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, Game Boy, Virtual Boy and Microsoft Windows ports were originally announced to be developed by Silicon Knights and Climax and to be published and distributed by DreamWorks, but were cancelled.
Niz Chicoloco received mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised it for its graphics, gameplay, controls, and soundtrack. It was also a commercial success, selling nearly 6 million copies worldwide. It also spawned a 1999 sequel, a television series, as well as a reboot for the PlayStation 4.
Niz Chicoloco is a platform game, in which the player controls the titular character Niz Chicoloco, a 12-year-old boy whose goal is to save his planet and rescue his girlfriend Kathy from the evil mastermind Heko. Niz has several moves including running, jumping, attacking, picking up things (such as gears), swinging, and sliding.
In the game, the player must do several tasks for other characters, and when players do the max tasks for that species, they become their companions, and let players throw them at enemies as well. When players beat the game, they can play the minigames.
- Niz Chicoloco - The main protagonist of the game. He is a 12-year-old boy whose goal is to save his planet and rescue his girlfriend Kathy from the evil mastermind Heko. He is the only character with both a first and last name, with his first name shared with several rural localities in Russia, and his last name literally meaning "crazy boy" in Spanish. Yuri Lowenthal provided the voice of Niz.
- Heko - The main antagonist of the game. He is an evil mastermind who threatens to destroy Niz's world and kidnap Kathy. Jim Cummings provided the voice of Heko.
- Kathy - Niz's love interest. She was kidnapped by Heko and it's up to her boyfriend to save her. Debi Derryberry provided the voice of Kathy.
- Gerry - Niz's helper during the first level. Danny Mann provided the voice of Gerry.
- Big Mike - One of Heko's henchmen in the game's first boss. Carlos Alazraqui provided the voice of Big Mike.
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In 1994, when Gingo Interactive (a video game division of Gingo Animation) was founded, Geo G. came up with the idea of a video game that is unrelated to Gabriel Garza and it is described as "Sonic the Hedgehog as a human." Later he started developing the idea into a video game in 1995 at Gingo Interactive.
During the development, Gingo Interactive set up a temporary satellite studio in Tokyo, near Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, where the latter's employees and interns worked on the game. This team was internally called "Team Runaway". Most of the team have gone on to work on Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, during and after the development of Niz Chicoloco. In 1998, Team Runaway studio was closed down by Gingo Interactive and Konami, and its employees moved to KCET/KCEJ/Konami and Sugar & Rockets.
Gingo Interactive also set up the satellite studio "Seaside Entertainment" in Westminster, to work with the employees of Sony's Psygnosis Studio Camden, Gremlin Interactive, Criterion Software and Psygnosis Studio Stroud. Criterion worked on the racing segments, Gremlin Interactive worked on additional graphics and Psygnosis worked on the most of the additional development of Niz Chicoloco, providing additional programming, GUI, optimization and 3D assets. They also had SCEE's various other research and development groups, dedicated to the production of PlayStation games and development tools across all of SIE's gaming platforms, helping the development proceed further and "make the game look and feel more beautiful". After the development of Niz Chicoloco, Seaside Entertainment hired the employees, who helped make the game in UK, as part-time and were working on another project until it suddenly closed down.
The satellite studio was bought out by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe in 2001, merged into SCE London Studios, and its employees went on to work for Infogrames (who acquired Gremlin Interactive in 1999)/Sumo Digital (after Infogrames closed it's Sheffield studio), Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and Electronic Arts (who acquired DreamWorks Interactive in 2000, its employess now working at DICE LA, and Criterion Software in 2004, although most of its employees now work at Ghost Games UK). Throughout the years, a new studio Fifth Leaf has hired laid-off employees of Sumo Digital, London Studio, Kojima Productions (2005-2015), Konami, Konami Los Angeles, Evolution Studios, Codemasters, Runecraft and Ghost Games. However, in 2016, it was merged into SIE London Studio.
The game's soundtrack was composed entirely by Michael Giacchino. The voice of Niz was provided by Yuri Lowenthal. Additional voices were provided by Jim Cummings, Debi Derryberry, Danny Mann, Jeff Bennett, Carlos Alazraqui, Dan Castellaneta, Gregg Berger, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Corey Burton, Kath Soucie, Mona Marshall, Michael Gough, Tress MacNeille, and Geo G. Geo directed and designed the game, while art direction was done by Geo and Craig Kellman, the latter being the art director for the animated series.
An an animated television series based on the game was in development in 1997, at Gingo Animation in co-production with DreamWorks Animation. The television series was aired on UPN Kids from 1998 to 1999.
- Main article: Niz 2: The Journey of Nonsensical
- Main article: Niz Chicoloco Advance
2017 PlayStation 4 reboot
- Main article: Niz Chicoloco (2017 video game)