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Wally Bear and the NO! Gang facts for kids

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Wally Bear and the NO! Gang
Wbandtng.jpg
Cover art, by Scott Mavor
Developer(s) American Game Cartridges
Publisher(s) American Video Entertainment
Designer(s) Jamie Furgeson, John Dunn, Scott Schryver, Donald Forbes
Programmer(s) Jamie Furgeson, John Dunn, Scott Schryver, Donald Forbes
Platform(s) Nintendo Entertainment System
Release date(s)
  • NA 1992
Genre(s) Side-scroller
Mode(s) Single-player
Multiplayer

Wally Bear and the NO! Gang is an educational Nintendo Entertainment System game that was released in 1992 exclusively for a North American audience. It was not licensed by Nintendo. The game teaches children to say no to potentially harmful drugs like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. Wally Bear and the NO! Gang was designed in cooperation with, and endorsed by, the American Medical Association and the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information.

Wally Bear characters

Wally Bear and related characters were originally conceived by Walter J. Marsh, founder of Foglesville, Pennsylvania Edutainment, Inc. The company was founded in April 1990, and a trademark for "Wally Bear and the No Gang" was established in September of that year. A newer character, Recycleman, was trademarked in November, 1991.

Long after the release of this NES game, and separate from it, Wally Bear and related characters are still used by the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information in publications, for the purposes of substance abuse awareness and prevention, and the promotion of general health.

Game plot

Wally Bear's uncle, Gary Grizzly, has planned a party for Wally and the NO! Gang. At Wally's house, his parents tell him to go invite the rest of his friends to the party, and to reach his uncle Gary's house before dark. They give him parting advice to stay away from drugs.

Wally skateboards everywhere he goes in the game on his way to Gary Grizzly's house. The game is a side-scroller, and levels vary from suburban streets, subway cars, industrial areas, demon fortresses, and city streets. Along the way, Wally meets up with members of the NO! Gang, and converses with them about drug and alcohol use.

Upon reaching Uncle Gary Grizzly's house, Gary reveals that the rest of the NO! Gang has arrived ahead of Wally. Gary breaks the fourth wall, suggesting that Wally has brought a friend with him (meaning, the player of the game). The game ends with a cutscene of the party in progress, and Wally offers anti-drug advice to the player.

Game characters

The NO! Gang

  • Wally Bear
  • Billy Bunny
  • Priscilla Possum
  • Rachel Rabbit
  • Stevie Squirrel
  • Timmy Tiger
  • Toby Turtle
  • You

In-game villains

  • Ricky Rat
  • Larry Lizard
  • Willard Weasel

Game manual

NES system modification

Wally Bear and the NO! Gang, as an unlicensed Nintendo Entertainment System game cartridge, did not work on systems manufactured after October, 1990. Newer NES consoles, with a "revision 11" circuit board, contained hardware protections preventing unlicensed game cartridges from running properly. The manual explains this (along with a no symbol above 'Rev. 11', and the title "Just Say NO!"), then provides instructions on how to modify an NES game console to bypass Nintendo's hardware protections.

The Wally Bear and the NO! Gang Club

The game manual for Wally Bear and the NO! Gang contained a cut-out postcard that allowed the purchaser of the game to join the Wally Bear and the NO! Gang Club. The postcard could be mailed to a post office box in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania (the address of Edutainment, Inc. at the time) along with $3.50. A club member received a poster, stickers, and a bi-monthly newsletter with the "gang's adventures, and products with special membership discounts".

Use by NCADI/SAMHSA

The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI), a part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has used Wally Bear and related characters for several years as part of alcohol and drug and health awareness aimed at children.

Wally Bear and the KNOW Gang

NCADI rebranded the team "Wally Bear and the KNOW Gang" before 1994, and expanded their message to include social and general health topics. An eighth character was added, Recycleman. Recycleman was billed as the KNOW Gang's favorite superhero, and was half man, and half machine.

The Wally Bear Hotline

A toll free telephone number was created and run by the NCADI. Callers to 1-800-HI-WALLY (1-800-449-2559) would be greeted by Wally Bear, and could hear various anti drug and messages relating to topics like alcohol, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and marijuana. They could join the Wally Bear and the KNOW Gang Club through the mailing address for the NCADI, a post-office box in Rockville, Maryland. This club, unrelated to the one attached to the NES game, allowed ordering posters and other materials.

The hotline gained traction as a standalone children's drug use prevention hotline, as evidenced by a 1995 newspaper article that did not mention the NES game at all. The hotline received national exposure in the February 18, 1996 issue of Parade magazine, and was used on the health.org website in its kids area in the early 2000s.

The content on the hotline was not updated to reflect a complete retool of the Wally Bear franchise in June 2004. Nevertheless, the hotline was still active as late as 2006 with old "Wally Bear and the KNOW Gang" material. The NCADI Wally Bear hotline had been disconnected by June 2007.

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