The year 1987 marked the debut Where’s Wally? (localized as Where’s Waldo? in North America and Canada). Conceived by English illustrator, Martin Handford, Where’s Wally? helped popularize what is occasionally referred to as a wimmelbilderbuch, a German term roughly translating to, “teeming picture book.” Works in this genre are, for the most part, wordless, and instead typically feature full-spread images on gatefold pages. The biggest appeal of Where’s Wally? and other books of its ilk was that a game was made out of examining these illustrations. Each of them are richly detailed, featuring numerous humans, animals, and other assorted objects in everyday, yet lively scenes such as zoos, town squares, or amusement parks. The title character was hidden in every one of these illustrations, and the goal was to locate him. He is known for his simple, yet distinctive appearance, wearing a red-and-white striped shirt and round glasses, but the books often include several red herrings to make the task far more difficult than one would initially assume.
The books became a hit, selling more than forty million copies worldwide. Because its widespread popularity coincided with the rise of home console games, people in the industry naturally wished to somehow capitalize on this success. In 1991, THQ published Where’s Waldo? for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It would seem like a sound choice. After all, entirely new IPs on this platform often sold thousands, if not millions, of copies; it wasn’t unreasonable to believe that one bearing a famous, bestselling license would as well.