THQ Brings ‘Rio,’ ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ to Gamers

Advances in technology have allowed companies to create video game worlds that mirror the look of CGI films.

Translating Hollywood computer-generated family films remains an integral part of the games business. THQ has collaborated with Blue Sky Studios to bring games based on the April 15 Twentieth Century Fox film Rio to retail. THQ is also developing games based on Dreamworks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2, which hits theaters May 26.

“Advances in game technology are allowing us to deliver games that mirror the look of a Hollywood CG film,” said David White, senior producer at THQ. “We can take the detailed models and animation samples and adapt the characters for each video game system. The studios are really willing to share their CGI assets as well as concepts and designs from the film, and they are invaluable to making better and better games.” 
David Sapienza, senior producer at THQ, said that the game developers get involved earlier in the filmmaking process, which is usually 18 to 24 months before the movie is scheduled for release.  Another strategy more game companies like THQ are taking is to shy away from retelling the big screen story in the games.
“For Rio we decided to take the core characters and wrap them in a party game concept, bringing something completely new to it,” said Sapienza. “Even if you haven’t watched the film, you can still enjoy the game.” 
On Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii systems, up to four players can compete with each other in 40 mini-games as one of the six playable characters from the film: Blu, Jewel, Pedro, Nico, Raphael, and Eva. Players can compete in five unique modes as they journey through Rio to win first place in the ceremony at the Carnaval ceremony. The Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi versions of Rio introduce a rhythm-based adventure starring Blu, where players navigate 20 levels as they play through Latin and hip hop beats.
White said that Hollywood is more open to exploring new territory and creating new content for games, including fresh environments not seen on the big screen.
“We’ve even been able to work on creating new characters that are exclusive to the games, which bring another level of experience to players and gives them something completely new,” said White.
With Kung Fu Panda 2, THQ’s game is actually a sequel to the new movie that explores the world of Po in a new way.
“We layer in some amazing advances in technology like Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 that will allow players for the first time to not just play as a character, but to literally become the character,” said White. “When you do kung fu moves, Po does what you’re doing, which means you are him as you play the game.”
THQ is also developing games based on additional Dreamworks Animation films.