Universal Pumps Up Film Vid Games

By Robert Marich
   Oct 10, 2008 – Universal Pictures is trying to regain a direct foothold in the giant video game industry by nominally originating a video game based on one of its upcoming animated feature films.
   Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group (UPDPG) announced (see press release further down) it will market a game based on The Tale of Despereaux, which is based on a best-selling children’s book. The feature film presents voices of Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson and Tracey Ullman.
   The video game will be released in December, which indicates the parties have been working for many months before today’s press announcement. The film is scheduled for a Dec. 19 theatrical premiere, so the game will reach market at the same time, which ideal for doubling up promotion weight.
   Game versions are being produced for Nintendo DS, the Nintendo Wii videogame system, XBOX 360, PLAYSTATION2.
   “The Tale of Despereaux is fantastic source material for family-oriented interactive games with its story of courage and bravery and Despereaux’s adventures both as a mouse and as a knight-in-training,” Bill Kispert, vice president and general manager, interactive, UPDPG, said in a press release. “The Nintendo DS game cleverly plays with the scale of the world as our hero journeys through more than 30 levels of grand gameplay using amazing acrobatic moves and solving unique challenges that will entertain Despereaux fans of all ages.”
   UPDPG’s drive represents “nominally” originating the game because Brash Entertainment, Fizz Factor and Foundation 9 (see press release) seem to be doing most of the work. The major studios have been in and out of direct video game creation for years, after finding costs of making games soar past $10 million and the business difficult because of the need to attract costly game making talent. Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Editon, which comes out at year end, covers video games and their ties-in to movies in depth.
   Paramount Pictures is the other major studio pushing in-house video games at this time, perhaps driven by controlling shareholder and chairman Sumner Redstone, who is a major investor in Midway Games. However, Midway has struggled.
   In July, UPDPG announced it would make a game based on the Warner Bros. Pictures release Wanted, which is a live-action supernatural thriller that grossed $134 million this summer. However, the video game incarnation will not be out until late this year or early next year.

   Oct 10 08 -- Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group (UPDPG) announced today the creation of a handheld video game for the Nintendo DS(TM) based on Universal Pictures' upcoming animated-adventure feature film, The Tale of Despereaux. The game is being developed by Fizz Factor, a Foundation 9 Studio, in conjunction with UPDPG and will be published worldwide by Brash Entertainment. The title is the second self-funded game UPDPG has announced this year.
   The Tale of Despereaux handheld game shares the rich look and fairytale feel of the upcoming holiday film of the same name, and will both follow and extend the storyline from the feature film. Players will travel across the Kingdom of Dor, from the whimsical environs of Mouse World to the kitchen, library and other colorful rooms of the main castle, and finally, to the dark and sinister dungeon domain of the banned and feared rats, Rat World. In this modern fairytale about a small mouse born too brave for his little world, several unlikely heroes will discover that what you look like doesn't equal what you are.
   The Tale of Despereaux handheld game will release alongside the feature film, and in conjunction with the console versions of the videogame, including the XBOX(TM) 360, PLAYSTATION(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Wii(TM) videogame system from Nintendo, and PC, this December 2008.
   Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson and Tracey Ullman lead an all-star voice cast in the animated motion picture based on the Newbery Medal-winning children's bestseller. Directed by Sam Fell and Rob Stevenhagen and produced by Gary Ross and Allison Thomas, The Tale of Despereaux movie features the additional voice talent of Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Ciaran Hinds, Robbie Coltrane, Tony Hale, Frances Conroy, Frank Langella, Richard Jenkins, Christopher Lloyd, James Nesbitt and Sigourney Weaver.
    "The Tale of Despereaux is fantastic source material for family-oriented interactive games with its story of courage and bravery and Despereaux's adventures both as a mouse and as a knight-in-training," said Bill Kispert, vice president and general manager, interactive, Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group. "The Nintendo DS game cleverly plays with the scale of the world as our hero journeys through more than 30 levels of grand gameplay using amazing acrobatic moves and solving unique challenges that will entertain Despereaux fans of all ages."
   Players will help Despereaux build up his courage meter while he learns new abilities; challenge a host of creepy-crawly enemies including bugs, spiders and rats; and explore the nooks and crannies of the castle on a quest to rescue Despereaux's beloved Princess Pea. The game utilizes unique and exciting movement mechanics like swinging, climbing and sliding, as well as challenging puzzle elements designed specifically for the Nintendo DS' stylus input, such as using candles and other forms of light to Despereaux's advantage. In addition, the game features unlockable levels, costumes, and other secrets throughout for players to discover.
   The Tale of Despereaux will be available for Nintendo DS, the Nintendo Wii videogame system, XBOX 360, PLAYSTATION2 computer entertainment system and PC on December 2, 2008. For more information about the film please visit

About The Tale of Despereaux Film

Once upon a time, in the faraway kingdom of Dor, there was magic in the air, laughter aplenty and gallons of mouthwatering soup. But an accident left the King broken-hearted, the Princess filled with longing and the townsfolk without their soup. Sunlight disappeared. The world became gray. All hope was lost in this land...until Despereaux Tilling was born.

A modern fairy tale from visionary filmmaker Gary Ross, together with directors Sam Fell & Rob Stevenhagen, The Tale of Despereaux tells the story of several unlikely heroes: Despereaux (Matthew Broderick), a brave mouse banished to the dungeon for speaking with a human; Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman), a good-hearted rat who loves light and soup, but is exiled to darkness; Pea (Emma Watson), a Princess in a gloomy castle who is prisoner to her father's grief; and Mig (Tracey Ullman), a servant girl who longs to be a Princess, but is forced to serve the jailer (Robbie Coltrane).

Tiny and graced with oversized ears, Despereaux was born too big for his little world. Refusing to live his life cowering, he befriends a Princess named Pea and learns to read (rather than eat) books--reveling in stories of knights, dragons and fair maidens. Banished from Mouseworld for being more man than mouse, Despereaux is rescued by another outcast, Roscuro, who also wants to hear the tales. But when the Princess dismisses Roscuro's friendship, he becomes the ultimate rat and plots revenge with fellow outsider Mig.

After Pea is kidnapped, Despereaux discovers he is the only one who can rescue her...and that even the tiniest mouse can find the courage of a knight in shining armor. In this tale of bravery, forgiveness and redemption, one small creature will teach a kingdom that it takes only a little light to show the truth: what you look like doesn't equal what you are.

About Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group

Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group (UPDPG) is responsible for global digital product development, production, licensing, distribution, and growth strategy for the extensive catalogue of Universal's properties across new and emerging digital platforms, including mobile, video game consoles, personal computers, and other portable devices. With a worldwide mandate to help shape the digital future of Universal Pictures, the Group has offices in Universal City, California; London, England; and Tokyo, Japan.

Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group is a unit of Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures. Universal Pictures is a division of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

About Brash Entertainment

Brash Entertainment ( is a video game company focused on developing compelling, high-quality games based on theatrical properties. By collaborating closely with top creative talent from both Hollywood and the game industry, Brash delivers deeply satisfying games that extend the filmmakers' vision into the best possible entertainment experience for gamers. The company has long-term partnerships with leading Hollywood studios including Lions Gate Films, Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising, Universal Studios Licensing, Vanguard Animation and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Currently, Brash has more than 40 licenses and 12 games in production across all genres including kids, horror, action and adventure games. Launched with significant investment from a group of investors lead by Abry Partners LLC, Brash is committed to opening creative avenues for filmmakers and game developers, and providing gamers with exciting new ways to engage with the stories, characters, and drama of their favorite movies.

About Fizz Factor

Fizz Factor is a leading developer of fun, high quality games for all ages. Located in Austin, TX, the studio employs nearly 50 talented people who love making engaging games. The studio has worked with many of the major third party publishers on licensed games such as The Incredible Hulk for DS, The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night for DS and WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2008, also for DS. The studio is currently developing games for the DS, PSP and Wii. Fizz Factor is a Foundation 9 Studio. For more information, please visit:

About Foundation 9 Entertainment

Foundation 9 Entertainment is the largest independent games developer in North America and Europe. The company has 9 studios across the United States, the UK and India, making it a development powerhouse, uniquely positioned to deliver quality games on all gaming platforms for all age groups. The company's studios are masters in working with licensed properties and have collectively developed more than 500 titles since 1992, including more than 60 in 2007 alone. For more information, please visit:

Wii and Nintendo DS are trademarks of Nintendo. (C) 2006 Nintendo. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners.

Handheld Game to Be Published by Brash Entertainment

Will Capture Fairytale Look of Animated Feature Film and Showcase
Advanced Acrobatics and Movement