It used to be that licensed games were the bane of gamers. Once the mercury began to rise and the multiplex became dotted with a myriad of popcorn flicks, the companion software would follow suit, usually launching day and date of most high profile cinematic releases. While you could often see every dollar spent up there on the silver screen, the accompanying game usually seemed like nothing more than a cash grab. Over the last few years, there has been a subtle shift to this norm, with some real surprises releasing alongside their celluloid sisters. Now, that's not to say that all licensed games have taken a turn for the better, but titles like The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and The Simpsons Game prove there are diamonds in the rough out there. This summer, slicing his way through a crowded field of crouching tigers and hidden dragons comes the Kung Fu Panda.
Kung Fu Panda is the companion game to the Dreamworks Animation film of the same name. Dreamworks introduced the world to Shrek and over the last few years has been giving Pixar some healthy competition in the computer animated circuit with a hipper, more irreverent take on its subjects. This summer, their big family flick is the Jack Black voiced Kung Fu Panda – a takeoff of those Hong Kong martial arts flicks usually found on midnight marquees. Both the game and movie follow the tale of Po, a roly-poly Panda who is content with living out a lazy existence before being selected by fate to become the legendary Dragon Warrior when the evil Tai Lung threatens the safety of Po's Valley of Peace. Po then engages in a series of trials aimed at whipping him into fighting shape.