Every year, more and more people are being exposed to the Marvel Universe, though not necessarily through comic books or movies. These days, video games rule the roost and nearly all the current crop of Marvel games were represented at the Marvel Interactive panel at New York Comic Con.
Showcased games included “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3,” the Marvel Universe MMO, “Marvel Pinball,” “Super Hero Squad Online,” “Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat” and “Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet.”
Javon Frazier, the marketing director for Marvel Games, was the panel’s moderator. He began by simply asking all the developers present to pitch their games to the packed audience.
“Like everyone else in this room, I’m a huge Marvel fan. Always was, always will be, and it’s my job to make sure that all the stuff that goes into the Marvel games is ‘Marvel.’ Making sure Spider-Man’s costume is right and it’s not polka dots or something like that, unless there’s a story reason for it,” said Chris Baker, manager of licensed games at Marvel.
THQ’s Peter Armstrong was representing the developers of “Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat,” a unique game which is the first to takes advantage of the uDraw peripheral available for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. It allows players to control the action with a tablet and stylus rather than a traditional controller. “It allows you to control [the game], almost in an RTS way. A standard controller doesn’t allow you to get that fidelity of getting your characters where you want to like in an RTS,” explained Armstrong.
The plot of the game takes the unique input device into account, placing players in the role of an artist who has discovered that he or she has the ability to control the Marvel Universe through their drawing table. Dr. Doom discovers what’s going on and tries to break out of the comics and into our world.
Armstrong discussed the way NYCC influenced the game, recalling last year’s panel where several fans supported the addition of Squirrel Girl to video games. The developers decided to take their suggestion and make “Comic Combat” the first Marvel game to feature the odd hero.
A trailer for the game was then shown and in a surprise twist, it was edited to make the entire game look like a Squirrel Girl focused experience, complete with nut storms and squirrel-like reflexes. The game itself looked nice and was reminiscent of others in the “Super Hero Squad” library of games.
Next, Neil Sorens from Zen Studios spoke about “Marvel Pinball,” with Baker noting that the game is currently one of the highest rated ever, with a score of 87% on Metacritic.
Sorens then revealed that the X-Men would be the next virtue-themed table in the “Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue” series. A Ghost Rider-themed table was the first vengeance release in the “Vengeance and Virtue” line which will feature two more tables, one for each theme.
Jay Minh from Gazillion Entertainment and the Amazing Society spoke next about the popular game “Super Hero Squad: Online,” telling the audience, “We are approaching a million customers for [“Super Hero Squad: Online.”] We have an office pool about when we’re going to reach the millionth customer.”
Minh was especially proud that his team had increased the playable character count from 23 at launch to almost 60. He announced that future playable characters would include the Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man, Iron Patriot, Sentry, Firestar, Blade and Red Hulk. In the next update, going live in late-October, they will add 9 new characters and a quest system into the game.
Minh followed the trend of the panel and played a short gameplay trailer for their upcoming Halloween in-game event. The panel had the same quirky sense of humor and fun design players have come to expect from “Super Hero Squad” games.
Next was David Brevik, president and COO of Gazillion Entertainment. Brevik reminded the panel that he created the “Diablo” series while president of Blizzard North, sending the audience into hysterics.
Brevik’s main focus right now is the upcoming, and untitled, Marvel Universe MMO. Gazillion has finally started released info on playable characters, with Wolverine being the first revealed. Cable and Deadpool were announced at the panel as playable characters and Brevik showed a screen with a full 360 view of the former. Cable was dressed in his classic 90s look rather than one of his more recent costumes.
Seth Killian is Marvel’s Special Advisor to Capcom and is responsible for making sure “Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3” is faithful to the Marvel Universe. Killian asked the audience to excuse the fact he was wearing a referee shirt at the panel, though he never explained why he was wearing it.
“Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3” will have 50 playable characters, adding twelve new ones to the original “Marvel vs. Capcom 3.” The new characters include Nova, Dr. Strange, Rocket Raccoon, Phoenix Wright and Hawkeye. The 38 characters from the previous game will also feature animation and fighting style tweaks.
Baker noted that Dr. Strange was a fun character to put into “Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3” and not as odd as it seemed. “He is a fighting game character, because he says his moves,” said Baker. “He really will say his spells.”
“It’s not as embarrassing as [Wolverine shouting] ‘Berserker Barrage!'” added Killian.
Another new feature will be the “spectator mode,” allowing up to eight players to sit in on match together and “talk some trash.” “[This game] is just about combining the most insane impossible things,” Killian said.
“I don’t think it’s entirely fair that the people who came here don’t get something new or fresh,” Frazier told Killian when the latter told fans to attend the “Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3” panel later that day to hear new announcements.
In response, Killian played a video of new character Nova fighting alongside Wolverine against Galactus. Nova didn’t use any special moves and was defeated quickly and easily, disappointing the crowd. The end game screen flashed “You Win” after Nova’s death, confusing the crowd.
“Yes, you will play as Galactus,” Killian stated in clarification. “Smash some heroes, one hit kills — check him out.”
Next, at the panel in order to show off footage of “The Amazing Spider-Man” tie-in game, were Gerard Lehiany, Creative Director of Beenox, and Doug Heder, a producer at Activision. The two told the crowd that Activision has already spent over a year working on the game before world-premiering a gameplay trailer.
The trailer featured a third-person view of Spider-Man in Andrew Garfield’s new costume, swinging around an open-world New York City. This is the first time the costume had been shown this clearly when in motion, and the visuals looked almost life-like. The streamlined costume, with it’s throwbacks to Dan Jurgen’s 90s Spider-Man redesign, creates a visual fluidity that the original costume lacks as Spider-Man was shown spinning, flipping and swinging in full view for about a minute. The only villain he faced in the trailer was a giant robot that emerges from beneath the city at the end of the footage.
Frazier then asked the panelists to name their favorite Marvel video game that they hadn’t worked on themselves.
Minh said “X-Men Legends,” while Baker said the original “X-Men: The Arcade Game” and “Spider-Man” by NeverSoft. “I think those two games proved that super-hero games could be really good games,” said Baker.
Frazier wanted to know how the developers bring the Marvel richness into their games. “Dave [Brevik] lets us buy all the comics we want to read,” joked Minh, while Brevik said that they try to bring the storylines people are familiar with into the games.
Moving on, Baker then revealed that “Marvel Pinball” would be coming to both Android and iOS phones in the near future, as well as Nintendo 3DS and the Playstation Vita.
Frazier then opened the floor up to questions from the audience with Dan Slott, long time and current writer of the comic book version of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the first fan up to the mic. Slott wanted to know if we would get a chance to use alternate suits in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” only to be told that this had not been decided on at this point.
Slott then suggested using Murder World as a pinball table in “Marvel Pinball,” encouraging the developers by pointing out “You can have heroes in balls.”
“I think we’ll put it on the list,” replied Baker. “There is a very big list right now.”
A fan wanted to know why he should buy “Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3” when “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” was just released six months ago.
“This interview is over!” joked Killian before adding, “No, that’s fair, but I think this one’s gonna be one for the ages. You’ll be safe.”
Heder revealed that, while he couldn’t name any specific villains, “[The ‘A,mazing Spider-Man’ game is] not retelling the movie story, we are actually expanding it. [The game] takes place after the events of the movie.”
In response to the current status of an “The Avengers” movie video game, referring to the game that was recently scrapped in mid-production, Frazer replied, “Yes, Marvel did get the rights back for ‘The Avengers,'” and fans should look forward to a game being released near the opening of the film.
“We get that question a lot,” said Baker in response to a fan’s inquiry about a possible Deadpool-starring game. “Like I said, we can’t talk about games that haven’t been announced.”
Heder said they are spending more time and money on “The Amazing Spider-Man” and that would most likely be reflected in the playing time as well as some surprise cameo appearances.
Finally, Ghost Rider will have an alternate uniform that looks like Danny Ketch and Daredevil will be featured in the background of the Shadowland stage.