"Marvel Super Hero Squad" has grown from its beginnings as a toy line for younger audiences to a full-fledged juggernaut of a franchise (no pun intended). September saw the launch of both a new comic and animated series (airing Saturday mornings on Cartoon Network). Both feature a large cast of characters and storylines that are aimed at children, while providing plenty of nods to the mainstream Marvel Universe for older fans. This month, "Marvel Super Hero Squad" will branch out even further, this time into the world of video games, as "Marvel Super Hero Squad" arrives for the Wii, PS2, PSP and DS.
Blue Tongue Entertainment developed the Wii version of "Marvel Super Hero Squad," and CBR recently spoke to Executive Producer Robert Blackadder about the game.
For people out there who are not familiar with the world for the "Marvel Super Hero Squad," can you give us an overview?
Robert Blackadder:In "Marvel Super Hero Squad," most of the heroes of the Marvel Universe live in Super Hero City - and while the city is full of regular folks too, you can't walk down the street without bumping into somebody in a costume. (There are lots of cameos from fan-favorite Marvel heroes and villains throughout the series.) But things aren't going too well: Doctor Doom's community of bad guys—Villainville—is right next door, and the heroes and villains are in a race to find the fragments of the all-powerful Infinity Sword. (The sword was shattered in a huge fight between Iron Man and Doc Doom, just after Doom managed to summon the Sword.) The fragments are called "Infinity Fractals" and holding even a tiny one can cause super-weird things to happen.
So, S.H.I.E.L.D. (led by Ms. Marvel) and the Super Hero Squad (led by Iron Man) are trying to recover all of the Fractals and store them away safely before Doctor Doom can get his hands on them, reconstruct the Infinity Sword, and rule the Universe. In each episode, an Infinity Fractal causes its own special kind of mayhem, the Lethal Legion cause big trouble. Mayhem and comedy ensue, and the Squad, S.H.I.E.L.D., and their hero pals have to try and put things right.
Show writer Mark Hoffmeier scripted the story for the "Super Hero Squad" game as well. How does the game’s storyline tie into the animated series?
The game's story is a kind of "extended" episode of the show: Doom is constructing a device that will allow him to make a mini Infinity Sword from just a few Fractals - and when a really powerful one is discovered in the desert just outside the city, he wants it bad! But the Lethal Legion mess up, the Fractal is shattered into seven big shards (and lots of microshards), and Doom ends up with just one of them. The Squad and the Legion both split up to collect the rest of the shards first, and the race is on!
But the story is only half of the game - every time you finish one of the adventure's chapters, collect enough microshards, or team-up with another Marvel hero, you unlock characters, costumes and battle arenas for the game's Battle Mode. In Battle Mode, up to four players can choose their favorite hero or villain, select a battle arena, and slug it out in the Mighty Marvel Manner.
Were there things that Mark couldn’t fit into the show that he was able to get into the game?
Mark is great to work with - he really gets into the characters' heads and finds lots of fun moments. Any given episode of the show doesn't have the time to showcase all of the Squaddies in any detail; they have 20 minutes and change to tell a complete story featuring lots of heroes and villains.
In our game's Adventure Mode - the story part of the game - Mark had room to zoom in on each of the six Squad members and reveal aspects of their personalities that you wouldn't normally see in the show. Thor's sibling-rivalry issues; Hulk's ice-cream obsession; Falcon's impulsiveness; Silver Surfer's struggle for identity... it's all there, but with fighting and explosions.
In the animated series, Stan Lee provides the voice of Super Hero City’s mayor. Did he get involved with the game as well?
He came in and graciously recorded some bonus lines for us. He was good fun and up for anything, which was a pleasant surprise!
From what we’ve seen so far, this game looks like a classic brawler. How would you describe the general gameplay?
A big part of the game is brawling, and we wanted to make sure that aspect of the game was top notch. After all, if the fighting is fun, it will be fun everywhere in the game—brawling and adventure. I’d say that this game has a nice mix of brawling, adventure and co-op fun wrapped up in the great world Marvel has provided us.
"Marvel Super Hero Squad" is a brand targeted at younger audiences. How will this game appeal to more mature fans of the Marvel universe as well?
We wanted to make sure the game could be played by anyone who picked up the controls, but we definitely put in lots of extra work to make sure the game has all the depth necessary to keep more sophisticated gamers happy as well. For example, you could happily play the game for hours and never block or pull off some of the longer chains, but when you are ready for it, that next level of depth is waiting for you.
Do all of the twenty-plus playable characters have unique attacks and powers like their animated counterparts?
Oh yes! We spent lots and lots of time working on animation and making sure that each character would feel like you’d expect when you pick up the controls.
In addition to the campaign mode, what sort of multiplayer or other game modes will "Marvel Super Hero Squad" have?
There are several battle modes available, with up to four players, both co-op and head-to-head. This is a great title to pull out when you have a few friends over and want to just jump into a game and have some fun.
We’ve tried to bring a consistent experience across the platforms, which has been a challenge as the Wii team set the bar pretty high. The DS version has its own take on the game and will offer players a different adventure experience from the others.
Can we expect any unlockables or collectibles in "Marvel Super Hero Squad?"
We have lots of things to unlock both in adventure and battle modes. Because of the great depth of the Marvel universe we are able to give the players what they want—lots of characters and cool alternate costumes!
Is there anything else you want people to know about the game?
I’m extremely proud of this game and my team, and I think fans are really going to enjoy themselves playing it. At least I hope so—we had them in mind the whole time we were working on it!
CBR would like to thank Robert Blackadder for talking with us about "Marvel Super Hero Squad." The game is currently scheduled for an October 20th release. For more information on the game, including the full roster of playable characters, head over to the official website at marvelshsgame.marvel.com. For more on Blue Tongue and their other projects, check out www.bluetongue.com.