Last month, Gazillion Entertainment and Marvel unveiled the first game to be released under a ten-year publishing agreement between the two companies: "Marvel Super Hero Squad Online." Developed by The Amazing Society, "Super Hero Squad Online" is based on Marvel's popular line of toys, comics and the animated series of the same name. The browser-based, Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game will allow players to assemble and lead groups of Marvel heroes against a variety of enemies and challenges throughout both Super Hero City and Villainville.
While the development team is not yet revealing all the details about the heavily anticipated upcoming game, CBR News was able to speak with The Amazing Society's VP Jason Robar in order to get a better idea of what fans can expect and some info on what the team is showing at E3 this week.
CBR News: Jason, Marvel's "Super Hero Squad" is a property that is generally aimed at younger audiences. What's your target age range for the game?
Jason Robar: Our primary audiences for the game are kids 6-12 and their families. It's especially important to us to create opportunities for inter-generational play; parents who grew up with these popular Marvel characters able to share game experiences with their kids. We also expect that, being the first Marvel MMO, we will have appeal outside of that main audience, with Marvel fans and core gamers.
How would you describe the general gameplay in "SHSO?"
Overall the game is like a superhero amusement park where you can become your favorite superheroes, explore new locations in the Marvel universe and make new friends along the way. You can use all of their superpowers in combat as well so there is a great deal of play to be had by going through the game with all of the characters you've collected. There are a few more key experiences that we will reveal throughout the summer.
How are you making the controls and gameplay accessible for younger audiences but still satisfying for more experienced gamers?
The mouse controls are simple and intuitive for just about anyone, including the youngest of fans. In our focus testing, we found that kids as young as 4 were up and running in no time. For the more experienced gamers we've amazingly managed to create a combo system with the two button mouse! When you get your hands on it, you'll see how powerful such a simple system really is!
Collecting heroes seems to be a big part of "SHSO." Can you give us an overview of this element of the game?
Who wants to be a sidekick when you can be Spider-Man? Collecting heroes is the core of the game; you can play as any of the characters you've collected in any of our game modes.
Another big element of the animated series is humor. Will the tone of "SHSO" match the animated series, or are you opting for a more serious take?
We're big fans of how the series handled its humor – hilarious for kids, but with a lot of subtle "winks" for Marvel fans of all ages to appreciate. Humor is absolutely key to our world.
Are you taking mission storylines directly from the animated series, or are they created specifically for the game? Are you free to pull from other Marvel comic storylines outside of "Super Hero Squad?"
We will have the freedom to utilize storylines from the TV show, but we have a staff of designers who have been madly creating the game's own unique storylines and events. The beauty of our particular license for "Super Hero Squad" is that Marvel has told us we can draw from the entire Marvel Universe and it's 70 years of history, not just the TV show.
What is the overall structure of the game world?
We have a number of social zones in the game and a large number of combat settings. In addition, we have other area types that we will reveal throughout the summer.
How are you handling rewards, experience and leveling?
As with most MMOs, we have a leveling system for individual characters, but additionally we have a leveling system for Your Squad as a whole, as well. Squad level is just as important in the game. Also, there is an achievement system that tracks your progress so that you can show your friends.
Are you planning on a traditional subscription model for the game? When can we expect to hear more about pricing?
As with any modern MMO, we will give players the flexibility to engage with our game on a variety of levels. We will announce more details throughout the year.
Will the game feature player-versus-player combat, and can players choose villains as opposed to heroes?
What are you planning on showing off at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this week?
We plan on getting your hands on the game! For the first time, attendees to our invitation-only booth will be able to play the game, explore its social zones and engage in super-powered combat!
Is there anything else you'd like to mention about the game right now?
This game will be the best superhero MMO out there for a good long time. Not only will it entertain kids and parents, but it will appeal to the hardest of the hardcore fans by being faithful to the characters backstories while also introducing new experiences to the Marvel Universe.
"Super Hero Squad Online" is currently listed for release in 2011. You can get the latest information on heroup.com.