We're mere days away from the release of "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3," Capcom's latest brawlathon that throws characters from the Marvel Universe with classic characters from Capcom's own video game archives into one fan-favorite game franchise. The sequel features twelve new fighters, as well as improved balancing during battles and a mode where you can play as the planet-devouring Galactus, who can whip opponents left and right with super strength.
So far, we've gotten Capcom's side of the story, through our hands-on session with the game, but now it's Marvel's turn to talk. We sat down with Todd Jefferson, Marvel's VP of Production for Games, about the comic giant's involvement with the franchise, how involved Capcom was in crafting the Frank Tieri-scripted story and the reluctant decision not to include some fan-favorite characters like Blade, Doc Ock and Black Panther in the game.
CBR News: First off, what inspired Marvel to get back into a partnership with Capcom on a fighting game? I take it there were more than enough fans of the previous games to warrant working on "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" and its Ultimate follow-up.
Todd Jefferson: You're exactly right. When we released "Marvel vs. Capcom 2" on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, there was so much buzz amongst the fans that we knew there was still a lot of love out there for the franchise and appetite for more in the form of a sequel -- or sequels.
Who really makes the choices when it comes to characters that will be featured in the game? Do you guys have a process that goes, "Nah, we can't have this one," or, "Hey, players would love this one!"
The choice of who makes it into the game is a shared decision between Capcom and Marvel. The list of "Who do we want in the game?" starts off pretty big -- monstrous, even -- and gets culled down based on a number of different factors. We may want a character that aligns perfectly with the game's mechanics, like Taskmaster or She Hulk, in which case he or she definitely makes the roster. Conversely, there were characters like Dr. Octopus that both sides wanted and in the end proved to not be feasible from a technical standpoint.
In the end, we try to strike a balance between characters that are staples of the franchise like Wolverine and Spider-Man with new-to-the-franchise characters like Hawkeye and Ghost Rider that help keep things current and even push the franchise forward.
How closely did you collaborate with Capcom when developing the storyline for the game?
Normally, fighting games don't have much of a story to them, so we were very excited when Capcom expressed interest in adding more story to "Marvel vs. Capcom 3." One of the first things we did was connect Capcom with comic writer Frank Tieri, who did an amazing job of jamming as much story as possible into the game. The entire process was very collaborative, with Frank getting notes from both Marvel and Capcom, and weaving a story that both sides were happy with in the end.
Were there any fighters that didn't make the cut in "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3" that you wish had?
Of course! Characters like Blade and Black Panther were on the list in the early stages of the game's design. When we got into the mechanics of the characters many dropped off for one reason or another. For Blade, his abilities were almost identical to Deadpool's, and Pool's characterization, teleportation and ability to break the fourth wall won out. Black Panther -- a favorite of mine ever since "Secret Invasion" -- was ruled out because characters like Taskmaster already duplicated a lot of what Black Panther would do on screen. Building the right character roster is tricky work, but in the end, I feel that we put together a broad spectrum of old and new characters for both versions of the game.
We've seen quite a few obscure characters introduced into the fold this time around, including Dr. Strange and Rocket Raccoon. How's it feel seeing these characters come to the video game world, for the first time?
When you say "Marvel characters," people often think only of Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Avengers, but there are so many more characters than that, some with decades of stories behind them. To have characters like Dr. Strange, Rocket Raccoon and Nova show up in a high profile game like "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3" is awesome. The tricky question was, "What are their moves going to be?" Thankfully, we had literally decades of comics to pore over, culling out the great action shots of our characters and building moves sets around them.
Do you have any particular favorites to play as in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3? Any characters you recommend players start with?
Of the six new Marvel characters offered in "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3," my hands down favorite is Rocket Raccoon. His moves are just ridiculously over-the-top, and his voice-over -- voiced by Greg Ellis -- is just fantastic. I think the best "Welcome aboard" Marvel character would be Iron Fist, though. He's the closest straight-up fighter we have in the game.
Finally, do you see Marvel's relationship with Capcom flourishing because of these games? Might we see more versus fighting games in the future, like another "X-Men vs. Street Fighter," perhaps?
We had a lot of fun making both "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" and "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3," so you never know!
"Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3" hits stores for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 15. A PS Vita version will follow early next year.