Marvel and Kabam have joined forces to create Contest of Champions: a fighting game based on the Marvel Universe that sets players against the Collector, who has trapped heroes in crystals. And so, players must beat the Collector's team to gather crystals and unlock heroes to form their own super-powered team.
During New York Comic-Con I had the pleasure of sitting down with Cuz Parry (the game's Creative Director) and Writer Sam Humphries to discuss their new creation.
148Apps: Contest of Champions looks like a fantastic fighting game. Could you give us an overview of the story?
Sam Humphries (SH): The comics and the cartoon are very good angles on the Collector. He's a little badass, very mighty, and inscrutable. His motivations are not always understandable. That's been a lot of fun to play with because since day one Kabam has been very adamant in keeping the priority on the story and not just make a game to button mash and curse. They wanted to entice players with a really strong story with escalating stakes, reveals, mysteries, twists and turns, cliff hangers, and all that kinda stuff. So having someone like the Collector, we asked "What are his motivations?" "Why is he doing this?" That's an important mystery that we build over time, and as we pull all the layers back what we've come up with is something that, story-wise, stands up against a Marvel Comic, Marvel Movie, and Marvel TV show.
Cuz Parry (CP): In the Marvel Gaming universe there's this substance called Iso-8. That's the resource that basically everybody uses in all the marvel games, such as in Ultimate Spiderman you use it to level-up your characters. We're telling the story where there is this big, powerful weapon: the Iso-Sphere. We go to the source of the Iso-8 and the mystery behind it.
SH: What we find out about the Iso-Sphere and Iso-8 is that they are directly tied to the battle realm where you play the game, and to what the Collector's doing and why he's doing it. Also, maybe there's someone behind the the Collector pulling his strings and making this happen.
148Apps: Players will be using tap and swipe controls to move the character by touching any part of the screen. Why did you decide to go that route?
CP: We didn't want to go with joysticks; they tend not to work. And we didn't want to have buttons because then you are looking at the buttons. No matter how intuitive it is, you're still like "Did I hit the right button?." We wanted you to feel, viscerally, that attack felt you were hitting him. With this it's easy. Left side of the screen is defense. You swipe back to move backwards. Right side is attack. You can touch the screen anywhere.
SH: The visuals are so gorgeous, you don't want to cover that all up.
148Apps:Contest of Champions includes so many characters. What's stopping a player from picking their favorite super hero and only playing with that one?
148Apps: (To Sam) How has it been, working on an iOS app?
SH: It was awesome. I've never written for an app before. I've written a bunch of comics, I've been with Marvel for a couple of years, and then I hooked up with Kabam and it was great. They really made the story a priority. I went to Vancouver where the studio is, and we sat down for two days brainstorming ideas and talking about different characters and different scenarios. How would this character act in this situation and what would this character want, and putting story scenarios through the crucible of heavy nerd debate and seeing which ones come out whole. I think we really did come out with the best possible story for this game.
148Apps: In playing the game it really seemed like every character has their own personality. How was it writing for so many characters.
SH: That was one of the most fun parts for me because I've only been writing for marvel for a couple of years and this game has 50 characters at launch. So there were a lot of characters that I wrote in this game that I had never written for before. All that was a lot of fun.
It was very awesome to have Cuz and Sam walk me though Contest of Champions and, before we wrapped up, I was able to take a swing at a few levels. The controls are very smooth and make it really easy to begin playing without much introduction. The characters all have special moves - such as Deadpool who, when he hits his 3rd tier attack, will stop the fight to take a phone call, and then just as his opponent loses their patience, he shoots them. The visuals are really nice, and I generally just found it a tough to put down. Personally, I can't wait for the release in December 2014.