By Joe Glass
I stopped by the Contest of Champions mini-booth, part of the sprawling Marvel booth at NYCC this year, to discuss the game and new character Guillotine with the game's art director and the character's designer, Gabe Frizzera.
Guillotine, who is a new character created for the game, also appears in the new comic now out by Al Ewing and Paco Medina. Frizzera told me that the character's design and creation was really a collaborative process between himself and the comic's creators and Marvel.
When Ewing was approached about adding this character to the comics and game, Frizzera was super excited by the character's interesting background and abilities, so much so that he was immediately sketching her out and sending it to Ewing. This design was ultimately pared back a bit for ease of inclusion in the comic, and the final design was arrived at.
Frizzera says that the character as she developed in the game had an influence on her story and abilities in the comics, stating that the process really is a back and forth throughout all of it.
He then went on to explain that the Contest of Champions game as a whole will feature storylines that bleed into the comic, and vice versa, and that the CoC comic will, in fact, lead to some pretty big things in the Marvel Universe.
This surprised me, as normally these kind of games have little effect on the main story of the universe, and if a tie-in comic is done, it's normally held fast in its parent video game's 'reality'. Frizzera said that they didn't want to make a game that is just a PR tool, they wanted something that feeds into the comic universe too, and even teases Marvel's big plans for the future of the series, both in game and the comics.
As far as the game is concerned, we can expect a few timely tie-ins down the line. Although Frizzera is fast to point out they do make the game to stand on its own, he admitted the tie-ins are exciting and do help, building on the characters included in the game. For now, there's a little quiet time for them to focus on their own thing, but he did tease some exciting hard-boiled Jessica Jones storylines, and that there are big plans to tie into the next big cinematic release, Captain America: Civil War, featuring the chance for players to choose their side.
I then had a little play of the game, after some WiFi connectivity hiccups, but this is NYCC. I'm not a big mobile gamer, but I found the controls easy to use, simple, and a fun experience – often quick, which ties in well for on-the-go casual gaming. However, it was clear from what Frizzera explained to me of the games structure and from the menus and info displayed that there are much more in-depth ways of playing for the more hardcore gamer fan.
Guillotine herself plays well…fast and nice looking combos that are reminiscent of a medium strength character, but with a few heavy fighter moves which feel satisfying when used.
In fact, the overall look and the feel of the game is impressive, especially on a tablet, and really does feel like it's been approached with triple A game sensibilities, but with a mobile functionality.
My big takeaway from the experience has been that there's maybe a lot more to expect from the game and indeed the comic, and Contest of Champions is really something all Marvel fans should be keeping their eyes on.