Who was there: Marvel director of games Todd Jefferson and manager of licensed games Chris Baker presided over a panel that also featured plenty of developers involved with the individual games.
What they talked about: Baker started by recapping the latest Marvel foray into the world of games, the addition of Marvel characters into Little Big Planet. He also unveiled five more of the 20 characters set to appear in the game: Wolverine, Venom, Captain America, Rogue, and Invisible Woman.
Moving on to games currently in development, Baker introduced Spider-Man writer Dan Slott and the game's creative director to talk about Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. The trailer featured all four Spider-Man versions for the game coming out September 7, the classic Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Man Noir, and the black-suited symbiote Spider-Man. The creative director of the game talked about a brainstorming session where the developers were trying to decide which iteration of Spider-Man to build the title around. They had a handful of ideas they liked, but it was only when someone suggested that they put all of them into the same game that it clicked.
In addition to having all those different Spider-Men to control, players will hear different--but familiar--voice actors for the roles. Activision has enlisted the voice actors from Spider-Man cartoons in the '80s, '90s, '00s, and today to voice the four different versions of the webbed wonder. The most prominent of the voice actors is Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D., Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle), who voiced the short-lived MTV computer-generated Spider-Man cartoon. In addition, Marvel legend Stan Lee will be providing the voice-over narrative.
In addition to the four main Spider-Man versions, Activision is including a handful of alternate costumes for each of the dimensions, like Cosmic Spider-Man, Iron Spider, Scarlet Spider, and Negative Zone Spider, all of which will be retailer-exclusive preorder incentives. Spider-Armor and Mangaverse Spider-Man suits will also be in the game, but as normal unlockables instead of incentives.
The next game up is Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet, a kid-friendly version of the story arc in which Thanos collects six gems of reality-shaping powers and uses them to kill half of the living beings in the universe as a sacrifice to his love, Death. The second season of the Marvel Super Hero Squad also takes its premise from the comics but makes it significantly more whimsical.
The game's producer, Jason Gholston, and writer Mark Hoffmeier also discussed Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, the new browser-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on the cartoon and set for release next year. Gholston pointed out that it is the first online take on the Marvel Universe, with the goal of the game being to allow players to tell their own stories in the comic book world with their friends. Although it's primarily targeted at kids, Gholston stressed that the team is taking an "all ages" approach with depth, tactical strategy, player-versus-player, and things to foster wide appeal.
Capcom's Seth Killian was up next to talk about Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Instead of a trailer, Killian showed footage of a match featuring the newly announced characters Super Skrull, Dr. Doom, and Chun Li. Killian narrated the fight, pointing out the various techniques and super combos as they were performed. As in the Capcom panel earlier, Deadpool drew the biggest reaction form the crowd, with plenty of applause for his Ryu-like shoryuken attack.
After the footage, Jefferson said Capcom often sends Marvel gameplay footage for approval, but the footage invariably shows Capcom characters trouncing the Marvel stars.
"I'm sorry the Hulk can't stand up to Chun Li," Killian said. "It's real life. We tested it out; it's science."
Killian talked about the enduring appeal of Marvel vs. Capcom, and he stressed it wasn't nostalgia. With three-on-three matches and players able to choose one of three different assists for each character, Killian said there were about 1 million different matchup permutations in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. As a result, he said diehard players are still finding new things in the game all the time.
For Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Killian said they are trying to retain and surpass the hallmark of its predecessor, the sheer insanity of the battles. The developers are trying to make it so button mashers can pick up the game and instantly make some fireworks fly, but they're also hoping to create something that will have people playing it competitively for the next decade.
A second gameplay clip showed off another new character, Thor. Sporting his recent look from comics rather than the upcoming movie, the god of thunder pummeled opponents with hammer and lightning attacks, including a Ruby Heart-esque comet attack, a cascading super attack like Captain Commando's, and a cyclone super move a bit reminiscent of Jin.
Speaking of Thor, Baker brought the panel to an end by showing off a trailer for Sega's movie-based Thor game, due out in the summer of 2011. The incredibly brief teaser showed a third-person view of Thor from behind, standing on a cliff overlooking Muspulheim. Jefferson said the film's director, Kenneth Branagh, is providing input on the game, right down to that teaser trailer.
Quote: "Oh, my herald, find me a planet that is light on ice cream. I am lactose intolerant." Hoffmeier, doing his best impression of George Takai as Galactus.
The takeaway: Besides the unveiling of Thor in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and the teaser trailer for the movie game, the biggest message of the panel was that Marvel isn't slowing down its gaming endeavors one bit.
Who knew?: Hoffmeier said boys didn't like the idea of the Infinity Gauntlet's Infinity Gems, so they had to be called Infinity Stones instead.
In a Q&A session after the panel, Killian confirmed that Capcom is working on a new joystick for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 along the lines of its Tournament Edition FightSticks but that the publisher is "looking to elevate [its] game."