October in New York provides several constants, the appearance of light jackets, the Mets failing to make the playoffs, the Jets on the inevitable march to another disastrous season and pop culture aficionados converging on Jacob Javits Center for the annual New York Comic Con. This year we saw the show expand to four full days instead of the usual three and a half days, so con goers have more time to take in the breadth of activities the show had to offer. The show does not see too much of a 1st party video game publisher presence, but the 3rd party publishers generally do come out in force. 3rd party publishers such as Square Enix, Capcom and Bandai Namco had a sizable booth presence on the show floor with numerous demo stations for attendees to enjoy. Our time on the show floor was spent checking out the mobile game offerings that various exhibitors had to offer.
Our first stop was at Bandai Namco which spun off their mobile offerings into a separate booth off the show floor near the entrance of the convention center. Their showcase featured four titles from popular anime series such as Sword Arts Online, One Piece and Naruto. Attendees were not only encouraged try the games but to do various activities such as taking photos with series specific cosplayers, sharing their photos of the booth on social media to get a chance to win prizes via a random drawings. After ten minutes or so experiencing the booth we were lead to a meeting room where we would discuss their two Naruto titles in depth.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Blazing has been on the market for over a year. Released in August of 2016, the title lets users relive the story of Naruto while participating in the makers describe as ?Shinobi Formation Battles?. These battles consist of dragging your characters near the opponent so that the enemies are within your character?s effective range, which is represented by a blue circle. The more enemies you cover in this circle, the more enemies you can attack. You can also recruit your allies to assist you if they too are covered in the circle. This gameplay forces you to strategically place your assets as you take on opposing ninja.
The team at Bandai Namco came to NYCC to showcase the new multiplayer mode called Ninja World Clash. We sat with producer Masahiro Shirasaki and product manager Senhou Shin, who gave us a rundown of the mode. Two teams of six ninjas face off and turn order is determined by the speed rating of the characters that are on the battlefield. We asked the team if mode would favor long time players or players who have paid cash, but we were assured that the game is rather generous with the character acquisition currency and they have plenty of events which gives opportunities to acquire rare characters.
Next we were joined by product manager Yoshinobu Takabayashi, who give us an early look at the newest title in Bandai Namco?s mobile games portfolio.
Naruto x Boruto: Ninja Voltage is marketed as a Shinobi Action Strategy Battle Game, from the trailer we saw city building elements as well as action elements in which the player is tasked to raid enemy?s forts. Gaming Age editor Benny Rose took on the special mission in their demo to do such a raid and despite giving some effort, he was ultimately unsuccessful at completing the mission. It was then when the Bandai Namco representatives present urged Benny to make a second attempt and introduced us to the auto mode. This mode relieved the players of control and as long as the player?s assigned characters are strong enough, it automatically takes on the raid on the player?s behalf. Benny was able to conquer the special mission with a combination of Auto Mode and Manual control, ending our appointment by regaining some honor. Naruto x Boruto: Ninja Voltage is currently still in development and has no release date. It will be available on both the Android and IOS platform when it is released.
Marvel Contest of Champions is a one on one fighting game which has seen a fair amount of advertising on my facebook news feed. Using the legendary comic storyline as a template they are able populate their title utilizing the vast character pool that the marvel multiverse has to offer. Not only do characters from the 616 (Main line) universe show up, but we also see characters from the Earth-199999 (Marvel Cinematic) as well as characters created for the game itself. Introducing a new original character was the primary objective of their booth. Morningstar is the newest villain being introduced at New York Comic Con and her presence is felt throughout the booth, from a prominent placement in the booth artwork to the art which adorns the T-shirts which the staff wore. The team at Kabam is going all out to sure she gets a proper welcome.
The character is a former queen of the fictional kingdom of Languria. She once ruled the kingdom with an iron fist and La Fleur du Mal, but once the citizens of Languria deposed of her and locked her up in an Iron Maiden. It is only by making a deal Mephisto that she is free to terrorize the multiverse. An interesting twist to Morningstar?s tale is that the sword which kept her subjects in check, La Fleur du Mal is currently in the possession of one of the game?s other original characters Guillotine.
At Kabam?s booth we met by design lead Tim Molyneaux, and art director Gabriel Frizzera. The conversation turned to what it was like to be partnered with Marvel Comics on this project and the how Marvel encouraged Kabam to make their own interpretations of Marvel’s iconic creations. Tim gushed with pride saying how great it was for their team, which consisted of numerous comic fans to see their creations appear in print. The Civil Warrior?s armor was the basis of the armor used by the evil Steve Rogers in the penultimate issue of Secret Empire, Marvel?s last big event. When the topic of having multiple instances of characters in the game came up, Gabriel assured us that these were not mere re-skins, but the team makes it a point to build a completely new character with their own strengths and weaknesses. The game is one that has legs and content will be generated to keep users engaged for a long, long time.
So whether you have a long commute or just have ample downtime during your day, publishers like the ones detailed above will ensure that the human interaction you will need to take remains minimal. We definitely look forward to what New York Comic Con will bring in 2018. Until then make sure you pack an extra battery, and keep on playing!