By Marc Strom
With the launch of the second episode of “Avengers Initiative” just before the holidays, mobile gamers got a chance to play as Captain America in a continuation of the story begun with the Hulk.
|Captain America vs. Taskmaster in "Avengers Alliance"|
Van Lente spoke with Marvel.com about crafting the story behind the game’s second episode, the difference between Cap and Hulk’s gameplay and more!
Marvel.com: In terms of fans who have played through the Hulk episode, what would you tell them about the second part, starring Captain America?
Fred Van Lente: If you enjoyed Hulk, you won’t fully understand what’s going on with the Vault escapees and how you’re going to get them all back into the box unless you play Captain America, so you won’t get the full story without playing Captain America. And Cap, as you can imagine, has [some different] moves to the Hulk. With the shield, and because he’s physically not imposing as Hulk, it’s a very different kind of gameplay. It’s a really fun game because while it is a fighting game in the “Infinity Blade” style, you do get to play with these different characters and their different styles.
Marvel.com: How long ago was it that you actually wrote this episode?
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Fred Van Lente: In video game time, it was not very long at all--the spring, I think, [or] early summer. It’s one of the amazing things about the mobile process, we’re kind of cranking these things out fairly quickly.
Marvel.com: Did you have a fairly strong idea of what you’d be doing in each episode and an outline of how they’re interconnected before you even began writing the first one?
Fred Van Lente: Oh yeah. If you get to the big climax of Captain America, you will see how the Captain America episode then fits neatly into the Hulk episode and then goes on into the third episode.
Marvel.com: And in this episode, we’ve also got Taskmaster, who you’ve worked with before, particularly on the limited series that explored his origins. Did the idea of using him come from you, or was that something that came from the producers?
Fred Van Lente: That came from me, just because I really think he’s a terrific villain. I thought he would make a great video game villain just because he learns moves and combo maneuvers as a super power, and that’s almost something a gamer does. I think they worked that into the gameplay really well. Also, when we were first developing this, I had a personal trainer whose favorite character to play in “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” was Taskmaster, so [he] kind of gave me the idea. Anyhow, Cap’s got a lot of great villains, but Taskmaster has a great look. Another thing is that he’s an Avengers villain first and foremost. He first premiered as an Avengers villain, and so we were definitely trying to look for Avengers-centric bad guys.
|Captain America faces a HYDRA War Drone in "Avengers Alliance"|
Marvel.com: Obviously Cap and Hulk are two very different heroes with very different fighting styles. Did you take that and how it would change the gameplay into account when you wrote the Captain America episode versus the Hulk one?
Fred Van Lente: That would definitely be more of a question for the Wideload designers. I just tried to write the Captain America I knew from the comics. Not to ruin any surprises but there’re a lot of cool shield effects and a lot of patriotic pride that is very specific to Captain America, and that would suit his personality. I wrote the [comic] prequel to the movie [“Captain America: The First Avenger”], so that’s the version of Cap I have stuck with in my head, the guy who was just thawed the other day. There were a lot of ‘40s references and [he’s] very self-conscious about how he is a man of his time, and how he just kind of got de-thawed in a strange world of iPods and Gangnam Style.