We here at Marvel.com got a chance to speak with Jason Ray, producer for Marvel Trading Card Game, and pick his brains about Konami's new Marvel title, available now for the PSP, with ports for the PC and Nintendo DS slated for release sometime in late Spring/early Summer. This is everything you ever wanted to know about the digital version of Upper Deck's hit Vs collectible card game. Read on to get the 411 on this hot card battling game straight from the source.
MARVEL.COM: What characters made it into the game?
JASON RAY: There are more than 400 characters from the Marvel Universe, heroes and villains being used in the cards themselves! We managed to incorporate over 100 of those characters into our Story Mode. That was a real difficult situation for writer John Layman, but he pulled it off elegantly.
MARVEL.COM: Is it going to be a straight port from the actual card game or are there going to be additions/revisions? Have you tweaked any of the gameplay mechanics? If I've played Vs before, will I be able to just pick up this game and get right into it?
RAY: It's a straight port of the actual card game from Upper Deck, but we built some single-player battles with a few tricks in mind. The idea was to have some boss-type battles at different points in the Story Mode to shake things up a bit for the player. For instance, we have a battle that starts with Master Mold already in play on the AI's side of the field. Vs Players will probably pull their hair out figuring how to get past that challenge, but it can be done!
The Vs System has a really complex set of rules, so it really isn't all that easy to just dive into; however, we've loaded every version of the game with tutorials so that you can learn how to play like a pro.
MARVEL.COM: Are the game mechanics going to be exactly the same as the actual card game?
RAY: Absolutely! They have to be. We're planning lots of online tournaments with cool prizes, and we can't have any exploits in the game that people can take advantage of.
MARVEL.COM: Will this game be good for all skill levels? Will veterans of the game get as much out of it as those that have never played Vs before?
RAY: The beauty of the Story Mode is that it has so many different challenges along the way, and you have to think your way around them. It starts off easy, but gets tough very early and then varies at different points along the way. But after you grind through 300 or so battles against a crafty AI, you become quite a veteran yourself.
Veterans know that there are no easy games in the Vs System. They'll certainly have an advantage progressing through the Story Mode, but it will challenge them as well.
MARVEL.COM: The Vs card game has a handful of expansions under its belt. Did you try to fit in as much as possible, or streamline it?
RAY: We definitely fit in as much as we could! We want the debut product to knock peoples' socks off. We have all the cards from the original "Origins" set through "Avengers." The "X-Men" set can be acquired and played online using the PC or the PSP.
MARVEL.COM: Aside from the "X-Men" set, will there be any kind of future support for the game ala pgrades and such.
RAY: We hope to expand the card sets as well as upgrade the online community at www.marveltcgonline.com. In due time…
MARVEL.COM: Obviously the most fun thing about trading card games is beating other people. What kind of multiplayer options will be available?
RAY: PC, PSP and DS all have local (LAN) and wi-fi multiplayer. The PC and PSP can actually play against each other! Online, you can participate in tournaments with your constructed deck or a sealed deck variant that levels the playing field for all involved.
MARVEL.COM: How do you build decks? You can't just buy new packs and add in your cards...or can you?
RAY: Yeah, you just buy cards and add them in. Sometimes it's easier to empty your deck and start building from scratch, of course. Depends on whether you're trying to improve what you have, or if you're trying to make something completely different.
We have a really flexible deck editor built into the game. It even has a deck analyzer built in to give you some statistics about what you can expect to see in your first hand.
MARVEL.COM: There's lots of different levels of of gameplay in card games these days. Is this going to be geared more towards the younger groups like Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon or will it be more like Warhammer or Wars?
RAY: I'd love to have the younger kids playing the game, but to be honest the Vs System rules are fairly complicated. This game is intelligently designed and attracts some very competitive people. Nevertheless, I play it at home against my 5-year-old son, although I help him along. He likes to say "Hulk Smash!" when he's attacking me with the big green Avenger.
MARVEL.COM: What can we see in the way of online tournaments?
RAY: We are planning lots of Konami sponsored tournaments! I'm really excited because we're going to have excellent prize support. We're also looking for strategic partners to sponsor their own tournaments. I think the tournament play will be the most rewarding thing we can do for our loyal customers.
MARVEL.COM: There's a handful of different expansions for Vs out now, do all versions of this game use the same cards?
RAY: All versions of the game incorporate these sets: Origins, Web of Spiderman, Marvel Knights, Avengers and the Fantastic 4 starter set. PC and PSP users playing online are given X-Men starter set free, and can purchase the X-Men expansion cards optionally.
MARVEL.COM: Did you or the fellow developers have any experience with Vs before creating the game?
RAY: A lot of us had played card games religiously at one time. A few of us had played Marvel TCG and were fairly knowledgeable. We're all sort of experts now, though.
MARVEL.COM: What are the differences going to be between the different platforms the games coming out on?
RAY: There aren't too many differences. There's a look and feel difference between the DS and the other platforms, but the Story Mode is just as brutally entertaining in every SKU. We really didn't want any differences between the products since we started with the perfect plan.
MARVEL.COM: So multiplayer options are going to be cross platform? I can play someone from my PSP who's on their PC?
RAY: That's one of our most exciting features! Online cross-platform play between PSP and PC and it still blows our minds. We had some great partners to help us make this work: Vicious Cycle Software--our developer, and GameSpy who provided the foundation for the online technology. We're lucky to have such people to get us over the technological hurdles. People interested in trying the game can download a free online-only version by going to our community site and following the link on the home page. Marveltcgonline.com is a wonder in itself and there's lots more information about the game for those curious to learn more.
Heard enough? Buy Marvel Trading Card Game now!
By Greg Draudt