With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 coming to theaters on May 2nd, it was inevitable that there’d be a video game adaptation as well. But along with the one Beenox are making for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, the WiiU, and the 3DS, there’s a unique one coming to iOS, Android, and, later on, Windows devices, too. I spoke to Gameloft’s Tatiana Nahai about what it took to bring Spidey and his super friends to smaller screens.
Let’s start with the basics: What kind of game is The Amazing Spider-Man 2, how do you play it, and what other mobile games do you think it’s like?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is an open-world action adventure, where you swing around the city of New York as Spider-Man, and engage in various missions across the city. Some of them are random, such as interacting with New York residents or helping the police, and some are story-focused.
A big goal of ours was to really improve the variety of missions and gameplay from our first The Amazing Spider-Man game, so that players really feel like they’re living a day in the life of Spider-Man in a fast-paced city. The game’s story really reflects that, as New York is facing a villainous gang war, where four different gangs are rising up to take control of New York: Kraven The Hunter’s Russian mob, Hammerhead’s Maggia crime family, the high-tech U.L.T.R.A. gang, and The Green Goblin’s Oscorp. Spider-Man must protect New York from these gangs who are fighting each other, as well as Spider-Man himself.
In addition, chaos grows in the city as Spider-Man must also face the ultra-powerful Electro and the infamous Venom. With all these threats that Spider-Man must face, we’ve really created an exciting, high energy open-world New York.
We also wanted to make a game that hardcore players could really enjoy, but that was accessible to someone who might not be as familiar with open-world action games. You have a joystick on the left side of the screen, and attack buttons on the right side. The button controls have truly been enhanced on touch screens to become very responsive and enjoyable.
Given what you just said, it sounds like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was influenced by the Spider-Man games we’ve seen on consoles the last few years, especially the open world ones like 2004’s Spider-Man 2 and the previous movie’s game, 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Am I wrong in thinking this?
Spider-Man is such a great character. He’s acrobatic, quick-witted, incredibly strong, and his character has always been a bit of a loner in a big city. He’s really the perfect character for an open-world experience, where you truly get to become him and experience his life. So it’s really no surprise that Spider-Man is seen so often in sandbox games. And with the huge technical advancements made on iOS, Android, and Windows, we’re able to truly deliver a high quality experience that is accessible to more people on mobile.
You mentioned that you did the game based on the previous movie, The Amazing Spider-Man. When you started to work on this sequel, what were some of the things that you wanted to add, change, or improve, and why did you feel they needed to be added, changed, and improved?
Our main goal with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was to make a bigger, better and more beautiful open-world Spider-Man experience with a deeper story, more actions, revisited controls, and hugely enhanced graphics and cut-scenes. The game has nearly a hundred story missions, with seventeen different types of random events — as opposed to the twenty-five story events and eight random events we had in the previous game — has a city that’s one and a half times bigger, and has six major villains as well as three non-playable characters from the Marvel Universe.
There’s a huge emphasis on exploration as you get to feel like Spider-Man, preventing small crimes and helping people, while also following an elaborate long-term story arc against supervillains. In addition to this, we’ve brought life into the environments with four types of vehicles, twenty-three types of people to interact with, and eighteen different types of enemies to face. We’ve also taken great pride in the implementation of the story itself, as well as some major graphical improvements.
Additionally, you can now wear five iconic Spider-Man suits that Marvel fans will definitely recognize, each with their own unique abilities and stats: Symbiote Spider-Man, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, Iron Spider, and Superior Spider-Man.
Given the kind of game you’re making, is it safe to assume that it will support controllers?
It’s definitely something we’re considering, but we won’t have this support available for launch.
Ah. Now, there’s also an Amazing Spider-Man 2 game coming to consoles and the 3DS, which is being made by Beenox. Obviously, your game isn’t a mobile version of theirs, but did you have any conversations with them about their game?
We actually have a really great partnership with Activision, as we are supporting each other’s games through different marketing initiatives. But we did not work with them on the production of each game.
Beenox’s game starts before the events of the movie, but overlaps with it at some point. How does yours relate to the new movie?
It’s a loose adaptation to the film that takes some of the events of the movie and transposes them in an entirely new timeline that exists outside of the film. We definitely felt this would be preferable to players, rather than reliving the film’s entire story in a game. We were able to read the script early on, and create a game that fit perfectly in an open-world experience, as well as expand on the film’s story with new characters, side stories and quests that fans would love.
Since you’re doing something of an original story, did you hire any comic book writers to help write it?
We developed the story internally, but consulted throughout the writing process with Fred Van Lente, a noted Spider-Man comic writer with great knowledge of the Spider-Man universe and a true understanding of Spider-Man’s character. And the story was not based on any specific comics, save for the origin of Venom, which is based on the storyline from the Ultimate Spider-Man books.
Obviously, the way Spider-Man, Green Goblin, and Electro look in the game is based on how they look in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie. But you said your game has some characters not in the movie. Can you tell us who?
Yes. In addition to the Green Goblin and Electro, you will face Venom, Black Cat, Kraven The Hunter, Hammerhead, Screwball, and Mysterio, who appears in the social event, Mysterio’s Arena. On May 2, we will release an additional villain as well, which we’ll announce at a later date.
Cool. When it came to designing those characters, were there specific comics, films, cartoons, or even other games that you looked to for inspiration?
We tried to keep the designs of the non-movie characters true to their most familiar comic representations. We wanted even casual fans to be able to see such characters as Kraven or Black Cat and immediately be excited to see them. We have some truly talented artists on our team, who based the models off the character’s most common representations.
Of course, we also received some input here from Marvel.
Speaking of which, how involved did the people making the Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie get in those decisions?
We have a great relationship with Marvel, and worked very closely with them from the very beginning of the production process. Nearly every decision was discussed with them.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is coming out on iOS and Android devices, with Windows machines later on. First, are there any major differences between the different versions?
There are no major differences between any of the games. We really wanted to offer a premium mobile experience that could be enjoyed by everyone without exclusion.
Finally, if you could make a Spider-Man game based on any of the comics, which would you personally most like to make into a game?
Personally, I’d have to say the original Amazing Spider-Man comics. I absolutely love seeing where a legendary character like Spider-Man started, and what turned him into such an adored super hero today. There’s so much heart, humor and drama even from the very beginning of Spider-Man’s existence.