Ever since the Xbox Achievements list for The Amazing Spider-Man hit the internet awhile back, Spidey fans have been trying to figure out who this handsome devil might be:
Actually, here's a better image for you:
In the past few days, I've checked out a few message boards, some of which have discerned the character's name: Nattie. Yes, Nattie. Odd, I know. And don't bother looking him up online -- you won't find him. We created him specifically for this game.
Wondering why? Well, there was a time in the development cycle when the full lineup of villains had yet to be determined. All we knew was that the cross-species science behind the Lizard in the new film would be a big deal, and a theme we'd want present in the game. So, Beenox's incredibly talented concept artists began creating different types of cross-species enemies to fight with no real thought toward them being Marvel characters -- just cool dudes to fight.
Two of these were so great, they actually made it into the game before we decided upon using the likes of actual characters, like Scorpion, Rhino and Iguana. One of them was a rat/human hybrid that we decided to evolve further to become Vermin. The other, a piranha man (above -- he's evolved a bit since the initial design), didn't fit as obviously with any Spidey villains, but we didn't want to lose him either, so we allowed him in the game as an original character known as Piranha.
At least that was the intention. It only took one Google search to realize that -- oops! -- Marvel already has a character from yesteryear called Piranha. Though he too was a toothy li’l fishie mutated into human form, the original Piranha was a Namor villain with only the most peripheral of ties to Spidey. It simply didn't make sense to confuse the hardcore folks -- the type who would have found that Piranha link without my help -- by making them think our new character and the Sub-Mariner's old foe had anything in common whatsoever. (And I assure you, they do not. To be extra clear: Nattie is not Piranha.)
So, what to call him? When I had to drop the news to Beenox that they couldn't actually use the name Piranha, I encouraged them to come up with a new name for the character themselves. Having done just a little bit of research on actual piranhas myself, I learned that Pygocentrus nattereri is the most dangerous breed of piranha in the world, and I threw in "Nattie" as a suggestion, based on something a scientist might nickname his creation. Beenox liked it and decided to go with it.
From there, we were able to put together a bio for the character. If you don't like the name...blame Mendel Stromm! Here's Nattie's bio, directly from the game:
As opposed to most cross-species experiments, which were usually the result of one scientist in his lab, this piranha infused with human DNA was the product of a team of Oscorp scientists working from Curt Connors’ research. Though only loosely associated with the group, Dr. Mendel Stromm took to calling this experiment “Nattie,” based on the subject’s scientific name, Pygocentrus nattereri. Stromm’s colleagues found great humor in the contrast of such a nonthreatening name belonging to one of the most ferocious fish on Earth, and the moniker caught on.
Beyond Nattie’s odd name, the beast’s story is about as straightforward as it gets. No one even bothered to record the identity of the human donor, so it is impossible to observe whether or not Nattie has taken on any of his “father’s” traits.
All signs point to Nattie’s human half coming from a fighter, as he’s surprisingly brutal on land, where his charge attack is second only to Rhino’s. He can even follow this up with a deafening scream capable of knocking even Spider-Man off his feet. And when Nattie confronts his prey under water, his victim doesn’t stand a chance…
See Nattie for yourself tomorrow, when the game comes out!
If you read my “So Many Questions!” blog entry from a couple months back, you might recall my pointing out some inaccuracies in the Wikipedia plot summary at the time. Well, as much as I love Wikipedia (seriously – it’s one of my favorite sites)… let’s just say the current revision still needs work. This is a huge source of info for people, and it pains me to see so many inaccuracies in the plot Beenox worked so hard on. Let’s go sentence by sentence:
Spider-Man villains Rhino, Iguana, Black Cat, Vermin, Scorpion and the The Lizard from the film will be antagonists in the game.
Nothing wrong here, per se (minus “the The”)…but there’s no mention of Alistaire Smythe, who is only, like, the main antagonist in the game.
Also, if you want to get technical, Felicia Hardy is never actually referred to as “Black Cat” in the story – but I won’t stop you from calling her that if that’s what floats your boat.
The game is set after the film, where an Oscorp executive with the help of physicist Dr. Otto Octavius and biochemist Michael Morbius, access the research of Dr. Curt Connors (aka The Lizard) to create more cross-species experiments.
Well, these characters are mentioned in the bios for Rhino and Scorpion, but this summary has a few inaccuracies. For one thing, our fiction states that a whole bunch of Oscorp scientists were messing around with Connors’ cross-species research – not just the characters mentioned. (Here’s a mini-scoop for ya: Want another name from the comics to add to the list? Dr. Mendel Stromm – unlike the other two, he even appears briefly in the narrative. There’s also Dr. Edward Whelan… who could best be described as “not quite Vermin” in this universe.)
Also, the Oscorp executive in question was only getting the “help” of Morbius (not Octavius), which as the Rhino bio pretty clearly states, was not exactly something ol’ Dr. Mike was doing ’cause he wanted to. He was “threatening to end the reclusive biochemist’s career if he refused to help,” after all.
Rhino’s bio further informs us that the Oscorp executive (I promise, he has a name – he’s purposely anonymous for now) worked with Morbius within the movie story’s timeline, whereas this description makes it sound like the research occurred afterward. (Only Rhino was created concurrently with the Lizard – the other cross-species creatures came to be after the film’s climax.)
Meanwhile, Oscorp develops a large group of robots that suddenly turns against the humans.
Um, no…not really. The robots (not officially known as Spider-Slayers, but c’mon – we all know that’s what they are) never “turn against” the humans – they just don’t care about the collateral damage involved in taking down the cross-species monstrosities running around. (And again – why not attribute them to Smythe?)
The robots invade New York, with plans to conquer the world.
WHAT?!?! Seriously… where did that come from? There are no plots for world domination in this game, sentient robot or otherwise.
It's now up to Spider-Man to save the city from the cross-breed experiments and robots, and get to the bottom of this mystery.
I wouldn’t say there’s much of a “mystery” here, but hey – I’ll go with the rest of this sentence.
So, yeah…not exactly the most accurate plot summary. Umm… who wants to fix it?
Among the many Marvel-ous new selections available today at your local comic shop is the second and final issue of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: THE MOVIE, which serves as a prelude to the events of the film.
So why am I mentioning this on a videogame blog, you might ask? Well, in addition to supporting my friend and coworker Tom Cohen, who wrote the comic and helped immensely with our contacts with Sony Pictures, the story also actually includes a bit of an Easter egg that foreshadows the plot of the game -- which, in contrast to this comic, serves as an epilogue to the events of the film.
Now, I'd love to tell you exactly what this Easter egg is...but I also want you to pick up the comic. That said, I will go ahead and tell you where to look. First, check out this spread, which pops up about one-third into issue #2. (Just conveniently small enough so that you can't read what they're saying.)
The game-related part occurs in these two panels (which I assure you actually have words in them if you pick up the comic):
If you didn't know, the three characters involved in this scene at Oscorp are Dr. Curt Connors, pre-Lizard; his lovely intern, Gwen Stacy; and his not-so-happy boss, Rajit Ratha.
By now, you’re probably well aware that Beenox’s The Amazing Spider-Man game, coming June 26, returns the wall-crawler back to a free-roam Manhattan for the first time in four years. Of course, the best thing about this is that web-slinging through the city is only, like, one of the coolest game mechanics ever. But there are other great things that stem from such a gaming landscape – like collecting! Lots and lots of collecting.
But what to collect? In past games, we’ve had Spidey grab everything from tokens (Spider-Man 2) to spider icons (Web of Shadows). Fun, but not incredibly rewarding at the end of the day. We challenged Beenox to include an actual payoff for collecting hundreds of items strewn about the city – and I have to say, I think they’ve delivered the most meaningful collectible content in any free-roaming game I’ve ever played. How so, you ask? In a word: COMICS!
Sure, concept art is pretty (like, really pretty – you’ll unlock some of Beenox’s masterpieces as well as you play) and comic covers are cool (you can Google any of them right now), but full-length comics are something you just don’t see very often. You can unlock as many as 10 comics in ASM (as seen in the comic-selection screen here, 11 if you’ve taken advantage of the playable Stan Lee preorder), and each has a high degree of relevance pertaining to the characters in the game. In most cases, each boss or ally character’s origin issue is included, whether it’s as well-known as Spidey’s debut in AMAZING FANTASY #15 or as obscure as the introduction of Iguana in THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #32.
So, here’s how it works: As you web-sling (or Web Rush!) your way through the city, you’ll encounter hundreds of comic pages like the one beginning this blog entry – not so many so that they’re everywhere you look, but definitely enough so that they’re very common. Usually, these pages are on building tops, but often you’ll actually see them flying around midair. Unless you’re exceedingly talented with your standard web-swing (like, incredibly talented), you’ll probably find yourself Web Rushing to catch these, then performing a timing-based button press to snag it. It’s crazy how addicting this gets.
As you might have figured out from the selection screen above (we've intentionally blurred a few out for now), the issues unlock depending upon how many pages you collect: Five for AMAZING FANTASY #15, 15 for the first appearance of the Lizard, etc. Let’s say you’ve snagged your 250th page, and you want to read Iguana’s first appearance. Just select it…
…then hit the A (Xbox 360) or X (PS3) button…
…and you’ve got the entire issue, right there on your TV screen. You can even…
…zoom in! This is where the feature takes full advantage of widescreen HDTVs, and I’m pretty sure it’s specifically what Beenox studio head Dee Brown was referring to last month. (Hi, Dee!)
So, there you have it – a couple hundred pages of classic comics, all part of The Amazing Spider-Man at no additional charge. What do you think, True Believers?...
Recently, Activision revealed Rhino and Iguana as boss characters in Beenox’s upcoming videogame, The Amazing Spider-Man, coming at you this June 26 (about a week before the film). Despite Agent M’s advice, I always read the comments, all over the internet. And now, some of you are about to have your questions and comments addressed, whether you knew they were being read by Marvel or not…
ashes2phoenix via IGN: Spidey has a utility belt, I guess for his web cartridges. Could this be part of the suit in the new films as well?
Beenox created the belt themselves. It actually doesn’t appear in the movie, but it was added upon the direct request of the filmmakers.
SovanJedi via NeoGAF: Wait, he's ACTUALLY part rhino? I always thought it was just a suit.
In the comics, yes – but movie rules are a little bit different. The Lizard and the science behind him play a huge role in the movie, and without giving too much away, we try to be consistent with the world the movie establishes by making this science a key plot point. I think once you see the film, you’ll understand completely why this change was made. Similar thinking applies to other villains, like Iguana, as well…
Evan Narcisse via Kotaku: The ["Rhino"] trailer also teases a mysterious behind-the-scenes corporate type who's just got master manipulator written all over him. Could this be the reboot's version of Norman Osborn?
Nope. I can’t identify the mystery man for you yet, but he is most definitely not Norman Osborn.
It seems that a lot of folks assumed that just because Michael Morbius is part of Rhino’s back story, he must be in the game. I hope I’m not providing too much of a buzzkill here, my friends, but he’s purely back story. You’ll hear him mentioned, and you may even learn more about him, but it’s all in the interest of expanding the universe. Something to keep in mind for future reveals: Whether it’s the Rhino bio or a bio you see for other characters to come, just because you see a familiar name, don’t assume he’s part of the game himself.
As for the comment about Beenox “obviously making the villains human/animal hybrids,” that’s true…most of the time, anyway…
Spectacular23 via SuperHeroHype: I love how Beenox goes the realistic route of shredding Spidey's costume every times he fights.
Thanks for noticing. Yes, Spidey’s suit does progressively tear as the story moves on.
flash_314 via IGN: Was all that in-game?
Flash here is referring to the Iguana trailer specifically, but the same answer holds for all four trailers thus far – yep. Everything you’ve seen has come straight out of the in-game engine, and any time you see Spidey moving, that’s real gameplay.
Cataract via comicbookmovie.com: I thought I was crazy when I thought it was Iguana. Guess not. I like how this game has cool origins for obscure villains.
Personally, I think Beenox has done an excellent job of including new takes on classic villains that fit within the movie universe. There are some definite classics like Rhino, but also more obscure characters like Iguana that not only demonstrate their great understanding of Spidey and his universe, but also are just straight-up appropriate for the story being told. We’ve also gone to great lengths to include interesting back stories for each of them, as you’ve read concerning Rhino and Iguana thus far.
Wikipedia entry (as of 3/15/12): Spider-Man villain the Rhino will be the main antagonist of the game. The game is set after the film, with a plot that evolves a Oscorp executive, with the help of Michael Morbius accessing the research of Dr. Curt Conners (aka the Lizard) to create a hybrid of a man and a rhinoceros.
The game’s Wikipedia entry is so full of errors, it might as well be a question itself. As mentioned above, Rhino will not be the main antagonist of the game. And though it is set after the film, it does not “evolve a Oscorp executive” (not even an Oscorp executive!). And even though Rhino’s bio might mention an Oscorp executive, the one in question has nothing to do with the core plot of the game (no, he’s not even the “mystery man” we talked about earlier). As for Morbius, well, we’ve discussed him. And, c’mon, Wikipedia pals -- spell Dr. Connors’ last name correctly. You never know what’s gonna set him off…
That’s all I’ve got for now, but I hope you found this all at least a little bit enlightening. No promises, but I’ll try to do more as we get closer to release. So, keep commenting… Uatu is watching and reporting directly to me.