EA, Marvel heroes to meet on page and screen

Electronic Arts (EA) and Marvel Enterprises plan to team up to create joint video games and printed comics, the companies said last Friday.

EA will develop fighting video games involving Marvel characters, while Marvel, in New York, will include EA characters in its comics, EA's U.K. head of press, Glen O'Connell said.

EA in Redwood City, California, now has a license to develop fighting games using more than 100 Marvel Super Heroes characters, including Spiderman and the X-Men, O'Connell said. Some Marvel heroes, including The Hulk and Punisher characters, have not been included in the initial agreement but may be added later, he said.

The first joint games and comics will not be available until the end of 2005, O'Connell said.

While licensed characters from titles such as "Harry Potter" and "The Lord of the Rings" have regularly been used in video games, it is unusual for characters to move the other way, from games into comics, O'Connell said. The characters to make the transition will be new ones, rather than existing EA properties, he said.

"Cool!" said Rob Cave, a London subeditor and X-Men fan on Friday. Cave would buy an X-Men video game, but only if "it involved puzzle solving as well as straight punch-em-up action," he said.

Cave would also be keen to see games based on X-Men spin-off Xstatix, if it was "like the Sims, where you could try to become a superpowered media star or were allowed to take over the world."

Another London X-Men fan, Joe Macare, said that, while he seldom plays video games, he would be interested in playing one based on X-Men. The Fantastic Four, another Marvel comic, would make a good game "just because of the difference in how each of them looks and what they can do," Macare said.

EA makes games across all formats, and the Marvel-based games will be available for PCs, consoles and handheld game devices, O'Connell said. "We don't normally do a game for just one platform, unless there's something specific to that platform that suits the game," he said.

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