The Man in the Iron Mask
Though it clocks in at a really strong two hours, the otherwise great movie "Iron Man" does leave some fans wanting more. Luckily there's a corresponding videogame from Sega for every system under the sun to pick up the slack. Besides expanding on the story, what else is packed into the interactive version of the suit? We asked Sega's Andy Alamano, the game's associate producer, for the technical specs on the game.
Crispy Gamer: First off, is the game just called Iron Man or is it called Iron Man: The Movie or Iron Man: The Game or something similarly semicoloned?
Andy Alamano: Just good ol' Iron Man. We didn't think we needed to make it painfully obvious to people that it had something to do with the movie when they both come out the same day.
Crispy Gamer: What kind of game is Iron Man; what is the gameplay like and what is the story's plot?
Alamano: Iron Man is a very fast-paced flight shooter, but it also has a great deal of ground-based action elements. It's third-person, but it's more shooter than adventure game. The game's plot revolves around Tony Stark tracking down his stolen tech and eventually tracking his company's leak to the source.
Crispy Gamer: How does the game's story expand upon the one told in the movie?
Alamano: The beginning of the movie is the beginning of the game and the end of the movie is the end of the game, but everything that happens in between is where we got to create parts to our own story. By using material found within the comics, we were able to create our own side story that still ties in tightly with the events of the film.
Crispy Gamer: How did you decide which of the comic book bad guys you'd add to the game?
Alamano: Aside from those in the film, we were able to add such classics as Whiplash, Madame Masque, The Melter and Titanium Man. There's really so many that we simply picked ones we felt were the best fit to the story we created.
Crispy Gamer: Did you have to consult with Marvel or the people making the movie to make sure that you weren't bringing in a character they were planning to use in a later movie?
Alamano: Marvel has full visibility on all of their titles, and Iron Man is no exception. They get full approval on every step of action we take, especially on decisions revolving around the inclusion of their properties.
Crispy Gamer: How did you decide what the gameplay would be like?
Alamano: We worked to make sure that we included all the flight abilities of the armor early on in prototypes. Once we knew what the suit had to do, we were able to begin creating the massive world around it.
Crispy Gamer: Did you ever consider making it a different kind of game?
Alamano: Being tied to both a Marvel property as well as a major film, the context of what Iron Man should be was pretty set from the start.
Crispy Gamer: One aspect of the game I was glad you included is Iron Man's ability to grab missiles in mid-flight and throw them back at the missile launcher. How hard was it to get to work right and be fun?
Alamano: That was something that we had envisioned, and had worked on, rather early. It took a lot of work to get it to the point where it was practical to do in combat.
Crispy Gamer: Were there any other of Iron Man's abilities that you either considered or even tried to get into the game but, for some reason, weren't able to?
Alamano: In its inception, there was talk about what we could have Tony doing outside of the suit in terms of gameplay, whether it was managing the company or flirting with the ladies. In the end, we had to keep Tony stuck to the combat action of the suit.
Crispy Gamer: So there's no Tony Stark drinking game?
Alamano: Like I said, we had to pretty much keep Tony in the suit to keep up with the game's action design and keep things focused.
Crispy Gamer: Speaking of the suit, Iron Man has had a bunch of different suits over the years, and he's got a couple in the movie. Did you just use the ones from the film in the game, or are there some that are in one but not the other?
Alamano: We had to make sure we got all the movie suits in the game for sure. We also feature several of Iron Man's comic book suits as unlockables that you earn as you progress through the game.
Crispy Gamer: Do any of the stars of the movie do their character's voices in the game?
Alamano: Everyone we worked with was very excited to reprise their roles from the film in the game. Robert Downey, Jr. is so excited about the role that he actually took a lot of his time to go over our game script and help iterate on specific details to make sure our Tony was the same as the film's.
Crispy Gamer: But Downey only does Tony Stark's voice for the cut scenes, not during the game itself. That seems weird to me, why didn't he just do the gameplay stuff when he was doing the cut scenes?
Alamano: Unfortunately, a Hollywood actor's time is very tough to book. Between Iron Man as well as other projects, we simply had to work with the time he could allow us.
Crispy Gamer: How closely did you work with the other people involved in the film, such as director Jon Favreau or the producers?
Alamano: The film producers as well as Jon had visibility on the project as we worked on it. They got to take looks at the game and present feedback so that we knew what we were working on was synching up with what was planned for the film.
Crispy Gamer: Now I've heard that Favreau is actually a gamer. Did he offer any ideas or criticisms of the game that were especially helpful?
Alamano: He had a lot of great feedback in terms of Iron Man's hover animations, telling us what he had planed the SFX crews to do with the CGI Iron Man. We made sure it was as close to his specs as we could get it.
Crispy Gamer: Will the game feature the original version of the Black Sabbath song?
Alamano: It does in fact feature "Iron Man" in several spots in the game.
Crispy Gamer: Did anyone ever suggest using a different version, either something dumb like a P. Diddy remix of it or something cool like the version Metallica did?
Crispy Gamer: The game is being published by Sega, which is also doing The Incredible Hulk game, which comes out a month after Iron Man. Is there any crossover planned? Like is there a level in Iron Man where you fight the Hulk? Or even something where if you put in The Incredible Hulk game, it'll look for an Iron Man saved file, and if it finds it, you get something special?
Alamano: As a matter of fact, the games will detect each others' save files. You will be able to unlock the "Hulkbuster Armor" in both games, providing you have a save from the other title.
Crispy Gamer: Nice. The game is coming out for numerous systems: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii, PSP, Nintendo DS and PC. First off, besides Achievements, is there any major difference between the 360 and PS3 versions?
Alamano: Both the 360 and PS3 each feature a unique armor found only on that system. The PS3 includes "Ultimate Iron Man" while the 360 features "Silver Centurion."
Crispy Gamer: Second, is the PSP version going to be like the PS2 or the DS? And what is the DS version going to be like?
Alamano: The PSP version features similar gameplay to the PS2 but is has its own mini-games. The DS version is an entirely different top-down shooter that uses the stylus for gameplay.
Crispy Gamer: Finally, while most hardcore gamers dislike games based on movies, there seems to be some enthusiasm for Iron Man. Given that, what kind of gamers do you think will like Iron Man?
Alamano: I think anyone who is a fan of the tech and the armor itself will enjoy the game. Being able to control the Iron Man armor is a great experience and will make a lot of people feel like they're in the shoes of Tony Stark.