Disney Interactive Releases Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon [Interview]

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Marvel and Disney Interactive have today announced the launch of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon, the official mobile game for the film set to hit theaters on August 1. The game stars a variety of heroes and villains from the Guardians of the Galaxy universe, and sees gamers controlling multiple characters on screen at once, against waves of oncoming enemies.

In each level, players can control up to four characters at once, including Star-Lord, Rocket, Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Gamora and others. Each character has a different attack speciality, in terms of ranged or melee combat, and players must take these into account to keep everyone going through the end of the mission. Star-Lord, for instance, excels at ranged combat, but is therefore weak to up-close attacks. Groot can heal his teammates instead of attacking enemies, but this too leaves him open to danger from others.

Gameplay sees users tapping on a character and then dragging a line across the screen for movement, or to auto-aim at an enemy. These commands can be changed on the fly. For instance, users may wish to move Star-Lord to a corner with no enemies, and allow him to pick them off from afar. However, a new enemy could appear from that side of the screen, ruining the plan. Gamers can simply tap again to change their strategy on the fly.

In between battles, players can spend their earned currency on new gear for their team. As a paid download, the game doesn’t offer in-app purchases.

We had a chance to chat with Aaron Norstad, Senior Producer at Disney Interactive, about the development of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon, and what inspired the team to steer clear of the free-to-play arena.

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Inside Mobile Apps: How much of the storyline of the game is identical to that of the film? That is, will players have the film spoiled for them if they play the game first?

Aaron Norstad: The Universal Weapon is an original storyline that has some parallel elements with the film but follows a different story arc with a different outcome. Both the film and the game have complimentary components, but neither spoils the other.

IMA: Some battles can get a little hectic with all four characters on the screen at once. Are there any options or plans to allow players to automate the actions of some characters during battle?

AN: The characters will auto-attack if being attacked or if an enemy comes within range of the character. It can be helpful to strategize letting melee characters draw aggro and auto-attack while focusing player tactics on ranged fighters. That said, using special skills for all characters is a very critical component of the game.

IMA: Can you explain a bit about how combo moves work in the game?

AN: Each hero has two special combo skills that can be activated if the combo ally is present in the team line-up. As an example, Groot can combo with Rocket but only if both characters are present in the battle line-up. Activating a combo is as simple as tapping the combo icon then tapping and dragging from the hero activating the combo to an enemy target. Once activated, both characters in the combo will perform a special attack.

IMA: With so many games being free-to-play, what inspired the team to go in a different direction here, with no currency store?

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AN: We focused on creating a game that was organic to the Guardians of the Galaxy characters and delivered an engaging experience that would help build the Guardians franchise. Delivering the experience as a premium title made a lot more sense for being able to give players access to the entire story and character line-up and deep game-play without building in natural pay-gates along the way.