End of Summer

DC Combat

by Michael Hutchison
with art by Jas Ingram, Kurt Belcher and Bill Wiist

DC Combat

Lobo vs. Ambush Bug

To: DC Comics Licensing Division
From: Kyle Mainway, project leader
Mainway Software Development, Inc.
Re: "DC ComBAT Fighting Game"

First of all, we'd once again like to thank you for agreeing to license your characters for our fighting game. What young child hasn't read a Batman comic book and wished that he could BE Batman? Now, making use of the latest in computer modeling and 3DFX, children all over the world will be able to play a DC Comic Book character and fight other heroes and villains.

Well, we say "children" but the game is targeted for the teens, given the amount of violence. But you know what we mean.

And technically this isn't the first DC Comics fighting game. The previous attempt, "Justice League Task Force" for Nintendo and Genesis, was extremely hard to control and fared poorly. We're confident that "DC ComBAT" will catch on with the hard-core fighting game audience.

And, of course, kids can't play Batman as you wouldn't allow us to license Batman. Or Superman or Aquaman or any of the other characters recognizable by the general audience.

It's on this last matter that we are growing a bit concerned. When we first made the tentative plans together to release a "Mortal Kombat/Virtua Fighter"-type of 3-D rendered combat game utilizing DC Comics Superheroes, we'd assumed (obviously incorrectly) that you were all for our using your most famous characters. This may have been naivete on our part, for which we apologize.

However, we must do something about the current status of the game, as the current line-up has very little recognition with the general audience. Furthermore, many of the permitted characters are limited in their abilities.

Ambush Bug: If you press Button A-B-X really fast, he'll lob a bomb-wearing Cheeks the Toy Wonder at his enemy. Then he holds a funeral for his sidekick. But that's the only move we've come up with. Otherwise, he just schleps around, really.
Chemo: Doesn't fit on the screen. Plus, he sends a bad message about pollution.
Count Vertigo: Visual assaults take up a lot of system memory. PC players who don't have 3DFX chips will get their screen screwed up.
Bouncing Boy: Only does one thing. Press Button A, he bounces. Press Button B, he bounces. We've come up with a "turbo bounce" and a "death bounce", but we're not really satisfied with the results. (Interesting aside: One of our alpha testers, Matthew, found a way to kick any other character's butt using Bouncing Boy, which looks hilarious.)
Elongated Man: Of the limited bunch of characters you've allowed us, this one is definitely visually impressive and should offer some exciting moves. Only one problem: He's too hard to control! Just a sample:
Button A: Kick from across screen
Button B: Make hand size of watermelon; throw 30 foot punch
Button X: Elongate neck, headbutt enemy
Button Y: Knee opponent in stomach using only elongated kneecap
Combination A-B: Stretch arm behind opponent, knock head from behind
Combination B-A: Extends fingers with a "snik" like Wolverine; rakes opponent's chest.
Combination A-B-X: Wrap opponent in arms like a boa constrictor
Combination A-B-Y: Popeye's "twisker sock"! Rotates arm fast until it's wound up like a corkscrew, then unwind it until you knock opponent in jaw at 100 miles-per-hour
Combination X-A-B: Grab opponent's head in one big hand; crush like an egg
Down button-A: Duck; jab opponent in eyeballs with long fingers
Down button-B: Duck; extend leg across screen and between opponent's feet; snap upward hard! (Male opponents only)
Up button-A: Extends legs; elongates out of opponent's reach
Up button-B: Exends head above opponent; forms noose with his tongue; hangs opponent

Well, I guess you're getting the idea. It goes on and on. Our programmers have come up with 482 different multi-button move combinations! With so many options, the users can't memorize them all.

Heckler: Main gimmick is dressing up like a female version of his opponent and going "yoo-hoo!"
Atom: Shrinking really isn't an offensive capability, is it? Plus, the user can't see his fighter.
Zatanna: Trying to compose spells using a keypad…and backwards…takes about ten minutes each. Our alpha testers have gotten tendonitis. Could open us up to injury lawsuits.
Poison Ivy: Given that her power is basically sex appeal, it's a hard thing to control. For example:
Button A: Blow Kiss
Button B: Show Some Leg
Button X: Flip Hair
Button Y: Lean Over
Combination A-B-A: Shake Booty
None of this is really any good against someone like Lobo. Or even the Heckler.
Black Canary a la Lara Croft Poison Ivy a la Lara Croft
Black Canary: Okay, this is our fault. We didn't realize that the current version of Black Canary no longer has her Canary Cry, which was going to be her big selling point. Plus, her current costume doesn't have cleavage, which loses the appeal for our large audience of "Tomb Raider" fans.
Awkwardman: Rather self-explanatory.
Dr. Polaris: Only good against the Metal Men and Steel. And you won't let us use Steel.
Tin: That group that protested Michael Palin's stuttering in "A Fish Called Wanda" has threatened to boycott the game if Tin is included.
Kanjar Ro: Hits a gong that will freeze the other character, and that's all he does. Way too boring! (NAACP has objected to making your opponent a slave and chaining him to a slaveship.)
Adam Strange: Keeps vanishing half-way through the match.
Manga Khan: What's with this guy? When he's not shouting he tries to buy his opponent's stuff!
Clayface: When we asked if we could get the rights to use Clayface, we weren't really referring to the Boris Karloff parody one. Throw us a bone, would you?
Shrapnel: Visually pretty impressive, but again, really only does the one thing.
Two-Face: Has to flip coin before every action. This runs down the match time.
Resurrection Man: Energy bar never depletes enough to kill this guy! Plus, we're finding it hard to define his powers.
Ventriloquist: Doesn't do anything. His "Scarface" dummy, on the other hand, can kick the crap out of half the combatants, which actually looks pretty cool.
Clock King: Keeps looking at how much time is left in the round.
Rex the Wonder Dog: I think there's a mistake. We were asking to use G'nort.
Wing: A sidekick? We can't even use the Crimson Avenger? Come on! Work with us here!
Waverider: His only ability is to see into the future. So, you press button A and see your butt getting kicked 30 seconds from now. Not very usefull, really!
Wild Dog: He's kinda got a Duke Nukem ultraviolence thing going, which is good. Unfortunately, the people doing the upcoming "Freddy vs. Jason" videogame are threatening a lawsuit because of the hockey mask.
Black Condor: So, he flies around a lot. That's it?
Catwoman: No complaints here! Our designers had been using old artwork of her 1970s costume; glad you sent this art by that Balent guy. We see that she's now given up cat burglary in favor of shoplifting soccer balls in her costume. Wow! This could win back the Tomb Raider fans. She's got a real Lara Croft "shot through the back with a couple of missiles" thing going. Great! During the fight, can we have bits of her costume rip in various calculated places like in that poster? We're programming 18 hours a day and really don't get out much, so we live for stuff like that.
Catwoman a la Lara Croft Huntress a la Lara Croft
Huntress: Again, we were looking at the older, more revealing costume. Without that, all we've got is a woman with a crossbow. This character is really a member of the JLA? Also, the cross on the costume has probably got to go. No one gets upset about video game violence anymore, but if a single atheist parent should see a Catholic character in the game we'll get sued for proselytizing.
The Seraph: A guy with the staff of Moses and strength of Hercules? See complaint for Huntress.
Lobo: Great character on paper, but far too gruesome in practice. We agreed that we didn't want this game to garner a "Mature" rating. We'll probably have to pull this one for sure, although alpha tester Matthew has written a high recommendation for leaving Lobo in the game. He noted his fondness for some of the custom moves, such as "this bomb tactic where the Main Man caves in Dr. Polaris' face and then grabs that weird helmet of his and uses it to carve his belly open!" and "the bitchin' deathblow where he grabs Elongated Man's head in one hand and squeezes until his head is about the size of an orange and his eyeballs go bouncing across the playing field" and "if you press A-B-A really fast, he'll ask Zatanna for a date and then, when she says no, he calls her an uptight wench and then twists her neck around and uses her severed legs to beat her head in. That's so cool!"

Matthew's comments are rather disturbing…which is good, as this is our target audience.

We really wish you would relent on this and allow us to feature all the big guns of the DC Universe. Those are really the multi-talented characters that the comic book fans would like to use. I know you want to keep every character who is even remotely marketable in reserve for their own video games, but with all due respect, let's be realistic. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but no one is ever going to make a Green Arrow video game.

Please get back to me on your decision.

Yours, respectfully,

Kyle Mainway.

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This column is © 1999 Michael Hutchison
Artwork is © 1999 by Jas Ingram, Kurt Belcher and Bill Wiist
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