by Adam Rosenberg
Capcom rolled through New York City last week with “Spyborgs,” from developer Bionic Games, in tow. A down-and-dirty old school brawler, “Spyborgs” follows a crack team of super-powered individuals as they beat the snot out of bad guys. There are three characters that one or two players may choose from, though only two were on display for last week's demo.
Clandestine is the badass female of the group, light on her feet and quick with her blade. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Bouncer, a slow, lumbering beast of a superhero who excels at knockback and area effect attacks. While we didn’t get to see him in action, the group's third is Stinger. Stinger falls between his two companions in terms of speed and attack power but he makes up for it with the ability to perform ranged attacks. A static upgrade system for each character gives players access to additional attacks and longer combo strings as well as the usual set of buffs for increasing health bars, power gauges and the like.
The controls are reasonably simple to learn, though they feel a bit jarring at first. Attacks come in two flavors: light (B button) and heavy (C button). I can't recall another Wii action games which splits up button-based attacks between the Wiimote and the Nunchuk, and it took a bit of getting used to. Different sequences of B and C button presses result in a range of combo strings. Motion controls are kept to a minimum outside of a few context-sensitive special attacks, though players are able to perform a leaping attack by swiping down with the remote at the apex of a jump, triggered with the A button.
The Wiimote pointer also has a secondary, primarily non-combat application in the form of Spy Vision. Throughout each level are hidden objects which are invisible save for a vision-distorting outline, much like the alien cloaking effect from the “Predator” movies. Aiming directly at the screen brings up a sort of magnifying lens which reveals hidden objects in outline. A button press coupled with a waggle of the remote will “pull” the hidden object into existence. The particulars of Spy Vision are still being worked out; the Capcom rep who was running the demo suggested that we can probably expect to see certain enemies and boss fights that will require some quick Spy Vision work in the final game.
This is a game designed primarily for one or two players, though a third and a fourth have the option of joining in provided there are enough Wii remotes handy. Nunchuks are not required for the third and fourth participants. Much like the limited co-op play in “Super Mario Galaxy,” each additional player gets a Spy Vision lens which can be used to aid the two fighters.
“Spyborgs” pushes out some impressive visuals for the Wii. The characters and environments are nicely detailed and there was a surprising amount of destructibility in each location shown during the demo. Destroyed objects and enemies drop multi-colored orbs which function as health/power pickups as well as experience (spent on upgrades). The game will also feature Achievements -- yes, that’s what they’re called -- which will unlock additional game modes (no details there yet) as well as the usual array of production assets: concept art, character models and the like.
That’s about all there was to be seen at the Capcom demo. The publisher is keeping pretty quiet for now on the particulars of the story as well as on any details concerning the third Spyborg, Stinger. Expect the full reveal to go down at E3. Based on what was shown, “Spyborgs” is shaping up as a solid Wii-exclusive 3D brawler which combines a welcome mix of old school gameplay and generally non-disruptive motion controls.