A little known fact held dear by true comic nerds and animation dweebs is the joy of the exclusive release schedule handed down a month or two before the first day of SDCC. This cherished list will be the backbone of your schedule for the Con as you slip in and barter — or maybe even get the prized front-of-the-line ticket — for the year’s most exclusive toys. You know, if it wasn’t for a freckled, spiky-haired He-Man stabbing a foam rubber sword at another cloaked, overweight Jedi for the last Monster High doll to be had on the last ‘day.
This, ladies and nerds, is our Comic-Con Bible Scale Video Game and Toys edition. We can only hope’ll you survive the experience.
So join our (from left to right) “Minister”-of-damn-near-everything, Gabe Carrasco, the “Traveling Nerd Apostle” Lance Paul, and “Monsignor” Travis Moody.
Hey– only one more to go after this!
Hasbro (Marvel, Star Wars, IDW exclusives, etc.) – Past years have really seen Hasbro lay the smackdown at SDCC with all their new releases and exclusives. Unfortunately, this was not that year. The manufacturer’s once great bread-and-butter has been faltering– this side of the fully-detailed Star Wars Black edition Jabba the Hutt. Even their famed G.I. JOE/Transformers combo pack was missing; rather, all that was offered was a 80s-themed Transformers hairband and nothing else worthy of a mention for the Joe’s or the rest of the Bots. Hasbro’s Marvel lines have seen better days, too. Now that the 3.75″ Marvel Universe (one of the few non-sex toys that Moody collects) has been renamed to Avengers Infinite, your Apostle has witnessed a reverse effect in production: The now nearly $11 figurines have fewer accessories and cheaper packaging. The Marvels Legends line, though, deserve a little credit for giving more shine to lesser-known heroes and villains. This year, Has-bro’s were awarded with the unknown pantie-dropping Starfox (sounds cooler than he is) and a 70s version of Nebula. Yay… – Lance Paul
Assassin’s Creed Unity (Ubisoft) – Oh, it’s not easy to review panels that are no more than slight updates from E3. Luckily, Comic-Con is a little more “showy” in its presentation; so in addition to all of the 1-month old info, the panel was moderated by actress/comedian Aisha Tyler, who had to make up for much of the drollness of voice actor Dan Jeannotte. Just some of her great moments: Comparing the terror of the French Revolution to “watching Les Mis all over again. [Like] watching all of my testosterone on the ground in a puddle”; and in response to Walking Dead co-creator Tony Moore finding it hard to draw some of the clothing in his ACU short, “The French were very dandy.”
(Cont.) Jeanotte, the voice of Arno, Unity‘s protagonist, basically told us over and over how “funny” his character was while the demo (from E3) showcased the same murderous tactics from previous AC games. Yeah, hilarious, man! What your Monsignor did learn from the panel — which was missing the promised Rob Zombie, btw — was that there will be no cameos from known AC characters, but plenty of references to them in addition to cameos from popular figures from the F.R. (i.e. Marie Antoinette, Napoleon). The game’s creative director, Alex Amancio, also claimed that while Arno’s pocketwatch is “important,” the story isn’t about the artifact. While there were some high points, such as the announcing of 11 co-op missions and the final female co-protagonist reveal, it didn’t feel like this panel needed to be in the third biggest room at the Con; especially when you think about all those people at E3 who waited several hours for much of the same footage. – Travis Moody
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Microsoft/343 Industries) – Again, not the easiest panel to rate. While it’s Halo, and it’s 343, and it had boatloads of info, much of it was already presented at June’s E3. Still, much of the ginormous 6BCF was packed, and the panelists received a huge roar when they announced that brave players — both new and old — can try and play the entire Master Chief saga in its entirety from Combat Evolved to Halo 4. I wonder if any possible future girlfriends will let me do that. T.M.C.C. will have over 100 maps– none of which you have to unlock; 4000 achievements (holy!!!); and a seamless graphic “switch-over” option from 10-years ago to that of the current-gen Xbox One. The prize in all of this? Why, its Halo 2: Anniversary Edition, of course…
(Cont.) Maybe the coolest part of the panel was witnessing just how Blur Studios created new bookends for the saga, which will connect cinematics with that of Halo 5: Guardians and the forthcoming Halo: Nightfall web series (which you can read all about here, courtesy of yours truly at the New York Daily News!). Blur’s Animation Supervisor Frank Balson claimed that Halo 2 from this collection is going to feel like “an entirely new experience while remaining true to the original.” Lucky fans did get to catch a pretty awe-inspiring “making of” video exclusive to Con, which showed step by step footage of the design modeling re-concept. “I didn’t know a face could do that,” said Balson about Damion Poitier’s very expressive and emotionally-driven Sgt. Johnson. Something tells me that this remastered Halo 2 will be worth the $60 alone. – Moody
Lara Croft and The Temple of Osiris (Square Enix) – Crystal Dynamics’ follow-up to the hit Xbox 360/PS3 — or Xbox One/PS4 Definitive Edition — finds Lara’s next foray into the isometric game market. It’s a design change that hearkens me back to classics such as Marvel Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Legends. And the new camera angle actually goes hand-in-hand with Lara’s repertoire, an easier lay of the land in comparison to the usual cliff-toeing mountains and puzzle-solving challenges. You now use teammates to proceed through the catacombs, and it was a blast attacking mindless demons with the game’s head producer. My Lara partnered up with bounty hunter, Carter, and along with Osiris’ son and wife, we sought out the Staff of Osiris. With grab a 12-pack, 4-player gameplay similar to Guardians of Light, Temple should be an excellent addition to the Xbox One, PS4 and PC come Dec 9th. I now know at least one game I’ll have in my stocking. – Lance
Nosgoth (Square Enix) – For loyal gamers that have roots back to the original PlayStation’s Legacy of Kain, you will greatly appreciate all the easter eggs and background story of Nosgoth. Your Apostle was able to spend a few moments getting his fangs wet on some exceptional gameplay. Similar to games such as Team Fortress, Nosgoth is a team arena battle filled with numerous maps, Vampires and Vamp Hunters. Square really prided themselves on a level playing field, so no matter how heavy your pocketbook is, the gameplay is the same. Even if you out-dress your competition, your experience will be the same. And despite any lack of real storyline — at least just yet — there’s no doubt that Square Enix is really onto something real STEAMy with this Vamp-heavy arena fighter. – Lance
DC Collectibles (DC) – If you’re anything like me, the moment DC Collectibles reveals a new product you go through a roller coaster of emotions. First, you’re excited for new DC Comics stuff; second, you’re angry that you now have to save money to buy it and find a spot at your place to display it; and finally you’re sad because looking around your room, you realize you have a serious DC hoarding problem. The panel was kinda like that, but over and over again. They revealed a line of new action figures to accompany all their amazing animated films (Son of Batman, and the not yet released Throne of Atlantis). Batman action figures inspired by Greg Capullo’s run were also discussed, and were available to view on the exhibit floor, appearing perhaps a new best for DC. Also displayed, the much anticipated Batman: The Animated Series figures inspired by Bruce Timm’s simplistic art style. My favorite reveal from the panel, though? The upcoming Gotham City Garage line, where they place a DC character on a hyper-detailed, multi-piece vehicle that best suits their personality. Despite an overall MSRP price of $350, they’re well worth it– especially Catwoman. Above all else, do LIKE the DC Collectibles Facebook page. They check all the comments, and have even asked fans on occasion to decide some final designs. – Gabe Carrasco
LEGO (exclusives/Batman 3: Beyond Gotham) – Talk about a toy company that keeps hitting high marks and reestablishing its self in the very competitive toy market. With exclusives of both Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon and DC’s original ’66 Batmobile, LEGO definitely had the brick milkshake that brought all the nerds to the yard. With property licenses like Lord of the Rings, the past couple years have really been Lego heavy. Don’t believe this Brickhead? Then I double dare ya to visit their exhibition floor, or their entire Sunday slate of panels that cough up the entire SDCC schedule. One last note. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is easily the best LEGO game yet, especially because you can now — finally — play as Adam West Batman! Even West had a few things to say about reclaiming the Cowl. “[LEGO Batman 3] gives me a chance to play Batman in a different way, updated a bit, but more zany and more forceful.” The Bat-legend then went on to stamp his LEGO approval with, “We’ve really got a winner here.” – Lance