Entering Marvel Contest of Champions: Luke Cage

Luke Cage smashes onto the scene in “Marvel Contest of Champions” and Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Game Designer Justin Ostensen dropped by to chat about the hero formerly known as Power Man and what he’ll be bringing to the table.

Marvel.com: Luke Cage’s intro wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with his awesome appearance in “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” on Netflix, would it?

Gabriel Frizzera: Actually, Luke was one of the first characters we created for the first batch when the game was launched last year! We love his no-nonsense, street brawler fighting style; we were just waiting for a good opportunity to release him, and the Jessica Jones/Daredevil event seemed like a perfect fit. Plus, Iron Fist was getting lonely in the Battlerealm.

Marvel.com: Now Mr. Cage doesn’t have the most diverse power set. He’s super strong with unbreakable skin. How’d you guys go about making him different than say, the Hulk?

Justin Ostensen: When it comes to cases like this one, we try to introduce a gameplay mechanic that will make the character fun or interesting and still sticks to what makes them famous. For Luke Cage, we wanted to tie into his beat down mentality, of working the opponent over with a combo of punches, then finishing up with a few heavy hits. To accomplish this, we introduced Exhaustion, a detrimental effect that reduces the opponent’s Critical Damage and makes them more susceptible to Cage’s Stun effects on his Special Attacks.

Gabriel Frizzera: Luke is a street brawler. When creating his animation, we wanted to keep it a little more realistic. No fancy acrobatics or crazy superpowers, just brute force finessed by street smarts. He won’t rush at you blindly like the Hulk or the Rhino. He’ll use his combos to weaken you first and in the right time, he’ll release a brutal finisher.

Marvel.com: What did you guys want players to feel when they put Luke Cage out into the field?

Justin Ostensen: Like Sweet Christmas. Sorry, couldn’t resist! We wanted Luke Cage to feel like a street level hero, similar to Daredevil or Elektra, but with a more brawler feel. Instead of flips, kicks, and acrobatic displays, Luke Cage likes to get more to the point and just beat the tar out of his opponents.

Marvel.com: Why’d you guys choose this particular outfit for Luke here? I mean I’m seeing a distinct lack of tiara…

Gabriel Frizzera: I grew up with the tiara and chain belt [original costume], and will always have a soft spot for it in my heart. However, the modern version does a better job of introducing Luke Cage’s attitude to people unfamiliar to him. He’s just a normal guy, no super hero affectations or fancy costumes, but he can kick major ass with the best of them. He will come in, punch your face in, and get the job done.

Marvel.com: What sort of teams will benefit from having Luke on their roster?

Justin Ostensen: Luke Cage is coming into the Contest with a couple of synergies unique to him. The first, called Heroes for Hire with Iron Fist, is a double synergy, granting increases to both Block Proficiency and Physical Resistance. The second, called Thunderbolts with Juggernaut and Iron Patriot, reduces all incoming Special Attack damage for the team.

Marvel.com: When do we get to pick up Luke Cage for ourselves?

Justin Ostensen: Luke Cage has been helping Jessica Jones break up a shady fight club in the depths of the Contest and should be ready to get into the fight very soon.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews!