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Lego Marvel Super Heroes is a vehicle for character familiarity

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You may not have heard of many of the 150 or so playable characters in TT Games' Lego Marvel Super Heroes, the first Lego title set in the Marvel Universe. That's OK — in fact, according to game director Arthur Parsons, that's part of the reason why the game exists: to address that unfamiliarity.

During a demo of Lego Marvel Super Heroes this morning, Parsons scrolled through the massive roster of characters available in the co-op action/adventure title. The list includes most of the heroes and villains you'd expect to see in a story that blends four different sets of Marvel icons: the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. You've got the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, Deadpool and even Stan Lee himself.

But Lego Marvel also includes plenty of deep cuts: the lesser-known characters from Marvel lore, or ones who may have lower visibility these days. Marvel confirmed the presence of Howard the Duck and Squirrel Girl earlier this year, for example. And considering how many Marvel Studios films are coming out in the next few years, TT Games designed the roster with an eye toward the future.

"Obviously, Rocket Raccoon's probably not that popular now, but middle of next year, when [Guardians of the Galaxy] comes out, he's going to be, like, hugely popular [along] with the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy," said Parsons. "We're kind of future-proofing the game so kids that get this game next year, and [...] they've just been and watched [Captain America: The Winter Soldier], and they'll be like, 'Yeah, I want to play Winter Soldier,' and it's like, yeah, so we'll have Winter Soldier.

"It's that sort of thing that keeps the game popular with the kids," Parsons continued. "They'll know these characters over time, whereas in this year, they may not know who they are."

Parsons played the PlayStation 4 version of Lego Marvel for us, and it certainly looked a cut above the current-generation versions of the game, with a higher level of detail that was noticeable even though the Lego games have relatively simple visuals. According to Parsons, publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment wasn't originally planning on releasing next-generation versions of the game.

The PS4 and Xbox One versions of Lego Marvel will basically be better-looking ports of the current-gen game, according to Parsons, with the consoles' higher processing power being used to deliver higher-resolution Lego models, better post-processing effects and "absolutely zero load times."

"We weren't actually meant to be developing for next-gen," said Parsons. "We just decided that that's what we wanted to do." The reasons behind that decision, according to Parsons, included the fan perception of the Lego franchise — the games are usually available on a wide variety of platforms. In addition, Lego Marvel will be one of the few kid-friendly launch titles for the next-gen consoles.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes will be available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC, Mac, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS on Oct. 18; PS4 on Nov. 15; and Xbox One on Nov. 22.